Outside Podcast

Outside Podcast

Self Description:
“The Outside Podcast applies Outside[magazine]’s longstanding literary storytelling methods to the audio realm, creating features that will both entertain and inform listeners along the way.”

The Outside Podcast is more or less your typical storytelling/interview show, but with a focus on (surprise surprise) the outdoors.  This podcast’s philosophy: What’s better than a story about a hiker waking up early, going on an all-day hike, and catching a famous sunrise/sunset from a mountain peak?  Well, a lot of things--for one thing, the story needs a grizzly bear.  Or a guerrilla rebel fighter.  The story needs action.  

So the Outside Podcast isn’t just about the great outdoors.  It’s about what happens when things go wrong in the great outdoors and how we humans cope with these dangerous situations that occur far from civilization, where the only things you can rely on are your wits and your training (because your gear is definitely broken).  

The stories and interviews in the Outside Podcast are gripping, to say the least.  And who doesn’t love a good survival story?  They frequently make for obvious Hollywood blockbusters (Castaway anyone?  127 hours?  Half the 80s action movies out there?), and for good reason.  Whether pitted against other humans, vicious predators, or even nature itself in the form of the elements, survival is compelling.  I think the Outside Podcast and the genre of survival in general succeeds mostly because we, while in the act of listening, envision ourselves in the place of the protagonist, and then afterward reenact the situation over and over again in our imaginations.  How would you react to being treed (run up a tree) by a Jaguar?  Could you really muster the guts, the willpower, the sheer resolve to extricate yourself from a life-threatening outdoor emergency and come out alive?  Could you really survive for years on a deserted island or amputate your own arm and live to tell the tale?  So in listening to these stories, you’re taking part in an introspective exercise wherein you attempt to assess and access your most primal instincts and abilities.  It’s almost a mental test of ourselves. This test can be either deeply satisfying or deeply terrifying, depending upon the results.  More likely though, it’s both.  

Now, not every single episode of the Outside Podcast is about survival.  But pretty much every good episode is.  That said, it’s a relatively newer show, and I expect them to productively delve more fully into other aspects of the great outdoors, such as careers, philosophy, sports, and history.  They’ve already begun on many of these.  Bottom line: whether you’re already living off the grid in your homestead in the mountains or you’re a city kid who only gets out a few weekends a year yet somehow manages to single-handedly keep REI and Patagonia in business, this podcast is for you.  

High quality, typical storytelling production.  Nothing fancy.

High.  Most of the episodes are compelling, and they pump them out regularly.

Peter Frick-Wright is a good, but not stand-out, host.  He mostly lets the story or interview subject do the talking, which is a good thing.

Driveway Moments:
Are you really going to press pause when an angry bear is charging?  Didn’t think so.

Future Potential:
Considering interest in the outdoors seems only to be increasing, and they haven’t even really begun to mine the gems of past experience, I can’t see the production team running out of quality material anytime soon.

Episode Length:
30-45 minutes

Overall Score: 7.9/10

Notable Episodes:

  • The Outside Interview Ep01: Robert Young Pelton
  • The Outside Interview Ep02: Jason Monlagh on the Darien Gap
  • Three-part Science of Survival Cliffhanger series (Ep07-09)
  • Science of Survival Ep11: Treed by a Jaguar
  • XX Factor: A Woman's Place is on Top

If you like this podcast, you’ll probably like: 

  • This American Life
  • Snap Judgment

Outside Podcast's Website

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