A Podcast That Sets Your Brain on Fire (Sometimes)

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Fans of Invisibilia and This American Life will find themselves at home with Where There’s Smoke.

Ever since Serial and Invisibilia ended their first seasons, I’ve been looking for a replacement.

From the stories to the production value, both shows, products of This American Life, pulled the audience in with carefully crafted stories.

And I believe I found one: Where There’s Smoke.

Where There’s Smoke is a weekly podcast hosted by Brett Gajda and Nick Jaworski, covering a range of topics in the self-development realm.

Thankfully, the episodes haven’t been two guys reading self-help books from a book store’s bargain bin. Gajda and Jaworski take their time crafting narratives Invisibilia listeners will feel immediately comfortable with.

The episodes are short, but packed with information. That informational overload makes this podcast one of the WORST ones if you’re just looking for background noise at work. Where There’s Smoke demands undivided attention. Something that took a few episodes for me to figure out.

It’s important to say that Where There’s Smoke is not produced or affiliated with This American Life in any way. Instead, it’s written and produced by two self-proclaimed podcast addicts mimicking that story-telling style.

For the most part, they pull it off, which makes this podcast a solid replacement. But there are some episodes that miss the mark.

One of the recent episodes, The Way It Is?, falls into that category. The show talked about taste and how it changes over time. A topic I related to, but felt the execution was off.

Instead of using sound bites from interviews to tell the story, Gajda and Jaworski use stories from their own lives. Gajda had a story about mustard. Jaworski talked about Celine Dion. For me, that change shifted the narrative from taste and how they change to listening to inane personal stories that had meaning in hindsight.

That’s not the only misstep Where There’s Smoke has had. One of the earlier episodes, I can’t remember which, sounded more like a sells pitch for various books instead of a well-crafted narrative.

Of the currently published episodes, two misfires isn’t bad. It’s not bad at all. Hell, if I had a podcast and those were the only two complaints from a random blogger, I’m doing just fine.

Here’s the bottom line: Where There’s Smoke is a well crafted podcast, mimicking This American Life’s style which will resonate with a lot of listeners, putting it above a lot of the crap.

But the show hasn’t moved into the “wow” category, but it’s on its way.

Where There’s Smoke is available on iTunes and streaming on their website.

"Talks about geek/nerd things, college football, and online marketing. I'm goofy and awkward. I try to wordsmith things."