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Inside Podcasting (Mar 20th, 2017)

"Rabbits" is a serialized mystery podcast that "blurs the line between fiction and reality." Like the mega-popular "Missing Richard Simmons," the "Rabbits" podcast tracks a host's progress as she attempts to track down a missing friend. But like the "Tanis" podcast - also from creator Terry Miles - "Rabbits" has a playful, twisted agenda and clearly is heading somewhere big. Producers maintain (mostly) that the show is documentary rather than fiction. The premise has host Carly investigating the surreal world of a mysterious alternate reality game called "Rabbits," which she has reason to believe is connected to her friend Miko's disappearance. Two episodes have been produced so far. – USAT

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Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne is featured on the newest episode of the "Rolling Stone Music Now" podcast. Coyne goes deep on his thirty-year (!) career in one of the oddest and most beloved bands in recent rock history. Among the topics covered in the "ultra-honest" talk with host Brian Hiatt are dropping acid and Miley Cyrus, who has become a frequent Lips collaborator. – RS

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In honor of March’s International Women’s Day, Ad Age and iHeartMedia’s ‘Tagline’ podcast focuses on women working in creative industries. iHeartMedia CMO Gayle Troberman hosts a panel featuring Val DiFebo (CEO of Deutsch New York), Lori Feldman (exec VP of brand partnerships for Warner Bros.) and Tiffany Rolfe (CEO of Co: Collective). – ADAGE

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"S-Town" is a new true crime podcast from the production team behind "Serial." A surprise teaser for the show appeared on the "Serial" podcast feed this week. The seven-part series will launch all at once on March 28th for binge listening. The show, hosted by "This American Life" producer Brian Reed, follows the true story of an Alabama man who hired a reporter to investigate the scion of a local wealthy family who had allegedly been bragging about getting away with a murder, "but then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life." Reed has been following the story for three years. – GEEK EXCHANGE

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Writer Pamela Druckerman argues in The Atlantic that "podcasts are the new Xanax." Druckerman, an expatriate American living in Paris, says even though she's not classically an early adopter, she took to podcasts right away because they gave her the vista she had been missing on "what Americans were doing, thinking, and talking about" after a dozen years away from the US: "I could take a bath in Paris while listening to someone in Los Angeles complain about her dating life. Podcasts immersed me in colloquial English and put me back in the American zeitgeist." In the piece, Druckerman focuses on her tortured quest to find the right "before bedtime" podcast, and going cold turkey post-election. – ATLANTIC

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The new episode of USA Today's "Mothership" podcast features an interview with 80s cult hero "Weird Al" Yankovic. Yankovic talks his new career-spanning box set, "Squeeze Box," his childhood as a strange little boy, and his starring role voicing a teenager on the Disney series "Milo Murphy's Law." (The Mothership podcast's stated mission is to "cover all things nerdy in pop culture.") – USAT

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PODCAST SPOTLIGHT

In a culture where sincerity and intimacy are increasingly mocked, "The Heart" podcast is most certainly not for everyone. Even beyond the close-up subject matter, the tone of host Kaitlin Prest and many of the featured subjects tend towards the kind of breathy even-handedness that could cause you to pass out and drive off a cliff (if you're driving while listening, which I don't recommend.) Once you figure out that the series aims entirely to soothe, the tone makes sense. 

"The Heart" proceeds in offbeat "seasons," each collecting five or six stories from the intimate personal lives of Prest's subjects. The most recent season, "Pansy," deals with men who have been noted as effeminate by the people in their lives, or by little nagging voices at the back of their minds. 

A man named Allen, a friend who Prest always thought of as a "regular straight dude," surprised her one day by identifying himself as gender clear. His story has been spun into an episode called "The Beloved," in which Allen relates his "long journey" from a startling discovery during sack time with a girlfriend. (The descriptors and language are fairly graphic, though related with humor and warmth; that said, this is for open-minded grown-ups only.) 

At the end of Allen's journey (so far), he discovered another self (a feminine one) within him which he touchingly refers to as "The Beloved." "The front of her body is the back of mine," he poetically illustrates.

While not every story on "The Heart" is directly related to issues of gender identity, that kind of emotionally resonant material is the show's raison d'etre, and in an often harsh and hurried world, it is most surely welcome. 

THE BASICS
Title: "The Heart"
Episodes Available: 43
Episode Length: 20 minutes
Where to Download: theheartradio
Host: Kaitlin Prest

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