Reply All is an excellent podcast, but it can be hard to figure out what a given episode is going to be about, because the descriptions often have nothing to do with the episodes themselves. These are my favorite episodes and a quick take on each, which hopefully serve to explain what you’re getting into if you want to listen to them.
Perhaps the quintessential episode of Reply All, this investigates an internet community’s obsession, and bridges the gap between online shenanigans and real, meatspace people.
Classic hobby drama in podcast form. While just a story about someone’s facebook, it’s also a microcosm of human organization. This story represents a well-known failure mode for online communities. Behold the eternal September.
This episode features the illustrious DanC, which alone is enough to earn a place in this list. It’s also insight into the world of Flash games and what it was like to have a piece of yourself tied up in something that is both ephemeral and engaging. If you’ve ever tracked down something that you remembered from a long time ago, this will be a fascinating story for you.
The Case of the Phantom Caller
This one is about solving a telephonic mystery. The chase is as exciting as the reveal. If you’re interested in Phone Phreaking or enjoyed Exploding the Phone (or read any textfiles.com) then this will be an enjoyable episode. It also presses a bunch of ARG/Creepypasta/Internet Mystery buttons as well.
An Ad for the worst day of your life
A fairly deep exploration of internet Chum Boxes (the often disgusting ads that appear under articles) including where the content comes from.
Reply All’s take on the BBS world, or: the story of an enigmatic ISP founder and the vast gulf between his double lives.
Long Distance and Long Distance, Part II
In this episode, the hosts go above and beyond to track down a phone scammer. Serious journalism is on display here. Not to give anything away, but I’m not exactly sure how they funded this endeavor, but I’m glad that they did.
Worldstar Hip Hop is an important site from the perspective of public freakout material, to the point where some freakout videos are punctuated by onlookers yelling “worldstar!” at the videographer. This episode touches on the cultural impact, but is mostly about the founder.
A mini documentary about LiveJournal, how it was used in the early days, and how its usage changed with the years.