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Inside Podcasting

Curating the resurgence of the spoken word.


01/30/2017 The film Moonlight tells the story of its main character, Chiron, in three chapters: when Chiron is a young boy, nicknamed Little, when he's a teenager, and when he's an adult, nicknamed Black. For each chapter of the film, composer Nicholas Britell created a theme, and in this episode, Nicholas takes those themes apart. The score for Moonlight was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and the film itself won the Golden Globe for Best Drama.
We mentioned "Song Exploder" a few weeks ago when The Guardian chose it highlight it, and I've been curious about taking a deeper look at the show since then. I'm glad I did. Vulture says the show comes "pretty damn close to being the perfect podcast," and it's not hard to see why: In twenty minutes, one recording artist or a group of band members talk about the genesis on one song, from writing to recording and release. Hence the title, as songs are discussed in an "exploded view" so that up-and-coming and hopeful musicians can see how the pieces came together. And for this non-musician who loves exploring the "little universes" of great pop songs, it has undeniable appeal. All that said, the episode I listened to breaks from the pop music train to focus on the main theme(s) from "Moonlight," Barry Jenkins' Oscar-nominated drama about modern identity and time. In a compelling interview, the film's composer, Nicholas Britell, relates how he came up with the film's three interlocking main themes, one for each of the character's evolving identities as he progresses through his early life. When Britell read the script for "Moonlight," he said he was "overwhelmed" by the beauty and poetry of the piece, qualities he believes director Jenkins brought to the screen intact. It was in trying to come up with a theme to underline that tender poetry that "Little's Theme" (originally called "Piano and Violin Poem") came about. "Little doesn’t say much, he’s quiet, but you know what he’s thinking and feeling," Britell says of the main character as a young boy. To achieve a comparable effect in the music, the composer hired a violinist and asked him to play the violin line as quietly as he could, and as close to the recording device as he could. Paired with a conspicuously out-of-tune piano ("Different pianos have different feelings," Britell says), "Little's Theme" was written, soon giving way to the darker and deeper variations, "Chiron's Theme" and "Black's Theme."
10/03/2016What is your beautiful brain up to as you comprehend language? Cognitive psychologist Jenni Rodd takes a peek. Visit for more information about this topic. Find me at and The Allusionist is a proud member of from
Helen Zaltzman "take(s) you down to language town" on her fascinating etymology podcast "The Allusionist: Small Adventures in Language," and while that may not sound like a riot to those addicted to true crime podcasts, Zaltzman's deep and broad knowledge of linguistics make for fascinating listening - instantly fetching British accent or no. (Zaltzman is best known for the "Answer Me This!" podcast she began in 2007 with collaborator Olly Mann.) Episode 44 of "The Allusionist", called "This Is Your Brain On Language," begins with two minutes of the history of the word "banal" (and its journey from an original meaning of "royal decree" to its current definition) before moving on to interview cognitive psychologist Jenni Rodd. The topic is how the brain deals with hearing a word, how quickly it defines that word, and what kind of internal algorithms are involved. While truly unambiguous words are easier on the brain than those with multiple definitions (like "see" and "sea"), actually finding one isn't easy: Using the example of the seemingly unambiguous word "run," the brain must decide by intonation and context whether the speaker is talking about the physical act, a political campaign, or how long a movie is playing in the theater. Comedy writer Zaltzman's running commentary is canny and funny, serving to drain any starchiness out of the proceedings before they begin. The host is clearly someone fascinated by language, and that fascination is infectious.
01/19/2017 The Pod Save America team sits down with President Obama for his last interview as President.
Barack Obama’s final interview as president was for the “Pod Save America” podcast. Obama was interviewed by former White House aides Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor, who ran the “Keepin’ It 1600” podcast during 2016’s presidential race and recently launched a progressive media startup, Crooked Media. The outgoing president reflected on his time in office, and spoke about regretting not allowing for the current media landscape in his communications strategy.