The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

A must-listen: The podcast Normal Gossip

Host Kelsey McKinney discusses anonymous gossip
Screenshot taken by Austin Winslow
The cover photo for the podcast Normal Gossip on Spotify.

Normal Gossip is a comedy podcast hosted by Kelsey McKinney, in which anyone can submit a story to the podcast for McKinney to read anonymously. The basis of the show is “gossip as a treat.” As a result, all of the events discussed on the podcast are true stories, but untraceable. Because you don’t know the characters, and never will, you can laugh with no consequences. There’s never violence or crime involved, so the stories are lighthearted and fun. It’s a good contrast if you also listen to true crime.

For each episode, McKinney invites comedians, friends, journalists and other public figures onto the show to share their perspective on each story. She starts by asking a few questions, always including “what is your relationship with gossip?” Guests on the podcasts talk a little bit about how they relate to gossip, and how it functions in their personal lives.

The main function of these guests is to provide commentary throughout each story. McKinney reveals the story a little bit at a time. Throughout the story, she asks guests how they feel and whose side they are on. McKinney also asks them to offer advice to the main character. Then, the host reveals more of the story.

I find this podcast very entertaining depending on the story topic. Some of my favorites have centered on a group living community growing mealworms, farmers market drama, and a family wedding. These stories felt like perspectives I hadn’t heard from before, with twists of familiarity to make them relatable.

The banter between the host and her guests feels like listening in on gossip between friends. The guests bring different perspectives and personalities into each story beyond what the “friend of a friend,” as McKinney calls them, submitted.

Similarly to the stories, I like some guests better than others. I usually enjoy the comedians because they are the best at bantering within the stories. Some of the media gurus are less interesting. I sometimes skip their introductions to get right to the story, but other times I find their background and insight to be a valuable addition to the podcast. I always like to hear how they answer the question about their relationship to gossip. Others I haven’t enjoyed because there wasn’t enough drama in the story to make the story funny. If I can’t relate to the story, characters, or guest, I sometimes skip an episode.

McKinney adds new installments to the story after the conversation runs dry, which holds my interest through the full hour-long episodes. She starts with background and characters, and lets the guests ask questions. Once that is covered, she gets to the dilemma, and adds opinions of her own. As the story continues, the conversation moves naturally as McKinney slips in new details and developments.

At the end, McKinney has a “final update” that signifies the end of the story. This is always satisfying for me, because I know that beyond the update, I won’t get more information. I can listen to the full story, then let it go at the end of the episode. McKinney and the guest finish the conversation by offering opinions on the update, and guessing at what might happen in the future.

My favorite aspect of the podcast is hearing drama from people you don’t know solely for entertainment. It satisfies human gossipy nature without the consequences that we know all too well as Washington and Lee students. Each episode is a harmless story that doesn’t hurt anyone. Someone out there willingly submitted the story for others to hear.

The podcast just started season 5, but there are 4 full seasons already out on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. I would recommend Christmas is Canceled with Laurel Bristow or I Love All Corgis with Dr. Eve L. Ewing if you want to listen to an older episode while waiting for the new episodes.

Christmas is Canceled follows a family where the adults always buy secret santa presents to preserve cost. In this episode though, one character decides not to follow through based on family beef. I Love All Corgis is about a facebook group for dog owners that gets out of hand after one member gets caught without a real dog. I like these episodes because they are fast paced and original. They’re a good place to start if you want to understand the concept.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Ring-tum Phi Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *