The Final Stretch
Chest Thumping, Mouth Stretches and Apple Cider Vinegar: What It's Like To Be On Deadline for a Podcast
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Some of you have asked for more of a look into my world. What it’s like when potential stories rain on you, as they are this week. What do you do? Who do you call?
While I love the fact that “corruption” is an extremely broad category, encompassing international politics, finance, the law the culture… it’s tricky when there’s Epstein-related news, Kushner-related news, British royal family news, Hunter Biden-related news, Trump Investigation news, a market meltdown and campus culture war news - and it’s only Wednesday. It can be paralyzing. That’s why it’s so helpful to hear from you what topics you are interested in. I’m going to continue to poll you at the bottom of the page. And we are going to start some Q and A sessions going forward, where I get to hear more from you. And we have a dialogue. Please write in the comments section topics you’d like to address with me through a live chat session.
Today I want to mention the campus culture war news from Stanford Law school. You‘ll recall I did a series of deep dives about an event that got shut down at Yale Law School almost a year ago (here and here), so the fight over free speech at our top law schools is something I’m fascinated by. Why do law students at the top law schools in the country heckle visiting conservative speakers, this time a Trump-appointed Judge, to the point that they get accused of censorship and find themselves, I’d argue, on the wrong side of the mainstream narrative? They run the risk of looking primitive, when they are anything but. They are the brightest and the best in the country.
It’s a subject I’ve been researching for a deep-dive project that I’m not ready or at liberty to disclose yet. But what I can tell you, as I write this on March 16 is that for the second time in my career we are approaching deadline time for an Audible podcast series. I find myself thinking a lot about the spring of 2021 when we approached a deadline for Chasing Ghislaine - my first Audible podcast series. It was a huge learning curve. Not least because when you write for the ear you need to write in themes, as opposed to chronologically, which is what you mostly do for readers.
Perhaps the most surprising discovery of all was that the closer we neared to the end for Chasing Ghislaine, the more my colleagues insisted I rest! How unusually solicitous, you might be thinking! But they were governed by a very practical concern: my voice. It turns out that your voice really suffers if you are tired or de-hydrated. And just as if a movie star is late, ill or has a melt-down (see news reports of the new Jamie Fox/Cameron Diaz movie shoot in London) it halts production, so too, if a podcaster’s voice cracks, it wrecks the studio schedule. It’s a whole costly saga! And my voice did get tired one after during production for Chasing Ghislaine - annoyingly on a day after which I thought I’d got a good night’s sleep.
I also discovered while making Chasing Ghislaine, that contrary to my expectations, you don’t just saunter into the recording studio, put on headphones, read the script and hope for the best. No. You have voice coaching. During which you learn that en route to the studio you need to thump your chest like Tarzan to push out all the air and lower your register, you have to stretch out your mouth around the vowel sounds, and you need to do this for a good ten minutes before start time, which can engender some very strange looks from people on the subway. Oh, and you need to drink apple cider vinegar in hot water. Which is disgusting.
So, anyway, we haven’t got to that point yet, this time around, but we are in the final two months where everyone’s calendars are synchronized and we know we need to hit our target dates.
It’s been deeply frustrating for me spending so much time on something I’m not yet able to share with you. That, alas, is the double-edged sword of a deep-dive. The good news about a podcast is that you will literally be able to hear the scenes from my reporting as they happened in real time. So I’m excited to share all this with you, at the right moment.
Meanwhile, bear with me if in the next few weeks, this column is a little sporadic as we enter a production time-table that we have to stick to. And know that I’m already doing some chest thumping at home. But I can’t quite face the apple cider vinegar. Yet.