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🏠 Staircases to nowhere 🎶 wedding DJs 👰dELia*s 🛍️ life coaches 🏆 the high-brow on low-brow 👒
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👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Describe your show in 10 words or less.
I explore abandoned spaces and fantastically reimagine/retell those experiences.
What can we learn from abandoned spaces?
Oh, goodness. So much. So, so much. For one thing, these spaces tell an alternative version of American history that we’ve been told. The underbelly of this country. When I explore ruins, I am constantly asking myself questions about American culture, economics, the environment, politics, housing and food insecurity, the income gap. I could go on and on. Personally, they’ve also taught me about the value of solitude, how spending time with oneself can be extremely healing and inspiring, and that exploring outside of one’s comfort zone can only help a person grow creatively and spiritually.
How do you find the places you want to explore?
That’s a secret, but never doubt the powers of Reddit.
How do you feel when you’re alone in an abandoned place?
It totally depends, but the most overwhelming feeling I experience is magic. The word “anemoia” describes it best, nostalgia for a time and place one has never known. I feel creative and connected to something bigger than myself. Sometimes I feel a little sad, depending on the ruin and the story it might tell, but usually, I feel, ironically, safe, secure, and deeply comfortable.
How long does it take you to make an episode? What goes into it?
50-60 hours, soup to nuts. The scriptwriting is the most important part because every episode is adapted from the original blog. I’m finishing up production on season 2 right now, and this season took a leap from the first by introducing a ton of new voices, so hiring actors (or the real people themselves) to play the parts, binaural tape collection, sourcing music that doesn’t sound hokey, making sure the story has a really compelling beginning, middle, end, triple-checking that every story leaves me having learned something new. And you know how the rest goes: editing, mixing, mastering, sharing with friends for feedback before finishing up final touches and scheduling the thing.
Do all abandoned places sound the same?
Not at all, but I would imagine that if you don’t have an imagination, they could, but… that’s impossible. That’s actually been a huge part of what makes producing this show so fun. Because so much of it is recreation of sounds in a studio, I have gotten to experiment with depth of sonic field, really exploring foley while mixing in real sounds I’ve captured on location.
What do all of the places have in common?
Every single space is a vault that contains an uncountable number of stories. They all had lives lived in them, and they all represent humanity at its best and its worst.
Pretend you were going to make another podcast…your budget is $1M, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not anyone would like it or any of the logistics. What would it be?
Haha, I just pitched this idea to Canadaland and very quickly got a rejection email. 😂 I wrote a six-episode, single season fiction podcast called The Disappearance and Subsequent Discovery of Millennial Pop-Punk Goddess Avril Lavigne that I think would be a smash. It’s about a high school sophomore named Dennie who becomes obsessed with the Avril Lavigne replacement conspiracy theory and goes in search of the truth behind it. I’m honestly shocked Canadaland rejected it, but… maybe next year!
Anything I didn’t ask you about that you want to share?
Only that I have a really super fun season 2 launch party coming up in partnership with Dylan Thuras, co-founder of Atlas Obscura. We’re producing a multimedia event at a formerly abandoned monastery (now the Hudson House & Distillery) overlooking the Hudson River in West Park, NY, alongside HUDSY, the Borscht Belt Historical Marker Project, and my folk band Macabre Americana. We’ll be screening the second episode of HUDSY-TV’s adaptation of All-American Ruins alongside some other short films from Atlas Obscura, as well as doing a listening circle for the first episode of the second season (which is based on this story), plus live music from the band, food, drinks, and a helluva good time. Everyone is very, very welcome, and the best part is that it’s a benefit for HUDSY. It’s a quick 90-minute train ride from NYC (plus like a $10 cab) to get to the venue, so join us if you’re in the NY-Metro area!
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Jane Marie’s The Dream has returned, hallelujah, for a season about the self-improvement industry and life coaches. It starts in a dark place (Jane Marie is depressed) and it feels like it’s going to be the most intimate series of them all—Jame Marie shares tears and unfiltered conversations with Dann for moments I’m not sure I should be around for. It’s uncomfortable. (I think too many podcasts try to make us comfortable.) She says at one point, “I would take advice from Ronald McDonald if it would help me even in the smallest way.” So while it might be easy to mock life coaches, what if you’re in your darkest, most vulnerable place? Would you take advice from anyone? Would you take advice from Ronald McDonald? I actually started getting scared of getting to a point where I didn’t know myself anymore. I have been there, I don’t know what to say to people who are there, I don’t know what I’d do if I went there again. Many people go to gurus, life coaches, and all the people who claim they can help us get happy now. It’s a dangerous spell to be under. Jane Marie will be talking to current and former life coaches, ex-cult members, career coach researchers, and her very own life coach to unravel this nefarious world. I like the discomfort, I want to hear it all. I almost just said I hope it takes us to a brighter place, because I want brighter things for Jane Marie. But I really just want it to stay so real.
✨Read my latest Lifehacker piece 12 of the Best Podcasts About Everything Disney.
✨Read my latest Descript piece Why you need a podcast media kit — and how to make one.
🎙️In Retrospect is an exciting new podcast (the first two episodes drop Thursday, subsribe now!) that transports you to the iconic pop culture moments of the 80s and 90s to understand what they taught us about the world, and a woman’s place in it. Emmy-winning journalist Susie Banikarim and New York Times editor Jessica Bennett guide us through salacious tabloid headlines, questionable soap opera couples, and illicit student-teacher relationships. These are stories Susie and Jessica lived through, and sometimes covered, and they’ll show us how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. You’re Wrong About fans, you’re in for a treat. Listen to the trailer here.
🎙️’Tis the season for Dark House, the show hosted by House Beautiful editors Hadley Mendelsohn and Alyssa Fiorentino about beautiful houses that have spooky histories. Kicking off season 3, Hadley takes us to the Winchester Mystery House (aka Llanada Villa)—a twisty mansion built by The Winchester Repeating Arms Company heiress Sarah Winchester in the late 1800s that is rumored to have inspired Disney World’s The Haunted Mansion. (There were plenty of Disney references here and I ate them all up.) Creepy and bizarre architectural features (like staircases that lead to nowhere) were an attempt to keep out unwelcome spirits—could they be victims of guns from The Winchester Repeating Arms Company? This is so much more than a story about the home—it’s the history of gun culture and the Spiritualist movement, a nuanced look at a fascinating character, and a new look at seances, with an interview with Lisa Morton, the author of Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances. Listen here.
🎙️I absolutely loved season one of Emmy Olea’s Crumbs, an audio memoir that in season one, showed us what it was like to date as trans woman recovering from alcoholism and a complicated past that feels stranger than fiction. Her mom, Hilda, was a coyote and her abuelita ran drugs for the Tijuana cartel. Emmy put everything out there, so when I saw there was a new season I wondered what more she could give us. But for season two, she has Hilda on the mic, who talks about her mom, Mami Licha. So it’s a reflection on what we learn from our mothers and grandmothers, and how are families and their pasts shape us. It’s hard to get stories out of people, but these conversations are personal, raw, and revealing. Hilda tells us, about Mami Licha, “she was the most important person i my life and. yet I felt like I couldn’t breathe when I was around her. She was a strong woman, so compassionate, but one to fear, also. I knew her deepest, darkest secrets, I knew who she could be. I can’t say that I was afraid of her or that I wasn’t, I just didn’t like who I was when I was around her. And yet I wanted to be around her all the time.” Audio memoirs this beautiful don’t just grow from trees, people. Listen here.
🎙️When Lauren Beil heard about an ob-gyn who had been sexually assaulting women for more than two decades at Columbia University, he was living in early retirement in New Jersey, pretty unscathed by what he had done. Lauren teamed up with Bianca Fortis of ProPublica to investigate his 25-year crime spree of a career. (Even after a patient ran from his office and called 911, Columbia allowed him to go back to work almost immediately.) They wrote a feature story in ProPublica and New York Magazine and created a podcast called Exposed: Cover Up at Columbia University. The most compelling thing about the first two episodes is hearing about how one woman’s story caused a small enough wave to get another woman to come forward, and so on, and so on. It feels a bit like The Retrievals (which was excellent)—the womens’ voices come together, beginning as whispers and doubts and swelling to a powerful choir. Laura is an amazing reporter and brings such humanity to her work. Listen here.
🎙️Jo Firestone had some time on her hands (the show she was writing on, ZIWE, plus the writer’s strike) so she wrote a book called Murder on Sex Island, which you can order now or tune into listen to her read through every chapter on her podcast of the same name (or both.) It’s too fun, pinch me—a reality TV show’s missing contestant inspires one detective (and obsessive fan of the show) to go undercover on the show to find him, but she has her own secret to hide. It’s not just packed with hilarious details, the plot is well-crafted. If you love Jo’s quiet, sly sense of humor, and her voice (it always sounds like she’s lost or confused or mid-laugh, but she is in complete control of the narrative) you’ll delight in hearing all of her talents come together for a podcast that I’d say is a perfect bedtime story, but you’ll probably giggle too much to fall asleep. Part of the fun is just imagining Jo as the protagonist, which is impossible not to do. The title of the book is technically Murder on Sex Island: A Luella van Horn Mystery, so maybe this isn’t the last time we’ll hear from Luella. Do I smell a series? Listen here.
🎙️Artists on Artists on Artists is an improvised comedy podcast hosted by Kylie Brakeman, Jeremy Culhane, Angela Giarratana, and Patrick McDonald, who come on the mic to play characters talking about their art. An episode about wedding DJs is absolutely unmissable, I have no idea how Kylie, Jeremy, Angela, and Patrick kept a straight face as they offer a pretentious take on how they get people on the dance floor. (“If they forget to turn in a request or something happens to it or I just think they’re wrong, I like to play something that sort of implies the father and daughter are in a romantic relationship in some way.”) They’re all so confident about their terrible ideas and tips (like how to tell the mother of the bride she needs to go home because she’s too drunk without killing the vibe) and keep empowering each other to take each one to the next level. There were so many jokes I’d listen to it again. (Edit: I did.) Listen here.
🎙️A very fun and cool place to hang out is Nymphet Alumni, a show hosted by Biz Sherbert, Sam Cummins, and Alexi Alario, that unpacks our culture by taking a hard look at strange fashion and aesthetic trends that most people aren’t taking very seriously, but they should. Conversations are an almost philosophical, academic look at low-brow but earth-shattering culture. Biz, Sam, and Alexi sound like the cool girls in my cafeteria who I was afraid to approach, but their sense of humor and playfulness makes them feel like friends in my head. Their ability to observe how people style themselves and coin these looks into their own spot-on language makes them feel like cultural translators for youth culture. Their twist on how we talk about it gives us a look into a crystal ball—what are people really talking about online, how they really see themselves in the mirror, how they respond to consumerism and marketing. It’s one thing to talk about culture and fashion, it’s another to honor the people and try to figure out what they’re trying to communicate. That’s the neat part. (Neat as in cool, it’s actually very complicated.) Listen here.
🎙️Patented had an episode about the history of high heels that blew my goddam mind. Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Bata Shoe Museum was guest, and unraveling the complicated history and rise and fall (and rise and fall) of high heels and how (and why) their popularity waxed and waned for men and women over the centuries. The heels are a vehicle to hear about how the invention of the stirrup won wars and saved the world, how women started wearing heels to be more masculine, and then later to take up less space, and what this all has to do about women demanding to vote in the 1900s. Listen here.
🎙️One of my favorite comedians, Emily Heller (Baby Geniuses, a bunch of other stuff) was on Vanessa and Jonah Bayer’s How Did We Get Weird? to talk about the dELia*s catalogue for an episode that felt like it was specifically for me. (I still own some pieces from my dELia*s collection.) Vanessa is just about my age and grew up in Cleveland just like me, and I often wonder if we might have bumped into each other shopping the racks at Limited Too at the Beachwood Mall. But the best anecdote on this episode was hearing how 11-year-old Emily once compared herself to Rosa Parks and tried to get her Black gym teacher fired for cheering on the girls too much, or something, by writing a letter to the President of the United States of America. (This is the 90s, but I mean Clinton, not the band.) And that that gym teacher was Zendaya’s dad. She reads the letter, it feels very Mortified. Listen here.
🎙️At Podcast Movement, I met Lauren Bright Pacheco, whom I know from her podcast Symptomatic, which she hosted. But Lauren has made a ton of other things, including Speed of Sound, a podcast that breaks down the stories behind the pop songs and sounds that topped the charts and shaped the soundtrack of generations. It’s hosted by Steve Greenberg, a multi-Grammy Award winning record producer and all-around music obsessive who started his own record company solely on the belief that Who Let The Dogs Out would be a hit, and he was right. (This is the topic of the first episode, and anyone who delighted in Roman Mars’ coverage of it will be excited to learn even more.) Steve then dives into how other songs—Rapper’s Delight, The Twist, Smells Like Teen Spirit, became hits. And as you listen (and I listened at the edge of my seat—Steve is a great storyteller and the stories are almost too crazy to be true) you start to realize that what makes a hit doesn’t always have to do with how good the song is, there are buckets of contributing factors that make these stories huge squiggles and loop-de-loop lines. Not straight ones. It takes a moment in history, a personal beef between two feuding execs, one man dead-set on making a seemingly horrible song happening, and lots and lots of teenage girls wearing their fandom on their sleeves. There are always lessons to be learned from music for podcasters. So I ask you to listen to Speed of Sound not just because it’s fascinating and well-done, but because it might give you some unconventional tips about how to make your podcast have its moment. There are so many PR and marketing lessons in each of these episodes, I think I’ll listen to this whole series again. Listen here.
🎙️When drug users are using heroin (or something) by themselves, they know they can call The Never Use Alone hotline, where they will be connected with someone who will stay on the line with them in case they overdose. In three parts, This American Life tells the story of a woman named Kimber who calls, the EMT who finds he was connected to Kimber in an odd way, and Jess, who took Kimber’s call, and has her own story to tell. These are specifically beautiful, human, and nuanced looks at a complicated topic, all tied together in a way that makes you feel like the universe is really up to something. The piece turns the way people usually talk about drug users on its head. Void of judgment, full of empathy and tenderness. Listen here.
🎙️On Strike Talk, Billy Ray, Academy Award nominated writer/ director/ showrunner, and Todd Garner, a former studio executive turned producer take you behind the scenes of the current Hollywood strike, talking with writers, producers, and other industry insiders to provide a unique, behind-the-scenes (and picket lines) perspective on the situation. I have been keeping up with the strike, but was unprepared to hear how bleak things are for not just the people striking, but for the TV and film industry, and all of us who enjoy movies and TV shows. This show SUCKS I HATE IT it is so depressing. But I love it. Listen to it.
🎙️You Had Me At Hello is a new podcast that tells extraordinary love stories, hosted by Taye Diggs. It kicks off with the story of two high school sweethearts Dennis and Karen who have a baby far too young, get separated and then reunite after 50 years apart. It’s a two-parter, we really get the chance to get to know them, their sweet young romance, the tough aftermath of putting their baby up for adoption, and (spoiler alert, but you knew where this was going) finally meeting her. (That must have been one big hug.) The whole thing feels like an extended version of those beautiful vignettes in When Harry Met Sally. It’s a story of impossible, enduring love, told by two older people who have lived long and complicated lives but still get a happy ending. Listen here.
🎙️The first two episodes of Past Perfect dropped on Friday, and I completely lost myself in the quick, nostalgia-packed game show hosted by Simone Polanen (of Not Past It.) Simone travels to the 80s with Emmanuel Dzotsi and Saidu Tejan-Thomas, and the 90s with Milly Tamarez and Alise Morales. I was screaming out the answers, I think my heart rate went up. I also laughed a lot. Listen here.
🎙️On Sam Dingman’s Friday episode of The Midnight Disease, 1) I learned Sam Dingman has a Substack! (Subscribe now.) And 2) that my write-up of The Midnight Disease from last week made him think. And Sam, I must say, now that I feel like our newsletter and podcast are in conversation with another, I didn’t think you were being thoughtless in your interview with Ronald Young Jr.! The opposite! Listen here.
🎙️Money Maker / Mi Mundo Rico with Nely Galán is the first business podcast with episodes in English and in Spanish and addresses the gap in entrepreneurial content for the Latino community. Host Nely Galán, Cuban immigrant, the first Latina President of Entertainment for a U.S. television network (Telemundo) and New York Times best-selling author, brings listeners her hard-won business advice, stories of how being an immigrant affected her entrepreneurial mindset, and interviews with other self-made gurus ready to pass the baton to the next success story. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
📦 From the Archives 📦
[From April 27, 2020] UnFictional’s The Rowing Man is such a beautiful piece. It tells the story of Ove Joensen, who in 1984 rowed across the North Atlantic Ocean from the Faroe Islands to Copenhagen in a ship he built himself, with a cat. On his first attempt he failed and had to be rescued by villagers of the remote Shetland Islands. This episode is about the relationship that blossomed between Ove and the people of the Shetland Islands. The combination of the music, sound, and voices of the actual villagers 30 years later (speaking in their native tongue) makes this an episode that really thrusts you in another place and time.
From the Desk of Tink
Today we’re talking to Corin Lines, host of In Her Ellement, where she interviews the women at the vanguard of technology in business, art, education, and more to dig into how these powerhouse leaders got where they are—everything from the joy of projects gone right to the realities of family responsibilities—and crucially, asking: what was that moment you knew you weren't merely getting there...you had arrived? (That's when you know you're in your element.)
Describe the show in ten words or less: Inspiring women leaders across diverse fields share their remarkable journeys.
Who is it for? In Her Ellement caters to a wide audience intrigued by the captivating journeys of women leading the way in tech, business, art, education, and more. For those seeking inspiration and insight, the podcast delves into the stories of these accomplished leaders, exploring their paths to success, from triumphant projects to managing familial obligations. Whether you’re an aspiring professional, an entrepreneur, or someone who appreciates compelling narratives, the podcast offers a rich exploration of diverse experiences and serves as a source of empowerment and enlightenment.
Which episode to start with? I ABSOLUTELY loved the Dana Karwas episode because it just shows how all encompassing the show is! Its fabulous as she discusses how diverse her “day in the life” is — that she is exposed to anything from experts in data visualization to contemplating the space time continuum. This was one of our first episodes we ever recorded, back in May 2022, and it’s amazing b/c she mentioned her team leveraging GPT 3 and Open AI to create the Alan Turing Opera. The opera clip is inserted into the episode and it’s just legendary!! Give it a listen!
Favorite listener interaction: I think every single time a listener reaches out and compliments the show is such a thrill!! I absolutely love hearing from our community in any format at any time. That feedback is such a gift and it propels us forward!
Dream guest: Greta Gerwig because I think her perspective as a female director would be incredibly fascinating to learn about. Not to mention, I think her story would be wonderful to share with our listeners.
Would love to be a guest on… I think I would have to say the Stuff You Should Know Podcast because I have a love for the esoteric and I always enjoy how they take something that perhaps not that maybe people would have an interest in and dive deep to provide awesome insights. For example, the Max Headroom Incident (In 1987 a strange broadcast intrusion occurred in Chicago — I won’t ruin it but each episode is like that!) I’m not sure if I’m interesting enough but I could undoubtedly learn a ton from being on their show!
Dream partnership: Partnering with the Grace Hopper Organization would be a dream come true based on the incredible heritage, trailblazing contributions and broad reaching customer base.
If I could force one person in the world to listen to my podcast it’d be: No idea!! Making anyone do anything against there will seems to backfire so not sure that would have the desired effect!
What do your parents /kids/family think you do? My parents aren’t too sure but my sister thinks podcasting is super cool!! My children are a bit too small to understand (1 and 4) but my husband is my biggest fan and advocate!!
Do your kids think you’re cool? Hmmm. A bit of case by case on this one. If I’m taking thing to a special place or letting them stuff their faces with candies they are massive fans and think I’m sure cool - Obviously those moments are incredibly rare so overall I’d say they think I’m kind of a drag always harping on about balanced dinners and brushing their teeth etc…