by Kathryn Helmore
VANCOUVER – On July 12, 1979, more than 50,000 people descended on Comiskey Park in Chicago. Within a matter of hours, the White Sox stadium lay in ruins. The field was ripped to shreds and batting cages brought to the ground, while signs were left charred and scattered upon the turf.
This riot had nothing to do with sports. It was inspired by a hatred for a single genre of music.
In what would later be known as Disco Demolition Night, July 12 marked, for many, the end of western culture’s short-lived love affair with disco.
So, why did thousands of people rush that stadium in 1979? More importantly, how could people hate something like a genre of music with such intensity? These are all questions answered by Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark in “How Disco Works” — just one of over 900 episodes from a podcast series called Stuff You Should Know.
The series, which kicked off in 2008, dives into a huge variety of subjects from Nazis in Florida to the battle over net neutrality. Since it’s inauguration, SYSK has held a coveted spot as one of the Top 10 most downloaded podcasts on iTunes.
“Honestly, it’s still surprising how well the podcast has done,” says Bryant. “But I guess people just wanted it. People who listen are curious and likeminded. They want to learn something.”
For some commentators, SYSK’s success satisfies more than a curious appetite. Richard Fawal, former Associate Vice President for Communications at the Brookings Institution, dubbed the podcast “pure explanatory journalism”: a style of journalism that “explains an issue in straightforward, accessible style.” He argued that this form of journalism is imperative in a world of misinformation.
“We were honored when Fawal credited our work as explanatory journalism,” says Bryant. “We are professional researchers who talk about what we find. To do this we really must go the extra mile. After all, there is always another side to the story. In our podcast, we always try to stop, think, and ask questions.”
Bryant and Clark will be showing off their research skills in Vancouver on September 26. “This is our second live show in Vancouver,” Bryant adds, promising a funny evening with a few not-so-clean jokes thrown in the mix. “The show, which usually lasts around an hour and 45 minutes, is a mix of standup and live podcast.”
Stuff You Should Know takes place on September 26 at the Vogue Theatrestuff you should know, The Vogue Theatre