Hear some of the best stories on Medium, straight from the authors who wrote them. On each episode of Medium's flagship podcast, we invite an author to the studio to perform a recent story they wrote for Medium and then talk with us about it. Hosted by journalist Manoush Zomorodi and writer Kara Brown, Playback features insightful, first-person stories on timely topics affecting the world today — and then gives you the story behind the story from the writer.
"The Edge of Adulthood"
The final episode of Medium Playback's first season is about those who are just peering into the adult years that lay ahead. Right now, teenagers face a deeply unstable future — but maybe that's always been the case. Journalist Alyssa Giacobbe was one of the nine reporters who interviewed 46 teenagers for the collection The Edge of Adulthood. The results are both intriguing and familiar. This episode includes the original audio from four interviews Alyssa conducted so that you can hear from each teen, in the moment.
17-year-old Albuquerquan Juan Rubel Martinez was a high school dropout before finding ACE Leadership High School, which provides him with a more supportive, alternative form of education. Mckenzie Marquez, also 17, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is waiting for the results after her second round of treatment. Dylan Fontaine, a computer enthusiast, battles depression. Finally, Texan Lucy (whose name was changed for the interview to protect her identity) is an abortion patient whose parents still think she’s a virgin. Each teenager is formidable and forward-looking, but have real worries that weigh on them as they fight for their futures.
Meghan Daum: "Nuance: A Love Story"
The dark web was her safe space. Meghan Daum, a long-time L.A. Times columnist, faced two endings: Obama’s government and her marriage. What resulted was a distancing from her gentrified bubble and a new love affair with the shadowy corners of free-speech internet. In “Nuance: A Love Story,” Meghan charts her growing infatuation with the public intellectuals touting controversial political ideas. They’re the folks arguing against identity politics, for example, and in favor of fundamental biological differences between men and women that shape their roles in society. But to Daum, these issues are all more complicated than what you can put in a sound bite or summarize in 280 characters. They require nuance. “I didn’t agree with my Free Speech YouTube friends on every point; far from it,” she explains. “Still, I was invigorated, even electrified, by their willingness to ask (if not ever totally answer) questions that had lately been deemed too messy somehow to deal with in mainstream public discourse.” Suddenly, the intractable problems of the day — and of Meghan’s life — seemed like they could be dealt with head-on.
Morgan Jerkins: "Traveling While Black"
Is there any place where a black person can just be herself? Three contributors to the collection Traveling While Black — Mateo Askaripour, Jamilah Lemieux, and collection editor Morgan Jerkins — read their stories on their adventures (and disturbances) while making their way across the country and globe. Of course, traveling is a luxury, and it can sound strange to complain about the time you spent in Europe or boarding with your first class ticket. But when you’ve fought through a rigged system to have access to a wider world, it’s a slap in the face to hear that you’re still not good enough. This three writers reckon with this double bind on this episode. After hearing three stories, host Kara Brown chats with Jerkins about putting the collection together, Roxane Gay's influence, and the most black-friendly travel destination.
Douglas Rushkoff: "Survival of the Richest"
This week’s Playback gets into the psyche of some big-money overlords — the ones who can’t make it to Mars with Elon, anyway. In his wildly popular story “Survival of the Richest,” researcher Douglas Rushkoff starts off writing about an invitation he received last year to give a keynote speech to some wealthy investors at a deluxe private resort. On the face of it, they wanted Douglas’s advice on how to escape environmental collapse. But quickly, he realized that these one-percenters just shy of the .01 percent really sought an escape — and reliable protection from — human beings. Listen to the author read his story and then chat with host Manoush Zomorodi about apocalypse preparation and the history of digital technology’s relationship with individualism.
Ben Blum: "The Lifespan of a Lie"
This week's Playback features an investigative showdown. Journalist Ben Blum looks into the reality of the most famous psychology study to ever be conducted, The Stanford Prison Experiment, and makes some shocking discoveries himself. Embedded in Blum's story, you'll hear clips from his interviews with psychologist Philip Zimbardo and participants, as well as real archival audio from the experiment Blum uncovered in his reporting. The experiment became famous for the finding that people can be influenced to do horrible things by their environment — or “powerful situational forces” — and not through their own malicious intent. In "The Lifespan of a Lie," Blum looks back into the cracks and fissures of the methodology and speaks with participants who claim they were just playing along rather than expressing real fears and desires while locked up. Who's telling the truth? You'll hear the author read his story and chat with host Manoush Zomorodi about the lasting societal impact of the experiment and the troublesome behaviors it has helped to excuse.
Kristi Coulter: "Enjoli"
This week, Playback is a throwback, but the story timeless. Society is fine-tuned for hardworking women — executives, moms, daughters, creatives, and yogis alike — to get drunk. In “Enjoli,” writer and former Amazon employee Kristi Coulter constructs a diary that turns into a radical reframing of what a “having it all” culture actually looks like: socially accepted forms of alcohol dependence in overspent women. “I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me,” Kristi begins. The story, which went viral when it was published on Medium two years ago, is full of sharpness, tenderness, hilarity, and real anguish — and not just for Kristi’s own experiences, but also for the realities of the “24-hour women” around her, prodded and medicated with wine and cocktails every color of the rainbow at every moment of the day.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Medium you’re the best!
Medium is always my read during commute now there’s a Podcast and I’m super excited!
Suggestion: wished you guys had a viewer discretion before the podcast. The stories are amazing!
Enjoy podcast can’t tolerate the background music.
Excellent interview with Roxane Gay
and I loved hearing her read her essay.