40 episodes

Mack Hagood explores the world of sound in the arts, music, and culture. Deep but accessible, each episode features the sounds and ideas of a contemporary artist, musician, or sound scholar. Detailed production makes these more than just interviews--they're movies for your mind.

Phantom Power Mack Hagood

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 49 Ratings

Mack Hagood explores the world of sound in the arts, music, and culture. Deep but accessible, each episode features the sounds and ideas of a contemporary artist, musician, or sound scholar. Detailed production makes these more than just interviews--they're movies for your mind.

    (Re)Making Radio with Shortwave Collective

    (Re)Making Radio with Shortwave Collective

    Help grow the show:

    Subscribe to Phantom Power

    Join our Patreon and get perks + merch

    Rate us easily on your platform of choice

    The Shortwave Collective describe themselves as “an international feminist group using the radio spectrum as artistic material.” I was first intrigued by their piece Receive-Transmit-Receive, an exquisite corpse of audio, in which members each contributed their own recordings of sounds from across the radio spectrum. But what really affected me was their ongoing public education project of teaching people to make their own no-power, low-budget radios called open-wave receivers. They’ve held radio-making workshops in Portugal, France, and the UK and they’ve published a how-to in Make magazine.

    I wanted to talk to the Shortwave Collective because they are presenting a radically different vision of what radio is and can be. Radio’s history can be thought of as an extended expression of military, political, commercial, and cultural dominance. But the Collective embraces play, experimentation, failure, community, and open listening in their feminist radio practice. So, let’s talk to the Shortwave Collective and see if we can rethink radio–what it’s for and what it can do.  

    And in the second half of the show, we’ll hear an audio documentary in which the Shortwave Collective teaches you how to make your own open-wave receiver.

    Special thanks for appearing on the show to Shortwave Collective members Lisa Hall, ​Alyssa Moxley, Georgia Muenster, and Maria Papadomanolaki. The other Collective members are Sally A. Applin, Kate Donovan, Brigitte Hart, and Hannah Kemp-Welch. Today’s show was written and edited by Mack Hagood with technical assistance from Craig Eley. Today’s music is by Graeme Gibson with additional sound design elements by Cris Cheek and Shortwave Collective. Phantom Power’s production team includes Craig Eley, Ravi Krishnaswami, and Amy Skjerseth. Our Production Coordinator and transcriber is Jason Meggyesy.


    [33:47 For Tools Needed to Build Open Wave Receiver]

    [34:47 For Start of Tutorial]

    Mack Hagood: Before we get started, I have three URLs for your consideration. 

    If you’re new to the show, welcome! If you enjoy what you hear today, please subscribe at phantompod.org/subscribe. 

    If you’re already a fan of the show, consider joining our new Patreon. You’ll be supporting our mission of creating entertaining audio scholarship for the people, and you’ll get access to our exclusive patrons-only feed, where you’ll get recommendations for reading and listening and things to do straight from our guests, and you’ll also get bonus episodes in other perks Options start at just $3 a month, and until October 31st, new patrons get a killer Phantom Power sticker. That URL is patreon.com/phantompower. 

    And finally, please give us a five-star rating or even write a review at ratethispodcast.com/phantom. 

    All right, let’s get to it. 

    • 53 min
    In One Ear, Out The Other (Jacob Danson Faraday On Cirque du Soleil)

    In One Ear, Out The Other (Jacob Danson Faraday On Cirque du Soleil)

    On today’s show, we address a performer’s nightmare—the nightmare of not being able to hear yourself onstage. My guest is ethnomusicologist Jacob Danson Faraday, who takes us behind the scenes of the famed Cirque du Soleil to learn how even Cirque’s world-class musicians struggle with technology when they want to hear themselves. 

    Building on his international career as a touring sound technician, ethnomusicologist Jacob Danson Faraday researches the working communities and hidden labor of live sound technicians on large-scale touring productions. He is a recent graduate of the PhD program in ethnomusicology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Today Jake takes us behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil, sharing his dissertation research on how sound engineers and musicians negotiate the power to hear oneself. 

    Stage monitoring, the technology that allows musicians to hear the performance as they play, is a topic we rarely hear about, but it’s absolutely essential to performers. Faraday suggests that, while new in-ear monitors are marketed as a godsend for performers, they are more of a mixed blessing, “homogenizing listening” and creating new kinds of issues and anxieties for musicians.  

    Today’s show was edited and mixed by Jacob Danson Faraday, with additional editing by Mack Hagood. 

    The song “Sail Away” by Colton Benjamin (2017) was obtained from the Free Multitrack Download Library on the Cambridge Music Technology website by Mike Senior, author of the excellent book Mixing Secrets For The Small Studio. 

    Read the dissertation: Buried in the mix: touring sound technicians, sonic control, and emotional labour on Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo by Jacob Danson Faraday (2021). 

    Join Our Patreon! Receive Bonus Material from this episode and more at Patreon.com/phantompower. 



     Ethereal Voice: This is Phantom power.

    [Crowd Noise]

    Mack Hagood: You’re waiting in the wings of a large Las Vegas hotel nightclub wearing a powder blue tuxedo. You tentatively touch the bow tie at your throat. You don’t remember taking this gig. A hand pushes you from behind and you stumble out onto the stage. A spotlight fixes you in its gaze. And the music begins. 

    [Music Plays]

    Thank God.

    You know, this one, it’s an old bossa nova tune. You take a breath and start to sing, but you can’t hear yourself. You can feel vibrations in your chest and neck. But your voice, it’s not there, but it is there. They can hear it, the crowd, and whatever you’re doing, it must be terrible. 

    They start to laugh.


    They boo. 


    But how can you sing if you can’t hear yourself?

    [Music Continues]

    Mack: Hey, and welcome to another episode and another season of Phantom Power, a podcast about sound in the arts music, and humanities, I’m Mack Hagood, and on today’s show,

    • 43 min
    Season Four Trailer

    Season Four Trailer

    Get ready for Season Four of Phantom Power, where we study sound in the arts, music, and culture!

    On Phantom Power, we’ve got an ear to the ground—listening to the subterranean rats of New York… 

    We’ve got an ear on the streets—with the rattling car trunks of Houston hip hop…

    And we’ve got an ear for culture—analyzing the politics of Yoko Ono’s voice…

    And in every episode, we hear from the world’s great experts on these topics—the fascinating scholars, sound artists, and musicians who tap the phantom power of sound. 

    I’m sound professor Mack Hagood, host of Phantom Power. Our fourth season starts September 15th.

    We’ll meet a scholar who embedded with the Cirque D’ Soleil to find out why musicians always seem to keep one of their in-ear monitors hanging out of their ear. (Have you noticed that?)

    We’ll find out how Kate Bush made the glorious sounds of “Running Up That Hill” with an early digital synthesizer.

    We’re going back in history to hear the sound world of Harriet Tubman.

    We’ll also talk to cultural critic Karen Tongson from the podcast Waiting to X-hale about the power of karaoke.

    And host Dallas Taylor will tell us how his team makes their hit sound podcast 20,000 hertz.

    Follow and listen in Apple Podcasts or at phantompod.org.

    • 1 min
    Fela Kuti and the Black Atlantic (Tim Lawrence and Jeremy Gilbert)

    Fela Kuti and the Black Atlantic (Tim Lawrence and Jeremy Gilbert)

    This month, we are preparing for the launch of Season Four of the podcast in September. Lots of fascinating topics on deck, as we double our output with a semi-monthly format. We are also about to officially launch a Patreon page, but you can get on board early at www.patreon.com/phantompower.

    This summer, sound artist and “guerrilla academic” Ben Coleman got in touch to say how much he enjoys Phantom Power. He also suggested we check out another podcast he’s into called Love is the Message. 

    We’re glad we did! Love is the Message: Music, Dance & Counterculture is a fantastic show from Tim Lawrence and Jeremy Gilbert, both of them authors, academics, DJs and audiophile dance party organisers. I recognized Tim Lawrence’s name from his great book on Arthur Russell. Jeremy Gilbert is Professor of Cultural and Political Theory at the University of East London and a prolific author. Tim and Jeremy have been longtime collaborators and when the clubs closed and universities cut faculty hours due to covid, they started podcasting. 

    The way I’d describe their show is, imagine the amazing college class you never got to take where you learn about the intersections of global dance music and radical politics, from the 1960s to today. They do shows on disco, Motown, reggae, tropicalia, funk, you name it with a strong cultural studies perspective. And I think the episode we’re going to hear today is a perfect example of their approach—it’s ostensibly an episode about Fela Kuti, but it’s also terrific seminar on the Black Atlantic and the political history of Nigeria. 

    So thanks, Ben, for the recommendation. Thanks, Tim and Jem for sharing the pod with me and doing this episode swap. And thanks everyone for listening. Talk next month!

    • 1 hr 17 min
    Awfully Viral (Paula Harper on Will Robin’s Sound Expertise)

    Awfully Viral (Paula Harper on Will Robin’s Sound Expertise)

    It’s summer and we are busy working on episodes for our fourth season. We’ve also rebuilt our website–check out the the fabulous new phantompod.org. There’s other great stuff in store for the podcast, so stay tuned!

    But today, I want to share one of my favorite podcasts with you: Will Robin’s Sound Expertise. For those of you into musicology or popular music studies, there’s a great chance you’re already a subscribe. That’s because Will’s show is fantastic and I personally know many music scholars who are devoted fans of this show that features conversations with established and up-and-coming music scholars. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dr. Robin, you might remember that I quoted his New York Times obituary of R. Murray Schafer in our first episode on Schafer. He has written about music for the Times for at least a decade. He’s also an assistant professor of Musicology at the University of Maryland and the author of the book Industry: Bang on a Can and New Music. Sound Expertise will be dropping its third season in the fall.

    The episode you are about to hear is one that I love as a media scholar. Will Robin interviews Dr. Paula Harper about her work on viral music videos and taste, specifically that terrible Rebecca Black video “Friday” that’s probably still rattling around in some dark recess of your brain. Dr. Harper digs into the awful virality of that video and all of its cover versions, discerning what this case study can tell us about genre, gender, and how and why sound travels on the internet. It’s a great discussion and I hope you enjoy it. And by the way, since this interview happened, Paula Harper has joined the faculty of the University of Chicago as an assistant professor of music. So, who says YouTube rots your brain?


    Sound Expertise – Season 2, Episode 7Rebecca Black’s Friday and Viral Music with Paula Harper

    TRANSCRIPT prepared by Andrew Dell’Antonio

    Paula Harper 00:00One of the reasons that I do the work that I do, which is writing about music and sound on the internet, is in part because I am fascinated and delighted by objects that are frequently obnoxious. So a lot of the things that I’m engaging with are things that occupy this weird, liminal or ambivalent space between something that gives people delight and something that makes people want to throw their computer off of a tall building. So just like right in the middle space between those two emotions, or having those two emotions at the same time, is how I’ve engaged with a lot of stuff on the internet, including, but certainly not limited to, the Rebecca Black Friday video.

    [intro music]

    Will Robin 01:05Welcome back to Sound Expertise. I’m your host, Will Robin, and I’m a musicologist. And this is a podcast where I talk with my fellow music scholars about their research and why it matters.

    You probably remember Rebecca Black’s Friday, and if not, you almost certainly heard it. It was absolutely ubiquitous about a decade ago, a music video by an amateur teen musician, which went viral because it was widely trashed as one of the Worst Songs of All Time. Friday went from YouTube to Tosh.0 to parodies and covers on late night TV, racking up tens of millions of views in the process. It was 2011, it was a more innocent time, when our expectations for what kinds of internet content would go viral we...

    • 50 min
    Voices Pt. 3: Dork-o-phonics (Jonathan Sterne)

    Voices Pt. 3: Dork-o-phonics (Jonathan Sterne)

    Jonathan Sterne is one of the most influential scholars working on sound and listening. His 2003 book, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, had a formative influence on the then-nascent field of sound studies. His 2012 book, MP3: The Meaning of a Format, was both a fascinating cultural history and a deep meditation on the purpose of compression technology in capitalism. Today, Sterne talks to Phantom Power about his new book, Diminished Faculties: A Political Phenomenology of Impairment (Duke UP 2022). Specifically, he tells the story of the “Dork-o-phone,” a vocal amplifier he wears to give talks or communicate in loud spaces. Jonathan explains why he wears the Dork-o-phone, what it’s taught him about voice, technology, and disability, and how his experience informs Diminished Faculties’ “phenomenology of impairment.”

    This is the third and final part of our series, Voices. Although you don’t need to listen to the other episodes first to enjoy this one, here are the links to part one and part two.

    All of this episode’s sound art and music are performed by Jonathan Sterne and/or groups he appears in:

    * Cancerscapes: Recordings made during Sterne’s thyroid cancer treatment* Volte: An instrumental post rock band* The Buddha Curtain: solo electronic music

    Jonathan Sterne is Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology at McGill University. He does research in sound studies; media theory and historiography; science and technology studies; new media; disability studies; music; and cultural studies.

    You can read Jonathan Sterne’s cancer diaries at https://www.cancerscapes.ca.




    Ethereal Voice: This…is…Phantom Power.

    [Transitional Noises]

    Jonathan Sterne [Spacey Voice]: The interior voice is at least as much imagined as a reflection of external phenomenon.

    And if you have a voice and never heard a recording of yourself speaking, you probably know that the auditory perspective between your ears is like nowhere else.

    A shifting interior voice is an index to something very different from a stable interior voice.

    [Transitional Noises]


    Mack Hagood: Hey, it’s Phantom Power, a show where artists and scholars tell stories about sound. I’m Mack Hagood, and welcome to part three of our three-part series called Voices, this time we’re featuring sound studies scholar, Jonathan Sterne.

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
49 Ratings

49 Ratings


Brilliant show!

As a scholar of sound and an experimental musician you would be hard-pressed to find a show more perfectly tailored to my interests. That said, I can’t think of a podcast that both satisfies my desires for aesthetic aural pleasure and serves my intellectual pursuits quite like Phantom Power. A brilliant show.

no1fanofgoodmusic ,


One of the best podcasts available.
Just listened to episode on Siavash Amini— brilliant!
Thank you for making this.
All hail Moloch!

Natural Ry ,

In Relationship With Sounds

Proof that changing the way you listen can change your life. Gas for my ears. Excellent

You Might Also Like

Dallas Taylor
Hrishikesh Hirway
Roman Mars
The New York Times
Aubrey Gordon & Michael Hobbes
Crooked Media