The Awl

Interviews with people who write or do interesting things. Audio content. Hosted by John Herrman.
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Sep 10, 2017

On this week's episode, Mike Dang and Dan Nosowitz join us to talk about watching, following, and playing tennis, particularly in New York City, where everything is more expensive. Playing tennis recreationally is harder than you think, but it's also easier: a private lesson will vastly improve your game. Professional tennis is a year-round affair, and getting ranked is like a video game where you rack up points.

May 11, 2017

This week's episode of the Awlcast is a special edition, written and recorded by David Obuchowksi, the author of "Dial D for Dolphin," a story about the mystery behind a spam caller he dialed back.

His story is about phone calls, but it's also about stories, mysteries, and what we want to believe about both.

May 2, 2017

This week’s episode is about the beloved-but-also-hated-among-makers-and-creatives industrial shipping-supply catalog, Uline. Who doesn’t love to peruse mailing and shipping boxes? But there’s a political catch: the billion-dollar business is owned by a husband-and-wife team of conservative Republicans, which maybe wouldn’t really matter except that company president Liz Uihlein makes a point of peacocking her politics in fairly right-wing op-eds that get printed on the back page of each catalog.

Nick Douglas joins us to talk about boxes, containers, injection molding, and void-fill. How many different ways can you fill a void? And what does your preferred method of popping plastic void-fill say about your personality?

Apr 10, 2017

In honor of Pulitzer day 2017, this week's episode of the Awlcast is about The Awl's most important piece of service journalism, possibly ever:…o-much-2fd9e4c7ce77

Anna Hezel joins us to talk about her very short affair with a sofa named Peggy, her customer-service experience with West Elm, and the months-long journey she took to discover that the rapid dissolution of her coveted midcentury modern symbol of adulthood and joint income was not a metaphor for her relationship—it was just a bad couch.

Mar 17, 2017

This week's episode is about washing your hands, maybe obsessively, definitely prophylactically, probably more than most people. Lindsay Robertson, an expert practitioner of hand sanitizing on the go, joins us to talk about what to do when there's no soap and how to stop a sneeze when you feel one coming on. We also discuss antibiotics, probiotics, and how most "food poisoning" is probably just food-borne norovirus. Gross stuff.

Mar 1, 2017

This week's episode of The Awl podcast is about karaoke—specifically, how to let go and enjoy yourself. Is there a right or wrong way to do karaoke? Bar or private room? Are any songs off-limits? And what do you do if you mess up in front of your coworkers? (Nothing, they're drunk.)

Christine Friar and Kevin Nguyen join us to talk about their love of the craft, and give us some tips they've collected over the years. No more Journey, please.

Feb 14, 2017

This is our WINE EPISODE. Our guest is Sarah Miller, a freelance writer. She writes a weekly wine column for The Awl about tasting wine, shochu, and beer, called "The Nevada City Wine Diaries."

You can follow @sarahlovescali on Twitter, and you can read more of her columns here:

Thanks to John Dziuban for the theme music, and to Jason and the team at his production company, Charts & Leisure:

Thanks, of course, to our sponsor, HelloFresh, which if offering a SPECIAL DISCOUNT to Awl Podcast listeners: $35 off your first week of deliveries. Just visit and use the promo code AWLCAST.

Jan 31, 2017

Welcome back to the Awlcast! This is our POWERLIFTING EPISODE. We're joined by Jason Oberholtzer and his audio wizarding skills, and our guest is Casey Johnston, a writer and editor at The Wirecutter (which is now owned by the New York Times). She writes a bi-weekly advice column for The Hairpin about lifting weights, called "Ask A Swole Woman."

What exactly is powerlifting, why should we do it, and why has there been such a stigma against it, at least for women? Many people are afraid it will bulk them up, but it turns out weightlifting, is a pretty effective way of slimming down and losing fat. It also has the potential to help you think differently about what and how much you eat.

You can follow @swolewoman on Instagram and Facebook, and you can read more of Casey's columns here:


Dec 16, 2015

The internet has been destroying and reconstituting the media for more than two decades: first, slowly and in parts; now, quickly and totally.

For readers, viewers, and passers-by, it's been strange. And interesting! But working on the internet—an internet increasingly consumed and managed by a few centralizing powers—has never been more disorienting. Got a friend who works in the media? Take them out for a drink. Work in the media? Take yourself out for a drink!

Clay Shirky has been writing and speaking this stuff for decades; we've been publishing manic essays about it for a couple years. Subjects covered: the smiling ruthlessness of platforms; how the entire history of modern media was a series of stable quirks; how our comforting narratives of progress and cycles couldn't account for the totalizing ideology of Facebook; What Upworthy Means; the Content Wars; etc! 

Clay Shirky's latest book is called Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream.

Oct 1, 2015

This week's episode is about the sci-fi future of food. And the science-fictional NOW of food. Why are we eating the weird things we're eating? Is the rise of foodie culture culminating in something... much weirder?

Helen Rosner of Eater and Felix Salmon of Fusion join us to talk about the rise of the neo-chain, the arrival of the hipster food venture capitalist, and the frothy intersection of capital, consumption and status in 2015. 

Also: An interview with the chef of the hottest new restaurant... of 2081. (Based on Matt's original piece for Eater; thanks to Emily Fleischaker and Haley Mlotek for reading.)

Thanks, as always, to the delicious Williamsburg Pizza



Sep 10, 2015

Welcome to THE UBER EPISODE. We've got Jonathan Shainin, editor of Long Reads at The Guardian, Jay Kang, a contributor to NYT Mag, and, of course, Matt Buchanan. 

The question: Is Uber the future of everything? Is public transit doomed? Will surge pricing spread... everywhere? Are we all destined to labor forever at the whims of app children??? OR: Is the anti-Uber movement just soft-left polite politics? 

For background, read Matt's piece on Uber's "Endgame" and see Travis Kalanick's response here.

Thanks, of course, to our sponsor, Williamsburg Pizza, which is offering a SPECIAL OFFER to Awl Podcast listeners: 70% off any single pie, for pickup, at the Williamsburg and Lower East Side locations. 

Just tweet at @awl and @wburgpizza with the hashtag #gimmeawltheza and the name of the pie you want.

@Wburgpizza will respond with instructions, and then you'll be eating delicious cheap pizza. 


Jul 31, 2015

Laura Olin, who ran social for Obama 2012, tells us what the political internet is going to be like in 2016. Presidential Twitter feuds. Snapchat gaffes! Hundreds of reporters with no idea what their jobs are anymore. GET READY. 


We'll also talk about her newsletter, Everything Changes, and the strange and incredible advice exchange she hatched in thousands of inboxes earlier this month. You can subscribe to the newsletter here, and find the advice exchange Google Doc here


Sponsored by Williamsburg Pizza ( Music by Deef.

Jul 15, 2015

Jenna Wortham, staff writer at the New York Times Magazine, tells us about worlds hidden inside Instagram.

Read: Instagram's TMZ

Read: Joy of a Black Planet

Sponsored by Williamsburg Pizza. Music by Deef