Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
141. Ken Ilgunas on How Podcasts Saved Our Lives

141. Ken Ilgunas on How Podcasts Saved Our Lives

The coolest writer you don't know talks about the intimacy of audio, being a 21st-century tramp, finding meaning in work and family, van life before #vanlife, and how we all need to be needed.
Is Ken Ilgunas cute? Gosh, we didn’t even notice, because we’re journalists.

Ken Ilgunas may be the coolest writer you haven’t heard of yet. Sarah worked with him at Salon, where he wrote personal essays about: living in a van while attending Duke University; camping in the rain at Occupy Wall Street; and hiking the XL Pipeline. He’s since written memoirs about discovering the natural world and himself, including Walden on Wheels. He’s lived in Alaska and now lives in Scotland, but as a boy, he never went hiking, never went hunting, knew nothing of the natural world outside his small upstate New York town. Recently, he wrote in his newsletter about the profound effect podcasts had on him, and we’re here for it. Where else are you gonna get a primer on oral health, a disquisition on Jordan Peterson, and a plug for JIF peanut butter?

Also discussed:

  • How to make a nasal strip look sexy

  • Ken will fly to Dallas and bang on the door if Sarah tries to date Tucker Carlson

  • Cardinal podcast sin = slow starts (#guilty)

  • Chronic dreams about grizzly bears

  • Studying journalism as journalism circles the drain

  • Liberal arts education: Yay or nay?

  • Van life before #vanlife

  • “Can we make this podcast sponsored by peanut butter?”

  • Radiolab and chill

  • Great moments in IDW

  • Bibliotherapy

  • Would you rather wake up to an hour of bird sounds or an hour of Twitter?

  • “A battering-ram kind of schlong”

  • That time Ken was a wet blanket in The New Yorker

Plus, the first podcasts we remember listening to, the YouTube video that Sarah has watched 100 times, Ken chooses a hot box especially for each of the hostess (did it just get warm in here?) and much more.

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Nancy clearly trying to neg Sarah by posting weird screenshot pictures of her. Try harder next time, Rommelmann!


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Episode Notes:

“I live in a van down by Duke University" by Ken Ilgunas (Salon)

Ken Ilgunas’ website

More Ken Ilgunas stories at Salon

Walden on Wheels: On The Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas

Columbia University faces calls for tuition refunds as school moves to hybrid classes for rest of term in wake of anti-Israel protests

Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches from the Wrong Side of History by Nellie Bowles

What’s in your hot box?

Ken, for Sarah:

Ken, for Nancy:

Sarah: Black Water, by Joyce Carol Oates

Nancy: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman

Ken picks the outro (great song)

Is Peanut Butter Good for Your Cholesterol?
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Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em Podcast
Journalistas Nancy Rommelmann and Sarah Hepola on what's burning through the culture right now. Flirtatious banter for serious times.