How to interview the luckiest man in the world.

I love a good origin story. It’s really interesting to learn how people got to where they are, formed the perspectives they have and learned to do what they do. Audio storytelling is great for this and the classic interview format practically owes this type of curiosity it’s soul. But damn if I’m not totally done with a certain type of story. I’m done because it’s either bullshit or it’s painfully true. 

A person, usually a white man, is telling the story of how he got to the top of their game. We all want to know because we want to be the next prolific Broadway producer, acclaimed writer, successful CEO, beloved artist, etc. Here’s the story we get.

I decided I wanted to do something, didn’t give a shit about consequences because I had a great safety net or didn’t care because I knew I could always go back to the safe path laid out for me by my privilege. I found someone to support me even though I had no experience, continued to have one “lucky” break after another until I was finally good at what I do. Now I just work hard every day and the magic happens.

You can tell this annoys the crap out of me. I’m sorry. I’m sure this is a real honest story for many a simple white man in America and who am I to criticize his truth? But interviewers can we call this man out? It’s never that easy, it’s as if some people think projecting themselves as some sort of chosen one provides additional credibility to their work. “It was so easy to get here it must be fate that I’m here.” or they feel they are being humble, but for many of use all we hear is, the quite loud, white privilege, unearned advantage blow horn. Then our stomachs drop. If that’s the way in. I’ll never get there…<a multi-page rant about all the privilege stuff>

So. Next time you are interviewing someone don’t let them get away with this story, dig in and find the real work, or struggle, that may be there and if it’s not and those “lucky” breaks were real, get them to talk about the position in life they were so lucky to be in to be granted such a magical path. Ask them what they are doing to make the dreams of others come true. Now that will be a good story. 


I was prompted to write this now, after years of yelling at my podcasts, after hearing an interview on Sampler with Max Linsky of Longform (0ne of my very favorite podcasts) He brings up this issue but Max! Dude did you really just say it’s “boring” and that’s what you don’t like about it. Doesn’t it trouble you for deeper reasons? Brittany you must have been thinking what I was thinking right? Anyway, maybe the good stuff got lost in editing. Listen to the clip here as Max describes what I’m talking about perfectly. 

If you have examples please send them my way. They would make an excellent Mashup.

Endear me to you.

Lot's of brands are experimenting with podcasting as a marketing tool, some to great success, some...not so much. Last week I so freakin' tickled by this perfect expression of branded content that I must share.

Greenpeace has a podcast. It's not a bunch of smart people sitting around a table discussing the horrific state of the environment, and the latest sick move against nature by some soulless corporation. It's not stories of pain, devastation and smack in the face reality. All topics that are totally valid and stories that need to be heard.  The folks there had a much sweeter idea. What if they simply reminded us of how awesome nature is. What if they could tell you some stories that would give you a positive emotional tug and a neat story to repeat to friends. Could endearing you to the natural world affect the lens you see policy and politics through? Could it strengthen the position of organizations like theirs out fighting for our planet? I hope so. Great job guys. The show is great and so are you.

The Show: Completely Optional Knowledge

Bonus in this episode, guest Jessica Able! Check out her podcast if you are trying to do something creative and need a framework or inspiration. Check out her book if you love radio, podcasts and comics.



Other people's lists: Jason McGillie

This list comes from my long time friend, might as well say brother, Jason Mcgille. Jason is the type of person that lives to figure things out and then once the mystery is uncovered give it a try himself. He's a father of two future pro-baseball players and Nobel prize winning boys, a great host and one of the handiest men I know. I once made him a shirt that stated this very fact. The man loves a good NW micro, his wife and kicking the butt of the projects he runs. I always look forward to Christmas gifts with the undeniable "Mcgillie Made" label. Hope you enjoy his list.

Great handwriting right?

Great handwriting right?

Tape the Podcast, a Review

If you're a fan of radio or podcasts and you haven't listened to this show, then may I present to you a very special treat. If you are new to this whole world but are falling in love more and more each day then this is going to really capture your heart. 

Tape is like Song Exploder meets Long Form meets a yearbook for a high school you only wish you could have attended. It's an interview show with all of the very best radio makers in the business talking about who they are and the work they have done.

The hosts of the show Mooj Zadie and Mickey Capper are members of this band of merry makers which allows them to conduct the interviews like old friends, although they ask the questions we should take the time to ask our friend but often don't. I also love the unabashed fanboy enthusiasm the host express. It's ok. I feel the same way. Squee!

The show is at it's best when the guests are invited to deconstruct a particular piece of work. These moments illuminate the skill, talent and sometimes divine serendipity it takes to get really great tape. 

Tape is a required primer for those interested in making radio or podcasts and a treasury of great content for the passionate radio listener. 

I'm curious what will happen when they run out of old veterans to talk with and start tapping the new class of producers, writers and host, but that's a ways off. Until then it's nice to see these veterans presented as the amazing creators they are. It's inspiring. 

Why you should vote for Hillary even if you are a Bernie supporter

If you are a progressive type I'm sure you are thinking a lot about the next presidential election. For me the number one issue I'm concerned about is preventing any one of the terrifying republican candidates from winning.

It's really important that you really stop and think about what that would mean. You are probably a solid middle class if not upper class person. You are probably from this country and you are probably white. So let's start with that. In this election I want you to think beyond yourself and what you want for this country and what you feel is right in your heart. If the republican candidate wins it will suck for you. The economy will suffer, it always does under their leadership. You'll have more things to be angry about listening to NPR in the morning. Your values will not be represented well in the legislation that is able to pass. It would suck. I feel all of this. But what keeps me up at night is the people that will truly suffer and die. Those who control the budget have a way-to-large hand in the suffering of your fellow americans and people all over the world then we tend to acknowledge. I think this is because we don't really experience the effects. Not the way the poor and marginalized people of the world do.  

I few budget lines removed, a few programs defunded and real suffering is escalated. Children face homes with added stress which leads to abuse. Women can't take care of themselves or find the support to escape really bad situations. The current right wing political machine will make decisions concerning education, war, immigration, guns, healthcare, that will have a devastating effect on the weakest of our population. You can't underestimate the potential carnage a republican administration with the support of a strongly republican house and senate could reap.

So, please listen to this wonderful run down of why you should reconsider voting for Bernie Sanders. Rebecca Traister speaking on this episode of Call Your Girlfriend does a way better job articulating it than I can.

Found a blog post from someone else directing to this audio and she captured a few good quotes. Sarah Hyde

"If you are a progressive, even one whose ideas align with Bernie Sanders, a) it's great if you vote for Bernie Sanders, but b) there is still a really solid progressive argument for supporting Hillary Clinton..."

"It's very possible to have done a presidential calculus in which you determine that actually Hillary Clinton may be wildly more electable for a bunch of reasons ... maybe this person is better positioned to win an election and then, if she wins, to navigate Republican obstruction competently and confidently and that's an evaluation that's not just about where she's standing on these issues."

"We have a pretty broken system right now and a preference for Bernie's position isn't really going to translate into those positions being enacted. Even if you believe that Bernie is electable...There's the question of how is a Republican-led congress gonna respond to his ideas; and I don't think we're in a universe right now where we can safely assume that because Bernie favors $15 dollar minimum wage and expansion of social programs, single-parent health care, free college, that any of these things are gonna happen in the face of a total obstructionist Republican-led house and possibly/probably senate."




Whoa parenting. Two episodes that are profound when heard back to back.

I have a three year old so it's been 4 years of...

This is all new.
What's going on?
This is awesome!
I'm so tired.
I can't think.
I'm so lucky.
Am I crazy?
Is the world crazy.
Am I the only one?
How do I feel?
I can't tell?
This is the best time of my life.
Did I make the right decision?
Who am I?

I'm sure you can relate.  

This past week a couple episodes came out that really struck me as a newish parent. Hearing them back to back compounded my feeling and provided some new perspective. Warning. These are intense, and not the fluffy, regular, life as a parent types of conversations. But I encourage you to listen to them both and see if you can find an answer to one of your questions or a new perspective on your parenting journey. 

Autism Isn’t What I Signed Up For   Death Sex and Money

Moms Who Hate Motherhood  Dear Sugar

Every week I grow more and more impressed with the work Sheryl and Steve are doing. We need people like this to help us think through the complexities of life in a real, grounded way. They are providing a valuable service. And Anna your work of highlighting the exact voices we need to be hearing is groundbreaking and necessary. Thank you to all three of you. 

I would also like to send a gigantic hug to Diane. I just want to go sweep her up and be her best friend. I'm sure you will too. And I hear you about your thoughts regarding race. It's real and it sucks. 

Another Round Guests

This show.

Soon I will take the time to write about how important it is and how much I love it but it deserves some real focus so stay tuned. 

In the meantime, I will be logging all of the guests they have on the show because you need to know these folks. 

I also made a Twitter list so you can keep the good stuff flowing.

Happy listening. 

39: Anil Dash  Activist and technologist

38. Janelle James  Comedian

37. Valerie Jarrett Senior Advisor to President Obama

36. Margaret Cho  Comedian

34.  Aparna Nancherla  Comedian

33.  Uzo Aduba  Actress, Orange is the New Black and The Wiz Live

32. Melissa Harris-Perry  MSNBC host, author, and professor

31. Shani Hilton   Executive Editor, News at BuzzFeed News

30. Lena Dunham  Writer, feminist, actor

29. Ta-Nehisi Coats  National Correspondent at The Atlantic, author

!!  Hillary Clinton Our next President?!?

26. Dr Adrienne Keen  Writer behind Native Appropriations. ᏣᎳᎩ (Cherokee Nation), Postdoc studying Native higher ed.

25.  Tatyana Fazlalizadeh  Illustrator. Oil Painter. creator of the Stop Telling Women To Smile street art project.

23.  David Simon  Author, journalist, and TV writer/producer. Creator of The Wire

22. Yassir Lester  Comic, writer.

21. Chris Hayes  Host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC. Editor at Large at The Nation. 

20.  Rembert Browne  Writer at New York Magazine.

19.  Audie Cornish   Host of NPR’s All Things Considered.

18.  Lianne La Havas   Singer, song writer.

17.  Stacy-Marie Ishmael  Editor of BuzzFeed News apps and knower of all things.

16.  Crissle  Co-host of the popular podcast The Read.

15.  Jay Smooth  Video blogger. Hip-hop radio at WBAI, videos for Fusion, and media for Race Forward 

14.  Tiq Milan  Black, trans*, writer, critic, thinker.

13.  Roxane Gay  Writer. Latest, An Untamed State and Bad Feminist. 

12.  Jean Grae  Comedian, rapper, artist extraordinaire.

11.  Chirlane McCray  First Lady of NYC. 

10.  Brandy Norwood  Singer. Yes, that Brandy!

9.  Kaya Thomas  Coding wunderkind.  

8.   Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah  Writer.

7.  Just our ladies Heben and Tracy which is just fabulous.

6.  Desus Nice  Twitter’s resident Shakespearean fool.

5.  All we need is  Heben and Tracy.

4.   Gene Demby  Lead blogger at NPR’s Code Switch team.

3.  Issa Rae Creator of Awkward Black Girl.

2.  Jazmine Hughes  Associate digital editor at New York Magazine.

1.  Durga Chew-Bose  Writer.  
"To be inclusive, half the time you're not including yourself." 

New to the List: Tiny Desk Concerts just for your ears.

This catalog is just simply mind blowing. If you haven't been watching this video series you have a present to go unwrap. Raw. Beautiful. It's like a private concert just for you.

Here's a sample:

It's been a while since I've listen to a band from Mali and dang this is a great route back home. 


Songhoy Blues
July 17, 2015 by BOB BOILEN • The music I feel most connected to beyond rock is from Mali. The melodies are so fluid, so elegant and most of all so trance-inducing. It often sits on one chord and notes played revolve around that chord. It can feel like a drone at times, and in the case of Songhoy Blues it rocks, lulls and the percussion grooves are not only trance-inducing but dance-inducing.Many of the musicians we know from Mali are in exile, driven out by Islamists threatening musicians and kidnapping them; the members of Tinariwen know this firsthand. There is sadness, defiance and celebration in the music Songhoy Blues brought to the Tiny Desk from a record called Music in Exile, which is co-produced by an artist most of us rock lovers know best from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Zinner. Rock and the desert blues, already closely connected in attitude and sound, fuse nicely with his touch — and can be felt in blissful rawness here.

The perverse use of the sex offender registry that will hurt you and your children

It's imperative that you listen to this clip from Savage Lovecast. Dan shines a spotlight on an issue you probably haven't thought much about but is having a profound effect on people's lives and is mutating in a very disturbing way. If you haven't been effected by these issues yet it's very likely to reach your home, family and personal life soon. 

When you're done please sign the petition to exonerate Zachery Anderson.

I'd also like to mention that if you aren't listening to Savage Lovecast you are missing out on thoughtful, hilarious, very human, often touching but always love and sex positive advice and discussions. If you aren't interested in that sort of thing fine, but you must listen to the first 10mins of each episode to keep up and learn about some of our most pressing issues. Many of which never seem to make it into my feeds or new sources. I depend on Dan to keep me up-to-date and so should you. 

An awesome gift

This last week marked 48 years since the Loving supreme court case corrected the insanity and injustice of outlawing mixed race marriages. When I was born my parents couldn't have married. Just typing that brings up so many emotions.

Now I am in a mixed race marriage. Ha! Guess it's not possible I could have had it any other way, well accept that if you have a drop of black in you are black, says society, a topic for another day. 

With these marriages often comes children. Beautiful children. People who are lucky enough to walk through this world with a unique perspective. People who are blessed with having two ways of being, ways of being acknowledged, ways of experiencing the world. It is a gift in my opinion but there are also difficulties and challenges. This week's Longest Shortest Time brought us stories about this topic and I had to share this clip.

Kirya Traber tells us about a truly inspired gift from her uncle. Take a listen. I'm sure those of you with children who might not look like you or don't identify with the dominate culture they are living in will find inspiration. As a brown girl raised amongst mostly white people I would have benefitted greatly from this gift. Thank you Longest Shortest for telling this story.

5 things about this week's 99pi featuring Song Exploder


I made this monkey sound when I saw the little red circle on the podcast listing today


This will most likely be the first and last time we hear George W Bush on this show. Dear lord I hope so. That voice will always haunt me. Brian Reitzell should add it to his tool kit.



Thank you Roman and crew for reminding me how much I adore the Long Winters episode of Song Exploder. This motivated me to add two new features to the site. Excellent Episodes and Amazing Moments lists. I'll have to take a trip back in time and start logging my favorites from the past 5 years. That'll be fun. So stay tuned for more of that. I put a couple up today.



When John Roderick tells the story of Matt Chamberlain's process in recording the drums I was truly transported there. This part is a perfect demonstration of the power of audio.  I was also touched by the way his description brings you into the world of how a musician experiences music and other musicians. I felt like I had a new sense for just a second while listening to the description. 



Radiotopia is hiring an Executive Producer. I won't be applying but I am going to write a letter of interests as a writing exercise. Very inspiring pitch you gave Roman. Good luck with the search!


Here it is if you haven't already listened. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Speculative fiction audio. Yes please.

You gotta listen to the wonderful Twilight Zone style audio story. Listening to it made me crave more stuff like this. You know as I right I'm also reminded of a Kurt Andersen story I heard a long while back, I can barely remember what it was about but there was something cerebral about it. I'm going to go dig that up. Enjoy this from The Truth while I do. 

Podcast #protip: Oldest First

When consuming any type of artistic work I feel it's important to respect the work by consuming it in the way it was meant to be. For instance listening to the tracks in a record in order and for podcasts starting at episode 1. 

If you follow this rule you will garner the most enjoyment possible from your chosen podcast.  You will be able to follow the makers on their path of growth and maturity, be in on the inside jokes and in the cases of programs that build on themselves, hear the stories unfold they way they were meant to. 

Unfortunately the world and iTunes don't seem to agree with me so here's what you need to do. 

Go into the settings of each and everyone of your podcasts (boo) and change the preference for Play. 

Then download all available epidoses and start bing listening!