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Inside Podcasting (Mar 13th, 2017)

Despite much speculation on the hit "Missing Richard Simmons" podcast, reps from the Los Angeles Police Department say the fitness guru is "just fine." The LAPD's Jack Richter told the Los Angeles Times that detectives visited Simmons' home for a wellness check. They report that Simmons seemed okay and that he attributed the hype to "internet silliness." In related news, yesterday's New York Times featured an interview with "Missing Richard Simmons" host Dan Taberski. – LAT

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Google has debuted "City Soundtracks," its first exclusive podcast for Play Music users. Each episode focuses on an individual musical artist talking about his or her major influences, and playing tracks that "reflect their hometown" and the stories they choose to tell about it. The host is Hrishikesh Hirway of the wonderful "Song Exploder." Three episodes have so far been produced, featuring (respectively) Kelhani, Big Freedia, and members of Spoon. – ENGADGET

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Jordan Vogt-Roberts, the young director of the hit new King Kong redux "Kong: Skull Island," sits down for the latest Empire Film Podcast. The spoiler-filled (fair warning) chat covers some pretty fascinating production details including how he managed to make a standalone movie that still serviced larger franchise needs, the choice to bring Kong onscreen as early as possible, and the iconic film character's status as a "lonely god." – EMPIRE ONLINE

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The "My Dad Wrote A Porno" podcast features host Jamie Morton and friends reading chapters of "Belinda Blinked," a series of erotic novels Morton's retired father is writing under the name Rocky Flintstone. The novels concern the adventures of sales rep Belinda Blumenthal in the apparently hugely erotic world of the pots-and-pans industry. Morton's dad was inspired by the wild success of the "50 Shades of Grey" series to craft the books, which his son and friends Alice Levin and James Cooper have been reading "children's story time style" on the podcast since 2015. The show, which has been downloaded 50 million times, gets tons of comic friction from the younger Morton reading his own father's erotic purple prose, a task that is "obviously excruciating" for the host. – BROADSHEET

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Members of the Jones Jaguars PawsUp Podcast club, made up entirely of 5th and 6th graders, have released their first podcast. The five-minute podcast was entirely put together by kids from Rockwell, Texas's Jones Elementary School, who wrote the scripts, conducted the interviews, and edited the final product complete with music and (a lot of) sound effects. The childrens' sponsor says, "I am so proud of these students. It's amazing what kids are capable of if you give them the tools and the time to create." The first episode concerns sea mammals. (Trust me, it's really adorable.) – BLUE RIBBON NEWS

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Uber is on the eighteenth episode of its Seattle anti-unionization podcast. The show is part of the company's campaign against next month's Teamster organization of the company's drivers. Uber has also leaned hard on advertisements, emails, and hosted meetings to elaborate on its arguments against joining a union. Seattle passed a unique ordinance in 2015 to allow collective bargaining of Lyft and Uber drivers. On March 3rd, Teamsters local 117 received approval to begin organizing independent drivers. Dawn Gearhart, coordinator for the Seattle Teamster chapter, says, "I've never seen an anti-union podcast before." – QUARTZ

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PODCAST SPOTLIGHT

Nate DiMeo's "The Memory Palace" is an addictive, quizzical historical podcast that features the host relating odd (bat bombs, which is as hare-brained as it sounds), fascinating (Franklin J. Pierce framed as 'the saddest president"), creepy (five instances of newspapers using the phrase "horrible death" in relation to a person's passing), and sad (the extinction of the passenger pigeon) historical anecdotes.

For the most recent episode, "Amok," DiMeo spends about ten minutes relating an outrageous story that the New York Herald reported ("A Shocking Sabbath Carnival of Death!") on one morning in 1874. According to the story, a pestered rhinoceros broke out of his cage at the Central Park Zoo, trampled the zookeeper who was needling him, then proceeded through the zoo bashing open every cage he (or she?) could. From there, madness descended on New York City. A woman kneeling in prayer was killed by a bear; a gaggle of seamstresses watched one of their own be split in two by the aforementioned revolutionary rhino; a young nanny's four charges were taken off by a lion, never to be seen again.

And more! A lion and tiger brawled in the middle of 59th street. Exotic prey was devoured on every corner by exotic predators. Swedish big-game hunters and the city's heroic 80-year-old governor (a Civil War vet!) took to the streets to shoot down the attacking beasts, but even so... the night had fallen with anacondas and panthers on the prowl somewhere in the city, still unaccounted for, still hungry. 

The editor of the New York Times was outraged that his paper had failed to run anything about "the biggest story in the history of the city." People bought guns, locked doors, and held their children close. 

Sharp-eyed readers of the Herald, however, would have noticed something a bit odd in the last paragraph of that "Shocking Sabbath" story. I'll leave it to DiMeo, as I couldn't possibly do it justice. Needless to say, it's quite a story even if all is not as it seems. And it certainly can't miss relating to many issues the press faces today.

(The individual episodes of "The Memory Palace" are fairly short at about 15 minutes, so one can easily devour 3-4 in a sitting. Beware, though, as new episodes are slow to arrive, so you don't wanna burn through them all at once.)

THE BASICS
Title: "The Memory Palace"
Episodes Available: 105
Episode Length: 10-15 minutes
Where to Download: Radiotopia; iTunes
Host: Nate DiMeo

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