Every Wednesday, we'll let you know what we're working on, as well as what we're reading and listening to. And we'll share some of the stories and questions that we've been getting from you. Check out past newsletters here.
Earlier this week, we put out a special bonus in the Death, Sex & Money podcast feed—a story from WNYC Studios' brand new show, Nancy! In their very first episode, co-host Kathy Tu talks with her mom about being gay—a conversation they've had a few times before, but has never seemed to stick. "I don't want to talk about it," Kathy's mom tells her, in Mandarin. "I think this is my fault. I gave birth to you this way, isn't that my fault?" Subscribe to Nancy's feed to hear more real, and sometimes...more
After Hilda was arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border as an unaccompanied minor, she was required to go to school in order for her to stay in the country. She ended up at San Francisco International High School, which specifically helps young immigrants learn English and pursue an education they might not have gotten in their home country. Hilda tells The Leap about how different her new life is from where she came from, and how she still wants to help her family back home. "I try to explain to the...more
Amy imagined the worst when doctors confirmed her daughter Sophie had Down syndrome. It's a reaction she cringes at now, after watching Sophie grow into an active girl with her own interests, routines—even a boyfriend. Sophie's always been eager for maturity, but Amy tells The Longest Shortest Time podcast she was caught off guard when her daughter started going through puberty. "I have a child who has pubic hair and sucks her thumb," Amy says. "She's definitely caught between two worlds."
"Michael Ian Black's How to Be Amazing interview with Tim Gunn was one of the best interviews I've ever heard. Michael Ian Black asks such incredible questions—so thoughtful and moving—and you could tell Tim was really touching on subjects he'd not delved into for a while, if at all."
Beautiful/Anonymous host Chris Gethard takes a call from a young man keeping a secret from his conservative, religious Hindu parents. The caller shares how he kept waiting for any of his siblings or cousins to break away from his traditional upbringing so it wouldn't come as a complete shock when he's ready to tell his parents that he's bisexual. "My mom thinks I'm a saint," he tells Chris, adding that he probably won't say anything until he knows who he wants to settle down with. "She'll be she...more
"I recommend Cariad Lloyd's incredible Griefcast. Cariad lost her father in her mid-teens very soon after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She's now using this experience to talk to other comedians about their experiences with death and grief. The show really hits home both in its frank discussion of what comes before death and dealing with the emotions that follow. My chest tightened and ached, and my heart was in my throat the whole time I was listening to it, but it felt such a relief...more
Ezra Edelman never met O.J. Simpson, the focus of his 8-hour documentary series, but was told by those close to Simpson that he'd like the former football player. Edelman tells the Longform Podcast about the intense research efforts that went into making O.J.: Made in America, and what it was like watching Simpson's disarming nature in the archival footage he used. "You see this charm that starts to take over," Edelman says, describing tape of Simpson winning over a skeptical interviewer—years a...more
"My podcast episode recommendation is 'His My Arms,' episode 30 of The Lapse. Will Lautzenheiser lost his arms and legs to flesh-eating disease and received arm transplants a few years ago. His whole story is incredible, but the reverence with which he speaks about his donor's arms brought out the ugly sobs in me. Just a beautiful tribute to the most amazing gift a human can give to another, and an excellent piece to share with anyone hesitating about signing their donor cards."
The most recent episode of For Colored Nerds dives in deep into soulful balladeer Donny Hathaway's musical catalog. Co-host Eric Eddings reflects on Hathaway's cover of "A Song For You" as a particularly gut-wrenching track that's different than most other songs about heartbreak. "Usually you're hearing these songs and these ballads and you're in it—you're at the bottom," Eric says of the song's emotional depth. "But this is slightly after that, where you're trying to see if there's possibly an ...more
Nazanin Rafsanjani's family fled Tehran in the early 1980s, soon after the Iranian Revolution. Nazanin was four years old at the time, and doesn’t remember as much about the journey as she does about transitioning into her new American life. "When you're a kid, people are protecting you and you don’t even know," the Gimlet Media creative director tells Twice Removed. Hear Nazanin retrace her family's arrival in the U.S., and reconnect with a mystery guest who made their relocation possible.
One of the biggest surprises for me in new and favorite podcasts has been Stranglers by Earwolf. It's about the Boston Stranglers. Yes, plural. It looks at the crimes that unfolded in the early 1960s, the possible suspects, and the difficulties of investigating a sensationalized series of murders. The production values are top-notch and there are still new stories and details that have surprised even this Bostonian (and there's even a possible NYC connection—see Episode 5, "The Gotham Strangler....more
Irene was diagnosed with renal failure a few weeks after she arrived in the United Kingdom from South Africa on a tourist visa. Her family in the UK has spent the last four years fighting to keep her in the country so they can care for her. Producers with the BBC’s The Untold podcast follow Irene and her daughter to the local police station to check in with authorities, not knowing whether she will be sent back to South Africa to face almost certain death without treatment. "If they give me a ch...more
"I have listened to the On Being podcast with Marie Howe probably five times since I first heard it. This is extremely rare for me. Marie speaks poetry in every line. I love how she talks about mothering, parenting, and the wisdom of her young child. The episode is called "The Poetry of Ordinary Time" and it serves as a reminder to me to appreciate the beauty of the mundane. It also reminds me of the incredible power of poetry to help me do that."
In the early 1900s, John Brinkley developed a cure for male impotency. Men flocked to his small Kansas clinic to be treated. The only problem? The cure was a scam—a deadly one. The state medical board took action in 1930, author Pope Brock tells Reply All, using death certificates signed by Brinkley as evidence. "That’s 42 dead people right there," Pope says. "Beyond that, you can only imagine." Listen to the whole episode to hear why Brinkley's story was far from over after his professional dis...more
Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez remembers the day he decided to change his life. He tells the ARRVLS podcast about joining a gang before he was in high school and embracing a lifestyle fueled by violence and drugs. Then, at 18, he saw a group of people beat up a girl. Witnesses walked away, but Luis felt like he needed to stay and help her. "I didn't want to be a gangster. I wanted to be...I don't know exactly what," Luis says. "I was already prepared to be a different person."
In her song "Cranes in the Sky," singer Solange Knowles sings the words, "Don't you cry it, baby." She says when she hears it, she thinks of its three-part harmony as the voices of the women in her life, especially her mom. Solange remembers how if something bad or sad would happen when she was young, her mother would let her mope around and stay in bed for two days. "But on that third day, you get your ass up and you ride," Solange tells Song Exploder.
Signs of comedian Andy Richter's depression came at an early age. He used to repeatedly listen to "Bridge Over Troubled Water" when he was 5 years old. He was diagnosed with heartburn before he was 9—it turned out to be stress related. Andy tells The Hilarious World of Depression about how he finally had a personal breakthrough when saw a medical expert who, after a 20-minute consultation, said he was "obviously a depressed person." "I thought I was doing a good job of hiding it," Andy says, ope...more
In the latest See Something Say Something, host Ahmed Ali Akbar hops into a New York City cab and meets driver Jamil Ali. It turns out Jamil moved to the United States from the same city in Pakistan as Ahmed's father. "I knew that I had to tell my dad about it," Ahmed says. "He's somebody who taught me that it's important every time you get into a cab to get to know the person that you're riding with." Ahmed talks to both his dad and Jamil about moving to the U.S., raising their Muslim families ...more
"To me, if I keep telling myself they’re on vacation, I’ll eventually see them again." Theresa Miller tells the Life of the Law podcast how she lost both her daughter and her granddaughter 15 years ago. Police arrested Tonia, Theresa's daughter, after authorities said 11-week-old Alicia died as a result of shaken-baby syndrome. Tonia was convicted and sentenced to up to 30 years in prison, even though no one testified that they had witnessed her ever harming her baby or that Alicia had been suff...more
Whether you like him or not, Kanye West had a big year. And like 2016 itself, Kanye remains pretty divisive in his own right. "People get angry that Kanye is not willing to wait for people to call him a genius," posits Still Processing's Jenna Wortham. "He's just going to say it himself." She and co-host Wesley Morris dive deep into how the rap and fashion mogul's personal traumas, including his mother's death and his wife's robbery at gunpoint, play into our expectations about celebrities and ...more
Sarai Gonzalez didn't initially understand all of the Spanish lyrics for the music video she starred in earlier this year, so her mom translated them for her. "My mom said, 'This song is about empowering yourself,'" the 11-year-old recounts. "No matter what race, no matter what religion, it's just you being you and loving yourself." Sarai tells Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa about where she got the confidence that her character exudes in the viral video, and how she faces bullies in her real lif...more
“Traveling with dignity." That's what historian and filmmaker Calvin Ramsey says The Green Book offered black Americans during the Jim Crow era. For 30 years, the guide offered motorists of color an updated list of hotels, restaurants and businesses that would welcome them. BBC 4's Seriously... podcast opens up a Green Book for a modern-day road trip, and explores how many Americans today still fear the consequences of "driving while black."
For the 100th episode of the memory palace, host Nate DiMeo recounts the 340-mile march through California led by organizer Cesar Chavez. Farm workers made the pilgrimage in early 1966 as a demonstration to demand fairer wages and worker protections. "Because they spent their lives bent, they spent their lives hurt," DiMeo says. "And because they spent their lives bent, Chavez knew they would stand when given the chance."
"I need to never let anybody know that I'm scared—or worse—don't know the answer to something." Eva Hagberg was barely 24 when she got a big reporting assignment from The New York Times. Once she started talking to people for her story, she began to think she might be in over her head. In the latest Terrible, (Thanks for Asking), Eva relives the moment she made what turned out to be a major mistake in her story—and why she struggled to forgive herself afterward.
As a child in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Barbara Hicks Collins' father opened up his home to the Deacons for Defense and Justice, a group of African-American men who decided to arm themselves and fight back against the KKK. Now, 50 years later, Barbara's trying to open a museum in that same house—and finding that there are people in her town who do not want that moment in history to be memorialized. But Barbara's determined. "Sometimes I stand out here and I talk to the young people standing on the co...more
“Talk about culture shock.” After participating in a forced assimilation program as a teenager, Duane “Chili” Yazzie made his way to Los Angeles—a world away from his home on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. Chili tells Everything is Stories about learning just how distant the culture he grew up in was from the Anglo-American culture that he came to know, and how, as an activist, he continues to draw strength from his Native American community today.
Right before novelist Zadie Smith’s father passed away, he told her that his whole life was a disappointment, and that he was a failure. “You don't want to hear their fear because you don't want to think about your fear,” Smith tells NPR's Fresh Air. “But it's so selfish not to allow somebody to express their fear when they're feeling it.” Hear how Zadie’s father’s unrealized creative goals inform her work, and what she's learned about parenting from raising her own young children today.
Former professor Lyosha Gorshkov was already openly gay when he got a promotion at a Russian university in 2015. But shortly thereafter, he started finding false, scandalous articles about him circulating around the school. “I spent the last six months in Russia in the fear that I will be put in jail, I will be killed, I will be beat,” Lyosha says. It’s not an unfounded fear, as we hear in a joint investigation by Reveal and Coda Story that explores how St. Petersburg has become the epicenter of...more
Every time Debbie Thurston goes to the hospital, a nurse asks if she's drafted a living will. “It's a good thing,” she tells Planet Money. “I just like to think I'm young and I'm not going to need it.” But in Debbie’s town in Wisconsin, 96 percent of its residents have already made plans for the end of their lives. Hear how Debbie’s neighbors grapple with their end-of-life plans in a town that seems increasingly comfortable with death.
"I was terrified because I didn't want to move home," Natasha Boyer says about the day an eviction notice showed up at her door. "I thought moving back home I’m gonna be starting from rock bottom." As part of On the Media's ongoing series about poverty myths in America, the recent high school grad and Dominos assistant manager shares her story about the consequences of unpaid sick leave—and how a lucky break during a pizza delivery led to the biggest tip she's ever received.
Producer and host Lea Thau immigrated to the United States from Denmark more than two decades ago, and she says she's always felt a little out of place. "I’ve found myself defending the Americans in Europe, and defending the Europeans in America," she says in the latest episode of Strangers. "This made me the perfect outsider who suffered from a perpetual lack of home." Then she decided to pursue American citizenship. Hear why Lea felt uneasy at her swearing-in ceremony, and how the upcoming ele...more
Davecat says his relationship with Sidore moved pretty fast after they met. They moved in together, and Davecat thought of Sidore as his wife. Then they opened up their relationship to a third figure—Elena from Russia. Davecat tells Love+Radio how he's dealt with jealousy when it rises up in the group. "Elena will always be my second," he says. "She understood that there is a marriage involved.” Hear how this three-way relationship came to be, and what makes it a bit more complex than that of mo...more
Kate and David are on their first date. It's awkward, like many first dates. But it's also awkward because...it's being recorded for an episode of the Why Oh Why podcast, and host Andrea Silenzi is along for the ride. When the conversation turns to Mad Men, a frustrated Andrea asks another nearby couple how they feel about TV chit-chat on a first date. The guy tells her there are certain icebreakers that everybody uses. "But then I think there's better conversation that you can have to scare som...more
Producer Marlo Mack has been co-parenting her only child with her ex-husband ever since they divorced four years ago. Back then, their transgender daughter was still their "son." In the latest How To Be a Girl podcast, Marlo talks with her ex-husband about how he processed their daughter's transition. "I just saw a future where she faced constant challenges and pain," he says. Hear how both he and Marlo tried to support their daughter as their marriage came apart, and how he now introduces his d...more
Brothers Buzz and Sheldon are in their 80s. They haven’t talked in more than 20 years after a lifelong tit-for-tat relationship and a falling out at their mother’s funeral. “I have no feelings,” Buzz tells his son Jonathan, host of the new podcast Heavyweight, when asked how he feels about the idea of reuniting with his brother. “I’m really not interested.” Both men are too stubborn to admit they miss each other, but Jonathan won’t accept their apathy. Hear him plan a trip for the estranged brot...more
Axton Betz-Hamilton's credit score was among the lowest in America by the time she went to college. She didn't find out until she tried to get the electricity turned on at her college apartment. That's when she deduced that someone had stolen her identity years ago, when her parents' had been stolen as well. “Whomever has done this to you...it’s likely not a personal vendetta," Axton's mom advised her. "And you kinda gotta live with it.” But, Axton tells Criminal, she couldn't let it go. Hear ho...more
Rosie is pulling out all the stops to make sure everything is perfect for her daughter Hailey's quinceañera. The longstanding (but controversial) Latino tradition celebrating a girl's transition to womanhood can cost parents tens of thousands of dollars, which Rosie says has led to conversations about whether the rite of passage is worth it given the challenges young women of color face. "A lot of people believe Latinas [are]...going to get pregnant when they're 17, they're never going to finish...more
Child stars are an easy target, and nobody knows it more than Mara Wilson. The actress says she felt things intensely as a kid. One time her younger brother walked in on her crying. "He said, 'What's wrong?'" Mara says. "And I looked at him and I just said, 'It’s just my worries.'" Mara tells the Mental Health Happy Hour podcast about dealing with anxiety and OCD as a young kid, feeling pressure to cover up her mental illness, and losing her mother to cancer soon after she filmed Matilda.
It took journalist Tennessee Watson more than a decade to speak out about a gymnastics coach who sexually abused her when she was seven years old. "I stayed quiet about it...I wasn't sure if I should say something. It never felt like it was the right time," she tells The Heart podcast. "But now I know it never feels like the right time." You can listen to Tennessee recount her entire experience in The Heart's four-part series called "Silent Evidence," and hear how the legal case against her abus...more
As a kid, Kim Scharff was diagnosed with diabetes while away at summer camp with her twin sister, Nancy. The diagnosis rattled them both, and kicked Nancy’s tendency to worry into high gear. Decades later, a new app allowed Kim to give Nancy—who also happens to be Reply All co-host PJ Vogt's mom—24/7 access to her vital signs. But the family wondered if alleviating Nancy's anxiety meant Kim would feel a loss of privacy. As it turns out, the app helped them both. “I had a friend in the sandbox,” ...more
“I was happy when I was overweight....It's sad that new Elna gets everything old Elna wanted, because I think old Elna was a better person.” The latest episode of This American Life explores how radical it is to declare yourself "fat," and what happens if that part of your identity goes away. Writer and show producer Elna Baker describes the steps she took to lose 110 pounds and how differently she was treated (particularly by men) afterward. And she tries to figure out how much of herself she l...more
American journalist Mac McClelland was in a swimming pool in Haiti when she made eye contact with a Frenchman named Nico Ansel. He didn't speak English, and she didn't speak French, but they started a conversation mostly through pantomime. The next morning, he turned to Google Translate and messaged her, "I’m glad to have could to see you," but added, "I don’t think we stay in touch.” Hear how Mac reacted to the email in the first episode of Love Me, a new CBC podcast exploring how messy human c...more
Transom editor Samantha Broun’s mother survived a violent sexual assault in 1994. A decade later, Broun decided to retrace the events that led up to her mother’s attack—including revisiting detectives, talking to the assailant’s other victims, and stopping by the suspect’s childhood home, where she met his sister and spoke about forgiveness. “I would really like to forgive your brother,” Broun says, “But when when I talk to my mom and see how she carries it, I feel like I would be disloyal to he...more
"I love money. I love making money. And I love counting it. It's unfortunate that you can't talk about the nice things you do for people with money. Because that just makes you seem like a huge creep." - David Sedaris, talking with Michael Ian Black on the How to be Amazing podcast. It's a two-parter—listen to part one for their honest and hilarious discussion about finances (and to hear Sedaris disclose how much money he makes in a year), and to part two for Sedaris's thoughts on his strained b...more