Favorite Podcast: Love + Radio

photo of Ceara Lynch via Love + Radio

Ever since Serial, we’ve been looking for a new podcast addiction. And we’ve finally found it in Love + Radio, a podcast from PRX’s Radiotopia.fm, which describes itself as “a collective of the best story-driven shows on the planet.” The stories that drive “Love + Radio” are compelling, quirky and often R-rated.

The most famous episode has to be “Jack & Ellen,” about a young lesbian woman who hated her job at Subway as a “sandwich artist” so much, she turned to a “creative” project that could earn her $30K for a few hours of work each week: pedo-baiting, i.e. posing as an underage girl online in order to blackmail pedophiles into buying her $500 Amazon gift cards.


The next one we listened to was the most recent — “Thank You, Princess” — which takes you behind the scenes of a successful fem dom’s operation, including eavesdropping on one paying customer’s over-the-phone humiliation. You’ll want to cover your ears, it’s so cringe-inducing, but you won’t be able to stop listening!


As if our sex-writing divining rod were leading the way, we listened to “Dirty Balloons” next, the story of one young woman’s one-time experience making balloon-fetish porn. The repetitive audio ending to this one is one of the best indictments of pornography we’ve ever (literally) heard.


They’re not all about sex, but even the emotionally powerful episode called “The Living Room,” about one man’s death, deals with nudity, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. We haven’t listened to enough of them to discern a consistent theme beyond personal stories told with aural flair (and swear words), but we were struck by the theme uniting the three sex-related episodes we happened to listen to first: all of them focused on young women who needed money, didn’t want to work minimum wage jobs, and turned to some variation of sex work catering to male heterosexuals with particular obsessions, to use the term loosely (pedophilia, humiliation, balloon popping). As compelling as the above three episodes are, they paint a pretty depressing picture of the economic opportunities that young women have (or should we say, don’t have) these days.

We know, we know: that’s precious coming from two women who run a sex-advice blog for a living. But the sense you get from the three women interviewed is that none of them particularly enjoy (or enjoyed) their experiences: the humiliatrix doesn’t get off on it, the balloon virgin faked her way through it, and the con woman feels pretty bad about the whole thing. Besides feeling like we needed to take a shower afterwards, we came away from these podcasts feeling even more sure than ever that the minimum wage definitely needs to be raised.