Boston, Mass. — September 16, 2017 — The independent audio producers at Hub & Spoke today announced the addition of an eighth show to the collective: Rumble Strip, producer Erica Heilman’s podcast featuring extraordinary conversations with ordinary people.
On Rumble Strip, Heilman interviews “artists and criminals, taxidermists and soccer moms, lawyers and waitresses” to find out “what they know, who they love, what they’re afraid of, and what makes them more like you than you’d realized.” As one Apple Podcasts reviewer writes (Dec. 16, 2016): “With these interviews of seemingly ordinary people, Erica Heilman regularly uncovers the startling beauty of our human companions.”
Rumble Strip is intimate, surprising, and often humorous. In Dunkin’ Donuts, Erica camps out at her local Dunkin’, talking with strangers about class, seasonal depression, and Donald Trump. Plain Life features T.O., who is seven days out of prison. Erica and T.O. sit in her car during a rainstorm and talk about his dreams of a “plain life.” The show employs very little “host talk,” and some stories are told entirely without narration. In Last Chapter, Bob is diagnosed with a terminal illness and asks his best friend, Rob, to help him die. The story is told entirely by Rob, without narrative interruption.
Formerly based in New York, Heilman worked in documentary television with WNET, HBO, and ABC News, but has focused on radio and podcasting since her return to her native Vermont. She has contributed to NPR’s Day to Day and Hearing Voices, PRX’s SOUNDPRINT, KCRW’s UnFictional and Lost Notes, and the CBC’s Podcast Playlist, among others.
“Interviewing is like falling in love,” Heilman says. “Kids, old people, loggers and ex-cons and musicians, I fall in love with all of them. My goal is to help listeners fall in love too—with the humanity of another person—the broken parts and funny parts and remarkable insights. I feel really lucky to do what I do. And because I produce alone, I can take risks. I can experiment. Many great podcasts are now produced by teams of people, but there are still a lot of us out here making programs alone. And there’s something unique about these solo-produced shows that I love. They have a certain spontaneity, intimacy, eclecticism about them. So I was really excited when Hub & Spoke reached out and asked if I wanted to join. These are beautifully, independently produced shows and I’m honored to be in their ranks. I look on this as a great opportunity to share information, support my fellow independents, and feel a sense of community again. Also...when the inevitable existential anxiety comes about halfway through production, I will have people to call…”
Wade Roush, host of the Hub & Spoke podcast Soonish, says: “The style, grace, calm, insight, and humanity that Erica brings to her show have been an inspiration to me since the very first episode I heard. She has a magical rapport with people, and she knows how to get her mic into the most unexpected and interesting places. I’m so pleased that we can now count her as part of our collective. We want to do everything we can to support great indie shows like Rumble Strip, and in return we expect we’ll learn a lot from Erica about how to make great radio.”
“I’m such a fangirl of Erica’s unique ability to mine exquisite stories,” says Tamar Avishai, host and producer of the Hub & Spoke art history podcast The Lonely Palette. “I’m already so proud to be a part of this collective, and Rumble Strip’s journalistic excellence and thoughtfulness continue to raise the bar.”
“Love that pod!” says Mary McGrath, executive producer of Hub & Spoke member show Open Source.
Rumble Strip was formerly part of The Heard, a collective of sound-rich storytelling podcasts founded in 2015 by Nashville-based producer Jakob Lewis. The Heard disbanded in 2018 after many of its member producers migrated to new roles, but it was always one of the models and inspirations for Hub & Spoke, which was founded in 2017 to support and amplify the work of independent audio producers making nonfiction shows about people and ideas.
Recent episodes of Hub & Spoke shows have covered topics such as the rise of populism in Western economies; the downfall of the Sega Dreamcast gaming platform; the upcoming 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage; and the way new display technology is changing our visual world. Members collaborate across the collective to promote Hub & Spoke content, grow the listener base for each show, and pursue new funding opportunities.
The three founding shows at Hub & Spoke were The Lonely Palette, an art history podcast from Avishai; Ministry of Ideas, a history and culture show from Davis, producer Nick Andersen, and managing editor Galen Beebe; and Soonish, Roush’s podcast about technology and the future. Culture Hustlers, a vox pop and interview show at the intersection of art and business from host and producer Lucas Spivey, and Iconography, a history show from producer Charles Gustine, joined in June 2018. The Constant, a show about “the history of getting things wrong” from Chicago-based playwright Mark Chrisler, became a member of the collective in July 2019, and Open Source, a weekly conversation show hosted by Christopher Lydon and executive-produced by Mary McGrath, came on board in early September 2019.
Hub & Spoke hosts take time in their preroll, midroll, or postroll announcements to tell their listeners about recent episodes of other shows in the collective, and Rumble Strip will now be part of that mix.