Ira Glass and the Unbearable Voice of Elite Podcasting
The latest episode of Not a Huge Fan Podcast discusses a phenomenon that’s been bothering me for quite some time, the absolutely unbearably irritating voices of the Brooklyn podcasting elite. These podcasts, almost always spin-offs of the NPR fixture This American Life, consistently manage to occupy two or three of the top spots on Apple’s “Top Charts,” dominating these precious positions even pre-release.
Isaac and Charles go on a listening tour of the various hosts of shows on Gimlet Media, the Ira Glass-inspired…player.fm
They also share something else in common. The hosts speak with a disaffected, effete sort of vocal fry that sounds like they barely had the energy to drag themselves out of bed that morning. They are virtually carbon copies of each other and the internet is full of videos, like these two↓, lamenting them.
This vocal style has been identified by internet commenters as something beyond simple vocal fry, something much worse known as “Whimper Fry.” You see, good ‘ol fashioned Valley Girl-style vocal fry, used heavily in the below video by Kim Kardashian, is, while annoying, not quite irritating as the the type of podcaster in question.
In the episode, we discuss what it is about this voice that’s so particularly irritating. Charles says that it sounds like a put-on, a brazen attempt at a sort of lackadaisical, can’t-be-bothered cool. This is backed up by the fact that it seems to copy the voice of Godfather of all Whimper Fry, Ira Glass, who happens to be the former boss of most people who work for Gimlet AKA Whimper Fry Media. I, in turn, postulate that it’s a form of class and virtue signaling.
These are the worst offenders we could find. Though they are undoubtedly talented journalists, their voices, for some strange reason, make them very hard to listen to. Note that not all of these shows are Gimlet Shows per se, but all are were produced via the Ira Glass school of podcasting, and trace directly back to This American Life in one way or another.
7. Eli Horowitz — Homecoming (He’s just a producer, not a host, but pretty bad nonetheless)
6. Jonathan Goldstein—Heavyweight
5. Lisa Chow—Startup
4. Dan Tabersky—Missing Richard Simmons
3. Alex Goldman — Reply All
2. The Guy Who Reads the Advertisements at the Beginning of Like All NPR Shows
- Brian Reed—S-Town