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Society & Culture

UnFictional

Updated 4 days ago

Society & Culture
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This season, unbelievably true stories of perception and what it’s like to experience the world the way someone else does. An experimental treatment that works all too well. A man selling get rich schemes until he unleashes a part of himself he...

Read more

This season, unbelievably true stories of perception and what it’s like to experience the world the way someone else does. An experimental treatment that works all too well. A man selling get rich schemes until he unleashes a part of himself he...

iTunes Ratings

512 Ratings
Average Ratings
403
61
25
11
12

Meant to click the 5 star

By dumdlo - Jan 04 2019
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New at this. Unfic has become my new go to. Thanks

The perfect story podcast

By Hanaruckus'sdogmom - Sep 28 2018
Read more
Thank you guys for introducing me to Joe Frank and a whole new genre of radio! I love this podcast!

iTunes Ratings

512 Ratings
Average Ratings
403
61
25
11
12

Meant to click the 5 star

By dumdlo - Jan 04 2019
Read more
New at this. Unfic has become my new go to. Thanks

The perfect story podcast

By Hanaruckus'sdogmom - Sep 28 2018
Read more
Thank you guys for introducing me to Joe Frank and a whole new genre of radio! I love this podcast!

Listen to:

Cover image of UnFictional

UnFictional

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

This season, unbelievably true stories of perception and what it’s like to experience the world the way someone else does. An experimental treatment that works all too well. A man selling get rich schemes until he unleashes a part of himself he...

The Outsider

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Randy was a young nerd in 1982, obsessed with film director Francis Ford Coppola. When Randy ordered a pair of shoes from a magazine, it set off a chain of unlikely events that led him to the Tulsa, Oklahoma set of “The Outsiders” and a friendship with his favorite director. Randy’s cosmic twist of fate put him smack in the center of the “Brat Pack,” and jump-started his show business career.

Theme Music by Alex Weston  with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music. Production help from Nomin Ujiyediin.

Episode art by Tina Carlson

You can find the Outsiders House on Facebook


Randy's first picture with the venerable Panaflex camera. Courtesy  Randy Shanofsky.
Randy poses with actors Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe. Courtesy Randy Shanofsky.
Francis Coppola and Randy, May, 1982 and March, 2016. Courtesy Randy Shanofsky.
Randy on the set of The Outsiders with Susie Hinton and David Inhofe, May, 1982. Courtesy Randy Shanofsky.
Randy with Danny Boy O'Connor. Courtesy of Randy Shanofsky

Feb 22 2018

38mins

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The Past Can Hold a Terrible Power

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Photo: Johnny punching the steel pole (Ryan Sweikert)

Jul 01 2017

28mins

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The Other Man

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Photo: A photo from an interrogation room of a former Stasi prison, Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, now a memorial museum (rytc

May 27 2017

28mins

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Because It's There

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Meru is a documentary about the obsession of one man – world-class climber Conrad Anker. It tells the story of a 1999 avalanche that killed Anker's friend and partner, Alex Lowe, as well as a young climber named David Bridges.

Now, 16 years later, the bodies of the two climbers have been discovered, and the former mountaineer returns to the Himalayas for one last climb – to bury his long lost friend.

Joel Koury is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney and former high-altitude moutaineer.


Setting out on the first day on Shishapangma


The monument built by the group for Alex and David


The monument and the group


Building the funeral pyre

Episode image: The plateau between the ABC and the glacier. This and all photos courtesy of Joel Koury.

Jun 24 2017

28mins

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Sister Aimee

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After preaching her way across the country in the early 20th century, Sister Aimee McPherson decided to settle in Los Angeles, where she built a veritable religious empire. Her sermons hovered at the intersection of Hollywood glitz and glamour and fiery evangelist rhetoric. She was a hit.

Dressed in eye-catching costumes, she acted out her sermons for thousands of followers who lined up around the block to see her in action. And long before the arrival of televangelism, she pioneered the use of radio to spread her message across the airwaves. Her allure was such that even Charlie Chaplin was a fan. But with celebrity came loneliness and scandal.

This week, we dive into the colorful life story of Sister Aimee, visit her temple in LA, and explore her mysterious disappearance at the height of her popularity.

That story first aired on BBC’s The Documentary. It was produced by Nick White and hosted by Naomi Grimley.

Photo: Sister Aimee McPherson. ©  Courtesy of The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

Jun 03 2017

28mins

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The Enemy Within

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The true cost of war is difficult to measure. It hides in the crying fits and night terrors and flashbacks that mark many soldiers' return home from war. This delicate and often-wrenching patchwork of audio diaries and interviews brings that struggle into full focus, told through the innermost fears and thoughts of the people who love and care for former service members with PTSD.

That story was produced by Eleanor McDowall with Matthew Green. It was a Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 3, and originally aired on the BBC program Between the Ears.


Luke and Nikita Dallison
Courtesy of Luke and Nikita Dallison


Eileen (R) and Kelly at the Sergeant's Mess Christmas Ball


Episode image by enki22

May 06 2017

28mins

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Lost Bird

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Jun 06 2017

28mins

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Father's Day 2017

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Photo: Bob Carlson and Matthew Carlson (Bob Carlson)

Jun 17 2017

28mins

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UnFictional returns!

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The new season of UnFictional is right around the corner. Unbelievably true stories of chance encounters that changed everything. A pair of mail-order shoes that led to “The Outsiders.” A secret road to a California paradise. The day Los Angeles and smog first met. Stories that will stick in your head like a memory. Coming on February 22nd, hosted by Bob Carlson.

Feb 14 2018

1min

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Strangers in a Good Way

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First, a hypnotic search for a common language, and one girl’s ardent prayers to speak in tongues.

Then, another girl’s ardent prayers for letters. When 12-year-old Lauren fell for Darryl in the ‘90s, he was a skater boy who loved Nirvana and drawing. They were pen pals for years. She’d check her mailbox multiple times a day, hoping for a letter from him. But when she finds him online decades later, his feed is filled with guns and right-wing hashtags. It seems like he's become an entirely different person. So she gives him a call to catch up.


A TripAdvisor review for Smith Island.


One of Darryl's letters to Lauren.



The envelope of a letter from Darryl to Lauren.
The envelope of a letter from Darryl to Lauren.


The envelope of a letter from Darryl to Lauren.

Lauren with her "new troll doll."

Feb 14 2019

29mins

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The Dream is Over

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Pete’s always known there was treasure buried in the mountains near El Paso. But knowing there’s treasure and going to get it are two very different things.

Plus, Eddie Hart had been training for years – steadily making his way to the Olympics with laser-sharp focus. But once he got there, one mistake sent the whole dream crashing down around him.

Will McCarthy is a furniture mover and freelance journalist in Central Texas.

Kerstin Zilm is an independent producer from Germany living in Los Angeles.


The hole in Pete's backyard. Photo credit: Logan Dorne.

Pete. Photo credit: Logan Dorne.

Mar 21 2019

34mins

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Denial

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When Janey Williams was sexually assaulted by one of her best friends, she was afraid to face it. Once she did the big scary thing – tell the truth about what had happened – she found that it wasn’t enough. Because everyone around her covered it right back up again.

Janey Williams is the creator of the podcast This Happened, for which she initially did all the interviews featured in this episode and which has hours of intimate and revelatory tape and reflection beyond what's in this version of the story. Williams has also produced for Scene On Radio. She lives in Los Angeles, her hometown, with her husband and two sons, and recorded her most recent story while holding her baby in studio.


Janey Williams in her 20’s. Courtesy of Williams.

Mar 14 2019

30mins

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Friends in Juggalo Places

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If you’ve heard anything about juggalos, you may have heard that they paint their faces like clowns – or maybe, that they don’t get how magnets work. From the outside, the rabid fans of Insane Clown Posse seem incomprehensible. But once you get to know them, the logic of juggalo culture starts to reveal itself. Producer Carla Green took a bus trip across the country with a juggalo – and learned some things about the people who sometimes call themselves the most hated family in the world.


Roger Tedi has been a juggalo since he was a teenager, and went to the Juggalo March on Washington in 2017. Photo credit: Woodrow Currie.
A juggalo at the Juggalo March on Washington in 2017. Photo credit: Woodrow Currie.
Children at the Juggalo March on Washington in 2017. Photo credit: Woodrow Currie.
One juggalo applying face paint to another at the Juggalo March on Washington in 2017. Photo by Woodrow Currie.
Roger Tedi (left) with Jake Jones (AKA Sidehawk Ninja) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the Juggalo March on Washington in 2017. Photo credit: Hazin of Juggalo News.

Mar 07 2019

30mins

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1-800-KISS-MY-ASS

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At the turn of the millennium, Aric Allen reluctantly started work at a call center selling get-rich-quick schemes to the hapless folks still awake in the wee hours of the morning. He eventually unleashed a side of himself that he could barely recognize.

Feb 28 2019

22mins

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Vampire of Barcelona

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Enriqueta Marti was connected to several child disappearances in Barcelona during the early 20th Century. She has been immortalized in stories, songs and operas. Hers is the scary story that’s told to make children behave. According to legend, she would steal children and would sell unguents made from human ingredients to aristocrats. But then, a 21st Century historian uncovered the truth about Enriqueta Marti.

Feb 21 2019

23mins

Play

Strangers in a Good Way

Podcast cover
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First, a hypnotic search for a common language, and one girl’s ardent prayers to speak in tongues.

Then, another girl’s ardent prayers for letters. When 12-year-old Lauren fell for Darryl in the ‘90s, he was a skater boy who loved Nirvana and drawing. They were pen pals for years. She’d check her mailbox multiple times a day, hoping for a letter from him. But when she finds him online decades later, his feed is filled with guns and right-wing hashtags. It seems like he's become an entirely different person. So she gives him a call to catch up.


A TripAdvisor review for Smith Island.


One of Darryl's letters to Lauren.



The envelope of a letter from Darryl to Lauren.
The envelope of a letter from Darryl to Lauren.


The envelope of a letter from Darryl to Lauren.

Lauren with her "new troll doll."

Feb 14 2019

29mins

Play

Purple Rain

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Warning: This episode is disturbing, and has one scene of unexpected and brutal domestic violence, as well as explicit language.

In the Begijnenstraat prison in Antwerp, Belgium, the prisoners produce a once-a-month radio program featuring interviews and music; poetry and true stories. “Mihai” – a pseudonym he chose himself – has a lifelong history of drugs and psychosis. He’s in a wing for prisoners who have been deemed by the state as too dangerous to be released. He tells the story of the fateful day that landed him in prison.

This episode is produced by Wederik De Backer, in association with Radio Begijnenstraat. Wederik (Brussels, 1988) is an award-winning Belgian radio maker, specializing in radio drama, satire and radio documentaries. He has produced documentary features and audio plays for the major radio broadcasters in Belgium, the US, the Netherlands and Germany.
Mihai's drawing of the event. Courtesy of Wederick de Backer.

Feb 07 2019

17mins

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My Foolish Illusion

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John Elder Robison spent his youth designing custom stage guitars for rock icons KISS. As an adult, Robison was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. He was invited to participate in an experimental treatment that could temporarily increase his ability to read social cues, something he’d been unable to do all his life. But the treatment worked almost too well.

John Elder Robison is the New York Times best-selling author of three books: Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby. For more information about Robison and his work, see: John Elder Robison.
John Elder Robison. Photo courtesy of John Elder Robison.


John Elder Robison getting an experimental brain treatment that temporarily allowed him to understand social cues and other similar subtleties. Photo courtesy of John Elder Robison.


John Elder Robison. Photo courtesy of John Elder Robison.

Jan 31 2019

28mins

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Stories of Perception

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Imagine what it would be like if you could experience the world the way someone else does. That the barriers between your reality and mine could just… melt away. In the brand new season of UnFictional, we’re looking at perception – and how we come to know the unknown parts of ourselves. It begins on January 31st.

Producer: Bob Carlson

Credits: Theme Music by Alex Weston, with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music.

Jan 24 2019

1min

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Halloween 2018

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Photo credit: Barry Davis.

Oct 31 2018

22mins

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Punk Jubilee

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A girl gang goes on a violent rampage of sex, larceny and murder, all set to music in Derek Jarman’s British ‘70s punk film, “Jubilee.” Go behind the scenes of the film that documented the messy, chaotic birth of a movement and prophesied its demise: the selling-out of punk rock.

Producer: Victoria Farran

Editor: Bob Carlson

Credits: Theme music by Alex Weston, with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music. Episode art by Tina Carlson.

Mar 29 2018

36mins

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Haunted

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Tara loves magic, and she'd always believed in ghosts, so she wasn’t surprised when she started to notice strange things at her Los Feliz apartment, like open doors and strange sounds. But then she discovered something more frightening than any ghost.


Tara with Eugene Burger, her teacher at the Magic and Mystery School.
Photo courtesy of Tara Walker


The first night Tara (right) attended the Magic Castle as a member,
with Sabrina (left) and friend Steve Shin. Photo courtesy of Tara Walker.


Tara's Los Feliz backyard with friends Photo courtesy of Tara Walker.


Tara's backyard. Photo courtesy of Tara Walker.

Mar 22 2018

18mins

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Her Name is Ember

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For a long time, the garden was the only place Ember could be herself. And as she tried be her true self out in the world, she was stymied, again and again – by her family, by a car crash, by prescription drugs. But Ember finally got past the roadblocks and could be her true self: a woman.

Ember Jackinsky. Photo courtesy of Ember.

Producers: Emrys Eller and Greg Eller

Editors: Carla Green and Nick White

Credits: Theme music by Alex Weston, with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music. Episode art by Tina Carlson.

Special thanks: to Ember Jackinsky for sharing her story.

Mar 15 2018

17mins

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Big Sur: The Secret Road

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Big Sur's sweeping cliffs and beaches are usually overwhelmed by tourists, traffic jams and chattering flocks of hikers. But when the road was blocked by an avalanche and a bridge collapsed, the village was suddenly and completely cut off from cars. We found a secret way into town, and hung out with the happily marooned residents.

Big Sur residentTracy Cheseborough stands next to his rusty VW truck. Photo credit: Carla Green.


Signs on the hike from the cut-off "island" to the "mainland." Photo credit: Carla Green.

Big Sur, May 1972 (Photo by Dick Rowan/Wikimedia Commons)


The view from Nepenthe Restaurant. Photo credit: Carla Green.

Mar 08 2018

29mins

Play

Bay of Smokes: The Day Smog Showed Up In LA

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When you think of Los Angeles, you think of smog. But have you ever heard about the day when smog just showed up in Los Angeles? An impressionistic trip with producer Aric Allen through the hazy history of the skies over Los Angeles.


Aric Allen is a video producer at the Huntington Library.

Editor: Nick White

Episode art by Tina Carlson

Credits: Theme Music by Alex Weston [ https://www.alexwestonmusic.com/ ], with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music [ https://www.narrativemusic.com/ ]. Episode art by Tina Carlson.

Special thanks: Devan Schwartz, Caitlin Shamberg, Katya Apekina and Peter Gilstrap


In the smog battle a Los Angeles commuter wears an only slightly satiric gas mask on October 2, 1966. Automotive experts show how a new smog device cuts down on the emission of car fumes, while testifying before the California Assembly. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Archives.

It may look like early morning fog but it turns into smog, obscuring the Los Angeles City Hall, city buildings and the street. Smog is making it all hazy to look at and is thick enough to cause the eyes to smart. Image from the 1940s. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Archives.
Man at right defies convention and eye-searing pollutant as he strolls down Broadway wearing a gas mask, as Los Angeles battles another smog attack. Women on left suffer and use their handkerchiefs to wipe away their tears. Photo dated: September 19, 1958. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Archives.

Mar 01 2018

25mins

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Man Choubam (I am good)

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Sharon Mashihi is a weirdo and refuses to conform to cultural standards, which has been hard on her relationship with her mom.  But Sharon saw a chance to mend the strife when she bought a ticket to a cruise with Farhang Holakouee, a famous Iranian talk-show psychiatrist. Could therapy and sunshine fix their relationship? Spoiler alert: on the way to the boat, the “Titanic” soundtrack played in the background.

Theme Music by Alex Weston  with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music

Special thanks: Deena Ecker, Thatcher Keats, Nishat Kurwa, Third Coast Radio Residency for giving Sharon the time, space, community, and mentorship to work on this, all the people who attended Sharon’s listening party, and the most special thanks of all goes to Sharon’s mom.

Produced by Sharon Mashihi

Editors: Bob Carlson and Kaitlin Prest

Episode art by Tina Carlson
Illustration of Psychiatrist Farhang Holakouee by Jen Ng.

Feb 22 2018

43mins

Play

The Outsider

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Randy was a young nerd in 1982, obsessed with film director Francis Ford Coppola. When Randy ordered a pair of shoes from a magazine, it set off a chain of unlikely events that led him to the Tulsa, Oklahoma set of “The Outsiders” and a friendship with his favorite director. Randy’s cosmic twist of fate put him smack in the center of the “Brat Pack,” and jump-started his show business career.

Theme Music by Alex Weston  with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music. Production help from Nomin Ujiyediin.

Episode art by Tina Carlson

You can find the Outsiders House on Facebook


Randy's first picture with the venerable Panaflex camera. Courtesy  Randy Shanofsky.
Randy poses with actors Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe. Courtesy Randy Shanofsky.
Francis Coppola and Randy, May, 1982 and March, 2016. Courtesy Randy Shanofsky.
Randy on the set of The Outsiders with Susie Hinton and David Inhofe, May, 1982. Courtesy Randy Shanofsky.
Randy with Danny Boy O'Connor. Courtesy of Randy Shanofsky

Feb 22 2018

38mins

Play

UnFictional returns!

Podcast cover
Read more

The new season of UnFictional is right around the corner. Unbelievably true stories of chance encounters that changed everything. A pair of mail-order shoes that led to “The Outsiders.” A secret road to a California paradise. The day Los Angeles and smog first met. Stories that will stick in your head like a memory. Coming on February 22nd, hosted by Bob Carlson.

Feb 14 2018

1min

Play

The Past Can Hold a Terrible Power

Podcast cover
Read more

Photo: Johnny punching the steel pole (Ryan Sweikert)

Jul 01 2017

28mins

Play

Because It's There

Podcast cover
Read more

Meru is a documentary about the obsession of one man – world-class climber Conrad Anker. It tells the story of a 1999 avalanche that killed Anker's friend and partner, Alex Lowe, as well as a young climber named David Bridges.

Now, 16 years later, the bodies of the two climbers have been discovered, and the former mountaineer returns to the Himalayas for one last climb – to bury his long lost friend.

Joel Koury is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney and former high-altitude moutaineer.


Setting out on the first day on Shishapangma


The monument built by the group for Alex and David


The monument and the group


Building the funeral pyre

Episode image: The plateau between the ABC and the glacier. This and all photos courtesy of Joel Koury.

Jun 24 2017

28mins

Play