A Podcast Actually Worth Listening To

First, there’s the shuffling of feet. Then a drink is poured. Adrianne Mathiowetz is preparing to call her old high school sweetheart—and when she does, the guy on the other end of the line is clearly surprised to hear her voice. Before long, he’s harping on the poems she once wrote about him. He admits to keeping a few stashed in a shoebox under his bed.

“Look,” Mathiowetz says, “I wrote that way before I cheated on you.” There’s an awkward pause. “What?”


First, there’s the shuffling of feet. Then a drink is poured. Adrianne Mathiowetz is preparing to call her old high school sweetheart—and when she does, the guy on the other end of the line is clearly surprised to hear her voice. Before long, he’s harping on the poems she once wrote about him. He admits to keeping a few stashed in a shoebox under his bed.

“Look,” Mathiowetz says, “I wrote that way before I cheated on you.” There’s an awkward pause. “What?” he says.

It sounds relentlessly realistic, but it isn’t a real conversation. Mathiowetz’s chat was recorded for the popular podcast Love & Radio (loveandradio.org), which the Somerville resident created with Cambridge pal Nick van der Kolk. The monthly show is an inventive mix of true-life tales and unannounced fictional scenarios, all set to a hip, moody soundtrack. In a pop culture moment punctuated by the boom of the graphic novel and the explosion of public radio’s This American Life, this feels like something in between. Love & Radio is perhaps most akin to an indie movie—but without the movie. Past episodes have centered on such disparate topics as a partygoer wetting his pants, a teenage girl catching a glimpse of male genitalia, and a strange encounter with a Japanese tourist group. “It’s like people’s insecurities and failings enhanced to a comedic effect,” says van der Kolk. The stories, he says, fall into three basic categories: “sad,” “not sad,” and “holy shit.” Truth is, most episodes are a winning blend of the three.

The downloadable broadcast has been around for less than two years and draws about 9,000 listeners per show—quite a feat in a budding medium that is much celebrated, yet rarely used. It’s even earned praise from NPR, which promotes the show on its website, and stations across the country (including WGBH) have paid to air some episodes.

This fall, the duo will start cranking out weekly podcasts. They’re planning to use more fiction, and are plumbing their own experiences for inspiration. But on a show like this, self-reflection can be tricky. The final product, Mathiowetz says, is “kind of like stumbling upon a diary you wrote when you were drunk.”

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