A Podcast That Isn't a Podcast

Independent Creator Judd Dowhy's "Just Gonna Read This" has reminded me how creative this format can be

My MacBook died on me yesterday. I spent hours staring patiently at a blank screen and pressing random keys. I tried to bargain with it and speak to it gently. Finally, I booked an appointment with A Genius. 

When I arrived at the Apple Store, an upbeat associate took my temperature — as if I were the sick one — and asked me to wait inside the storefront’s glass windows. If it weren’t for a mask affording me a modicum of anonymity, it would have felt like I — we, my MacBook and I — were on display.

I reached for my earbuds and scrolled my podcast feed to pass the time.

It wasn’t so long ago that podcasts weren’t part of our daily routine, right? Like many of you, I’ve long been familiar with the medium but truly grew addicted circa 2014 thanks to “Serial” — the show that reminded America of the power of a story told week by week.

Now of course, narrative shows are on the rise. High-budget productions comprise a significant portion of my podcast feed — a kind of Hollywood for my ears. But one cool thing about my work at Uncut.fm is I have a built-in reminder to listen to what indie podcasters are doing a little closer. To sift through the hundreds of thousands of shows out there and hit “play” on whatever catches my eye on the off-chance it might be a gem.

Which is exactly how I discovered Judd Dowhy. 

Dear listener, have you heard this gentleman’s voice? If you, too, find yourself navigating a period of restless agitation — waiting for a MacBook diagnosis, say, or navigating slight anxiety as the world opens back up — let me recommend you welcome the back catalogue of “Just Gonna Read This” into your ears. The show is pretty much exactly what you’d expect — he reads you things. Will he read from a cereal box? Sure. A lease agreement? Maybe. Whatever he finds sufficiently quirky or interesting does the trick.

Judd bills his show as one “untainted by success” and “uncompromised by ambition” but “true to the blurred vision of its creator.” “A podcast that isn’t a podcast,” made with a “crippling sense of self-awareness.”

— and wit, truly truly.

If some of the best podcasts out there make you feel like you’re a fly on the wall, listening to a great conversation, this one takes you straight inside the inner workings — and at times perhaps the nostalgia — of an artist’s mind. Judd pays attention to every detail, laboring not only over the quality and tenor of his recitations but also over impeccable sound design that elevates it to — well, art. It truly is a podcast that’s something else. Like a filibuster if it took place inside an artsy coffee shop, or an intellectually stimulating alternative to your favorite meditation app.

Lucky for my MacBook, I’ve heard he does obituaries, too.

*This review was brought to you by Uncut.fm's in-house podcast critic. If you have an indie podcaster you think I should discover, please send an episode my way!