If binge listening to You’re Wrong About That is wrong, I don’t want to be right. The podcast is hosted by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes, two likable American journalists who share a microphone and an interest in desensationalizing stories from the past, whether it be the Jonestown Massacre, the O.J. Simpson trial or the Disco Demolition Night sports-promotion fiasco of 1979.
Events are unpacked in lively, illuminating fashion. The episodes are not necessarily topical, but the overarching theme of investigating conspiracy theories and debunking popular falsehoods is more relevant than ever. The past two weeks have been dedicated to the diabolical Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted from 1932 to 1972.
The show is one of three podcasts recommended this week, along with a wrap-up of the Toronto Raptor season and a songwriter-to-songwriter sit-down with Daniel Lanois.
And The Writer Is...with Ross Golan: Ross Golan is a musician by trade, not a journalist. So, when speaking to fellow songwriters for his weekly podcast he tends to keeps things simple. For his recent chat with Canada’s Daniel Lanois, he began like so: “In 1951, you’re born. Then what happens?” Well, a lot. Over the 81-minute interview with the musician and uber-producer, we hear Lanois’s story – it all started with a penny whistle and a tape recorder – with occasional insider information casually mixed in. Singer Emmylou Harris is a first-take performer in the studio, for example, and the making of U2′s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For started with a drum beat and a so-so jam. As an interviewee, the thoughtful Lanois needs little prodding. “I liked being helpful,” he says, when asked why he gravitated to studio engineering before songwriting. “I was happy to be of service to people.” On behalf of clients Harris, U2 and all the others Lanois has collaborated with over the years, we say thank you.
Free Association: One of the things that brought joy to many Canadians' lives this summer was the drama that was basketball’s Toronto Raptors. Coming off a championship run of a year ago, with their one-season sensation Kawhi Leonard no longer with the team, the squad roared through a successful season in the NBA’s pandemic-necessitated “bubble,” only to lose in the final game of its second-round series against the Boston Celtics. A lot of the blame for the loss fell on the skinny shoulders of Pascal Siakam, a star whose performance was underwhelming. On their NBA podcast Free Association, co-hosts JD Bunkis and Donnovan Bennett examine Siakam’s failure. Bunkis’s analysis is crisply clinical, with all the insider jargon we’ve come to respect from young sportscasters. Bennett’s opinions on young Siakam’s ups and recent downs are more nuanced – more human. The take is typical of the highly listenable Bennett. He sees life outside of the bubbles.
You’re Wrong About: What most of us don’t know about the Tuskegee Syphilis Study could fill a book. And a movie. And, now, two full podcast episodes. On the chipper and clever show You’re Wrong About, myths about historically misrepresented events and people are busted. The episodes on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study are informative, but not dryly so. Digressions include mentions of deep-fried ice cream and actor Laurence Fishburne, who starred in the film about the Tuskegee airmen of the Second World War (who weren’t involved in the syphilis studies conducted on infected Black Americans). Fun facts about syphilis, gleaned from You’re Wrong About: The affliction has been around since the 1400s. The French called it the Spanish Disease. The Spanish called it the English and French Disease. The Russians called it the Polish Disease. The Polish called it the Turkish Disease, and so on. Just a reminder that attaching xenophobic politics to communicable infections is nothing new.
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