Hotline to the intimate secrets of the world

Podcast of the week – Love + Radio: The Secrets Hotline 1 & 2

 

This instalment of Nick Van Der Kolk’s massively successful and long-running human-interest interview show is a massive surprise. As a form, the podcast allows us access to hidden spaces. Much of what we listen to when we listen to podcasts is documentary, interviews, pop-culture commentary: we listen to stories of life.

On The Secrets Hotline, we are listening to the deepest secrets of anonymous strangers. They call Van Der Kolk’s hotline and they whisper their truths down the line, and some of them are compiled without interruption. George Langford and Build Buildings’ sound design provides a perfect backdrop to this audio montage of the inner lives of many different kinds of people. It moves from theme to theme, to total silence depending on the tone and shape of the secret. It is a slightly remarkable thing to hear the interaction of gorgeous music with the textured, low-fi phonecalls where the secrets are spoken.

The secrets come in all shapes and sizes. A golf cart hit-and-run, a secret history in sex work, stealing from vending machines, unspoken reasons for breaking up, one or two callers who can’t quite bring themselves to say what they did – there is a distinct sense during many of the confessions that these are truths that have never been spoken aloud before. One gentleman who absolutely can’t stand Love + Radio itself and needs to let them know and is so close to deleting his subscription to the podcast. A nutritionist who, just before she called, ate an entire pint of ice-cream – and who could she ever tell about it? Something slightly beautiful happens at the end of some of the confessions: it is possible to hear the relief in the voices of the callers, and sometimes their own shock at hearing something they had long contained spoken aloud.

The episodes never quite descend into bleakness or heaviness – there is a skilful curation at hand that balances the emotional elements of secrecy and humanity very carefully. It is a letter-box view into the most intimate moments of strangers’ lives, but never feels perverse or exploitative. It feels like more of an audio installation than a documentary. Post Secret, an online community that has been running since 2005 displays a curated set of secrets from strangers on the back of postcards, a fresh set every single Sunday. These episodes of Love + Radio operate on that same principle, leaving listeners a set of sparse, intimate glimmers into the human condition. It works because it is interrupted, and the soundscapes honour the individual secrets, regardless of whether they handle death or sex or ice-cream or taking drugs before going to Mass on a Sunday. Both episodes come in at around 20 minutes each, and make a gorgeous and unusual listen that may leave you more thoughtful and curious by the end – or maybe even tempted to pick up the phone to the hotline yourself, ready to tell your own secrets.

Listen here: The Secrets Hotline 1 and The Secrets Hotline 2

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.