Play History #4: Reply All
Continuing the series in which we celebrate the modern art of podcasting.
As this Email Debt Forgiveness Day comes to a close, let us pay humble tribute to its creators: the Reply All podcast. It is not a show that everyone loves (thankfully), for it has a certain lighthearted step, a quirkiness that cannot be subdued, and a curiosity piqued by the most indecipherable of tweets. But Reply All courageously wears its heart on its sleeve, and if you find the world inherently mysterious, this show will reward you.
I did not like it at first. At the request of my friend I tested the waters, finding it difficult to get a read on the show’s concept. It’s just about the internet in general? Well, what is it about specifically? It seems they use the ‘internet show’ tag as an excuse to fall down any strange rabbit hole that comes their way.
But… then I listened to episode 44, wherein host PJ Vogt and producer Phia Bennin secretly take micro doses of LSD for one work week, and the same phrase suddenly shifted to a jubilant epiphany:
They use the ‘internet show’ moniker as an excuse to fall down any strange rabbit hole that comes their way!
When you fall in love with PJ and co-host Alex Goldman, their indulgences become the idiosyncrasies of friends, who also happen to be fantastic storytellers.
I found them at their peak on ‘Today’s the Day’ (episode 36), wherein PJ and Alex spend a day doing the New York classics they never had time for; ‘Zardulu’ (episode 56), featuring a mastermind behind the viral subway rat photographer; ‘@Isis’ (episode 33, which recently had a follow up, episode 62), which explores New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi’s complex path to communication with Isis members on twitter. The Reply All archive is filled with gems to entertain and inform, and you are lucky that you may discover them for the first time.
Alex and PJ bicker incessantly, reveal too much of themselves, and display a contagious love of a modern world seldom celebrated. I cannot think of a more innovative use of a podcast than to reveal the strangeness of its own medium.
Happy Email Debt Forgiveness Day!
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