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Interview: Sarah Thyre and Rachel Lichtman share 'Something Cool'

The creators and executive producers of Something Cool a new audio documentary series, describe themselves as “record-store clerks, but not snotty.” They took their shared love of little-known artists of the past and created a podcast where they can take that love and share it with others. Even though it may be decades later, this show gets these undiscovered artists the fans they deserved in their time and didn’t get.

The first episode profiles Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter from the sixties who most people may know as an artist with a minor hit. But Something Cool lets people know that there is much more to her story. The show is so much more than a podcast: Mary Steenburgen provides the narration and framework for interviews, songs, and rarely heard footage of Gentry’s work.

Something Cool is one of the shows exclusive to the Howl podcast network, a new app and archive of all Earwolf, WolfPop and WTF podcasts. Subscribers get access to exclusive premium content. Will this “Netflix for podcasts” model work even though podcasts are generally free? If the quality and richness of story in Something Cool are any indicator, subscribing is definitely worth it.

We were able to speak with Something Cool executive producers Sarah Thyre and Rachel Lichtman about their show.


Something Cool

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY COMMUNITY: The genesis of Something Cool was your shared interest of Bobbie Gentry. How does one go from a common interest to producing an audio documentary series?

RACHEL LICHTMAN: Soon after we started talking about Bobbie Gentry, being 20th-century girls, we realized that we have so many artists in common that we adore that deserved a second look and recognition. We thought that doing an audio documentary in this short-form way [each show is 30 minutes], we could do as many as we wanted, in this bite-size form. We have a laundry list of artists we’d love to give the same treatment.

How do you decide if an artist is something cool? What’s your standard for cool?

SARAH THYRE: I think something cool is something that people would pass on by word of mouth. Being the geezers we are, I was like, “Hey, listen to this bootleg tape,” knowing that there is some cache with knowing about something relatively unknown. We all have friends who will tell you about something and say, “Oh, I liked that band before they were popular,” but we’re coming at it from a different angle. If something is cool and niche, we want that person to have more fans; we want more people to know Bobbie Gentry and share in our joy and delight of her. After people listen to our show, they can say, “Hey, I heard something cool,” and they can pass it on at a party. We like to say we’re like record-store clerks, but not snotty.

LICHTMAN: There’s an inclusion in stuff we like to share. We like to approach this by saying, “This is beyond what you’re getting spoon-fed, and we’ve been learning and appreciating this stuff for years, so we are the right gatekeepers for the material as well.”

Why did you decide to produce this in the style of a documentary rather than a typical podcast?

LICHTMAN: I always appreciated the style of BBC’s audio documentaries. There’s something in the presentation that is more polished, and it allows for the players and contributor to feel comfortable.

THYRE: It would be really easy to sit around and shoot the sh-t about stuff we like, but we wanted to present [Bobbie Gentry] in the elevated style that she deserves.

In producing this series, did you find out any information about these artists that surprised you?

THYRE: [In the first episode], you hear a recording of Bobbie Gentry that we got from [singer and interviewee] Jill Sobule. That’s an old reel-to-reel recording of Bobbie and her mom singing together, that likely no one would have heard if it were not in the episode.

LICHTMAN: I love the idea that someone who is already is a huge fan can still hear something new. It works on a lot of levels: Both hardcore fans and people that don’t know anything will be surprised.

Say it’s 30 to 50 years in the future. Are there any contemporary artists you think would deserve the Something Cool treatment?

THYRE: I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings! That’s saying that they won’t get the recognition they deserve right now. [Laughs.] I have people in my life that I’m very interested in promoting and getting them the recognition they deserve, like Merrill Markoe, Laura Kightlinger, and Karen Kilgariff, who are doing really groundbreaking work.

LICHTMAN: It’s hard to say. But it’s interesting that this series turned out to feature female artists, and that was not necessarily on purpose; it just turned out to be the case. Being in the reissue world as long as I have, it’s usually it’s the white males that get rediscovered. I think it’s great that we have a different outlook to look at a wider group of artists.

What has been the response to the show so far?

LICHTMAN: There’s been a really great response to what we’ve done. It’s always great to make something you would yourself would want to watch or hear.

THYRE: When we turned over the final copy [of the first episode] to the guy who was mastering the it, he said he couldn’t get the Bobbie Gentry songs out of his head, and later he did some more research on her. That, to us, is success: We get people in the mood to go out and discover more about an artist. [If someone does that], it’s the pinnacle of success.

What can you tell us about upcoming episodes in the series?

LICHTMAN: Each one of these episodes is very, very different. The next episode on The GTOs [an all-women rock collective that formed in L.A. in the late 1960s] is so different, and the one on [British actress and comedian] Carol Cleveland is different from the previous episodes. They are all produced in the style and the tone of their subject. In the next episode, we have two of the original GTOs, give us some really funny anecdotes.

Something Cool can be heard on the Howl website or mobile app.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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