Happy Valentine’s Day to you. I briefly considered theming this issue around the subject of love and romance and other assorted concepts appropriate to the season, but decided against it when I couldn’t find enough articles on the subject that have sufficiently moved me. (Besides, it’s still winter and I stay seasonally depressed.)
Instead, I’ll leave you with a fun fact that do move me, for uncertain reasons: the word “ferret” is apparently derived from the Latin word “furittus”, meaning “little thief”, which is thematically appropriate, as the animals have historically been deployed by pickpockets to assist in the lifting of valuables from pockets.
Anyway, tell me what you listen to. You can reach me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter.
What is gossip but persevering good shit.
Available on all platforms. Listen here.
I once heard the story of a friend of a friend who got into a sprawling legal dispute with his neighbor over a chicken coop that crossed property lines. It was and remains one of the best stories I have ever heard.
Few things exist in the universe more powerful than good gossip, especially if that gossip has low stakes and absolutely nothing to do with you. It’s the simple truth held by Normal gossip, a relatively new podcast hosted by Kelsey McKinney and produced by Alex Sujong Laughlin. It is published by Defector Media, the famous media pirate ship founded by former Deadspin writers.
Normal gossip delivers daily gossip from and about perfectly ordinary strangers. It’s one of those premises that makes you go “oh, that sounds like a podcast” but usually fails in execution… except, of course, it’s the rare case that the follow-up actually succeeds. I’m not entirely sure this is for everyone (again, what is this?), but it’s definitely for people like me – ie tell people whose hearts are on fire with the words “Do you want to hear what I just heard?”
Each episode follows the same structure. McKinney is joined by a guest, who so far is usually from her group of friends and media acquaintances; former participants include Goddess of the scam‘Laci Mosley, It’s been a minute Sam Sanders and Rachelle Hampton of Slate, among others. Proceedings begin with a small talk, where the guest is asked about their relationship to gossip, but it’s not long before the main course begins: McKinney leads the guest through a solid piece of gossip submitted by a Defector reader or, alternatively, someone on the periphery of McKinney’s personal circle. The stories are intentionally banal, about group encounters or disputes or small-town bullshit, but as good gossip-mongers know, a thing’s banality doesn’t preclude its weirdness or savagery. McKinney is a great occasional storyteller; its lightly discursive style lulls you into a soothing beat before a sneaky reveal extracts an involuntary gasp. There’s also, unexpectedly, a slight interactive element to the mix: at various points in the tale, she takes a moment to ask the guest what they would do in that situation, which of course is lucky for you, the listener, ask yourself the same question.
Normal gossip can conjure up broader ideas about gossip: its purpose in society, its nature and meaning, its appeal. Throughout the episodes, McKinney occasionally peeks into more gripping connections: what is political reporting but verified gossip usually attributed to anonymous sources? What are sports business rumors but gossip deployed by scheming front office executives? But she doesn’t dwell too much on these ideas, the less they become overcooked. Thank God. You don’t always have to over-intellectualize things. Good gossip can just be a good time.
Never trust teenagers.
Available on all platforms. Listen here.
The last season of ChameleonCampside Media’s podcast for stories and things that aren’t what they seem, is set in the rural town of Vernon, British Columbia, where, in the early 2000s, two boys began appearing in margin of the community.
These boys were strange creatures. They claimed to be from the desert. They seemed to eat only fruit. They smelled pretty bad… but, to be fair, a lot of teenagers did too. Despite their thinness, they showed a keen interest in nutrition and talked about it constantly.
Because Vernon has a long history of attracting offbeat characters — it’s described in the podcast as a haven for “hippie communes, cults, and polygamous groups” — these young men weren’t quite beyond the limelight. world of what the city could imagine. A local resident, embodying the warmth of a small town, sought to care for the duo, and the community rallied around them. They will be nicknamed the “Bush Boys” and will soon attract the attention of the Canadian media and elsewhere. Eventually, they became a local phenomenon, and perhaps even a source of community pride.
Of course, there is more to the story. This is a true crime-adjacent podcast, after all. And so the story that unfolds in wild boys is that of discovery, at least in its first half. I’ve only listened to the first four episodes – that’s all that’s available at the time of writing – and at the end of this sequence some secrets are revealed, along with a hint that the series will change its structure to tell the rest of the story.
wild boys is directed by Sam Mullins, a Toronto-based writer and comedian, who produces the series with Abukar Adan. Mullins is from Vernon, and he brings a slight sense of nostalgia to the tale and added context to the setting of this tale. Besides being a mystery, wild boys is partly a story about being from a small rural place and how the community of such a place thinks and feels about itself, and the ways in which this can conflict with the world outside.
➽ Tonya Mosley, who recently stepped down as co-host of NPR Here and nowreturns to the mic with the final season of The truth must be told, which debuts on Thursday. The podcast features a mix of storytelling, interviews, and listener callouts, all of which contribute to Mosley’s larger theme of exploring “what it means to grow and thrive as a black person in America.” This new season focuses on the notion of liberation in the contemporary context. It is produced by Ahyiana Angel, Ishea Brown, James T. Green and Enrico Benjamin.
➽ I really dug into the back catalog of BBC Radio 3 cinema sound program, which builds episodes around film scores that usually share a theme based on a new film release. An example: a recent slice indexed on the new Scream involved a discussion of the history of literal screams in movies, followed by presenter Matthew Sweets lining up for thematically appropriate movie scores like psychology, Jawsand Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This is grade A movie nerd shit, though I should note: I wasn’t able to listen to the episodes through normal podcast apps. You need to go directly to the website.
➽ Also noteworthy: cinema sound has a sister program on musical scores and sound design in video games, called game sound. This show is hosted by host Louise Blain, and I also found it very enjoyable.
And it’s a wrap for 1.5x Speed! Hope you enjoyed it. We’re back next week, but until then: Send podcast recommendations, comments, or just say hello to [email protected].