Despite a disappointing Amazon adaptation, The New York Times’ Modern Love column and associated podcast continue to serve up delightful, often unexpected relationship tales. The latest episode, Who’s Allowed To Hold Hands, sees Alicia Keys turn her mellifluous tones to Nicole Dennis-Benn’s 2017 story of same sex love and societal prejudice.
This week the Guardian delved into the ethical minefield deep within the booming podcast industry, from plagiarism to voyeurism. Read the full piece here
Picks of the week
The Sun King
There’s a a whole lot of devil in the details in David Dimbleby’s beautifully-told podcast about Rupert Murdoch. He first met Murdoch in the 60s when the media mogul moved to London and made the News of the World even more scandalous. Dimbleby follows the advent of the new printing presses at Wapping that wiped out thousands of jobs, leaving one printer so bitter he still covers up copies of Murdoch’s newspapers in the shops. But, as the former Question Time host says, it is now that the tycoon is at his most powerful. Hannah Verdier
The impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump have kickstarted a new pod trend, with everything from bouncy debriefs (Buzzfeed) to austere overviews (WNYC’s Impeachment) to thoughtful explainers (Vox’s Impeachment, Explained). Rising above the surfeit are the New York Times’s super-shortform dispatches from Washington; highlights thus far include a primer on Trump and Ukraine, and a guide to the impeachment process for third graders, in the company of eight-year-old Leo. Hannah J Davies
General election fever has peaked. Which is why Monday’s episode of Today in Focus, The rise of Netflix: an empire built on debt, was such a lovely distraction. Taking something as ubiquitous as Netflix and trying to make it interesting is no easy feat but thankfully Anushka Asthana and her guests – critic Mark Lawson and deputy business editor Dan Milmo – manage to do exactly that. By charting the rise of the streaming giant, we hear how their mounting debt – which was their business model from the start – could be the very thing that ends them.
Chosen by Max Sanderson
I’ve crushed on my “long-lost love”, Radiolab host Jad Abumrad, before in this column. So it’s only right that I do it again. This time, he’s not breaking down science or highlighting the dark history of conversion therapy (a la UnErased), but has turned his attention to the one and only Dolly Parton, for his smash hit podcast Dolly Parton’s America.
Speaking tothe Guardian earlier this year, Abumrad said of Parton that “once you get past the glitz and the acrylic nails and the persona – you realise there are universes of things to talk about.” It’s these universes that his podcast does so well to unpack, using the life of the music legend as a gateway to wider societal issues in America, past and present. As expected, the production levels are high, with sound design and music that would make any producer feel inferior. Its most impressive feature, though, is its storytelling prowess. Constantly playing with time, tone and space, Abumrad and his team manage to create an experience that is rich both sonically and narratively. On top of all that, his openly fanboy approach to Dolly is a joy to listen to.