On a snowy winter night in Chicago back in 2000, Davy Rothbart found a note on his car windshield. It was an angry letter written to a guy called Mario from (presumably) his girlfriend. He’d apparently been cheating on her.
It obviously wasn’t meant for Rothbart, but that didn’t stop him from taking it, pouring over it, and showing it to everyone he knew.
We’ve all found something that wasn’t meant for us. Whether it’s letters, photographs, notes, or receipts—some hugely intimate part of a stranger’s life that we can’t help but read. It’s this fascination that led Rothbart and a group of volunteers to launch Found magazine back in 2001, showcasing the funny, sad, and strange things we’ve all picked up at some point.
Found is a project 16 years in the making, and an obvious labor of love on Rothbart’s part, which is why it’s hardy surprising that the first episode of the Found podcast series is just as special and exciting as everything that came before it.
The series premiere, “Asian Oprah: Grand Dream,” sees Rothbart tackle one of his favorite Found pieces from the ‘90s. It’s a letter that was sent out to a whole bunch of TV executives from a hopeful actor who dreams of doing for the Asian-American community what Oprah did for African-Americans. You’ll have to listen to Found to hear if Jet, the man who sent the letter, managed to make it big.
While the podcast is a great idea powered by its humanist hook, the way Found is told and produced is gorgeous.
Rothbart is a great storyteller, which a lot of the time means he knows when to be quiet. It doesn’t matter how great your idea is, no one wants to hear one person talk for almost an hour. That’s why the huge number of voices featured on Found make it such a refreshing venture. Sure Rothbart is the one constant guiding us through the story, but there’s so many contributors paced well throughout the show that you’ll never get bored.
From a former aspiring rapper to B.D. Wong, Found never fails to remember its magazine’s core tenet: To tell a story about amazing and fascinating people, you need to talk to amazing and fascinating people.
Currently in the “New & Noteworthy” list on iTunes, and rapidly rising across podcast charts, Found hit the ground sprinting upon its mid-July debut. The first episode of Found is a cool idea 16 years in the making, but underneath it’s a story about diversity, dreams, and the fact that there’s more than one way to be a hero. At 49 minutes per episode, Found is an ambitious series that never loses steam—you’ll burn through its two posted episodes in no time.
Found is available from Wondery, or wherever you download podacsts.