Walks, Songs, Love, Work, Barbra

Made For Walking

Episode: “I Fell Down” | Podcast: The WALKING Podcast | 57m52s

Writer takes a walk in the woods, recording only the ambient sound. For almost an hour, the listener hears just crunching footsteps, running water and rustling trees as he strides about the countryside in the northwestern US. It’s a relaxing soundscape with an intimate atmosphere, since the listener is aware all the time that host Jon Mooallem is present with them, but choosing not to speak. In this episode, he tours a ruined sawmill and then falls over — that’s what passes for a big event on this show. The only time you hear Mooallem’s voice is when he reads the advert, which he stops to murmur into the microphone “beside the giant, upended root ball of a fallen fir”. Very good for getting focused work done or falling asleep (57m52s)


A Punch Up

Episode: “Come on Eileen” | Podcast: Punch Up The Jam | 106m20s

Trio of comedians improves the classic 1982 pub rock anthem “Come on Eileen”, originally recorded by Dexys Midnight Runners. Here it is “punched up” into a new and strange version with replacement lyrics and added beats. Along the way, they dissect the original line by line, considering its value as a nostalgic karaoke selection as well as deriding it as an out-of-time bop only enjoyed by drunk people. The style of the episode is loose and conversational but good-humoured, and although full of digressions away from the music, the hosts’ easy chemistry is enough to keep the listener on board throughout (106m20s)


Sing Out

Episode: “Act 1 of 3” | Podcast: 36 Questions | 46m18s

First act of a three-act podcast musical, in which a married couple attempts to rescue their relationship with a cheesy quiz intended to make strangers fall in love. Jessie Shelton and Jonathan Groff (who originated the role of George III in the original Broadway production of Hamilton) star. The music is tender in style, and the intimacy of having a story sung to you personally rather than experiencing it as one of a large audience in a theatre is surprisingly moving. The sound design is a crucial element here; there are spoken word elements as well as the music, plus ambient noise and sound effects, but they are expertly balanced and blended (46m18s)


Sound Work

Episode: “How Sarah Koenig Gets It Done” | Podcast: The Cut on Tuesdays | 28m59s

Interview about work and productivity with the host of the blockbuster Serial podcast, Sarah Koenig. For such an experienced interviewer, she is a hesitant and awkward interviewee, but she becomes eloquent when discussing the details of how she works and what she has done over the years to improve her audio production techniques. Her account of the relationship she has with her “work wife” Julie Snyder is particularly of note, as an example of how a creative partnership can be formed and then flourish over a long period of time. There’s clearly a dominant one in the relationship, too. It was Snyder’s idea, for instance, that they should build a new audio project around Koenig as host, rather than continue to keep her solely behind the scenes as a producer (28m59s)


Fan Boy

Episode: “What Are We Talking About When We Talk about Socialism?” | Podcast: New Yorker Radio Hour | 33m38s

From 19:31 onwards, a delightful item in this magazine-style podcast with the actor Richard E. Grant. He tells the story of how his childhood idol, singer and actress Barbra Streisand, recently replied to a fan letter he sent to her almost 50 years ago when he was growing up in Eswatini in southern Africa (the tiny country formerly known as Swaziland). Grant, who is 61, received his first Academy Award nomination in 2019 and his glee at finally inhabiting the vaunted role of “nominee” also shared by his beloved Streisand is palpable in every word he utters. Pure joy in interview form (33m38s)