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Inside Podcasting (Mar 27th, 2017)

The Atlantic asks "who, in the 21st century, has the right to be left alone?" in an examination of the just-concluded "Missing Richard Simmons" podcast. During the podcast's finale, Simmons' manager told host Dan Taberski, "I can't say that Richard feels better as a result of this podcast. Perhaps you do. I think you've created more worry and speculation." Writer Sophie Gilbert wonders why Taberski, who calls himself a personal friend of Simmons, would be so eager to disrupt the privacy of an acquaintance who clearly (at least currently) wants to be left alone? Gilbert is largely critical of Taberski, saying the show's tone, wavering between true docu-journalism, simple gossip, and comedy, represents an "ethical minefield." – ATLANTIC

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The guests on Nona McInerny's "Terrible, Thanks For Asking" podcast are all survivors of one form of catastrophic hardship or another. The interview-based show proceeds from McInerny's blog, "My Husband's Tumor," which illustrated in darkly comic fashion the couple's lives in the wake of her late husband's brain tumor diagnosis. As the blog's profile rose, McInerny began to think bigger: “I had all these stories, and I wanted to give people a platform. These are stories from folks who aren’t famous, or quasi-internet-famous like me. These are stories from people we might otherwise not hear from." – TWINCITIES

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Entertainment Weekly will kick off a new podcast on May 1st covering Showtime's upcoming revival of "Twin Peaks." Hosts Jeff Jensen and Darren Franich will start with a closer look at season one, then progress through the second season as well as the prequel film, "Fire Walk With Me."  After the May 21st debut of the 26-years-later third season of David Lynch and Mark Frost's cult classic, the podcast will cover each new episode on the Monday following the initial airing. (The series is called "A Twin Peaks Podcast: A Podcast About Twin Peaks" in presumably tongue-in-cheek recognition of the number of homegrown "Peaks" podcasts already in existence.) – EW

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The "Up and Vanished" podcast, from avowed "Serial" devotee Payne Lindsey, investigates the 12-year-old cold case murder of a Georgia high school teacher. Since the podcast began, new evidence in the case has been plentiful, and two suspects have been arrested. Payne says he dug up the case in an honest attempt to approach it the same way the Adnan Syed case was deconstructed during the first season of "Serial": "I think there's something about an unsolved case that intrigues everyone, this urge to solve a puzzle and reveal the truth and this universal satisfaction when we catch the bad guy... So I literally just went to Google and started searching (for cold cases)." The show has so far aired fourteen of a planned eighteen episodes. – USAT

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The new "Cosmic Vertigo" series features two genuinely funny astrophysicists explaining cosmic phenomena in terms that almost anyone will find enthralling. Hosts Amanda Bauer and Alan Duffy's first episode picks the right place to start: Earth's moon, perhaps the least wondrous of all heavenly bodies at this point. But Duffy and Bauer's history of the moon, which was once 20 times larger and significantly brighter, is fascinating. About the show, Sarah Condie writes in Cosmos: "If, like me, you struggle to engage fully with the ever changing complexities of the world of astrophysics, this podcast is for you." – COSMOS

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The latest edition of the Wall Street Journal Report considers the pros and cons of a nomadic lifestyle. The episode profiles Andrew Blackman and Genie Austin, who two years ago sold most of what they owned and set forth on a life of working and living on the road. Blackman says, "We've given up a lot, but we wouldn't want it any other way." – WSJ

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PODCAST SPOTLIGHT

The Burnt Toast podcast, which has just kicked off a second season, is hosted by James Beard Award-nominated host and producer Kenzi Wilbur. The show is all about the ways food intersects with our lives, often in more complicated arrangements that the traditional hand-to-mouth system. With the unimpeachable goal of supplying listeners with "the perfect pieces of cocktail party fodder," the agreeably lo-fi show is a genuine charmer, especially if you like slightly retro synth music (which I do.) 

Case in point: the latest episode is titled "Why Is There No Pie Emoji?" While this may sound like a set-up for a dreary comedy routine, in fact Wilbur has put together a rather beguiling audio essay on how and why certain items of food make it for consideration as emoji ideograms, and others don't. (A collage of soundbites gathers a collection of voices asking after other conspicuously missing food-based emojis, including bagels, dumplings, samosas, and chorizo.) 

Her guest is Jeremy Burge, who runs the Emojipedia site, and sits on the Unicode Emoji subcommittee that gets to decide which proposed glyphs will graduate to the agreed-upon set. Burge talks about the origins of emojis in the 90s, how the original set of 176 has bloomed to over 1800, and why it is that there are so many trains to choose from. (Burge notes he was himself initially unsure why a there was an Easter Island statue emoji, until he realized it actually referenced a landmark at a Tokyo train station.)

Food is difficult, though. Burge shares the story of the paella emoji (or, to be specific, the "shallow pan of food" emoji), which pictures a flat pan loaded with chicken and prawns. Spanish users, however, recoiled at the ingredients shown, and asked that the glyph be redesigned to represent the more traditional ingredients. 

All of this is lead-up to host Wilbur's actual submission to the Unicode Emoji Committee: pie. What kind of pie? Fruit or meat? A slice or a whole pie? You can see how this gets interesting. Burge says the onus is on the person submitting the emoji for consideration: he or she has to prove via search volume and hashtag usage that their idea is sound. 

Past episodes have focused on Kit-Kat bars, meatloaf, and thousand-year-old eggs. It's not a foodie show so much as a really interesting podcast that happens to be about food. 

THE BASICS
Title: "Burnt Toast"
Episodes Available: 42
Episode Length: 20 minutes
Where to Download: Stitcher
Host: Kenzi Wilbur

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