The mission behind the Chicago-based Third Coast International Audio Festival (affectionately nicknamed the “Sundance Film Festival Of Radio”) is delivering curated radio stories from all over the world to listeners everywhere. Thanks to an active web and social media presence, public listening events like the Third Coast Filmless Festival, and a dedicated staff that cares deeply about spreading the good word of radio, TCIAF has a reputation for growing and recognizing some of the most talented and most hard-working minds in radio.
Recently, Third Coast found another unique way to introduce great radio stories to listeners through a project named “Podcast Therapy.” The premise is simple: Podcast therapists Maya Goldberg-Safir and Sarah Geis (social media strategist and artistic director for TCIAF, respectively) ask people to share their struggles and then present them with an audio clip, or “podcast prescription,” to help them better address the situation.
Since introducing Podcast Therapy earlier this year, Geis and Goldberg-Safir have traveled with their Charlie-Brown-inspired Podcast Therapy booth to colleges, festivals, and conducted one-on-one sessions during October’s recent Third Coast Filmless Festival at ChiArts. And now they’ve brought their podcast therapy expertise to some anonymous A.V. Club staffers trying desperately to get their acts together in 2016. Staffer resolutions, diagnoses, and sonic prescriptions from Geis and Goldberg-Safir are below.
The A.V. Club: I’m a super messy person. Every time I run out the door in the morning, I forget something: my headphones, my computer charger, my lunch. I’m just trying not to leave my iPhone in the freezer again.
Maya Goldberg-Safir: Don’t call yourself a messy person. The words we use influence our behavior. Maybe, instead, you could call yourself “a capable, competent, once-in-awhile forgetful as shit” person. And take this simple quiz from Invisibilia.
Your Podcast Rx: Invisibilia, from NPR, with hosts Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel
Sample dose: “The Power Of Categories”
Do you like puppies or kittens?’ Inadvertently, [the researchers] seemed to have stumbled on this powerful impulse which is written into people, this urge to want to clearly differentiate themselves, to declare their category. And the categories themselves were so clearly defined it was like there, right below the surfaces, is this whole world of qualities associated with what it means to be a cat person, or a dog person.
Sarah Geis: I’m not sure this is about language. You’re clearly suffering from technology overload. Take a deep breath, put your phone back in the freezer, and be transported to the days of the Walkman Personal Radio Cassette Player.
Your Podcast Rx: The Memory Palace from Radiotopia, with host Nate DiMeo
Sample dose: “Heard, Once”
Before the Walkman Personal Radio Cassette Player, the soundtrack to your life—walking to the drugstore, getting on the bus, washing your car on the driveway—wasn’t your own. It was chosen by the guy listening to his car stereo with the windows down. Playing his boombox at the park. Listening to the White Sox game at the lake. But the Walkman was yours. It was you. And it was brand new—that feeling we all know now—of shutting out the world, of having just the right song come on at just the right moment, of sitting in a crowded public place all by yourself, in a subway car, waiting in line at a Starbucks at an airport, walking by the river, walking nowhere on an elliptical machine at the gym. And having a song move you somewhere else, or at some other time, like a madeline, to that one time you realized when that one lyric actual means, to that time it came on the radio when you were driving with that guy you haven’t even thought of in years, to the last time you heard it on the subway, or at line in the airport, and it moved you.
AVC: My roommate keeps stealing my coconut oil from the kitchen and using it in the shower. I’m so sick of it, but I don’t know how to stop him.
MG-S: That’s criminal! Good thing there’s a podcast by the same name. Criminal is a podcast that explores bad behavior of all kinds—including this case of wood thievery in Arizona. Your roommate won’t get away with it next time!
Your Podcast Rx: Criminal from Radiotopia, with host Phoebe Judge
Sample dose: “Triassic Park”
This park in Arizona has the greatest concentration of petrified wood on the planet—125,000 acres full of beautiful looking, 200 million year old stuff. And not surprisingly, sometimes people take a piece home with them, a little souvenir. The park estimated they were losing 1 ton of petrified wood each month, most of it smuggled out in people’s pants.
SG: If the DIY crime fighting is in ineffective, you may need to lawyer up. But before you dial 1-800-LAW-FIRM, explore the world of lawyer ads with producer Sean Cole.
Your podcast RX: Life Of The Law from Panoply, with host Sean Cole
Sample dose: “Call Now!”
I don’t know about you but I’ve always been so impressed by lawyer commercials on TV, and by impressed I mean totally confused. Most of them are of the personal injury variety, guy—usually guys—who promise to battle the heartless, tightwad insurance companies on your behalf. You’ve got your sort of central casting lawyer in front of a bookshelf, for whom every syllable and hand gesture is a hurdle.
AVC: Last year, I was totally overwhelmed by the Chicago winter blahs, I could barely get out of bed. I’ve gotta figure out how to shake things up and not succumb again.
MG-S: Well, I gotta say, PJ and Phia from Reply All did a good job shaking up their lives when they took acid for a week… at work.
Your Podcast Rx: Reply All from Gimlet Media, with hosts Phia Bennin and PJ Vogt
Sample dose: “Shine On You Crazy Goldman”
Phia Bennin: So these were the instructions. We needed to take one piece of confetti paper, soak it overnight in a bottle of water, and then drink 1/10 of the bottle, or less, before 10am.
PJ Vogt: The next day Tuesday we went into the office, and things felt normal. Like slightly different, but different for the better. Then it was Wednesday, it was my birthday, it felt really similar to Tuesday, except for one thing. When anybody would make a self-deprecating joke, it deeply disturbed me. It was like watching somebody slap themselves in the face really hard. Which is weird. Also I’d started to make unusually sloppy mistakes, like cc’ing people who I meant to bcc. And when I talked to my editor, Peter, he said I’d written something that had made zero sense. That seemed like an indication that maybe the LSD was affecting me, but not in a real, alarming way—and so, the experiment continued.
SG: But if illegal drugs aren’t your cup of ayahuasca, I know just the remedy. When the slush starts to weigh you down, shake it off with this passionate listener voicemail from Sound Opinions.
Your Podcast Rx: Sound Opinions from WBEZ, with hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot
Sample dose: “The Listener Voicemail” (For more: “Torres And Opinions On Miguel”)
Hi, this is Zoe from Raleigh, North Carolina. I have to listen to the show on my way home from work, when I ride with my grandfather, because he always listens to NPR and it’s always on. Often times, I hear you guys say things that really tick me off. But today, when you guys were talking about Taylor Swift, it really irritated me. When you said that Taylor Swift does not describe young womanhood, it really irritated me. Her songs—they ARE what I go through, you don’t know anything about young womanhood! You’ve never BEEN through it. Go ask your teenage daughter if those songs make her FEEL like somebody else knows exactly what she’s feeling, ’cause I GUARANTEE she’ll say yes. I can barely even come up with the words. She’s not just another teeny bopper. She’s here to stay. And as critics of the music industry, you better get used to her, because I can see Taylor winning a whole lot more Grammys in her future.
AVC: My landlord is an asshole. Every time I run into him, we end up getting into an argument over the dish drain, or my dog, or whatever. I can’t figure out how to manage my frustration.
MG-S: Since it’s 2016, you don’t need to argue with your landlord, you can just tweet about him. Take a cue from Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu, hosts of the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round.
Your Podcast Rx: Another Round from Buzzfeed, with hosts Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu
Sample dose: “Madam Secretary, What’s Good?”
Tracy Clayton: So these are tweets that I’ve actually sent to the current sitting president, of things that I would like to see before he leaves office.
Heben Nigatu: What are a few of these, Tracy? I’m scared to ask.
TC: Don’t be scared, these are all very logical things that should be expected of anyone who is the leader of the free world, they’re all very doable. Before you leave office, can you institute some harsh penalties on people who leave backpacks on on crowded trains? Listen, we need this! Also, ban any feminism that isn’t intersectional, thanks in advance.
SG: Or, you could just chill out? Join producer Pejk Malinovski in a meditation class, you never know who you’ll find on the next meditation cushion.
Your Podcast Rx: Between The Ears from the BBC
Sample dose: “Slow Movement: Everything, Nothing, Harvey Keitel”
But flipping through the photo album of my mind, the pages are blank. Inside this silence that we shared was a cough—a quiet cough that revealed a large rumbling voice. And that’s when I realized I was sitting next to the famous actor, Harvey Keitel.
AVC: I’m just getting out of a serious relationship. I made an online dating profile, but I’m paralyzed by the sheer number of profiles and people. I’ve resolved to get back in the game. How do I keep going?
MS-G: Online dating is super weird. You just have to choose. I’ve learned how to make the hardest decisions, like, “What’s for dinner?” by listening to a podcast from my favorite comedian Chelsea Peretti.
Your Podcast Rx: Call Chelsea Peretti from Feral Audio, with host Chelsea Peretti
Sample dose: “Mac And Cheese Is Better Than Pizza”
Chelsea Peretti: Let me ask you a question in all seriousness. Do you prefer pizza, or mac and cheese?
Caller: Mac and cheese!
CP: Yes! You came through in the end, you fucking silly motherfucker!
SG: If cheesy carbs don’t do it for you, try kissing. Like this example from the podcast The Heart.
Your Podcast Rx: The Heart from Radiotopia, with host Kaitlin Prest
Sample dose: “First”
I didn’t know what a french kiss was. I mean I’d dated, and kissed, but I didn’t french kiss. I wouldn’t think of putting my tongue in a girl’s mouth.
Have problems or resolutions that Goldberg-Safir and Geis haven’t addressed yet? Visit their full medicine cabinet at www.thirdcoastfestival.org.