Folklore meets podcasting as Podspot pulls back the curtain on Aaron Mahnke and Lore.
We are all incredibly different people, with different likes and dislikes, and even those of us who may seem to be similar can be the most different of all. I had been getting lots of emails, from people of all backgrounds, asking what podcasts I faithfully listened to. I seemed to always respond with the standard answer that included “find the right show for you,” and the even more standard “There’s always a podcast out there for you!”
Podcasts are a lot like people, with their different styles and subjects. With so many options to choose from, I decided a while back to do a series that highlighted one particular podcast, and why you should give it a listen – even if it’s vastly different from anything else you might currently subscribe to, including mine.
This is the first edition of the re-boot of Podspot, where once a month I’ll give you an inside look at a podcast, the people behind it, and why you should subscribe to it.
To say that we are rebooting this series with a bang is…quite an understatement.
I discovered Lore a few months back, when I happened to be looking through the iTunes Top 10 list for a new show to add to my list. I listen to a mix of podcasts that entertain, inform, and tell a great story. At this point, almost any person you meet has some knowledge of Serial and the spotlight it cast onto the long-running world of podcasts, so when I discovered this very different and relatively new podcast about folklore, I decided it was worth a listen.
One of the most important qualities, if not the most important, when choosing a new podcast is the host. As the host of a weekly podcast myself, I’m incredibly aware that the first few minutes of a podcast are the most important. How the host makes the immediate connection with me as the listener can make or break whether or not I even get more than five minutes into a podcast. There are countless charlatans in the podcasting world that will tell you that with their “5 Easy Steps To Becoming A Better Host for only $499” course you too can be the kind of host that will make your podcast the most popular on the internet, but this important quality isn’t something you can just buy your way into producing. For me, my go-to hosts are experienced public radio hosts, for the most part. Ira Glass, Roman Mars, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are second to none; at least, that’s what I thought until I listened to Lore.
Aaron Mahnke is a graphic designer and author who lives outside of Boston with his wife and two daughters. Lore is not his first foray into podcasting. When we spoke recently, Mahkne said that he became interested in podcasting several years ago, and his first podcast – Homework – started “in between the bubbles” of notable podcasts becoming popular enough to bring attention to the medium. Mahnke and his friend Dave Caolo started Homework as a “talking head” podcast to give advice to people who work from home, and he used this experience to learn more about the medium. Although Mahnke didn’t expect Lore to be quite as successful as it’s become, he realizes that what it all comes back to is story. Mahnke’s writing and narration were instantly what I connected with when I found Lore, and it’s the main reason I became a subscriber to the show. “I’m Aaron Mahnke, and this is Lore” connects in the exact same way for me as, “This is 99% Invisible. I’m Roman Mars.” In a crowded medium full of public radio icons, Mahnke stands out as the best independent podcast host active today.
Quality is the second most important aspect of a podcast, and Lore stands toe-to-toe with every other show that’s been as widely successful. Mahnke produces the show from the third story of his home, and he produces one of the best sounding podcasts available. Combined with Mahnke’s well-crafted story, Lore consistently finds the perfect balance with its ambient music and feel.
Lore’s focus on folklore does in fact make it one of the most interesting podcasts available. “Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction” is the podcast’s tagline, and it couldn’t be any more spot-on. Mahnke’s decision to take a deeper look into stories of folklore, and to discover the frightening truths behind them, offers the listener an audio experience that will leave you wanting more. With each episode being less than thirty minutes, Mahnke’s refreshingly unique approach to storytelling will have you going back through the short catalogue incredibly often as you wait for the next episode.
If you love storytelling podcasts, or maybe if you don’t, the episode I recommend you listen to as your introduction to Lore is Episode 2: The Bloody Pit. Mahnke’s retelling of the events that occured during the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel – a five mile railroad tunnel refered to as The Bloody Pit – will horrify you and simultaneously leave you wanting more. A great follow-up episode is Episode 8: The Castle.
“I can make something, and people out there can make a community around it. That’s pretty cool,” Mahnke said to me recently. The buzz around the show online is incredibly similar to the community that surrounds shows like “Welcome to Nightvale.” The podcast has growing communities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, and Mahnke gives each posting that same feel as you get with the podcast. They’re all worth a follow.
As with other podcasts, people have hounded Mahnke for more. Was there a #wewantmorelore hashtag anywhere? I don’t know, but there should have been, and Mahnke wants the same. With weekly episodes coming in October, Lore needs your support. Head over to Lore’s website, and check out some of Mahnke’s books. You’ll also see dates for upcoming live shows, that even if you aren’t in the area (like me), you should plot and scheme your way into figuring out how to attend. Most importantly, Lore has an easy to locate Support tab, and there are lots of really interesting ways that you can support the show. You can sign up to send in a one time donation, or you can sign up to support Lore monthly on Patreon and get some really amazing supporter-only content.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or what sort of podcasts you already listen to, I can guarantee that Lore is for you. Go give it a listen, follow along with the show on Twitter, and give this show your support.
Portions of my interview Lore creator Aaron Mahnke will be available this week here on justusgeeks.com
Have a show that you’d like to be considered for Podspot? Send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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