ALEX GOLDMAN REPLY ALL
GRETCHEN RUBIN HAPPIER WITH GRETCHEN RUBIN
ELAINE M. SHELDON and SARAH GINSBURG She Does Behind the Theme Music with BREAKMASTER CYLINDER
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e are podsters. We are obsessed with the Best Buy payphone and Leakin Park and the Nisha call. Mailkimp. We’re getting schooled on stuff we should know (“How Pez Works”) and stuff we missed in history class (“The Life and Times of Sir Isaac Newton”) and things that are 99 percent invisible (“Hacking IKEA”). We’re listening to serialized radio dramas like Welcome to Night Vale, Limetown, and The Message with the rapt attention our parents and grandparents devoted to Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy and Sky King in the Golden Age of Radio. We’re sneaking in Comedy Bang Bang when we’re supposed to be working. We love Ira Glass. And we’re talking about what we’re listening to. So that our endless discussions of Serial Podcast lead to larger discussions about the criminal justice system. And Anna Sale’s intimate conversations about death and sex and money open up our own confidences and wonderings. Photo by Debra Pandak
Click HERE to sign up for for FREE. And so, we bring you Podster. In this premiere issue we talk to Gretchen Rubin (Happier), Alex Goldman (Reply All), and the hosts of She Does. We get the story behind the theme music with Breakmaster Cylinder. And our contributing editor Colin Miller (Undisclosed) takes a deeper look at Adnan Syed’s defense attorney Cristina Gutierrez. Podster is produced by Shelf Media, whose Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine is the 2015 Maggie Award Winner for Best Digital Magazine. Subscriptions to Podster are free at www.shelfmediagroup.com. Welcome to Podster. MARGARET BROWN PUBLISHER/EDITOR 5
interview nterview interview
Alex Goldman: Reply All
Reply All describes itself as “a show about the Internet,” but really it’s great storytelling about the condition of being human, from an online dominatrix with a penchant for prank calls to the guy who (regretfully) invented the pop-up ad. The podcast, from Gimlet Media, is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman.
: How’d you get into radio? ALEX GOLDMAN: I graduated from journalism school in 2003 and had no idea what to do with my life. I moved to New York City without actually having a job or all that much money. Some friends of mine who were musicians were doing IT jobs, and so I went into IT to pay the bills. I was a network administrator from 2005 to 2010, and as it 6
wore on I thought I could make a career out of it. But I didn’t enjoy it. My wife pointed out one day, “Every Sunday afternoon you turn into a real jerk when you have to go back to work on Monday and you’re not happy.” So I had the choice of continuing down that path or trying to get into radio, which is something I’d always been interested in and part of the reason I went to journalism school. So I got an unpaid internship on the air at WNYC and quit my job. I was a mover on the weekend and just stuck around WNYC and that’s how I got into radio. PODSTER: That was really a leap of faith. Alex: Yeah, and I almost didn’t do it. PODSTER: Was it terrifyingly scary or did you feel like, Hey I’m just going to do it? Alex: It was terrifyingly scary, and if it wasn’t for my wife saying you’re idiot for
not taking this opportunity I probably would have just stayed at the job. But having someone who also relies on your financial wellbeing tell you that it’s a good idea—that’s a really strong motivation to do it. I appreciate it so much; it’s the best advice and support I’ve ever gotten. PODSTER: You were at public radio for several years and then you got this offer from Gimlet, which at the time had not really taken off yet. It seems like that was another big risk. What was it about Gimlet that made you want to join them? Alex: PJ and I were employees 4 and 5 at Gimlet; to give you reference I think we’re over 25 employees now just over a year later. There were a couple of things that made us want to do it. First, Alex Blumberg is really smart and was our editor the first six or eight months of the show, which was incredibly helpful. And we felt like we could do things we weren’t able to do at WNYC editorially, which we were really excited about. Like the recent episode where PJ does acid would not have flown at WNYC; that was an idea we had actually floated while we were there and the reaction was, “No, I don’t think you can do this.” PODSTER: At WNYC you were doing a show that was kind of similar. How’d you come up with the idea for Reply All? Alex: WNYC had a contest where they were asking people from within the station to
submit ideas and if they liked the idea they would pilot a show. Anna Sale’s Death, Sex & Money grew out of that— she was one of the winners. We were not one of the winners but we were one of the finalists, and our executive producer asked if we could make our show using existing resources. We said we could give it a shot and that’s how TLDR was born. TLDR was similar to Reply All but on a much smaller scale. PODSTER: Who came up with the title Reply All? Alex: My wife came up with that. We had a meeting where we were going to decide on the name of show. So I was laying in bed with my wife the night before and we were writing down computer terms in a notebook and she was just shouting out words. “Router, modem, reset, power cycle, reply all, send, forward.” The next day in the meeting each of us came with our own name suggestions. It was me, Matt Lieber, Alex Blumberg, and PJ Vogt and we had like 48 titles. We narrowed them down to five and Reply All wasn’t on that list. But then we were not particularly satisfied with the list and PJ said what about Reply All? Alex was like, “Yes, of course. Why did we get rid of that? That’s it!” PODSTER: That’s funny. What makes a good Reply All story? Alex: To craft an interesting narrative there need to beats, there need to be scenes, there need to be stakes, there needs to be something at stake, and it needs to sort of surprise you. For us to push a “this is a thing that happens” story into an actual Reply All episode, something has to happen, and then something unexpected has to happen from there, and usually we want two or three unexpected things to 7
ALEX LISTENS TO
Comedy Bang Bang “Comedy Bang Bang is a high-spirited get-together between host Scott Aukerman (“Mr. Show”, Producer of “Between Two Ferns”) and his funny friends! You can expect conversation, music, improv, games, and most importantly plugs.”
Analyze Phish “Harris Wittels and Scott Aukerman are friends, Harris likes Phish, and Scott does not. This show is a chance for Harris to defend his musical taste and maybe even gain a new concert buddy.”
U Talkin’ U2 to Me “Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation) and Scott Aukerman (Comedy Bang! Bang!) come together as superfan Adam Scott Aukerman to discuss the music and impact of the band. Listen in as these friends cover everything from Boy to No Line on the Horizon, and reveal a little something about themselves along the way.”
The Truth “The Truth is movies for your ears. We make short, often darkly funny stories that take you to unexpected places. Every story is different, and they’re usually around 10 to 20 minutes long.”
99 Percent Invisible “A tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.”
happen from there. We want to go on a journey. So ideally, the story focuses on a person or people, there is a narrative arch, and it points to some sort of bigger idea. PODSTER: One of the stories that really sticks in my head is the Berenstain Bears episode, where you talk about the Internet phenomenon of people insisting they remember the books as the Berenstein Bears (different spelling) and that the discrepancy is proof of an alternate universe. Alex: At the end of the episode PJ very foolishly said, “If you’ve always known it to be Berenstein, send us an email because we want to know.” That was a couple of months ago and we’re still getting emails saying, “I always knew it to be Berenstain and you guys are wrong; clearly an alternate universe doesn’t exist.” Which is crazy to me because I don’t think I’d ever met anybody who thought it was Berenstain until we posted our episode.” PODSTER: I’m absolutely convinced it was Berenstein.
Alex: I think that there’s just a convergence of universes maybe half of us are from one and half of us are from the other and at one point there was just like a switcheroo. PODSTER: Well, I’m from your universe. What have you learned about crafting stories or interviewing people in the course of doing Reply All? Alex: I’ve learned so much. Having Tim Howard as our senior producer has been incredible, mostly because he’s constantly antagonizing us to do things that we don’t want to do, constantly pushing us in the direction of the most difficult version of the story, where PJ and I would be inclined to chicken out and do the easy version. PODSTER: Like what? Alex: Every time we think we have enough voices or enough perspectives or we feel like we’ve got this narrative down, he’ll say, “No, you’re missing this idea—you either need to go back and do another hour’s worth of interviewing or you need to find another person to talk to.” He doesn’t let us rest on our laurels, which is really easy to do. PODSTER: So you just had a son, Harvey. How old is he? Alex: He is almost ten months PODSTER: What’s that been like? Alex: It’s been amazing. It’s been pretty exhausting to me—I gave birth to this show in November and then my wife gave birth to our son at the end of January. So it’s been hard to find enough time in my life to devote to both of them. I’m really happy with both, I just have this constant nagging feeling at all times that I’m neglecting either the show or my son. 9
ALEX LISTENS TO
Song Exploder “Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Each episode is produced and edited by host Hrishikesh Hirway in Los Angeles.”
Love + Radio “Nick van der Kolk’s Love and Radio features in-depth, otherworldlyproduced interviews with an eclectic range of subjects, from the seedy to the sublime.”
Gilmore Guys “Veteran fan Kevin T. Porter and newcomer Demi Adejuyigbe go deep into Gilmore Girls episode by episode with special guests to analyze, praise, mock, and gab about all things Stars Hollow and beyond in their hilarious Gilmore Guys Podcast.”
PODSTER: What’s he like? Alex: He is the most laid back, happiest kid in the world. He wakes up with a smile on his face every morning, he loves to goof around and have fun, he’s not really a crier. He’s just such a sweet kid. PODSTER: And the question I’m dying to ask. At the end of some of your episodes you send listeners to your advertiser MailChimp’s site to request a plastic action figure of their mascot Freddie. Do you collect the Freddies? I have two of them. Alex: MailChimp sent us six or seven so we have all the ones that everybody else has and then I think a couple that are upcoming. We don’t collect them but they are there. We have one big desk that we all sit at and the Freddies sort of hold court in the middle.
SIDESHOW NETWORK Your favorite podcasts on demand and on stage from the Hollywood Improv
interview nterview interview
Gretchen Rubin: Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft share strategies for and personal experiences with living a happier life. Part of the Panoply network, Happier is listened to by millions of people each week, including all of us at Podster. We were therefore very happy to talk to Gretchen.
: You graduated from Yale law school, and you were working for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when you realized you wanted to be a writer. How’d you figure that out? 12
GRETCHEN RUBIN: I was clerking, and it’s very typical of me that I get kind of obsessed with something and will do a ton of research just for fun—that happens to me all the time. So I was out on my lunch hour and I was looking at the Capitol Dome and I thought, what am I interested in that everyone else in the world is interested in? I thought, well, power, money, fame, and sex, and then it hit me like a lightning bolt that these four things were connected. I immediately started doing this giant research project, working late, working weekends. It started to occur to me that what I was doing was preparing to write a book and writing a book was something that people did as a job. And I realized that I wanted to do as a job what I do for fun. I got a book about how to write and sell your non-fiction book proposal. And then
fruit. There is stuff we can do without much time, money, or effort that could make us happier. So why not do it?
my husband and I decided to move from Washington D.C to New York and we both switched out of law at the same time. I thought, “If I move to New York and get a law job, I might never try writing. This is the chance, this is my window, this is the obvious logical time to do it. I have an idea and I’m moving to New York City.” PODSTER: What does happiness look like to you? Gretchen: You know, I never define happiness. Partly it’s my legal training because you spend a whole semester arguing about the definition of contract and another semester about the definition of a tort. I think for the layperson, spending a lot of time trying to drill down the exact definition of happiness is not that useful. But I think it’s clear if you think more loosely about being happier: If I did this, will I be happier? Next month, next year, would that make me happier? Yeah, that would make me happier. PODSTER: Hence the title of your podcast. Gretchen: There are times in our lives when we’re just not going to be happy. It wouldn’t even be appropriate to be happy. But can you be as happy as you can be under the circumstances? Can you be happier? And to me it seems like a waste, if you can be happier, not to do these minor tweaks that for most of us are low-hanging
PODSTER: How did you connect happiness to habit? Gretchen: After my books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home came out, I noticed that when people talked about their happiness challenges, it often had to do with something that was a problem with a habit. So somebody would say, “I’m exhausted all the time.” Well, that’s the habit of getting enough sleep. Or somebody would say, “I’m frustrated because I want to write a novel in my free time and I just can’t make any progress.” So I became more and more interested in the role that habits play in how people create healthy, happy, productive lives, and how you can harness habits to get yourself where you want to go. When I look back to Happier at Home and The Happiness Project there’s tons of stuff in those books about habits, but I hadn’t put my finger on it as a subject. So the minute I had the idea, I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is so important.”
I did this, will I be happier? Next month, next year, would that make me happier? Yeah, that would make me happier.” 13
GRETCHEN LISTENS TO
Getting In “A podcast about the college admissions process.”
Startup “A series about what it’s really like to start a business.” of a sense of personality than even when you’re reading a first person narrative like I write. And two people speaking is different from one person speaking. One of the nice things about Elizabeth and me is that we’re so close and we are different. It’s not like we fight all the time, but we’re different. So we can talk about ideas from two different perspectives, which is great. PODSTER:What’s different about communicating via your podcast as opposed to your books or blog? Gretchen: Because I started out as a traditional book writer and I gradually added these elements, it’s been fascinating how each form has its own strengths and weaknesses and each form permits certain things the others don’t. So first of all, the podcast is much more intimate. People even say this about audio books—that they always want to hear the author reading it. There’s a lot more nuance, and you get more
The Message “Weekly reports and interviews from Nicky Tomalin, who is covering the decoding of a message from outer space received 70 years ago.”
PODSTER:I love just listening to your voices and the way you talk to each other. Your sister relationship is pleasing and makes me feel good. Gretchen: That’s so nice to hear! It’s been so fun for us to have this. I love to collaborate anyway, and I’ve always wanted to collaborate with my sister. We talked about it for a long time but could never figure out what we could do together. We had talked about writing a YA novel together, but that didn’t work out because she has this gigantic day job. But this is perfect.
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On the Media Essential guide to surviving your media
Death, Sex & Money What gets left out of polite conversation
Snap Judgment Storytelling with a beat
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GRETCHEN LISTENS TO
You Made It Weird “Pete Holmes gets comedians to share their secret weirdness.”
Girl on Guy “A podcast about stuff guys love brought to you by the ultimate girl’s guy.” on something together.” So for Elizabeth and me, even though we’re so close already, having this project and sort of being forced to pick up the phone has been really great, and now we have all new things in common. It’s just been tons of fun.
PODSTER: You and Elizabeth live on opposite coasts, and you’re both busy with big jobs and your families. How has doing the podcast together changed your relationship? Gretchen: In all my books Elizabeth has been this repeat character because she’s super important to me, and a constant theme is that I wish I could do things to spend more time with her. We talk about this on one of the podcasts but one thing that our mother said was, “If you want to deepen a relationship with somebody, work 16
Death, Sex & Money “A podcast hosted by Anna Sale about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”
PODSTER: In a recent episode of Happier, your daughter Eliza asked listeners for their advice for a 16-year-old. What’s your answer to that question? Gretchen: My answer is: Be Eliza. The most important thing is to know yourself. We can only have a happy life based on our own nature, our own temperament, our own values, our own interests. And yet it’s so easy to be distracted by the way you wish you were, or the way that other people want you to be, by your own fantasies of who you ought to be, but I really feel like it’s the selfknowledge that’s so important. What does it mean to be Gretchen? The great task of my life is to figure that out.
interview nterview interview
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Sarah Ginsburg: She Does
In She Does, Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Sarah Ginsburg have intimate discussions with women in the creative arts and media, from documentary photographers to painters to podcasters (Anna Sale!). We talked to Elaine and Sarah about doing She Does.
: How did you end up working together? Elaine McMillion Sheldon: I have been traveling a lot over the last few years, some of it because I was presenting and screening my interactive documentary, Hollow. This means I had a lot of downtime on trains, planes and cars. But it also means I was having a lot of great conversations with 18
women in the field at these events. I was in this unique moment where this project had miraculously placed me in a room full of women I had always admired. So when I had to leave those spaces, I craved that conversation. I searched for what I was looking for in iTunes and just couldn’t find it. I decided I wanted to reach out to these women I admired and talk to them and create the podcast I wanted to hear, something that isn’t just interviews but really dives a bit deeper into women’s creative lives. I love working with Sarah because she knows what it takes to get something done and out the door, and she’s creative; it’s hard to find those people. We both share a vision for the stories we want to tell and working with her makes my work better. When thinking about this show, I wanted to treat these stories not as distinctly
“women’s stories” but more of character portraits of the creative process, where you can allow for intelligent conversation to reveal someone’s past and present. Being a woman is key to being one of our guests, but we don’t ever want to alienate our male audience. There’s a lot to learn from our show no matter your gender. Sarah Ginsburg: Elaine and I both went to Emerson College but we never overlapped. I’m a documentary filmmaker and I do a lot of editing, and so we met through a mutual friend who thought I’d be a good fit for Elaine’s project, Hollow. As I began editing on Hollow, Elaine and I became pals and realized that we really, really loved working together. I’ve never enjoyed editing and working with someone as much as I did with Elaine. After Hollow, we kept trying to come up with new projects that we could work on together. The first few ideas kind of fizzled out, but when Elaine came up with the idea to make a podcast featuring women in media, one she didn’t think was out there yet, I immediately hopped on board. Elaine’s original idea to do this resonated with me because I’m always second guessing if what I’m currently doing is right for my career in the big picture. I’m aware that there isn’t just one way to get to where you want to go, but it’s still scary to navigate this world of potentially fruitful and potentially dead end opportunities. Interviewing and examining the stories of
these women who have “made it” or are at least successful in our eyes can really do some good for the soul. Sometimes you just need to readjust the way you think about things. Everybody has a different approach, a different pace, and therefore a different story in how they ended up getting to where they are, and on top of that, nobody is finished. We’re all still moving forward. PODSTER: What are your conversations with these women like? Elaine and Sarah: This is a collection of stories of women in media told by the maker herself, with a little help from us. In some episodes, we dive deep into childhood and backgrounds, but in others, we may start a bit later in our guest’s life and cover challenges they find in the industry or hurdles they’ve had to overcome. The conversations we have with these women are intimate and personal but also full of information and can sometimes get technical. From the raw interview we pull the elements we find most interesting, enlightening and therefore beneficial for our listeners. We have a mix of writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, documentarians, journalists, art directors, designers, developers, photographers, strategists, funders and many more. We are interested in drawing parallels between these many fields. PODSTER: How did you develop your style and format? Elaine and Sarah: We’re very influenced by the format of shows like Death, Sex & Money and This American Life, shows that strike a unique balance between produced narrative and traditional interview. 19
Because we’ve both been making films, mostly short documentaries, for years, we’ve applied those skills to this podcast. We call our episodes audio documentaries or sound portraits. That blending of genres, traditional interview and produced narrative, is what we like listening to the most, so that’s what we wanted to make. Before we started, we discussed what we might want this to sound like, but we also let it take its own shape as we went along. When we’re listening to podcasts or radio, we love those magical moments in an interview that make the listener feel like they are there in the room, like a fumbling of words or an incredibly long, heavy pause. But we also love and crave those more manufactured breaks with music or ambience that are there to either put the listener in an atmosphere or give them a moment’s rest. We like having both, so we want to achieve that balance. We’re not denying our hand in telling these stories, but we’re also allowing for those raw, unedited moments. PODSTER: Why focus on women? Elaine and Sarah: As women working in media and consuming media ourselves, we were craving stories and conversations with women that we could relate to and be inspired by. All makers experience mental blocks and external barriers and sometimes hearing how others overcame their challenges, especially those whose work you admire, can be just what you need to push you up and out of that slump. We want to share stories that resonate with all genders but we want to highlight women because we feel that it isn’t often done in a way that isn’t patronizing. We’re 20
looking to feature women who put their heart and soul into what they do. The women who have been hustling for years to make it where they are. Women who are pushing the boundaries and challenging themselves. Women who love being out of typical comfort zones. PODSTER: What have you learned from your interview subjects that has had the most impact on you? Elaine and Sarah: There are so many different and valuable bits of knowledge that we’ve taken away from these conversations with our guests. But overall, we’ve been taught the importance of community and collaboration when making media, how sometimes your plans are vastly different than your future, new ways and techniques to communicate stories from around the globe, and how to respond to criticism and move forward with grace and power. Oh, and make work. Just make your work.
The Undisclosed Podcast is a listening experience that reframes, enhances, or otherwise shifts everything you’ve come to know about the State of Maryland’s case against Adnan Syed, especially as you’ve come to know it through listening to Serial.
(available now) The State vs. Adnan Syed
Coming in 2016
RABIA CHAUDRY, COLIN MILLER, AND SUSAN SIMPSON. 21
BREAKMASTER CYLINDER composer of the Reply All theme
theme music theme music theme music article he had written about it (he was once hit by a car), and then we started emailing. Is that interesting? Not really. Our origin story is murky though. We’ve never met but I enjoy his company. He also likes really gritty lo-fi punk music—who knows how I grabbed his attention?
: How did the Reply All people discover you and your work? BREAKMASTER CYLINDER: Alex Goldman says he found one of my music videos by accident, 22
it disturbed him, and so he remembered me once it was time to have a theme written. Except we already knew each other by then. I believe I watched a Ted Talk on SuperBetter (a physical rehab video game), looked it up, commented on an
PODSTER: The theme you created is catchy and memorable but also really brands Reply All. What were you trying to do with it, and did the Reply All people have input or parameters? BREAKMASTER CYLINDER: Thank you so much! They had a podcast before Reply All, and we had written a bouncy, mischievous, purely electronic theme song for that; we aimed to make this new theme sound more mature. They gave me some reference tracks and a handful of adjectives which described the show (“earnest” and “irreverent”), but then they just trusted me. A lot. We focused on how their style of journalism will take something vast and digital, then narrow it
BREAKMASTER CYLINDER Listens To
Reply All “A show about the Internet.”
Song Exploder “A podcast where musicians take apart their songs and, piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.”
Switched on Pop “A podcast about the making and meaning of popular music.”
The Tinycast “Tiny little podcasts produced with mobile gear.”
Welcome to Macintosh “A podcast about Apple, its history, and the community around it.”
down to a single, very human story. So the Reply All theme blends digital and organic as well as I can: It’s got piano chords but also dubstep synths. I played the drum track live but it’s layered with trap/rave kit drum machines. There are bright, sharply quantized melodies, but there’s also fuzzy noise and the sound of dropping rolling smashing things in the background. I hope it sounds joyful. It was fun to write and I love working with Alex and PJ so to me it does feel that way: joyful. The piano chords are a simplified variation on some measures from Bach’s “Prelude in C Major”: play meas. 1-4, then meas.12-15, and then loop it. Except while each measure is normally voiced as eight consecutive 1/8th notes, you can play each note in a single measure all at once (and “block” it) instead. I love how it sounds and I think that piano riff was the very first draft. We scrapped it, tried a few new things, then came back to it later. Anytime I write for someone else I check in with them frequently. Anytime that happens we usually try out a lot of different options, then at some point inevitably return to an earlier draft. And so it goes. PODSTER: I’m listening to your most recent album, Songs for Broadcast: Part 1. How do you describe your music? BREAKMASTER CYLINDER: Genrewise it steadily changes over time. It’s electronic for sure, except 23
when it’s not, and it usually angles toward the surreal. I spent four months rearranging Biggie lyrics so it sounds like he’s bragging about cooking the world’s best schnitzel. Whatever you call that. I want my music to tell stories and I want it to sound like everything wonderful all at once.
Mystery Show “A podcast where Starlee Kine solves mysteries.”
Serial “One story. Told week by week.”
Completely Optional Knowledge “The podcast that answers questions you never knew you had.”
Pitch “We make intimate stories that get to the heart of why we listen to music, how we experience it, and what we’re actually hearing when we hit play.”
Outside/In “A podcast about the natural world and how we use it.”
I want you to see things and forget where you are when you listen. PODSTER: Your Soundcloud image has a person wearing a t-shirt that says “JS Bach changed my life.” Did Bach change your life? BREAKMASTER CYLINDER: Surely did! His music is the blueprint for chord progression and counterpoint. It feels like his pieces are objectively correct math equations which still manage to be subjectively beautiful. I didn’t appreciate it when I played him back in the day, but now I find it all somewhat dizzying and profound. The picture is a nod to the “J Dilla Changed My Life” shirt. It’s a joke for beat heads, especially Stones Throw Beat Battle participant types (who you should definitely research and follow because they have absurd talent: Sixfingerz, MNSTRMKK, Joa Gymshoe, Billinski, LinkRust, glue70, etc.). Anyway my audience seems to be a really interesting intersection of people that might get that Bach/Dilla joke from both sides. And if not, well hell it just makes me happy. PODSTER: How did you come up with the name Breakmaster Cylinder and what does it mean? BREAKMASTER CYLINDER: Someone I miss said it to me a long time ago. It’s a car part (misspelled) which adheres to the same funky rappernaming algorithm as Grandmaster Flash. Once I had a silver one on a chain. I nearly knocked myself unconscious.
Shelf Media Podcast Hosted by Margaret Brown
Hey, It’s a Poem Hosted by Margaret Brown
In the Shelf Media Podcast, publisher Margaret Brown interviews emerging and established authors about their books, careers, writing, and lives.
Hey, It’s a Poem is a bi-weekly podcast featuring interviews and poetry readings with well-known and emerging poets. Hosted by Shelf Unbound publisher Margaret Brown, this podcast examines how to access poetry and find its meanings.
Shelf Media Podcast No.1 & 2 www.shelfmediagroup.com/pages/podcast
Hey, It’s a Poem Podcast No.1 www.heyitsapoem.com
YOUR PODCAST Foreground Podcast Hosted by Barbara Pflaumer Foreground editor in chief Barbara Pflaumer talks to fine artists about their work, lives, and careers.
Foreground Podcast No.1 www.shelfmediagroup.com/pages/foreground
Promote your podcast in Podster’s The Feed. Our initial issues are being distributed to the 125,000 readers of Shelf Media’s Shelf Unbound book review magazine. Our introductory rate for this section is $300/quarter page as seen here. A limited number of full pages are also available. Contact publisher Margaret Brown to reserve your space. MARGARET@SHELFMEDIAGROUP.COM 214.704.4182
THE PODSTER FIVE FILMSPOTTING filmspotting.net
For those who like to keep informed on the film industry, major festivals, awards shows, and other events, you can’t go past Indiewire’s Screen Talk podcast. For reviews of those lucky films that pass the Criterion test, Criterion Close-Up is also great. There are even specialized fan podcasts for individual TV shows, like True Detective (Season 1 only, of course), Mad Men, and Twin Peaks. There’s a podcast out there for every fandom, cinephilia, and movie-going public. But a particularly wellrounded one is Filmspotting. Run by Chicago-based film buffs Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen, with a rotating guest schedule of filmmakers and critics, Filmspotting plays with humor, debate, and serious cinephilia in equal measure. Each week, the hosts review a new release, often placing the film in a social context or against the background of the director’s previous work. They then share their respective top-five selections based on a theme from the film of the week. On occasion, they’ll revisit a a film considered unequivocally “great” by history, to see if the classic holds up to scrutiny (their Sacred Cow Review of Reservoir Dogs is a gem). Adam tends to be more forgiving and Josh harder to please, which makes for some great listening when the two disagree (listen to their episode on The Wolf of Wall Street and you’ll see what I mean). But they each present nuanced and reflective reviews, mixed in with their personal experiences of films and backed up by a flawless knowledge of cinema history. —Gemma King
This podcast may have a limited audience, but it is a gem. As a recent PhD graduate, the last three-and-a-bit years of my life have been an immense learning curve. Writing the dissertation is only one part of becoming a teacher-scholar in the contemporary era, and the world of academic publishing, grant proposals, online networking, conferences and community engagement is a wild, wonderful and overwhelming one. There is ample training out there for all of those areas (hello Thesis Whisperer, GradHacker, and CHE) but surprisingly little by way of support for new university teachers. That’s where Teaching in Higher Ed comes in. This relaxed and dynamic podcast is run by American academic Bonni Stachowiak. Each episode covers a different theme in Higher Education teaching. Bonni invites a range of professors to share their experiences, and each episode takes the form of a conversation. Topics tap in to contemporary advancements in teaching, with episodes ranging from “Teaching with Twitter” to “Engaging Millennials in the Learning Process” and even “How to Care for Grieving Students.” There are also broader episodes that would appeal to any kind of educator, writer, or generally busy person, like “Getting to Inbox Zero,” “Getting Better at Learning Names” (thank you in particular for this one, Bonni!), and the ever-pertinent “Lowering Stress.” The possibilities for learning from the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast are endless, no matter your career stage or path. —Gemma King
THE PODSTER FIVE
TEACHING IN HIGHER ED teachinginhighered.com
My American friends grew up learning about the Civil War, my French friends about the Revolution, and my British friends about the Monarchy. In Australia, I learned a little too much about England and not enough about our native peoples. And though our history teachers tried their best to give us a broad overview of the world, we all grew up with a comparatively limited understanding of each other’s histories.
THE PODSTER FIVE
STUFF YOU MISSED IN HISTORY CLASS missedinhistory.com
Enter Stuff You Missed In History Class, a fresh, funny, and expertly researched podcast run by history buffs Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson. In each episode, the hosts explore a person, event, or quirk from the past that tends to be glossed over or ignored in dominant historical discourse. Sometimes they’ll cover a festive topic, like the history of Halloween candy. Sometimes they’ll introduce us to an amazing but largely forgotten woman (how glad I am to have learned about Emmy Noether). Sometimes they’ll cover a famous period of history, but in a new and honest light; their three-part coverage of Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education (and its aftermath) is riveting and essential listening. Some episodes are playful, some are horrifying (but those always come with a warning). Holly and Tracy bring wit and enthusiasm to historical figures and events that would often be footnotes in history books, or omitted from them completely. —Gemma King
We tend to think of philosophers as bearded Ancient Greek or Roman men in togas, writing mantras in sand and pondering the connection between God and Earth. Most written philosophy is dense (hello Foucault), challenging or even problematic (Aristotle), or nihilistic (ah, Nietzsche). Philosophy has a reputation as being available only to Philosphers with a capital P due to its complexity and esoteric nature. There are plenty of ways to get into philosophy online. I’m a fan of Bad Philosophy, which takes a cheeky approach to the field. Philosophy Bites is an excellent podcast for philosophical interviews. Philosophy Talk keeps things modern and relevant. And there are lots of playful and satirical blogs that keep a light-hearted perspective on what is usually seen as serious business.
THE PODSTER FIVE
PHILOSOPHY: THE CLASSICS philclassics.libsyn.com
But if, like me, you’ve always wanted to gain a better grounding in the history of philosophy, Philosophy: The Classics is a brilliant place to start. Delivered by academic Nigel Warburton from his highly successful book of the same name, Philosophy: The Classics is a 28-episode podcast that explores the big names and the big ideas of philosophy. The program spans millennia and ranges from Plato to Kierkegaard, Machiavelli to Descartes, Hume to Kant. Warburton is gifted not only at bringing his book to life, but also at helping listeners understand why texts from so long ago (and all from white men, mind you) can still be relevant today and how they have informed the history of thought. —Gemma King
I stumbled across Art of Manliness on the web by mere chance. The show is run by Brett McKay and his wife Kate. Unlike many other podcasts on iTunes, it has been active for some time now, reaching over 150 episodes.
THE PODSTER FIVE ART OF MANLINESS artofmanliness.com
The job they are doing is certainly not misogynistic and doesnâ€™t translate into yearning for the male-dominated past. Although topics include strength training and the military, there still are a lot of subjects for a broad audience. The main concept is to pursue qualities which can describe manliness: devotion to duty, honor, fearlessness, heroism, strength of body and mind, and so on. In addition you can listen to interesting interviews about style, grooming, psychology, happiness, career, and money. Some topics can inspire you to read a book, to see a movie, to enter a new state of mind, to make radical changes with your habits, and it can ultimately be life changing. The fact that they invite interesting guests from a variety of fields adds to the quality of this podcast. Brett does a good job delivering excellent content and spelling things out in a manner easy to understand and apply to your daily life. Most of us have a high bar set for ourselves and seek to become the men or women we hoped to be when we were very young. Art of Manliness gives men and women leverage to reach those goals of selfimprovement. â€”Jeff Cantor
Produced at the world-famous SETI Institute. Hosted by scientist Seth Shostak and journalist Molly Bentley. 33
audiovisuals audiovisuals audiovisuals THE CANDID FRAME HOSTED BY IBARIONEX PERELLO thecandidframe.com
The Candid Frame is “a photography podcast featuring conversations with the world’s best-established and emerging photographers.” Host Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer, educator and filmmaker. His photographs have appeared in Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, PC Photo, and numerous other magazines. 34
The Candid Frame #296: Kilii Fish
The Candid Frame #297: Jonathan Alcorn Reprinted with permission. All photographs are the copyright of the photographers.
The Candid Frame #284: Matt Sweeney 36
The Candid Frame #293: Shawn Theodore aka @_xST
ranscripts transcripts transcripts AMATEUR TRAVELER PODCAST with host Chris Christensen amateurtraveler.com CHRIS: Welcome to the Amateur Traveler, I’m your host Chris Christensen. I’d like to welcome back to the show Linda Martin from the Indie Travel Podcast. Freshly minted with a new degree in teaching Spanish, and come to talk to us about the Camino de Santiago, in Spain. Linda, welcome to the show. When I think of hiking the Camino, I think of something that’s going to take a month, and we tend to target a North American audience, who just don’t have that much time off. LINDA: The thing about the Camino is that it’s as long as you want it to be. So you start wherever you want, and of course, you finish in Santiago. That’s the idea. You’re walking to Santiago to Compostela, and it’s not just one way. 38
You start in the Pyrenees and you walk 30 days until you get to Santiago. But the thing about the Camino is that it started as a medieval pilgrimage path and the pilgrims were leaving their houses, and walking to Santiago, and they just walked from their front doors, so everyone had a slightly different Camino. The routes kind of came up as people got together, and walked together for safety. But yeah, the Camino is as long as you want it to be or as short. CHRIS: What does the Camino do for you? You’ve done it four times, in four different ways. LINDA: I’ve never heard of the Camino before we did the first one, but my husband Craig said, “Look, we’ve got to do this. It’s something I really want to do.” So we started walking. And I just fell in love with it because it’s so
freeing. Every day you just get up and you start walking, and the only thing you have to think about is where you’re going to sleep and what are you going to eat, and maybe where am I going to wash my clothes? So it’s just quite freeing and I don’t think you have to be religious in any way to do it. But I think everyone who does it has some sort of spiritual experience or at least just gets to know themselves a bit better. Also you meet amazing people while you’re walking, so it is quite a meaningful experience, so that’s the reason I do it. I also like hiking, so that’s another reason. CHRIS: Tell me more about the experience. Tell me about the best day you had on this particular Camino. LINDA: One of my favorite days, I woke up. Craig was a bit, unwell. He had problems with his blisters, so we left him behind. I was walking with my friend Janine and we arrived in this little, not even a town. It was just a little bar in the middle of the forest, and we stopped to have a coffee and some more of our friends arrived. And we had our coffee with them and we decided that we wanted to walk alone. Because during most of this Camino, we’d been walking together or in a group, and so she went off and I followed five
minutes later. It was just really nice to walk alone and think about why I was doing the Camino and where we were going to stay that night, and the people I’d met. And I was walking quite fast, so I passed a lot of different people as I went up a hill. It was one of the difficult hills of the Camino. And you know I just stopped to say hello or ask them how they were doing, and it was just really nice. And I got to the top of the hill and I was thinking, “I must be coming to the meeting point.” I’d arranged to meet Janine at a certain bar. I was thinking, “I must be almost there.” I thought, “I really want a sandwich, a Bocadillo, with ham, and cheese and I’d like a Tinto de verano, which is a mix of red wine and lemonade.” I was thinking, “Oh, gosh. I’m really looking forward to getting to the bar and having those two things.” I got to the bar and Janine had already ordered the Bocadillo. It was just the best. So with these little things you just get so filled with joy. Because you don’t have that much going on. So when you arrive and you’ve got your drink, and you’ve got your sandwich, all is well with the world.
Excerpted with permission. All rights reserved.
ranscripts transcripts transcripts LORE PODCAST with host Aaron Mahnke lorepodcast.com be confiscated by the court. And in a community that was was common in the late known for property disputes, 1600s. If something odd or grazing rights, and religious unexplainable happened, the arguments, that became a automatic response from recipe for disaster. most people was to blame What happened in Salem the supernatural. But most scholars agree that these beliefs happened elsewhere around New England, just on a smaller were merely excuses to help scale. Neighbors accused people deal with neighbors neighbors constantly. Stories and family members that they didnâ€™t care for. If you didnâ€™t like were told. Lives were ruined. It was the way of things, I somebody, it was common to suppose. Not ideal, but not accuse them of witchcraft. In the most famous historical uncommon either. In one story, from Exeter, example of this, the witch trials Rhode Island, a farmer was of Salem Massachusetts, we said to have been carting his can see a clear pattern in the lumber to market when a cat events. Many of those accused ran across the road. For some of being witches were wealthy unknown reason, this farmer and held religious beliefs that immediately jumped to the were different from their conclusion that the cat was accusers. Once a suspect was actually a neighbor of his, a convicted, their estate would
AARON MAHNKE: Superstition
woman who he insisted was a witch. She had transformed herself into a cat in order to meddle in his business. This farmer was fast on his feet. Not only did he see the cat running, and then make the connection to his witchy neighbor, but he managed to pull out his gun. He was said to have fired a silver bullet at the cat—something well known at the time to be effective against witches—and struck his target. At that very moment, according to the story, the suspected witch fell in her own home, breaking her hip. In the town of Salem, New Hampshire, a man decided that his cow looked strangely different from how he remembered, and he made the most logical conclusion he was capable of: his neighbor was a sorcerer, and the man had bewitched his cow. Folklore dictated the solution: he cut off the cow’s ears and tail and then burned them. Soon after, the farmer’s neighbor was found dead, victim of a house fire. In West Newbury, Vermont, a farmer had settled in for the evening beside his fireplace. Perhaps he was enjoying something alcoholic and
refreshing, or maybe he was trying to read a book. While he was there, he witnessed what he called “spectral shapes” that danced and moved in the flames. This farmer immediately thought of one particular woman in town, a woman known to be a witch, and he took some tallow and beeswax and sculpted a careful likeness of her. Then, taking a branch from a thorn bush, he pierced this little figurine before tossing it into the fire. At the same time, across town, the suspected witch apparently tripped on her stairs and broke her neck.Back in the town of Wentworth, our friend Simeon Smith received his own fair share of retribution. It was said that a local boy named Caleb Merrill was struck deaf by the sorcerer. After that, he began acting strange, running up the sides of the house like a squirrel and writhing in agony. After some trial and error, Caleb’s parents put the perfect combination of ingredients in a witch bottle, a sort of homemade talisman designed to combat sorcery. They buried the bottle beneath their hearth, and soon after, the town was burying Simeon Smith.
These stories of neighborhood witches and the ways in which the good citizens of the towns defeated them were common all across New England. They border on the cruel, and cast these people— often simply the poor or nonreligious among them—in a horrible light. For many people, suspicion was a convenient excuse to hate your neighbor and wish them ill. In no other place was that attitude more pronounced, more dominant, and more extreme than in the town of Hadley, Massachusetts. In Salem, the townspeople worked within the legal system. In Hadley, however, the people took matters into their own hands. And the results were horrifying... Excerpted with permission. All rights reserved.
NEED FOR FEED
Game of Thrones
Because endless discussions of Jon Snow are your cup of Tyroshi pear brandy
A Cast of Kings “A semi-weekly discussion of the plots, themes and highlights of the HBO series Game of Thrones. Your hosts Dave Chen (The/Filmcast and The Tobolowsky Files) and Joanna Robinson (an Editor for Pajiba.com) will dish up both praise and criticism and will try not to sound too pompous if the book was better. Questions, comments, oaths of fealty?” gameofthronespodcast.com
Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO
theme The Joffrey of Podcasts “Game of Thrones: The Joffrey of Podcasts is your 103% unbiased source for a podcast which looks at HBO’s King Joffrey’s great accomplishments in an unbiased way. George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire’s hero protagonist: Joffrey First of his Name. First in your Heart!” thejoffreyofpodcasts.podomatic.com
Tyrion’s Landing “We are passionate fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones discussing the world of the Lannisters, Starks, and Targaryens. We delve into current episodes and discuss news. No spoilers allowed! Our goal is simple, enjoy Game of Thrones among friends in a casual atmosphere. We don’t dissect, we love.” tyrionslanding.com
Bald Move: Game of Thrones the Podcast “Jim and A.Ron review each week’s episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones and your feedback.” baldmove.com/feed/game-of-thrones-podcast/
Boars, Gore, and Swords “Join us each week as stand-up comics Ivan Hernandez and Red Scott (along with their amazing friends!) discuss the world of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.” boarsgoreandswords.com
Game of Owns “Westeros, the violent frontier. These are the tidings of the podcast Game of Owns. Its continuing mission: to analyze and celebrate chapter by painful chapter, to rally and call each and every single banner, to boldly go where no show has gone before.” gameofowns.com
Chat of Ice and Fire “This podcast is a weekly discussion regarding HBO’s Game of Thrones series. Jonathan and Charli will review the episode, compare it to the books and discuss how they feel it stacks up.” chatoficeandfire.podbean.com
the case the case the case THE CURIOUS CASE OF
According to the Baltimore Sun, she soon became considered one of the best in her office. In particular, she tried more cases than anyone else and rarely accepted plea bargains for her clients. She often drained the public defender’s budget by retaining an abundance of expert witnesses. According to a colleague at the time, Gutierrez was the most tenacious lawyer he’d ever seen here are many mysteries and, quote, “You push her, you in the prosecution of better be ready to kill.” Adnan Syed, but maybe In the end, though, it was none more enigmatic than his Gutierrez who cut ties with the attorney, Cristina Gutierrez. public defender’s office in 1986 Her career was nearly over after becoming worn down before it started. In 1971, she by fights with her bosses. She was convicted of shoplifting, a soon joined a firm fronted by conviction that she hid on job and Billy Murphy, one of the top law school applications for the trial lawyers in Baltimore. Over next eight years. When Gutierrez the next nine years, Gutierrez applied to the Maryland Bar, won more than her share of she finally admitted to her past professional victories. In 1991, indiscretion. Gutierrez was she won an acquittal for a eventually admitted to the bar Morgan State student charged over a dissenting justice’s concern with murder despite the fact about entrusting her with that the student had made hundreds of thousands of client self-incriminating statements dollars. to the police. Gutierrez spared For the next four or so years, another client from death row Gutierrez plied her trade, not as a by delivering her entire closing private attorney handling clients’ argument from behind him so money but as a public defender that the jurors wouldn’t take representing the indigent. their eyes off of him. She is
CRISTINA GUTIERREZ by Colin Miller Colin Miller is Associate Dean and Professor, University of South Carolina School of Law; co-host, Undisclosed Podcast, } and blog editor, EvidenceProf Blog.
In Podster’s The Case, Colin picks up where Serial Podcast left off.
believed to be the first lawyer to raise a successful battered spouse syndrome defense in Maryland. In 1990, Gutierrez became the first Hispanic-American woman to be counsel of record before the United States Supreme Court. By the time she represented Adnan in 1999, however, Gutierrez seemed to be slipping. In 1995, she had quit Murphy’s firm to spend more time with her children. In 1998, however, Gutierrez sent her children to live with her parents. Gutierrez claimed she did this because she was getting death threats related to cases; her son suspects, however, that “his mother knew her faculties were failing and needed help parenting.” Gutierrez was diabetic and, while she would not be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis until 2000 or 2001, issues in her professional life had already started cropping up. In one case, Gutierrez failed to communicate a favorable plea deal to a client. In a murder trial, she failed to contact two alibi witnesses. In another murder case, the prosecutor told the medical examiner that Gutierrez had failed to understand the key forensic evidence that led to her client’s conviction. From 1998-2000, Gutierrez took on a record number of cases, including eight murder cases in five different jurisdictions. With this record number of cases came a record number of complaints.
Clients alleged that Gutierrez was late on certain tasks, failed to accomplish others, and lied about the work that she had done. Eventually, 29 clients brought successful defalcation (embezzlement) claims against her, recovering $269,235. Meanwhile, her law partner garnished Gutierrez’s wages to the tune of nearly $59,000, the amount she had apparently borrowed from the firm. No one has been able to explain what happened to all of this money and whether Gutierrez’s Icarian fall was due to failing health, ethical shortcomings, or some combination of the two. What is clear is that this fall began before she started representing Adnan in April 1999. The two clients who received the biggest defalcation payouts from Gutierrez were teenagers charged with murder whom she started representing before she took on Adnan’s case. The next question to be addressed is whether Gutierrez failed to provide Adnan with effective assistance of counsel. The Baltimore City Circuit Court will hold new hearings in early February on her failure to contact an alibi witness. Gutierrez won’t be there to defend herself. A heart attack took her life in 2004. As a result, we’re left to piece together a career that that hit the highest of highs before descending to the lowest of lows.
17 FUGITIVE WAVES kitchensisters.org/fugitivewaves LISTEN 46
Hosts: The Kitchen Sisters: Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva About: “Lost recordings and shards of sound, along with new tales from remarkable people around the world — people with a mission, a purpose, a story to tell. Stories from the flip side of history.” Network: PRX’s Radiotopia Episode 17: Unfinished Business: Ali vs. Frazier IV, Daughters of Destiny Description: “In 2001, a quarter-century after boxing’s celebrated ‘Thrilla in Manila,’ Ali and Frazier were once again poised to enter the ring. But this time it was the daughters of the legendary combatants scheduled to battle at the Turning Stone Casino on the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York. Laila Ali, 22-year-old daughter of Muhammad Ali; and Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, 39-year-old daughter of Joe Frazier. The 2001 bout, broadcast on payper-view TV, was billed as ‘Ali vs. Frazier IV’—a continuation of the blood feud that fueled their fathers’ three title fights in the 1970s. A behind the scenes glimpse of the
‘Daughters of Destiny,’ from the trash-talk of the press conferences to the sweat of the training camps.” That moment when: The announcer calls the fight for Laila Ali. Sound bite: “There were two big questions on everyone’s mind: Would Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier show up, and what would this fight mean for women’s boxing? As it turned out, Smokin’ Joe did, Muhammad didn’t, and the fight meant a lot. The 8,000-seat arena was filled with longtime fans of the fighters’ fathers, dozens of boxing legends here for the annual National Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend, the curious, and hundreds of skeptical members of the press, nearly all of whom had a women’s boxing conversion experience in the early rounds of the match. The fight began vicious and fierce, and the pace never slackened.” Listen because: Compelling, entertaining storytelling from PeabodyAward-winning producers Nelson and Silva.
Now Available on
In the first Shelf Media Podcast, publisher Margaret Brown talks to author Matt Bell about his three books and about writing, teaching the craft of writing, and his forthcoming novel. She also talks to book reviewers David Rice and Michele Filgate about Bellâ€™s most recent novel, In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods.
TR TRE ENND DIN ING G
@KANYEWEST @MICKJAGGER David was always an inspiration to me and a true original. He was wonderfully shameless in his work.
David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.
@QUESTLOVE David Has Gone To Mars. Earth Thanks You.
@PHARRELL David Bowie was a true innovator, a true creative. May he rest in peace.
@BENFOLDS Songwriting, music owes David Bowie a great debt. Such sad sad news. RIP Bowie.
#DAVIDBOWIE HIT THE FLOOR PODCAST NO. 3:
REMEMBERING DAVID BOWIE 48
@MADONNA Talented. Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever.
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Podster is a new magazine about podcasts and podcasters from Shelf Media. In this issue: Gretchen Rubin (Happier), Alex Goodman (Reply All),...