It’s no secret that I am obsessed with podcasts of all kinds and I’ve written about some of my favorites a couple times before. Nowadays, podcasts seem just as popular as they were in 2005 – the year some claimed to be ‘the year of the podcast’. And there are so many ones to listen to: news and radio programs, investigative journalism (like the popular Serial), others that aim to improve your love life, etc etc.
But there are some that hail back to the days of radio drama and productions like Orson Wells’ The War of the Worlds. One in particular is the podcast miniseries The Message, which seems to capture that same essence of radio drama but with a new digital spin.
The Message follows a linguistic graduate student named Nicky Tomalin who starts interning at a cryptography company right as they start decoding a message from outer space received in 1945. But it’s quickly realized that the same message comes with a curse – over the 70 years of attempted code breaking, multiple people have fallen ill and died because of a sonially transmitted virus linked to it. David Sims over at The Atlantic describes the feel of the entire show perfectly in his review:
Though it has a sci-fi bent, The Message feels most similar to tales of explorers disturbing ancient Egyptian burial grounds and awakening a deadly curse.
The show is in fact fictional and is a co-production between Panoply and GE Podcast Theater. GE’s own interest in podcasts increased after the popularity of Serial a year and a half ago but that did not stop The Message from being both well written and well produced (for the most part). I found the ending to be rather interesting and a bit rushed and it would have been really great to have longer episodes to really dig in deeper to the characters and stories. Each episode ranged from 10 to 22 minutes long (averaging at around 14 minutes) and while the entire story was to pretty much fictionally plug the work GE is doing with sound technology, I thought the show was pretty great overall.