Alex Goldman is the co-host, of “Reply All,” a wonderfully weird podcast that purports to be about the internet. Conveniently for Goldman and his co-host PJ Vogt, most of existence is represented in some capacity on the web. Since it premiered a little under two years ago, “Reply All” has grown into a consistently fascinating exploration of Internet culture and the human stories behind it — from an episode on time-traveling hitmen to an investigation of One Direction conspiracy theories.
Goldman hails from the world of public radio, having created WNYC’s podcast “TLDR” with Vogt. The two previously worked as producer’s for WNYC’s “On The Media,” and both juggle the demands of investigative journalism with those of raising a young child.
In his own words, here’s the podcasting-pro on sleep, storytelling and his favorite things on the internet.
My morning schedule is pretty regular. My son always wakes up at 6:30, which means I always wake up at the same time. But my evening schedule is pretty much dictated by the needs of my family and the show. I can end up staying up very late. Especially on production day (Wednesday), we're there sometimes until three or four in the morning, so that kind of wipes me out..
Since I feel like I'm rarely a functional human being, it's hard for me to say how much I'd need to wake up feeling normal. I actually go to bed sometimes saying to my wife, Sarah: “All right. I'm tired. If you watch Harvey when he wakes up, I'm gonna sleep nine hours and wake up feeling super refreshed and be an amazing awesome dynamo tomorrow." And then I wake up at six, same as every other day.
I listen to the radio every morning. Even though I'm not in public radio anymore, I still listen to it essentially all the time when I'm at home or in the car. I'd honestly say that's my only morning ritual, though.
I had to change my idea of how long a story should be [when I started podcasting]. If you look at the evolution of "TLDR" (our previous show) and then "Reply All", you can see the stories go from literally four-to-six minutes, to 15 minutes, to 25 minutes. Our last episode was 50 minutes long. And the reason is that we can make the stories as long as we want now.
And that is great, because it can let us go down alleys we couldn't otherwise, or take a total left turn into something else entirely. Like, the Girl Guides episode of "Reply All" was a total insane left turn, but we had the time and the space to weird out, and PJ turned that into a really magical story. But the flip side is that we can potentially fall in love with our own ideas and make stories that are labyrinthine monuments to nothing, that go nowhere, that are not pleasant to listen to. Since the beginning, we have always said "let's make this story as long as it needs to be." Sometimes that means having someone else step in and tell us we're overdoing it.
My favorite things on the internet? Everything is on the internet! If Netflix counts as the internet, then I would say Maria Bamford's new series "Lady Dynamite", as it is just sensational and sensationally weird, and will probably fill an "Arrested Development" shaped hole in any person's heart, while at the same time it paints a very strange, touching portrait of mental illness. I know it's hard to square those two ideas, but that's how magical a show it is.
As for non-Netflix stuff, I guess I'd go with slither.io, the most frustratingly addictive game I've ever played. It makes me furious that there's no way to talk to people, because I am dying to trash talk other players because I'm a bad person.
My bedside table: A glass of water which I frequently spill in the middle of the night, a box of tissues, the book I'm reading, my phone and a baby monitor.