Podcast Pulse

The Black Tapes

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Okay, so I’m going to preface this referral by saying I had to quit listening after the first five episodes. Mind you, after living in a haunted house in Augusta, Georgia one summer I’m not as up for hearing about anything other wordly, and you’re talking to a woman who made her then boyfriend stay on the phone with her all night in college after seeing The Blair Witch Project (shocker he still married me after that).

All that aside,  The Black Tapes is SCARY with a capital “S”. The biggest reason is that I can’t tell how much of it is  legit or not. The verdict’s still out… Though it says is a docudrama, the way they put it together, with interviews, the description of eerie images, and the sound effects, makes it sound very, very real. That’s probably what makes it one of the better, if not the best, horror podcasts out there. No matter where you stand on the idea of the paranormal, it will make you at least put one foot over that line that jaggedly divides disbelief and belief.

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Bullseye

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In our culture, unless you’ve chosen to take the path of a deeply jaded, fear-riddled prepper and live off to yourself in the woods, all of us are bitten by the celebrity bug. We want to see them and know them, dream about meeting them. Soon they become friends we feel like we grew up with but in reality, they don’t even know our names. Bullseye with host, Jesse Thorn, fulfills these desires.

For those times you want to hear celebrities dish, and bathe in the kiddie pool of  entertainment fluff or those days when you are feeling more astute and want to hear your favorite stars pontificate on what makes them, them, or share their viewpoints on their work, N.P.R. has hit the “Bullseye” with this podcast as it offers you both.

Danny McBride

On one episode, Danny McBride, star and co-creator of the HBO hit Vice Principals, delves into his unlikeable characters that make an impression more than they endear. You get an inside look at what makes McBride tick and how he came to be a simple boy from N.C.

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heavyweight

Heavyweight

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Let’s face it, most of us duck and cover if things get uncomfortable with the people we know. Most of us shy away from emotionally charged situations. You know the ones — ones like getting your dad to talk to his estranged brother; helping your friend patch things up with someone they feel denied them credit for an idea; and the trepidatious, locked and loaded meeting up with an ex you feel changed how you see relationships forever.

One man is not turning away from these types of scenarios. Heavyweight Host Jonathan Goldstein, armed with his recording devices, dives right in, prying open all that difficult emotional baggage we all carry around in hopes of fleshing out its origins and endeavoring to change things for the better. At first read, everything I’ve described thus far might be a big turn off for you. Trust me.  Heavyweight has weight in the title and Goldstein handles these things scenarios and issues with a profound balance of brevity and depth with a wit that makes you glad to be a passenger along for the ride.

Each episode delves into the baggage of totally diverse people.

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Up and Vanished

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The title Up and Vanished is a bit misleading. It’s evident from the very first episode that nearly no one, and I mean no one, ups and vanishes. There’s always another story and a story behind that story.

This’s exactly what creator and host Payne Lindsey sets out to prove — that no one simply vanishes. A fan of Serial (podcast) and Netflix’s How to Make a Murderer, he wanted to try his hand at cracking the cold case of missing schoolteacher Tara Grinstead who up and vanished over a decade ago.

Missing woman, Tara Grinstead

It is evident that Lindsey is a documentarian. With his Anderson Cooper-esque voice, his mixture of interviews, and cut-aways that let you tag along on his own explorations of the crime scene, you’re in for quite an audio masterpiece. Even his catchy opening music has a way of enticing listeners.  I’d say without a doubt, Lindsey has found his medium.

Oddly, I’m not a fan of television shows in this vein. You know the ones that plague T.N.T with reruns.

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S-Town

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December 21, 2016 – Bibb County, AL: Producer Brian Reed in the field.

When Brian Reed, former producer of This American Life, first started getting fan emails from a John B. McLemore in small town Alabama, he could never have imagined the rabbit hole he was readying to go down. At first, it was the intriguing and incomprehensible acts that John B., as he preferred to be called, detailed about his town that drew Reed to not immediately trash these emails. Throughout his correspondence to Reed, John B. wrote all about how the sheriff’s department was covering up a murder in his area, which he often referred to as s_ _ _ town, causing Reed to sit up and pay attention. Once Reed actually phoned John B., he was instantly drawn to the man’s quirkiness and brilliance that quickly oozed out from under a thick southern accent (think Zach Galifinakis’ character in the movie Campaign with Will Ferrell…seriously…to a “T”). It wasn’t long until Reed had to make his way down to meet his avid fan in the flesh.

S-Town takes us on Reed’s journey through the backwoods and, at times, the shifty underworld that few Americans, unless they live or have lived in a town that’s similar, will even believe exists.

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