Everything is Terrible so We Made a Podcast

We didn’t have a budget for a podcast when the pandemic hit. We were all locked in our houses reading the news, doomscrolling, trying to buy masks and toilet paper and bags of flour and rice. Hospitals were overflowing in Italy and there were creepy videos released of empty streets in locked-down China. Things seemed pretty bleak. And sometimes when things are bleak, it helps to have a project. 

For me, my boss Cindy, and our colleagues Danny and Jason, that was a podcast.

The podcast was something we’d really wanted to do for years, but it had always felt like the wrong moment. The pandemic was absolutely the wrong moment. But we dove into it with incredible fervor. I’d get off heartbreaking calls with my family in Virginia, and then I’d watch YouTube videos on reducing sibilant sounds. I couldn’t go to the gym anymore, but I could debate potential guests and interview questions in endless, near-daily Zoom calls. Sometimes, just because there was nowhere to go and also my husband was sick of me talking about the possibility of our deaths, I’d just sit around writing editing notes in shared documents, starting and stopping the recordings every few moments, until nine at night.

We didn’t know anything about making podcasts, but we wanted to do it right. We were determined to make something educational, timeless, and approachable for both laymen and legal audiences. We wanted something that didn’t shy away from the gritty details of what was wrong with technology policy. But we also wanted something optimistic; we all needed a little optimism right then.

Now, the pandemic has worn on. We’re two years in and we’re better at living through COVID-19 than we were in the early days. I’m vaccinated and boosted. We wear masks when we go to the store and avoid indoor restaurants, but there’s a rhythm and a certainty to our days now. 

Similarly, our little podcast has hit its stride. After our messy 6-episode pilot season, I helped us secure an awesome funder who loved what we were trying to do and gave us the support we needed to make it happen on a much grander scale. We hired professionals: people who had produced many podcasts before and had editors, producers, and even folks dedicated to audience development. Cindy and Danny are now polished podcast hosts, and my role managing the scheduling, editing, promotion, and everything else has been replaced by experienced professionals.

We just released the season finale of our first full season. Listening to it, and how real and polished it sounds, I am amazed at how far we’ve come in the last two years. While everybody else was learning to make sourdough bread and planting succulents, we made a podcast to explain everything from the third-party doctrine to software patents to the FISA Court. I’m so glad to have worked with Cindy, Danny, Jason, Christian, Joe, Hugh, Nat, Cristina, Matt, Jenn, Jeff, and the entire team at PC, our incredible funders, as well as exceptionally talented guests from all across the country. 

If you’d like to give it a listen, I’ve got links below. 

How to Fix the Internet: Pilot Season

Why does my Internet Suck? with Gigi Sohn

The Secret Court Approving Secret Surveillance, with Julian Sanchez

Fixing a Digital Loophole in the Fourth Amendment, with Jumana Musa

Control Over Users, Competitors, and Critics, with Cory Doctorow

From Your Face to Their Database, with Abi Hassen

You Bought It, But Do You Own It? With Chris Lewis

How to Fix the Internet: Season One

What the Police Get When They Get Your Phone, with Harlan Yu

The Revolution will be Open Source, with James Vasile

Who Controls Online Speech? With Daphne Keller

Pay a Hacker, Save a Life, with Tarah Wheeler

A Better Future Starts with Secret Codes, with Riana Pfefferkorn

The Life of the (Crypto) Party, with Matt Mitchell

Algorithms for a Just Future, with Vinhcent Le

How Privacy is Your Bank Account? With Marta Belcher

Data Doppelgängers with Ethan Zuckerman

Saving Podcasts From a Patent Troll, with Marc Maron

Author: Rain

Lover of backpacking, novels, long runs, listening to the rain, movies with sword fights, meditation, and cozy socks.

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