👗 The closet within us 🛸 waltzes with spaceships 🧺 a picnic basket scorned 🐜 ball of eels🎢 Mickey's night kitchen🥛
🍭 👂 TRUST ME! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, April 3. There are 39 days until my next Disney cruise. In case this email is too long, CHAOS IS A GOOD A STYLIST AS ANY!!!! here, a fairytale ending for a prison here, we need your help for Tink’s Adopt-a-Listener month. Join here.
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IMPORTANT: With NPR's decision to stop production on Rough Translation (the last season of the show is scheduled for the summer) Gregory Warner has launched a newsletter, Around the World in 85 Days (subscribe here) and is asking you to share your favorite Rough Translation episode and explain why it meant so much to you. Email a note or 3-minute voice memo to email@example.com. They might use your words on the show. You can also send one to me, I'll pass it along! Here's to Rough Translation finding a new home.
👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
The story starts with a very specific moment, a hate crime that takes place in 1997 Chicago. How did that moment change your life?
I realized I’d never be satisfied if I didn’t take action against the systemic and violent racism that oppresses Black folks in this country. It also opened my eyes to how power, race and politics really work in Chicago.
How has your investigative reporting with this podcast been different from the newspaper reporting you were doing?
I’ve been able to access so much more information, in the form of public records and the personal accounts of so many people involved. More importantly, my reporting is reaching a number that exponentially dwarfs the readership of the paper I reported for in 1997.
How have you changed as a reporter in the last 25 years?
I’m a much less emotional reporter. I’m just as outraged by the tragedies and atrocities I witness but I’m more focused on judging policy, dynamics and courses of action than individuals.
You spent ten years in jail. How were you different when you came out?
When I came out, I was caught in an interesting dichotomy. On one hand, I felt like a sage who’d grown wiser for having studied the meaning of life in solitude. At the same time, I felt like a newborn in a world that’s seen social media, gender politics, hip-hop and so many other dynamics radically change the cultural landscape.
Can we talk about memory? How much of this story did you remember, how much work did you have to get it all out of your brain?
I remembered most of my experience and findings from my 1997 investigation but there were some I’d conflated. In addition to countless hours of interviewing people who were there, I spent just an equal amount pouring out my own memories in recorded sessions with my producers. There were several instances in which revisiting the facts as recorded in public records served to sharpen my memory.
Why is this story a podcast?
It was the suggestion of Jamie Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute. They’d just completed SOMEBODY, an amazing investigative journalism podcast that was nominated for a Pulitzer, so they understood how fitting the podcast format was for a story with so many complex threads.
Chicago is a character in this story. How do you make a place a character?
People make a place. Taking tidbits of history that only residents of a particular place would know, and integrating them into the narratives more widely understood by outsiders can give life to a place. Similarly, a wide range of voices unique to a particular place can begin to highlight the dynamics that humanize it.
Describe your relationship with Chicago.
Another interesting dichotomy. My relationship with Chicago is similar to my love-hate relationship with America. I adore it because it’s home and I could never know a place or its people so intimately. At the same time, I’m disgusted and disappointed with it for taking my love for granted. I imagine it’s like a wife who constantly sees the potential for a happy home destroyed by her violently abusive husband.
If you were going to start another podcast, your budget is $1M and you don’t have to worry about logistics or whether or not anyone would like it, what would it be?
I’d explore all the ways racism has morphed to plague Black folks in America and reverse engineer them. The goal would be to identify how each and every one of us might be tasked with solving the problem of white supremacy in this country through changes in policy and personal behavior.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
Avery Trufelman just finished a masterful series on preppy clothes. And then one day last week we got a single beautiful episode dedicated to Cher Horowitz’s Closet. Never would I have realized what a nightmare for set directors it was to make a fantasy closet in a movie. But that closet, that we have all been coveting since 1995, is also a nightmare to recreate in real life. We got self-driving cars (sort of) before we got Cher’s dream closet? Who’s in charge of this universe, a man? I won’t spoil anything but there’s an (Articles of) InterestING reason why we can’t make this goddam closet no matter how hard we try and why really, we shouldn’t. Because, really, we already have it. THE CLOSET WAS IN OUR HEARTS ALL ALONG. See, aren’t you tempted to listen? I wrote this in my notes: CHAOS IS A GOOD A STYLIST AS ANY!!!! This episode will make you love your clothes, start shopping in your closet more, and start dressing in a way that might slightly confuse others but ultimately will impress them. This review is terrible, the episode is not, just
✨It is with great sadness I report that podcast network Starburns Audio will be ceasing operations, effective immediately after seeing a decline in advertising sales in the last few quarters. After pursuing many different avenues to keep the company going, CEO Land Romo and Director of Development Brian Baldinger ultimately had to cease operations, eliminating all staff, including their own roles, to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for the shows on the network. In a letter to their shows and talent, Land and Brian wrote: “We are shattered, heartbroken. We fought every day for the last several months, up until and including this week, believing that we were going to be able to make it. And we’ve just hit a wall that we are unable to get over.” Starburns Audio’s ethos of remaining independent while creating and championing exciting, unique, and inclusive comedic voices will be dearly missed in the podcasting landscape.
✨The Podcast Show London is back for its second edition this spring and will once again bring together thousands from the global podcast community under one roof at the Business Design Centre in the buzzing borough of Islington, May 24-25. Expect huge names, 150+ sessions, global brands, networking and Preview Night on May 23. Book passes now and save 25%.
✨BIPOC Podcast Creators is hosting Audience Building Mastery, a 4-part masterclass led by experts in the podcasting industry. This series will provide in-depth, proven tactics to help you reach your target audience and build a loyal following. Featuring Anthony Frasier (CEO ABF Creative,) Tangia Renee Estrada (co-founder of BIPOC Podcast Creators,) Donald Albright (CEO and co-founder of Tenderfoot TV,) and me. View the full schedule and class objectives here.
✨Read 🚀 How to (smartly) launch a podcast from nothing 🚀 via Podcast Marketing Magic.
✨VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Tink has named April Adopt-a-Listener month. We’re asking you to “adopt” someone who says “podcasts aren’t for me” and give them a podcast or episode they’ll love. More at tinkmedia.co/adopt. Read more:
💁♀️ Kate’s Corner, week 3 🎧
Last week I asked my friend Kate “the Podcast Hater” Later listen to How To!. Later, Derek L. John (EP of Narrative Pods at Slate) recommended this particular episode, How To Talk Politics With Your Dad (Without Yelling.) She didn’t have time to listen but I’m not giving up on her, and neither should you. Kate, thinking you might also like Life Kit.
Kate reads this newsletter, so you can talk to her in the comments. Give her your own recommendations below.
🎙️Cat Jaffee was diagnosed with cancer within an hour of her hometown of Denver, Colorado going on Covid lock down and had to go through chemo on her own. The beginning of this episode of Radiolab is about what that was like, and I found myself nodding my head along with Cat as she shared that going through chemo might be easier to endure in solitude. I’m not sure I’d want others around, to have to worry about how they are doing, if I’m being a good patient. I think it’s something I’d want to go through by myself so I could focus on myself. Then the story swings to Lael Wilcox, who broke a record competitive bikepacking, but was disqualified because she had emotional support along the way. In this case, was having emotional support an unfair advantage or was it a hindrance? Everyone needs different levels of support, but then science steps in to say that we physically heal faster, we endure much better, if our brain knows there is someone else there to pick up the pieces, pick up slack. It’s something that makes so much sense technically, but I’d never imagined that it could be something backed up by facts. With storytelling and science, this episode will make you reconsider the support you give and receive in your life. It did it for me. Listen here.
🎙️Attn book lovers: Remember Reading? is a totally underrated show that offers a unique and complex look into books that will help you remember your favorite books as seen through the lens of current writers. I get really jazzed about this one, and was excited to see a new season launching off with an episode about In The Night Kitchen, Maurice Sendak’s strange and frenzied story about Mickey's adventures in a bakers' kitchen, coping with the adult world in his dreams. Authors Sergio Ruzzier and Antionette Portis come on to discuss the controversy surrounding Mickey’s nudity and the revelatory impact of Sendak’s books on children’s literature and the human experience. It inspired me relisten to Terry Gross’ interview with Maurice—it always, always makes me cry to hear Maurice reflect on aging and death, his sincerity and love for children, and the intimate moment he share with Terry. It’s one of the best interviews I’ve heard, and I recommend it to anyone collecting good interviews. Listen to Remember Reading here.
🎙️Anti-Trans Hate Machine kicked off a new season looking at how disinformation campaigns have influenced the trans community, fueling well-meaning and liberal parents to believe in conspiracy theories about the origins of gender identity. We hear from a mom, Jeanne Ogden, who was influenced by the fringe blog 4th Wave to help justify blocking her daughter Cam from receiving the care she needs. It’s a conversation about the after, how Jeanne and Cam are working to pick up the pieces, and the consequences of Jesse “I’m Just Asking Questions” Signal’s article that stoked fear and trans social contagion theory. This episode is informative and heart-felt, a human look at what trans disinformation can do to a person, a family. Listen here.
🎙️The pitcher on this week’s The Pitch was so good it was rather disheartening to find that (spoiler alert) 0% of the panelists bought into her product Modern Picnic. This woman knew every number, every complicated-sounding business topic, every trend, every “what-if.” She was so sharp it scared me and if she can’t get funding who can? It can’t have anything to do with the fact that this item was built for women with jobs who eat (a target audience identified as “too niche” by a panelist,) can it? Who’s in charge of this universe? Men? Go sell the shit out of those bags, girl. Listen here.
🎙️Sarah Marshall began her You’re Wrong About interview with Amanda Knox saying, “This is You’re Wrong About, the show about what our culture is up to and how we can be better.” The episode is a conversation in search of justice. Justice for the innocent and the guilty. Evil. Who is responsible for it? How do we have a safer society instead of retroactively doing justice to the people who made mistakes? How do we grant protection for those obviously innocent, and also those who aren’t? Hard questions, and some kind of answers with the idea of restorative justice, a model that is not punishment but repair. I wrote in my notes: WE ARE ALL CONNECTED!!! It’s an idea from Amanda that points out the way we punish people who are really ourselves puts us on an endless cycle of evil doing. I ended this dreary-sounding episode feeling optimistic. You’re Wrong About, the show about what our culture is up to and how we can be better. Listen here.
🎙️My mom and I are constantly embroiled in that classic mother/daughter fight. Mother wants daughter to flush her ashes down the toilet in Walt Disney World when she dies, daughter refuses. We fought about this on Judge John Hodgman but according to this episode about “wildcat scattering” on Stuff You Should Know, throwing her ashes into The Pirates of the Caribbean would be more ephemeral than if I did flush them down the toilet, which would deliver them (eventually) to Disney World flower beds. I’m still not doing it. I can’t believe we’re still talking about this. Listen here.
🎙️MUBI Podcast’s new season is here, this time focusing on iconic needle-drops in film. Episode one is the story of how Stanley Kubrick’s (against-the-advice-of-everyone) decision to pair waltzes with spaceships to create the ultimate classical music mixtape, revolutionizing movie music and causing mental and physical breakdowns of at least two composers. Listen here.
🎙️Jameela Jamil (I Weigh) is the host of the new show Bad Dates, where she asks funny friends about their dating nightmares. In the episode with Paul Feig, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Thomas Lennon, Paul tells a story so awkward and specific about a Christmas Day date that the other person didn’t know she was on, a ball-crushing horse mishap, and a cringe-worthy goodbye. It’s so weird I don’t even think it would have gotten green lit to be in a wacky rom com. Yet it’s relatable and brought me back to the days I was young and stupid and doing any and all the wrong things for someone to like me. Listen here.
🎙️Have you ever wanted to visit a theme park that is based on the concept of a ball of eels loosely framed by I Love Lucy? Sure, we all have. And have you ever wished that there was a behind-the-scenes podcast about the development of the theme park? Do I even have to ask? This is the premise for an episode of Off Book, where, inspired by the Murder She Wrote attraction at Universal (which is a real thing) Jessica McKenna, Zach Reino, and Tony Rodriguez make musical riffs, producing a musical on the spot, based on this completely unhinged idea. I love meta podcast things, amusement parks, unhinged things, Eels (the band and the ones in The Little Mermaid) and of course Lucille Ball. This is one of those episodes that felt like it was made just for me but I GUESS you can like it, too. Listen here. NOTE: I have always wondered how Jessica and Zach were able to create an improv comedy musical each week, and I guess they can’t anymore. They made a happy/sad/loving announcement: they’re kind of ending the show. But there are like 300 musicals in the archive you can listen to for free, so we should all feel so grateful.
🎙️Ursa Short Fiction is back with an interview with ZZ Packer, author of Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, a book that is celebrating 20 years, a book that has inspired so many short-fiction writers. ZZ Packer is one of those writers who has come up again and again on Ursa Short Fiction, so this is an episode that the show has really been leading up to. Deesha and Dawnie talk to ZZ about how ZZ’s stories opened us all up to what short fiction is capable of doing. Listen here.
🎙️Last Day is a show that I can remember listening to for the very first time. I felt like it was a historic day that felt special and different. It’s back for a new season, with a bit of a lighter lift (how do you get heavier than suicide, drug abuse, and gun violence?) by interviewing people about their individual stories. Stephanie is the kind of interviewer and podcast host that makes you want to say, “hold me, please.” (“Everything that sucks is going to be okay,” she replies.) I always listen to a song between podcast episodes and had just been listening to REM’s Radio Free Europe, which led to an episode of R U Talkin' R.E.M. RE: ME?, back when it was called U Talkin' U2 To Me?, to an episode about Murmur that featured Stephanie’s brother Harris, whose life and tragic death was the subject of Last Day’s season one. Wow, what a sentence! Listen to Last Day here.
🎙️Just launched: the Dear Prudence advice podcast, hosted by Jenee Desmond-Harris aka the current Dear Prudence or "Prudie.” Jamilah Lemieux joins to answer questions about warning Black tourists in a sundown town and whether or not a woman’s experience abroad made her wish she was more…oppressed? Interesting questions, very thoughtful advice. Listen here.
🎙️On Rumble Strip, Erica Heilman drove around and asked people “What class are you?” It feels like you’re in the back seat with her. She’s great at getting people to open up about a potentially uncomfortable question, even getting people to answer “What class do you think I, Erica Heilman, am?” This could be a series. Listen here.
🎙️On 99% Invisible, Roman Mars air drops us into the center of a city in the Netherlands, Breda, to give us the history of a HUGE (and gorgeous, look it up) domed prison that was built in 1886, though it looks like something you’d see in Star Wars. The dome, a blueprint for penitentiaries and a metaphor for the surveillance state, illustrates the evolution of the way we think about punishment. It’s a really interesting story, especially once you get to the end, which kind of puts a bow on everything and makes it seem almost like a fairytale. Because today, the closed prison is being used to house Ukrainian refugees. There are still bars on the windows and locks on the doors. But there are armchairs and places for yoga and volleyball. It’s now a place that brings people together in a completely new way. Listen here.
🎙️Twenty Thousand Hertz looked at the history of insurance jingles, and how they survived despite the fact that most other industries have done away with them. This episode is so fun because Dallas plays and examines some of the catchiest jingles we’ve heard, which makes us think about the ones that have stuck with us, the ones that worked, and why some industries might use a jingle or a twist on the jingle, and how these twists have evolved. Plus, it’s a look at insurance, something that’s important and boring yet more fascinating than we give it credit for. If you’re interested in brand stories or marketing (or insurance, Dad I’m talking to you,) you’ll love it. Listen here.
🎙️Glassbox launched Business of Sound, a podcast that talks to industry experts, content creators, and media buyers about how to earn more money from podcasting. Ad sales, monetization strategies, audience growth, new distribution channels, and cutting-edge production techniques, oh my. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
📦 From the Archives 📦
[From December 5, 2019] The first time I listened to The Complete Woman on Earwolf I didn't appreciate it. (It's pretty experimental and I think I used to have a more traditional idea of what I liked to listen to.) Comedian Amanda Lund takes us back to the '60s, giving us advice for a good life and marriage. I listened to everything again, and was dying from laughter. The writing is tight and the humor is quick. So excited about its offshoot, The Complete Christmas.