💘 The end of Why Won't You Date Me?!? 👩🏾❤️👨🏻 Are you smarter than Encyclopedia Brown? 🔍 car brain 🚘 Michelin stars ⭐️ laugh yourself to sleep 💤
🍭 👂 TRUST ME! 🌈 🤸♀️
Today is Monday, February 6. There are 94 days until my next Disney cruise. In case this email is too long, does Nicole Byer have a boyfriend?, are you smarter than Encyclopedia Brown?, why do you do what you do, dear Earthling?
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👋q & a & q & a & q & a👋
Ahmed Ali Akbar
Ahmed Ali Akbar is the host of Crooked Media’s Radiolingo. Follow him on Twitter here.
Explain Radiolingo to us in ten words or less.
How language shapes the world, a Crooked and Duo Collab
How do you tell people to pronounce your name?
Listen to the first episode and you’ll learn! It’s nearly impossible to explain in text. And unless you’re very familiar with North India and Punjab, it’s definitely not how you think!
If someone mispronounces our names, should we correct them?
This is something I didn’t get into in the show — but what IS a mispronunciation? When I interviewed my dad about my name, I was surprised to hear him say my name two different ways — with or without an emphasized “H.” Is one a mispronunciation? Or is there consistent natural variation in the way we speak?
I think a mispronunciation is when someone causes you discomfort in how they say your name. And if it’s that far to make you uncomfortable, then yes, you should consider saying something! In general, people with “difficult” names perpetually live with or accept that discomfort.
Fill in the blank: You will like Radiolingo if you like ______
The movie Arrival!
Why are you the perfect host for the show?
Because I spend a lot of my time thinking about language; it’s perfect that I get to spend the time to refine all my questions into a format that combines reporting, personal storytelling, and interviews with experts. All things I’m very good at!
How have you changed as a podcast host?
I started podcasting really as a digital media writer and I had no idea the amount of writing you could do in a podcast. I didn’t even really understand how radio was made; I just knew how to do an interview.
Now I’m way more interested in improving my writing as a host. I’m more comfortable reading a script. And I think a lot more about how the audience processes what they’re hearing.
Can you tell people about episode one and how you used it to introduce you and the show to the audience?
The pilot is the first thing we made for the show and it explores one major question: Can I help people pronounce my name closer to how I say it?
We really wanted to use science and linguistics to explore the things that make a name “difficult” and how that impacts your life. But it’s also optimistic: I feel quite sure, after the reporting for that episode, that I can help you pronounce my name correctly.
Do your parents understand what you do? If I were to say, “what’s Ahmed’s job?” What would they say?
Absolutely. My dad is a huge advocate for me. He’d probably say “Ahmed is a journalist and hosts podcasts!” I’ll text him right now and see.
Ok, I’m back. Abu said,
More into podcasts”
If you could start another podcast, your budget is $1M and don’t worry about logistics or whether or not anyone would like it, what would it be?
I think with that money, I would want to fund one show of my own where I get to do deep-dive reporting into a singular American Muslim story — I can’t tell you what the stories are because I am currently working on that! And then, I’d be interested in helping other Muslim storytellers work on their own stuff in the medium.
But I also would happily do a show where I talk about X-Men and fighting game characters.
What’s something exciting you learned making the show?
Babies know their own name by four months!! Sometimes I don’t even know someone's name when I’ve known them for four months. Babies are so smart.
What’s one show you love that everyone already loves?
Can I say Another Round? Old show, but still one of the best. But for a current show, Latino USA is like my lone star.
What’s one show you love that not enough people know about?
Well, in my mind the audience is quite powerful, but I love CEREBRO, the deep-dive queer X-Men pod.
🚨If u only have time for 1 thing🚨
On Meddling Adults, Mike Schubert invites funny guests to compete on one of the silliest game shows in existence by challenging them to solve the mysteries found inside the pages of Encyclopedia Brown, Scooby Doo, and more. It’s always a funny conversation about storytelling and cracking a case that is sometimes super easy to solve, sometimes nearly impossible. There is something I love about treating these stories with such seriousness. The guests are always so down to completely immerse themselves in the mystery and potentially embarrass themselves if they can’t figure out something intended for children. Each episode takes you through a few stories and back to your childhood, and winners get money sent to a charity of their choice. I’m so excited it’s back for a new season.
✨In collaboration with Frequency Machine, Tink launched Riveter, a podcast production and marketing joint venture company that has identified a more effective way to grow a podcast audience. Riveter will provide clients with community-driven newsletters, Slack and Discord management services, video content creation, live events, boots-on-the-ground — wherever the community for that show spends their time. To celebrate our launch, we are giving one U.S.-based non-profit our Podcast Launchpad package for free so they can create a podcast pilot episode that will help them achieve their mission via a fresh approach — by reaching a new audience. Learn more here.
🎟️ On Air Fest is the premier cultural event for audio creatives and inspired listeners. It brings together an expansive range of emerging and established voices to explore the creative possibilities of sound. On Air Fest carves a place for artists and storytellers who are defining this moment in audio. Get a ticket. (Includes ticket to Podcast Experience.)
🎟️ On Air: The Podcast Experience features multiple rooms at Wythe Hotel taken over by a collection of podcasts and their creators. Drawing inspiration from open studio tours and immersive theater, each curated space will envelop visitors in the world of a single podcast designed to spark imagination, delight and discovery. With rooms designed by My Favorite Murder and the Exactly Right Network, On Being Project, The Heart and more to be announced, On Air: The Podcast Experience runs from Feb 23-26. Get a ticket.
✨One of the most fun podcast articles I’ve read in awhile is this list of things learned listening to podcasts, compiled by Arielle Nissenblatt.
✨ My recent Lifehacker piece: 10 Podcasts That Spill Juicy, Scandalous Secrets
✨Feed the Queue, the podcast discovery podcast I co-host with Adela Mizrachi of Podcast Brunch Club, featured an episode of Radio Workshop. Listen here.
✨Arielle Nissenblatt spotlighted Sound Judgment in her newsletter and podcast.
✨Call 1-844-POD-AT-ME (1-844-763-2863) to hear a daily podcast recommendation, and leave your own recommendation at the beep! You can suggest your own show so this is a great way to market your show. Don’t worry, we won’t answer the phone! (We know calling random numbers can be terrifying.)
✨ Help demystify podcast marketing. Complete the Podcast Marketing Trends 2023 survey to share your podcast marketing process, frustrations, wins & failures. Plus, you’ll be automatically entered to win one of 10+ growth-oriented prizes to help you market smarter & grow faster.
🎙️I’m really enjoying this new thing from Sasha Sagan (daughter of Carl) called Strange Customs, a podcast about the weird things we Earthlings do and why. The artwork and music are beautiful, and it’s going after something a little different by examining the rituals and traditions and customs we have and looking deeply into where are longing to do them comes from. (And if they make any sense.) She has a casual conversation with a creative person and then gets into the nitty gritty with an expert, so we get two layers to things like weddings and travel. It’s a fresh, challenging look at the human experience and what drives us, and a joyous reminder about what makes us human. Listen here.
🎙️On the first Sunday of every month, Joe Pera is helping us fight the Sunday Scaries with Drifting Off, a podcast “with low-key jokes, immersive soundscapes, and relaxing phone conversations.” With rich narration and immersive sound design, it’s meant to help us fall asleep but it’s too much fun for that. It’s terribly relaxing, though. The first episode was with Jo Firestone and it’s about soup. Drifting Off is short, sweet, and a soft place to fall back on. Listen here.
🎙️For a crossover episode of my dreams, Perry Carpenter and Mason Amadeus appeared on Chelsey Weber-Smith’s American Hysteria to talk about their new show Digital Folklore, ostentation, monster theory, and how the internet is the new dark and scary woods. It’s packed with laughs but feels like an academic. Let’s call this crossover genre “digital hysteria.” Listen here.
🎙️Listen, I am not a fan of bicycles. I am a New York City pedestrian confident that riding one in my neighborhood would land me in the hospital in ten minutes, and I feel like I’m nearly run over by a bike daily. I do hate cars, though, so The War on Cars and I have a lot in common, and it’s helping me understand that cyclists and pedestrians might hate each other, but we are all victims of the automobile industry. These episodes are always a total grab bag of fun explorations into muscle cars and The New York International Auto Show and parking lots. The latest got a bit philosophical, explaining how living in a car-dominated society has influenced our ethics and morals. The idea stems from motonormativity, a term Dr. Ian Walker (he’s on the episode) coined that means the “cultural inability to think objectively and dispassionately” about how we use cars. (Think of it like heteronormativity, the idea that heterosexual couples automatically assume all other people fit their own categories, but for cars.) It’s a thought experiment about what the world would be like if cars didn’t have a hold over us, death machines that we put in front of so many things, and rationalize harming other people, stealing private, and putting society at risk. I guess I’m not a bike hater. Cars are the culprit. Listen here.
🎙️Copper and Heat is about the restaurant business, and with The Menu out and Noma closing, it’s one to pay attention to. (It’s also the recipient of a James Beard award.) I freaking loved how they kicked off the season with an episode about culinary foam (that ended up being about a lot more than culinary foam) and they closed the season with an episode about the Michelin Guide. We’re learning about all this behind-the-scenes bullshit happening around The Oscars and other awards shows, so the problems with Michelin star system shouldn’t surprise us, but it’s a different kind of crooked. State tourism boards will pay $150K for Michelin to come to rate their city restaurants, and it’s definitely a mixture of pay-to-play and marketing, and not a meritocracy. It’s starting to feel a little stuffy, and a useful cog to keep the restaurant industry going. Listen here.
🎙️Jesus Wept dropped part two in their series about The Creation Museum, which I appreciated, but these 1/month episodes are killing me and I am going to need them to pick up the pace. Listen here.
🎙️Smoke Screen is back with Deadly Cure, which tackles the story of the Grenon family, who created Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, an organization that encouraged people to purchase and ingest a toxic bleaching agent they called Miracle Mineral Solution as a sacrament. This story has everything—manipulation, religion, dramatic family dynamics, and a rag tag group of activists and keyboard warriors who chased the Grenons down for years called “The Bleach Hunters.” It’s a chapter in America’s obsession with scamming vulnerable people, distrusting the government, and looking at the Covid crisis and seeing dollar signs. Listen here.
🎙️The Ugly Ducking of Italian Cuisine popped into our feeds for another season celebrating the beautiful, weird, disgusting delicacies of Italy. These are the foods too ugly or gross for Instagram like chicken testicles and maggot-filled cheese (some of theses things are illegal in Australia, where the podcast is produced) but they tell a rich story of some of the most interesting Italian foods you can find and the culture that loves them. Each episode is an exploration of the food’s history, the region it comes from, and how to prepare it. Episodes are released in English and Italian—so this is another way to brush up if you’ve been enjoying 3’ Grezzi. First episode of the new season is about i ricci di mare, or sea urchin gonads. Listen here.
🎙️On You’re Wrong About, Sarah Marshall spent two episodes with Carolyn Kendrick to unravel the complicated story of Karen Carpenter, from her upbringing as a talented singer and drummer to her untimely death at age 32 (!) from anorexia. Much of the Karen Carpenter discourse has been about her illness, but this miniseries focuses on her massive talent, the pressure she was under to succeed, the manipulation of her family, and what might have been going through her mind as she starved herself to death. This is a piece that fleshes out the pieces of the story that aren’t often explored, and tells a story of what it’s like to be a thriving woman in the world. Or trying very hard to be. Carolyn is a musician, and has insight into Karen’s singing and drumming that gave me new appreciation for her. What would have happened if Karen had dated Steve Martin? Gotten the help she needed? Had any agency at all? We’ll never know, but guessing offers important lessons about the pressures we put upon ourselves and the pressures put on us by others and just how wild this illness is. Sarah and Carolyn end the series singing a Karen Carpenter song, which got me all emotional and stuff. Listen here and here.
🎙️I squealed with delight when I saw the episode title on this one from Why Won’t You Date Me?: Nicole's Boyfriend Speaks His Truth (w/ Dan Black). I looked on Nicole’s Instagram, Dan Black’s Instagram, and it seemed to be true! Both had photos of themselves making out and hanging together. Was this the end of Why Won’t You Date Me? Spoil alert: the two were caught smoochin’ but this whole thing was a joke that Nicole started on Instagram, having no idea that her listeners would be so excited and take her seriously. Dan is on the show to work out whether or not they are dating (again, they are not.) But the question is: why did Nicole think it was so funny, the idea of her dating Dan? It was a joke lost on Nicole’s listeners, who were excited she found a partner. Why is the idea of finding love (with someone like Dan Black perhaps?) funny to her? Why does so much hang on whether or not we have a partner at all? Hear her work her way through the joke and riff on her fake relationship with Dan. And stop worrying if you thought the show would end. Nicole is still in the dating game. Listen here.
🎙️Millennial History is a podcast of musical journalism, looking at recent world history through the eyes of millennials, woven together with music that feels it was made for the stories. Andrea Voets talks to an Italian who can remember in detail the day the mafia blew up the highway behind his grandmother’s house, killing judge Giovani Falcone. A catholic and a protestant who lived through The Troubles in Ireland. It’s focusing on a narrow group of people who can add a layer into the way we understand our history. The stories are layered with music and words that create a uniquely immersive effect and add depth to the storytellers’ words. More than sixty bands from four countries donated the music, and the music alone is worth hearing. Listen here.
🎙️On Too Niche?, Elizabeth Kott and Lara Marie Schoenhals read through The New York Times' 13 Predictions for Life in 2023 together. It takes a special kind of duo to make this kind of content so electric, but the hosts nail it. They’re hysterical and have such a unique way with words, I’m confident they could read any list out there entertaining. (I think they should challenge themselves and go through a list of something totally mundane, like the Wikipedia entry for dive bars or something.) This is the kind of show you turn on when you need some friends talking in the background. They’re always surprising and have a funny way of drawing you into their sparkling personalities and lives. Listen here.
🎙️Courtney E. Smith (Songs in the Key of Death) has launched Songs My Ex Ruined, which is about something so specific yet universal—songs that we cannot listen to anymore due to their traumatic ties to heartbreak (or just shitty people) in the past. There should be a specific word for this, maybe there’s a German one. Each song is a springboard into a story of relationship shittiness, but the episodes aren’t bummers, they’re cathartic and will make you feel connected to the universe. Avery Trufelman kicks off with an interesting story about the Grizzly Bear’s “Yet Again.” Listen here.
🎙️On All the Wiser, host Kimi Culp has knack for drawing out her guest’s most difficult life stories in a way that makes you feel like you are experiencing them yourself. It’s difficult to pick just one episode to feature—every story is a jaw-dropper. (The one from this week about a domestic abuse victim had me biting a hole through my lip.) On her kick-off episode of the new season (these seasons are somehow getting better and better) Kimi talks to Jessica Ekhoff, a new mom who seemed to have it all but struggled with PostPartum Bipolar days after the birth of her son. The way she explains those days of confusion and fear make it seem like you are inside her skull, lost in her body, seeing through the same fog she was wading through during her lowest moments. There are funny moments, too, like when Jessica describes thinking she was in an escape room at the psychiatric ward and having a blast. It’s a look at a very real, very scary version of motherhood that a lot of people experience to a variety of degrees. This episode lets you feel like you’re living through a horror movie. (But like all of these episodes, there’s hope at the end. And these episodes are one for one, meaning that Kimi always donates $2,000 to a charity of her guest’s choice.) Listen here.
🎙️Mind Set Win is a podcast from Red Bull that features amazing people from the world of sport sharing the mental tactics behind their success. Hosts Cédric Dumont and Kate Courtney follow up the interviews with simple tips you can use to beef up your mental strength. (A recent episode with Ben Stokes covers how to tackle a phenomenon called negativity bias using the Notice-Shift-Rewire process.) Episodes are teensy quickies you can listen to in the morning while you’re brushing your teeth. Listen here.
🎙️I love you!
From the Archives
[From Oct 24, 2019] Please stop what you are doing and listen to Mija, Lory Martinez's audio drama that tells the heart-felt story of a Colombian-American family’s immigration to the United States across generations. Read more about the project here. I do not have the words to describe why I loved Mija so much. It's powerful storytelling. Each 10-minute episode focuses on one family member, describing in great detail on one tiny moment of the person's life. With a single, bite-sized story, the listener gets to know the family on a very deep level. It's amazing to see what Lory is capable of doing in just ten minutes. The podcast is trilingual, too, offering a channel in English, French and Spanish. The word that comes to my mind is magic. It brought me so much joy. Listen here.
The Tragedy Academy is a show created to bridge societal divides in a judgment-free zone using candor and humor. Welcome to class…
Each week at the academy we look at society through a microscope, dissect human nature, and clown around without risk of getting sent to that special desk in the corner. Adjunct professors and student teachers drop in to teach us about life from a different point of view.
Pass us a note on social media and let us know what subject you’d like to hear about next. Or teach us something new.
See you, next class…
Be cool. Keep learning.
This week we’re getting to peek into the listening life of Alicia Mackey, Director of Podcast Marketing for Ten Percent Happier living in Nashville, TN.
The app you use to listen: Spotify Premium (from day 1)
What speed do you listen to podcasts? 1x (you 2x heathens)
How do you discover new shows? Friends (usually via Social media) and newsletters
One show you love that everybody loves. Good Inside with Dr. Becky
One show you love that not enough people know about. Dr. John Delony Show
Hot take: I think the irony of working in podcasting, is that podcasters don't listen to a lot of other new podcasts (or even their own products enough)...we have to build in the time to consume!
Self-care tip: Move your body every day, whether you want to or not. And wear SPF religiously (yes, men too).