Teaching through storytelling Crimetown style

Plus a fun little eyeroll at the Amazon/Wondery stuff

Hello! I know it’s usually just you and me in here, but would you mind inviting some of your friends to join us? I’m not usually a more-the-merrier kind of friend, but the newsletter game is best played with ten thousand or more players.

Amazon and Wondery are a match made en masse

The thought I had about Amazon buying Wondery is that it’s a perfect fit. Amazon’s media brand, to me, is quantity and throughput. If you look at their offerings on Prime TV, they are all over the map from the incredibly good (The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) to the the very bad (I dunno, throw a dart). From the slickly produced (Jack Ryan) to the grainy attempt at artsy (One minute of searching yielded Like Me). There’s so much! I don’t know who Wondery really is other than “a lot of podcasts.” Perfect fit.

If I’m wrong about Wondery and they have a solid throughline in their roster of shows that I’m unaware of, please correct me. I’m all about being wrong when it comes to super good podcasts I’m missing out on.

One of the bonus episodes of The Ballad of Billy Balls is so cool!

I just finished listening to The Ballad of Billy Balls. It’s great! You should listen, and if there’s any part of you in the first episode that’s like “hmm this isn’t really like the same genre as other Crimetown stuff. It’s not like The RFK Tapes.” Then you especially should keep listening. It’ll be your chance to live in someone else’s shoes and experience something completely new.

But this quick blurb is not about the show. It’s about a few minutes of show making, behind-the-scenes they included in the first bonus episode. At minute mark 11:25, the host iO Tillet Wright says they’re going “to peel back the curtain to show you how we, the whole team, work together to take something from it’s first idea to what you hear in your headphones.” After that, they play both the raw tape and the conversation behind of one piece of interview and narration involving a drug buy and a party in Europe. And if you’re wanting to learn how to make a great podcast, this is must-listen stuff.

(go to the 11:25 mark—or if it’s only showing the countdown timer, set it to 24:30)

As the segment roles, we can hear Austin Mitchell, the show’s producer, directing iO. We can hear iO’s takes improving as Austin says things like “do that but hit [the word] ‘orgy’", or “do [the sentence] like a question,” and then we can hear magic as both music and sound design are added to the the clips. For me the biggest takeaway is how valuable it is to have someone directing your narration. My own attempts at narration have always been done by myself in my home studio. It would be such a gift to receive instant feedback about what tone to set or what words to hit. At the end, in it’s full splendor, we hear iO saying, “When you get invited to an international orgy? You go.”

In those few minutes, not only have we learned how they made that one immersive moment, and how much work went into it, but we’ve also gone on a journey into their minds and into their studio. At one point iO makes fun of Austin for the face he makes while demonstrating a line, and, since by this point we really know iO, it’s hilarious and heart warming. It’s the perfect package of education and storytelling in a five minute segment. I’m so amazed and I hope you listen to it too. The people at Crimetown embody the kind of work we want to encourage and support.

Thank you so much for reading. Please give me the whatfor in the comments. I would so much rather have a lively conversation than be writing for silent nodders-along.

—Jon Christensen