The Human Side of Scandalous True-Crime Podcasting


PodMov Daily: Wednesday, March 24

Episode 397: Your Midweek Update

The Human Side of Scandalous True-Crime Podcasting

On the hit podcast Welcome to Your Fantasy, Dr. Natalia Mehlman Petrzela dives into the dark and sordid story of Chippendales. (The male exotic dancing phenomenon of the 1980s? Yes, that Chippendales.) In conversation with documentary podcaster Doug Fraser (What We Do), Petrzela takes us backstage. 

It would have been easy to stereotype the men who worked there (and the women who visited), Fraser points out. Petrzela, a historian, focuses on the human beings involved: “Are we doing justice to present these folks as full people? Are we painting them not as caricatures, especially on a topic like this?”

How did Chippendales transform from a single LA club into a “hotbed for drugs, corruption, and murder”? It’s an intense narrative to track, and Petrzela’s research and reporting have earned wide praise. Here she explains how journalism, oral history, and entertainment come together behind the scenes.

Why Does the Industry Undervalue Audio Production?

For Hot Pod, Skye Pillsbury digs into why audio production is such undervalued work. The open letter published by former Condé Nast producers in January points to a much larger problem.  Professionals including Keisha “TK” Dutes, executive producer of Spoke Media, give their takes on what needs fixing.

There’s no clear definition for what a producer actually does, Pillsbury explains. It functions as a catchall for a diverse list of roles: “Such expansive expectations often make it challenging for producers to get hired at the appropriate level, set limits, negotiate raises, claim credit for their contributions, and more.”

Dutes suggests that advocacy through an industry-wide union may gain traction. “We love this job,” she told Pillsbury. “We love it through abuse. We love it through racial reckonings. We love it through unfair wages. We love making audio, right? And because of that, a lot of folks have been taken advantage of.”

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Here's what else is going on:

  • Power move: The feminist ‘edutainment’ podcast Unladylike is currently one of the top ten philosophy shows in the United States. Podcasters since 2009, co-hosts Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin spoke with Pam Moore about their listener-beloved blend of rigorous research and humor. 
  • Storied past: This Sunday, March 28, the Audio Verse Awards will be announcing the 2020 winners. Dedicated to “immersive audio fiction around the world,” the entirely fan-voted competition has operated since 2013. Winners will be announced on Twitter and on the Audio Verse site.
  • House rules: The new WIRED Resilience Residency is open to podcasters. The six-month creative reporting program will select three to five “new voices to provide an insider perspective on rapidly changing industries.” The residency is paid. Applications will be accepted until May 16.
  • Only human: How does your writing sound out loud? Sound designer Benjamin McCulloch compares a script to sheet music or a recipe. “Great writing will take you toward the final result, but the user will experience the voice that embodies your writing.” A synthetic voice is a risky choice.

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