I started listening to Home of the Brave during a set of episodes in 2015 that centered on refugees arriving in Europe. There were a handful of beautiful stories that were richly told in first-person, a sort of “front line” exposé of what it really means, and how it feels, to immigrate because you have to leave your home – you must, for your own safety. The storytelling was poignant, honest, open, and emotional. These episodes have been my favorite part of Home of the Brave thus far – check out On the Border of Greece and Macedonia to get a taste of this great miniseries.
The show, produced by Scott Carrier, started in early 2015 but many of the episodes are old tape that Carrier has produced and are granted a new life. Carrier is an experienced radio producer and writer, with some of his early radio work still available on This American Life archived episodes back to 1996. He most recently appeared on TAL in 2015. Most of his work is storytelling with rich sound, across a variety of topics.
Perhaps if I was more familiar with Carrier’s body of work – he is after all a writer and teacher in addition to a radio producer – I would be able to immerse myself in the wandering nature of the show. I have listened to so many episodes and while I love the dedication to a great sounding piece of audio, I struggle with finding a common thread. I started listening during the refugee crisis so the episodes were timely and did have a natural flow. But as I started to explore more of the catalog, I realized much of the content was produced many years ago and therefore lost some of the punch that comes with a more current story. The pieces that have been more current have been better – like this one about the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff with the Bundy family and others in early 2016. Carrier has a knack for making you feel like you’re there with the interview subjects – out in the cold on the wildlife refuge property. But overall, I find the show hard to follow from episode to episode, and sometimes I don’t even know what an entire episode is supposed to be about. My analytical mind has a tough time going along for the ride sometimes.
I’m also frustrated by Home of the Brave’s website. There are some beautiful photos there, but little mention, if any, of who took the photos or who else is involved in the research and production of the podcast. I assume most is done by Carrier, but he references a team occasionally and I wish I knew more about them. A simple “About” tab would be helpful for people wanting to know what the show is intended to be about and who’s involved.
I will probably check out Home of the Brave here and there in the future, as I think Carrier is an excellent producer and can put together some beautiful stories. A small team could help him focus on a consistent thread. Or, maybe I just need to let my abstract mind push the concrete out of the way a little bit and embrace the meandering thread that makes up Home of the Brave.
What do you think of this podcast? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!
Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value (3 / 5)
Pop Culture Value (3 / 5)
There’s not so much pop culture in this show, but there is a good amount of current events coverage and investigation. Carrier shows the listener that all the subjects in every situation – like them or not – are human.
Host Listen-ability (3 / 5)
Flow & Production Value (3 / 5)
I’ll give Home of the Brave the benefit of the doubt here because the production value is very, very good. The sound is great and the flow of each episode is usually pretty good. But as mentioned above, I have a hard time following the macro thread of the show.
Humor (0 / 5)
Investigation (3 / 5)
Storytelling (2 / 5)
Makes Me a Better Person (1 / 5)
This is probably the Audible Feast rating category that most disappoints me as I’ve struggled to love Home of the Brave. I have been moved by a few of the refugee stories; I loved feeling immersed into that seemingly distant part of the world at the time. But those episodes were too few and I wish I had felt as strongly about the other pieces of audio.
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (2 / 5)
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