111 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 • 1.9K 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

    Sex, Lies, and Hockey Pucks

    Sex, Lies, and Hockey Pucks

    30 years ago, the Stanley Cup playoffs ignited a rumor that has been messing with Jane Macdougall’s life ever since. 
    In 1994, the Vancouver Canucks had made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Rangers. When they barely lost, fans expected the team to come back blazing the next year. Instead, 1995 was a total letdown. Team chemistry disappeared and fans started looking for an explanation. Quickly, a rumor took hold: a defensive player had been having an affair with the goalie’s wife, which destroyed team morale and left the franchise flailing. 
    In this episode of Decoder Ring, Acey Rowe from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation traces the Canucks rumor from locker rooms to chat rooms. And she talks to NHL players Kirk McLean and Jeff Brown to figure out how a story like this can snowball and survive for 30 years.
    This episode was reported and produced by Acey Rowe. Story editing by Willa Paskin and Evan Chung. Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin, Evan Chung, Katie Shepherd and Max Freedman. Derek John is Executive Producer. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.
    A longer version of this story was published on CBC’s Storylines, part of the CBC Audio Doc Unit. Julia Pagel is the Senior Producer of Audio Docs and Anna Lazowski is the Senior Producer of Special Programming at the CBC. 
    If you have a cultural mystery you’d like us to decode send us an email at decoderring@slate.com. Please subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. And even better, tell your friends.
    If you’re a fan of the show, you should sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring and all other Slate podcasts without any ads and have total access to Slate’s website. Your support is also crucial to our work. Go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 37 min
    Sex, Lies, and Hockey Pucks

    Sex, Lies, and Hockey Pucks

    30 years ago, the Stanley Cup playoffs ignited a rumor that has been messing with Jane Macdougall’s life ever since.

    In 1994, the Vancouver Canucks had made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the New York Rangers. When they barely lost, fans expected the team to come back blazing the next year. Instead, 1995 was a total letdown. Team chemistry disappeared and fans started looking for an explanation. Quickly, a rumor took hold: a defensive player had been having an affair with the goalie’s wife, which destroyed team morale and left the franchise flailing.

    In this episode of Decoder Ring, Acey Rowe from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation traces the Canucks rumor from locker rooms to chat rooms. And she talks to NHL players Kirk McLean and Jeff Brown to figure out how a story like this can snowball and survive for 30 years.

    This episode was reported and produced by Acey Rowe. Story editing by Willa Paskin and Evan Chung. Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin, Evan Chung, Katie Shepherd and Max Freedman. Derek John is Executive Producer. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.

    A longer version of this story was published on CBC’s Storylines, part of the CBC Audio Doc Unit. Julia Pagel is the Senior Producer of Audio Docs and Anna Lazowski is the Senior Producer of Special Programming at the CBC.

    If you have a cultural mystery you’d like us to decode send us an email at decoderring@slate.com. Please subscribe and rate our feed in Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen. And even better, tell your friends.

    If you’re a fan of the show, you should sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring and all other Slate podcasts without any ads and have total access to Slate’s website. Your support is also crucial to our work. Go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.

    Captain Planet to the Rescue

    Captain Planet to the Rescue

    In 1990, the cartoon superhero Captain Planet swooped onto TV screens all over the world. He was the brainchild of media mogul Ted Turner, and in the face of impending ecological catastrophe, he had the lofty goal of turning kids into environmental warriors. 
    In this episode, we’re going to look at how Captain Planet came to be, what he aspired to do, and how much he really got done. Captain Planet’s mission was noble, but was it also naive? How much of an impact can even the most well-meaning fictional superhero have on very real environmental disasters? And can we really entertain ourselves and our children into solving our hardest problems?
    This episode was reported and produced by Olivia Briley. It was edited by Evan Chung. Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin, Evan Chung, Katie Shepherd and Max Freedman. Derek John is Executive Producer. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.
    In this episode you’ll hear from Nick Boxer, David Coburn, Marsha Goodman, and  Illac Diaz.
    Thank you to Eugene Linden, Dr. Juliette Rooney-Varga, Mary DeMocker, Claire Reynolds, and Kelly Jones.
    If you haven’t yet, please 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, please sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring and all other Slate podcasts without any ads and have total access to Slate’s website. Your support is also crucial to our work. Go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today. 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 43 min
    Captain Planet to the Rescue

    Captain Planet to the Rescue

    In 1990, the cartoon superhero Captain Planet swooped onto TV screens all over the world. He was the brainchild of media mogul Ted Turner, and in the face of impending ecological catastrophe, he had the lofty goal of turning kids into environmental warriors.

    In this episode, we’re going to look at how Captain Planet came to be, what he aspired to do, and how much he really got done. Captain Planet’s mission was noble, but was it also naive? How much of an impact can even the most well-meaning fictional superhero have on very real environmental disasters? And can we really entertain ourselves and our children into solving our hardest problems?

    This episode was reported and produced by Olivia Briley. It was edited by Evan Chung. Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin, Evan Chung, Katie Shepherd and Max Freedman. Derek John is Executive Producer. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director.

    In this episode you’ll hear from Nick Boxer, David Coburn, Marsha Goodman, and Illac Diaz.

    Thank you to Eugene Linden, Dr. Juliette Rooney-Varga, Mary DeMocker, Claire Reynolds, and Kelly Jones.

    If you haven’t yet, please 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, please sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring and all other Slate podcasts without any ads and have total access to Slate’s website. Your support is also crucial to our work. Go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.

    Why Are We Still Using Fat Suits?

    Why Are We Still Using Fat Suits?

    A fat suit is a custom-made costume with one goal: to make an actor appear fat without them actually having to be fat. It’s typically a unitard filled with mattress foam and other wiggly, jiggly bits—but it’s also so much more than that, an embodiment of all our cultural hang-ups about fatness. In today’s episode we’re going to consider the fat suit from all angles: how it’s made, how it’s changed, and why it continues to exist.
    You’ll hear from Dawn Dininger, Royce Best, Amy Farrell, Hazel Cills, Mia Mask, and Matthew Mungle.
    This episode was written and produced by Katie Shepherd. It was edited by Willa Paskin. Decoder Ring is also produced by Evan Chung and Max Freedman. Derek John is Executive Producer. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director. We had mixing help from Kevin Bendis.
    Special thank you to: Mike Marino, Jacqui Lucey, Gina Tonic, Kate Young, Barbara Miller and The Museum of the Moving Image.
    If you haven’t yet, please 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, please sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring and all other Slate podcasts without any ads and have total access to Slate’s website. Your support is also crucial to our work. Go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 36 min
    Why Are We Still Using Fat Suits?

    Why Are We Still Using Fat Suits?

    A fat suit is a custom-made costume with one goal: to make an actor appear fat without them actually having to be fat. It’s typically a unitard filled with mattress foam and other wiggly, jiggly bits—but it’s also so much more than that, an embodiment of all our cultural hang-ups about fatness. In today’s episode we’re going to consider the fat suit from all angles: how it’s made, how it’s changed, and why it continues to exist.

    You’ll hear from Dawn Dininger, Royce Best, Amy Farrell, Hazel Cills, Mia Mask, and Matthew Mungle.

    This episode was written and produced by Katie Shepherd. It was edited by Willa Paskin. Decoder Ring is also produced by Evan Chung and Max Freedman. Derek John is Executive Producer. Merritt Jacob is Senior Technical Director. We had mixing help from Kevin Bendis.

    Special thank you to: Mike Marino, Jacqui Lucey, Gina Tonic, Kate Young, Barbara Miller and The Museum of the Moving Image.

    If you haven’t yet, please 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, please sign up for Slate Plus. Members get to listen to Decoder Ring and all other Slate podcasts without any ads and have total access to Slate’s website. Your support is also crucial to our work. Go to Slate.com/decoderplus to join Slate Plus today.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.9K Ratings

1.9K Ratings

Ws_dee ,

Nothing wrong with the host's voice

I certainly don't notice or have an issue with how Willa Paskin talks. "Vocal fry" was not something people were even aware of until podcasts began doing shows about it. It's a non-issue that people seem to find the need to point out now that it has become part of our lexicon. If it bothers you then you're spending too much effort looking for it.

ruloboy ,

Could be perfect

This show is almost perfect, the only problem is that there are some people talking like 40% of the time. I come here to listen to ADS only and the show now has some hosts talking about some decoder ring. Please just stop talking and fill those boring talkie parts with MORE ADS PLEASE.

JakeVanks ,

Super Fun and Interesting

Remember pop up video and how fun it was to just learn a bunch of stuff? This podcast does that with one topic. Learn a lot about one topic.

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