This Week in Podcasts is a weekly roundup of the goings-on in podcasting, from highlights to pitfalls to updates and more. Have updates or crowdfunding campaigns you want listed? Check here for directions on how to get in touch.
Radiolab talks fact, fiction, and Guantanamo Bay
“The Other Latif: Episode 1”
Runtime: 42 minutes
Transcript not available
Radiolab producer Latif Nasser has been on a years-long journey to understand the story of the only person who shares his name–Abdul Latif Nasser. When Radiolab‘s Nasser finds that his name double is a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, he starts his investigation only to find out that the story is even stranger than it seems. It isn’t just a story about two men who share the same name. It’s a story about the criminal justice system both in the United States and when involved with other countries. It’s a story about fact, fiction, and what to do when either could ruin your life for completely different reasons. The story doesn’t feel like a Radiolab story as most long-time listeners probably understand Radiolab–a complaint I’ve had about the show for the last several years–but it’s the beginning of a fascinating series nonetheless.
Lauren Shippen announces the second Bright Sessions novel, A Neon Darkness
Via tweet, The Bright Sessions creator Lauren Shippen announced the second of three Bright Sessions companion novels, A Neon Darkness. The novel will follow the complicated character “Damien,” aka Robert Gorham, growing up.
The novel is preceded by The Infinite Noise, the first Bright Sessions novel, which follows the story of fan favorite characters Caleb and Adam. The two novels will have standalone plots that do not need to be read in order, nor do they need to be read alongside listening to the podcast.
Wondery doesn’t understand what “fair use” is . . .
On February 5th, 2020, podcaster Rich Roll of The Rich Roll podcast tweeted about the use of his audio in a new Wondery podcast, WeCrashed:
The audio was removed from the episode, which was re-uploaded after the adjustments were made. Bafflingly, Wondery’s Twitter account pinned the mistake on “human error.”
In discussion with Skye Pillsbury of Inside Podcasting, Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez discussed the audio as being “fair use.” (To my knowledge, fair use does not protect media which replaces the instance of its initial usage, which this WeCrashed episode absolutely seems to do.) Pillsbury is writing another edition of the newsletter with discussion on the debate with reader commentary and insight on fair use. Be sure to subscribe to Inside Podcasting for more updates.
Update (2/11/20): Inside Podcasting has published its second issue reporting on this conversation.
. . . or how to avoid exploitative tropes
In a recent review for Podcast Review, podcast critic and journalist Elena Fernández Collins writes that Wondery’s fiction podcast Blood Ties relies on manipulative, exploitative tactics employed by both fiction podcasts under the guise of being nonfiction and of the true crime genre itself.
If you think you’ve guessed the next three twists in this story, you likely have because Blood Ties is, at best, empty junk food and a cash grab. At worst, however, Blood Ties continues a long trend of using shock tactics and glossy audio to create a story with little care for what goes into it, ignoring the true strengths of podcasting as a medium.
You can read the full review here.
The need for fans-only critical spaces
Discussions in my podcast Discord server have been circulating around the need for a fans-only critical conversation space in podcasting. Ideally, the space would be for fans to discuss podcasts openly, without the fear or frustrations of negatively impacting a creator. I’m not aware of any spaces like these that explicitly prohibit creators from joining, other than spaces for specific podcasts (the Once and Future Nerd Discord server, for instance). If you have any thoughts or leads on such a space, send me an email.
Charging Moose’s Encounter Party! returns for a second season
Charging Moose Media and Play+1’s actual play podcast Encounter Party! has returned for its second season.
“With a focus on character and narrative, Encounter Party! blurs the line between Actual Play and Audio Drama. Its story-driven editing means that everyone, from lifelong fans of D&D to complete newcomers, will enjoy this show. Each episode is carefully edited to turn around 3 hours of recorded audio into episodes between 45 and 75 minutes long.
BBC News launches Americast by the Brexitcast creators
BBC News has launched a new politics podcast, Americast, focusing on the U.S. Presidential election. The podcast will be released weekly, with the addition of more episodes as needed while the campaign heads into election season. Because the podcast isn’t produced in the States, it promises a “fresh and impartial perspective” on the election.
Throw’m in the Puget Productions launches new fiction podcast Discovery Park
Its first podcast since Passage wrapped three years ago, Throw’m in the Puget Productions is launching Discovery Park, a new fiction podcast. The first episode debuts February 17th, 2020.
A woman wakes up in Seattle’s Discovery Park with no memory, no idea who she is, and no idea how she got here. She’s also not entirely clear why she’s carrying wads of cash and a gun. In search of answers, she soon finds that each one leads to a bigger, and stranger, question.
Passer Vulpes Production launches showcase podcast Passer Vulpes Presents
Australia-based Passer Vulpes Productions (Love and Luck, Nym’s Nebulous Notions, Supernatural Sexuality with Dr Seabrooke, Floodlight Viscera) has launched a showcase podcast, Paser Vulpes Presents, made to curate the team’s “experiments, shorts and one-offs.” The podcast will update on an irregular schedule.
The podcast provides a place for creators Erin Kyan and Lee Davis-Thalbourne to share some of their smaller pieces to the world. Lee notes,
“We’re often creating small pieces that don’t logically fit on any of our current shows, and Passer Vulpes Presents provides us with a space to showcase these, without interrupting our other podcasts.” Pieces will include soundscaped poetry, audio drama vignettes, short stories
as well as experimental pieces.
Warner Brothers launches new comedy podcast Because You Watched
Warner Brothers has launched Because You Watched, a new comedy podcast about pitching TV shows and films based on obscure genre categories. The first two episodes were released February 6th, 2020, and will be released weekly on Thursdays.
Because You Watched is the comedy podcast which creates brand new ideas for TV shows and movies based on obscure video-on-demand categories like “Deep Sea Creature Features” or “Gory Mad Scientist Horror Movies”.
Each episode will see three funny and creative people sit down with producer Rory to pitch and brainstorm ideas before picking a favourite. Will they come up with the next Emmy, BAFTA, or Oscar winner? Yeah, sure, why not…
Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services crowdfunding its third season
Fiction podcast Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services is crowdfunding its third season via Seed & Spark. The campaign has a goal of $7,000 USD and will be running until February 15th, 2020:
Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services is an ongoing urban fantasy podcast written by Lisette Alvarez and produced by Stormfire Productions.
The story centers around Kalila Stormfire, a young woman and business owner working out of her basement studio apartment after a controversial fallout with her coven. While she attempts to get established as friendly neighborhood witch, she begins to hear rumors of someone dissuading clients from seeking her services.
[. . .] For two seasons, Kalila Stormfire has managed complex clients in her magick business and her own shadows. Now her community must face both the light and darkness that dwells in the heart of the city itself. Will Brushland survive this liminal state? Support the finale season to find out.
This campaign is currently funded but might still hit its stretch goals before the conclusion of the campaign.
Arden crowdfunding its second season
Fiction podcast Arden is crowdfunding its second season via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $6,000 USD and will be running until February 19th, 2020:
Season One of Arden debuted in the fall of 2018 to rave reviews in The A.V. Club, Discover Pods, and elsewhere. It was featured by Apple Podcasts, Buzzfeed, Spotify, and Radio Public. That season was also a labor of love on the part of creators Emily VanDerWerff, Christopher Dole, and Sara Ghaleb, the culmination of two years of incredibly hard (and often volunteer) work from our incredible cast and crew.
Season Two of Arden is going to be bigger, more ambitious and (we hope!) even better. We’re putting everything we learned making Season One into action to create the greatest audio fiction podcast season of all time. Or just something really special. Either/or.
This campaign is currently funded but might still hit its stretch goals before the conclusion of the campaign.
Magic of the Mind crowdfunding its first season
Fiction and nonfiction hybrid podcast Magic of the Mind is crowdfunding its first season via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $3,450 USD and will be running until March 6th, 2020:
The human brain is the most complex thing known to mankind. While there’s still plenty of mysteries to be discovered, a multitude of fields are uncovering secrets every day. Magic of the Mind explores the science of the mind through a radical new lens: audio fantasy.
Part 1: The Fantasy Story
Each episode follows the story of Eve, a sixteen-year-old scribe traveling the Forgotten Realms of Dungeons and Dragons in search of a place to call home. Written into the plot of each episode is a different topic in cognitive science, that is explored in detail in Part 2.
Part 2: The Interview
Released simultaneously with developments in the fantasy story are interviews with female scientists who study the topics explored in each episode. In the interviews, the writer explains the theories she wove into the narrative, and the scientists expand on what these look like in the real world.
This campaign is currently 14% funded as of publication.
The Fury crowdfunding its first season
Upcoming fiction podcast The Fury is crowdfunding its first season via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $1,500 USD and will be running until March 11th, 2020:
The Fury is an upcoming queer fiction audio drama, set in a world that unfairly discriminates against people of color, the queer community, women, the poor, and the disabled. Like we said … fiction.
Luckily, The Fury gang was formed to combat these wrongs with some good old fashioned vigilante justice!
After her girlfriend is revealed to be an undercover cop, Alecto, the Boss of the vigilante group, The Fury, is fighting to make sure her empire doesn’t crumble around her. The Fury’s recent troubles have put a target on their backs, and it’s up to Alecto and her trusted inner circle to ensure the gang’s empire survives. But in such a tense situation, is there also room to love again?
This campaign is currently 20% funded as of publication.
Sidequesting crowdfunding its second season
Fiction podcast Sidequesting is crowdfunding its second season via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $800 USD and will be running until March 16th, 2020:
What’s this show about, you ask? Sidequesting follows Rion, an adventurer who’s willing to help anyone out – as long as they’re not being asked to deal with the scary wizard that everyone keeps talking about. They travel from town to town, meeting new people and doing new things. Inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, Skyrim, and Lord of the Rings, Sidequesting pulls from classic tropes across fantasy stories and subverts them. Season 2 will continue this, featuring lighthearted fantasy stories with modern representation.
What needs funding, you ask? Primarily the guest actors in each episode, who I pay for their time and talent! There are also smaller costs associated with the show, such as hosting fees, stickers, business cards, etc. I’d also love to be able to pay myself a small stipend for producing Sidequesting.
Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes that will air throughout this year. This crowdfunding goal breaks down to $80 per episode, with some of that money going towards crowdfunding costs. This season is happening regardless of if this goal is met, but your support means I can write longer episodes (with more characters!), and worry less about money while doing so. Plus, you can get some rad perks and feel good about supporting indie audio fiction!
This campaign is currently 57% funded as of publication.
Storytellers crowdfunding its first season, “Medusa Gorgon’s Academy”
Upcoming fiction anthology podcast Storytellers is crowdfunding its first season, a story called “Medusa Gorgon’s Academy,” via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $4,500 USD and will be running until March 17th, 2020:
Medusa Gorgon’s Academy for Young Witches is the first “book” of a second-person, anthology storytelling podcast collection entitled Storytellers about a story that’s listening to various storytellers tell stories about the story’s life so it can piece itself back together with the end goal of either saving or destroying the world…
You know the trope of telling a story in front of the hearth with a dog at one’s feet and a crisp frost in the air; but that’s such lacklustre compared to me as I bring you stories during the END OF THE WORLD. I am Medusa Gorgon, headmistress of Medusa Gorgon’s Academy for Young Witches and, darlings, I have quite the tea to spill.
When you (or your descendants) step through the doors of Medusa Gorgon’s Academy, you are consenting to have your most intimate life shared with Medusa’s audience. Among the people who step through my doors are Chosen Ones who have a lot of disaster gay energy, descendants of death goddesses (or death goddess adjacent), gender-ambiguous gods who can really be quite fussy, professors who are done dealing with students’ shit, and sassy cynical skeletons, and much much more.
If you’re lost, we Storytellers will put the pieces back together. The black flame of the Underworld will keep the darkness at bay…for as long as it takes to tell a story. Welcome. To Medusa’s.
This campaign is currently 2% funded as of publication.
Null and Void crowdfunding its first season
Upcoming fiction podcast Null and Void is crowdfunding its first season via IndieGogo. The campaign has a flexible goal of $3,300 USD and will be running until April 1st, 2020:
Out past the edge of town, past the rock outcroppings where the highway disappears. You’ll see a tree. She’ll be there.
Null/Void is a story about finding your place in the world and all the aggravations and heartbreak that come with growing up. It is a queer, modern science fiction audio drama that follows a young woman, Piper Lee, whose life is saved by a mysterious voice named Adelaide. After uncovering a malicious plot, Piper and her friends must defend their small town from a family of ruthless billionaires who wish to exploit and destroy it. The season premiers April 2020 and will have 13 episodes, released every two weeks.
This campaign is currently 10% funded as of publication.