75 episodes

Decoder Ring is the show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

Decoder Ring Slate Podcasts

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.6 • 1.6K Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

Decoder Ring is the show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Slate Plus Exclusive: The Making of This Season

    Slate Plus Exclusive: The Making of This Season

    Host Willa Paskin and producer Katie Shepherd discuss how this season of Decoder Ring came together.

    Slate Plus members have access to this whole interview. Sign up for Slate Plus to access this exclusive episode and support the show.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 1 min
    The Making of This Season

    The Making of This Season

    In this exclusive episode for Slate Plus members, host Willa Paskin and producer Katie Shepherd talk about constructing the narratives we heard on the podcast this season.

    The Mailbag Episode

    The Mailbag Episode

    We’re really lucky to get a lot of listener emails, suggesting topics for the show. In this episode, we’re going to dig into a handful of the most fascinating ones that we’ve yet to tackle on the show. We’re taking on five listener questions that run the gamut—from kids menus to succulents to the chicken that crossed the road. It’s an eclectic assortment of subjects that come to us thanks to you. So let’s jump into our mailbag.

    Thank you to Mark Liberman and Susan Schulten.

    This podcast was written by Willa Paskin who produces the show with Katie Shepherd. This episode was also produced by Sam Kim. Derek John is Slate’s Executive Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.
    If you haven’t please yet, subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends.

    If you’re a fan of the show and want to support us, consider signing up for Slate Plus.
     
    Slate Plus members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads. Their support is also crucial to our work. So please go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 39 min
    Encore: ‘You’ve Got Mail’ Got It Wrong

    Encore: ‘You’ve Got Mail’ Got It Wrong

    (This episode originally aired in March 2020.)
    The 1998 romantic comedy You’ve Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is about the brutal fight between a beloved indie bookstore, the Shop Around the Corner, and Fox Books, an obvious Barnes & Noble stand-in. On this episode of Decoder Ring we revisit the real-life conflict that inspired the movie and displaced independent booksellers on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This conflict illustrates how, for a brief time, Barnes & Noble was a symbol of predatory capitalism, only to be usurped by the uniting force at the heart of the film: the internet.
    Some of the voices in this episode include Delia Ephron, the co-screenwriter of You’ve Got Mail, the illustrator Brian Selznick, Laura J. Miller, author of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption, Joel Fram, founder of Eeyore’s Books for Children, and Boris Kachka, book editor for the Los Angeles Times.

    This podcast was written by Willa Paskin and produced by Benjamin Frisch and Cleo Levin was research assistant. 

    Thanks to Steve Geck, Maris Kreizman, Emma Straub, Jacob Bernstein, Gary Hoover, Peter Glassman and June Thomas. 

    Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. Derek John is Slate’s Executive Producer of Narrative Podcasts. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.

    If you haven’t please yet, subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends.

    If you’re a fan of the show and want to support us, consider signing up for Slate Plus.
     
    Slate Plus members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads. Their support is also crucial to our work. So please go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.


    Sponsored by Saks.com. Check out the Holiday Gift Guide on saks.com
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 41 min
    Cellino & Barnes, Injury Attorneys, 800-888-8888

    Cellino & Barnes, Injury Attorneys, 800-888-8888

    Ross Cellino and Steve Barnes were two Buffalo-based lawyers who became the literal poster-men for personal injury advertising. They poured millions of dollars into ads that did more than just bring in clients: it turned the duo into household names and faces—at least in New York. In this episode, we’re going to look at their rise and everything that happened after. It’s a bumpy ride full of ambition, accidents and tragedy and at its center are two men who, for 25 years, wanted to be at the front of our minds when we got hurt, but who we didn’t really notice until it all fell apart. 
    We hear from Ross Cellino, Rich Barnes, Jeremy Kutner, John Fabian Witt, Trish Rich, Ken Kaufman, Mike Breen, and David Rafailedes.  

    This podcast was written by Katie Shepherd. It was edited by Andrea Bruce and Willa Paskin. Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. Derek John is Slate’s Executive Producer of narrative podcasts. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.

    Thank you to Rachel Strom and Meryl Scheinman, host of Prank You. 

    If you haven’t please yet, subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends.

    If you’re a fan of the show and want to support us, consider signing up for Slate Plus.
     
    Slate Plus members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads. Their support is also crucial to our work. So please go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 40 min
    How Preppy Became Streetwear

    How Preppy Became Streetwear

    We bring you a special episode from the Articles of Interest podcast hosted by Avery Trufelman about the incredible reach and adaptability of preppy clothes. It’s a story about the great modernizer of Ivy style, Ralph Lauren, and how he and his label, Polo, were themselves modernized by customers who helped push preppy in a whole new direction, from the runway to the streets. 
    We encourage you to listen to the entire American Ivy series from Radiotopia.
    Articles of Interest is created by Avery Trufelman. It’s edited by Kelly Prime, mixed and mastered by Ian Coss, fact checked by Jessia Siriano, with music by Avery, Rhae Royal, Sasami, and the Beazlebubs, the Tufts University Acapella Group. 
    Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Katie Shepherd. We had mixing help on this episode from Sam Kim. Derek John is Slate’s Executive Producer of narrative podcasts. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.
    If you haven’t please yet, subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends.
    If you’re a fan of the show and want to support us, consider signing up for Slate Plus.
    Slate Plus members get to listen to Decoder Ring without any ads. Their support is also crucial to our work. So please go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today. 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.6K Ratings

1.6K Ratings

AryehCW ,

Delightful

One of the great podcasts!

devil zilla ,

With an M

It’s HOME in. Not HONE in. I‘ve never heard of honing pigeons. Professional communicators need to use the right words in they’re, (kidding,) finished product. Very good otherwise.

DarlingRicky ,

Hit or miss

Good show, overall well researched. I just got tired of 1) hearing things I knew about already (a me problem) and 2) the show straining to reveal a twist or gotcha, like they’re exposing “what really happened”; at times the show strains under that pressure.

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