1. Hackwith Design House, which specializes in ethical fashion, gets a kick out of naming their limited edition pieces after podcasters they admire. There's a Sruthi dress, a Roman tee and an Ira wrap top (I'm never going to get over this last one). Alas, the previously mentioned designs are sold out, but the company alerted me to the fact that you can still purchase a pretty darn cute Cheryl (Strayed) jumper (in case you weren't aware, the Wild author has a popular podcast, too). — TWITTER
2. Writer Elena Fernández-Collins reports that audio fiction podcast creators are increasingly combining comedy with genres like science fiction, fantasy and horror. The Bello Collective writer highlights Inn Between as a show that fits this trend; it provides listeners with a humorous look at what happens when a collection of D&D heroes takes a breather at the Goblin's Head guesthouse (check out the show's actual — not fictional — blooper reel; it's hysterical). — BELLO COLLECTIVE
3. Over the past two months, Wenbin Fang, creator of the Listen Notes search engine, has launched an app that delivers random episodes and a service that reveals what people are listening to in real time (we've reported on both). Now he's announced Listen Explorer, which "provides recommendations for similar programming based on a few podcasts you already enjoy." But there are kinks to work out; when I typed in Heavyweight, the service recommended a show about "how to get the hottest girls in a world that wants you to fail." — RADIO INK
4. Does everyone know that Earbuds Podcast Collective publishes a list of five themed episodes curated by a different person each week? In the Collective's most recent post, Ever Gonzalez, who runs the Outlier Podcast Festival, offers a collection of "coffee talk" shows. This interview with NBA legend Andre Iguodala makes the list, as does this discussion with "mortician and death-acceptance advocate" Caitlin Doughty. Didn't know I'd be ruminating on death this morning but that's the magic of podcasts! — DISCOVER PODS
* Indie Spotlight *
Desert Oracle Radio, hosted by Ken Layne
"Tales of mysterious lights, missing tourists, lost mines, venomous creatures, weird history and weirder people...Desert Oracle Radio is your soundtrack for a desert night."
This podcast is a rare find. Ken Layne, with his gravelly, baritone voice (I would listen to him read the phone book) reports on the magical, otherworldly Mojave desert with an approach that is equal parts subversive humor, anthropological storytelling, madcap poetry, and ecological revelation. The soundtrack is tantalizing and sets the scene perfectly, ranging from Western tumbleweed / surf rock all the way to atmospheric ambient sound. I loved the "Shutdowns & Date Shakes" episode, which warns visitors that it's a felony to use locked restrooms during a federal government collapse, but beam in anywhere — Desert Oracle Radio is consistently mesmerizing.
5. “When we started talking about making [Welcome to Night Vale], we felt that the market was flooded, [that] it had already achieved max saturation," says Jeffrey Cranor in this interview with The Evening Standard. Among other things, Cranor credits a void in the audio fiction space, great actors and consistent live events for the show's runaway success.
6. Check out Pop Sugar's list of eighteen "black-hosted podcasts that you should subscribe to immediately." The collection includes Thirst Aid Kit, which has just been given the boot by BuzzFeed, and Why Won't You Date Me, which was recommended by producer Kalila Holt in this newsletter's holiday edition.
7. Beware the increasingly common "chummy celebrity interview" on podcasts says The Financial Times' Fiona Sturges. That is, unless you enjoy hearing famous people fawn over one another and avoid tough questions (paywall).
8. Eric Wahlforss, founder of the financially troubled SoundCloud streaming service, is calling it quits. Let's hope the current leadership team, which has now lost both of its original founders, can right the ship.
9. The Wall Street Journal and Gimlet Media are on the hunt for an executive producer for their upcoming news show. "This new daily podcast will bring the Journal's strongest reporting to our ambitious audience each day, sharing deep insights, context, analysis and storytelling from the Journal's well-sourced reporters and editors in a format that is best suited for audio," reads the job posting.
10. I would pay good money to see this in action.
This newsletter was written and curated by podcast junkie and recovered publicist, Skye Pillsbury. Over the years, Skye has crafted digital media strategies for brands like Yahoo! and Microsoft and worked regularly with media outlets such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone and NPR. Skye was famous for 49 minutes when she and her son were featured in an episode of Gimlet Media’s Heavyweight podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SkyePillsbury.
Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at Inside.com, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).