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Our collaboration with NPR's It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders on how the pandemic is affecting our relationships.
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Host Anna Sale and the logos for Death, Sex & Money and WNYC Studios, all on a beige background.

I have a lot of radio friends. Friends who talk to me through my headphones, who I just know would be a good friend if we lived on the same block. The kind of friends who would (in normal times) drop off extra homemade tomato sauce, swing by for a beer in the backyard, tell me which show to watch next, and say just the right thing to make me cry and laugh simultaneously when that is what I need. 

Because I have the privilege of working in radio and podcasting, I have the opportunity to test a fair number of my radio friendships out in real life. When I see someone in a corridor at a conference, or in the bathroom at WNYC’s offices, or like the hosts of Back Issue, on a live Zoom that we engineered so I could hang out with Josh and Tracy.

But Sam Sanders and I, we’ve never met in person, even though Sam is one of my very best radio friends. He first became my bud before he hosted his podcast It’s Been a Minute, when he criss-crossed the country covering politics for NPR. I liked the way he took people and policy seriously while also letting on that, you know, politics is often totally un-serious. And since It’s Been a Minute started in 2017, I’ve gotten to know more about his obsessions, and sense of humor, and our friendship has only expanded in that beautiful way that some friendships do, like when a work friend becomes just a good friend. 

Then, in the last few months, Sam and I exchanged friendly Twitter messages, which led to a phone call. And I could immediately sense that my radio friend-dar was spot-on. We talked about our shows. We talked about how our lives have changed over the last several months, and what we’ve heard from our listeners. And we decided to make something together.

So, now I can say I have made a podcast collaboration with my radio friend Sam. Which we made from our closets, thousands of miles apart. We don’t know when we’ll get to say hello in person, because, that’s just not an option right now.

Which is what we’re exploring together, on our two shows this week. How our relationships are being affected by the ways we’re stuck apart, and stuck together. Check your Death, Sex & Money feed today—on a Tuesday!—to hear an incredible love story of people brought back together after fifty years, even as they’re kept apart because of COVID. And over on It’s Been A Minute, in their feed today, are stories of friendships strained and stressed by too much time stuck together. Enjoy.


—Anna and the Death, Sex & Money team
This Week on Death, Sex & Money
A photo of Marcy, a young white girl with a brown bob, found in her middle school yearbook. She is sitting in a classroom next to Joe, a black boy wearing a striped button up, They're 14 years old.

Marcy has had a man we're calling Joe on her mind since she went to prom with him during her senior year of high school, in 1969. “It seems like he's always just kind of been with me,” she told me.

Now, Marcy's 69 and divorced, and earlier this year, she decided to finally track down Joe after years of wondering what happened to him. Months after sending him an email, Joe responded. And their relationship has evolved into a beautiful romance—one that, despite their close proximity, has taken place entirely over the phone. 

This week, we’re partnering with our friends at NPR’s It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders to talk about two very different sides of being stuck during the pandemic—together and apart. Listen to our episode in your feeds now, and find It's Been A Minute's episode here

Your Stories: A Small Venue Owner Responds to Miguel Gutierrez
In our recent episode with choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, he told me about the cancellation emails that came pouring in from venues this spring. "The first thing I noticed was...their complete lack of acknowledgement of a financial component," Miguel told me. "Like, you have the money in your budget, right? So pay me." (Miguel also posted about this experience in a what he described as a "rant" on Instagram.)

After listening to our episode, our listener Alicia reached out. She's an American living in Hong Kong, where she owns a small entertainment venue that hosts live music, cabaret, and comedy shows. "As a regular listener to Death, Sex & Money, I love how Anna Sale looks at so many different perspectives in a nuanced and still empathetic way," she said in an email. "Therefore I was surprised that she did not reflect on how Mr. Gutierrez's rant about booking cancellations affected the venues themselves." Here's more from Alicia:
"This year, our entire schedule as been devastated. I have had to make a lot of cancellations. To make a point against Mr. Gutierrez's argument, when people buy tickets to an event, if the event can not be performed, they want their money back. I cannot say to them, 'But wait, you made a commitment to this event by buying a ticket, so you must still pay me.' I have to refund their ticket money. I do not get paid. Just like Mr. Gutierrez, I have rent and bills due too, but unlike Mr. Gutierrez, I have rent and bills also still due for my venue too, even if I do not get any revenue from my cancelled events. Now, I do not have a festival budget, but I can imagine that even large event organizers who have budgets due based on projected profits that have just gone to puff. So, do they pay performers, or do they keep the janitorial staff, or the ticket booth staff, or the administration staff? Everyone in the arts industry is suffering, and if we are all in it for the love, then let's help each other out with understanding and empathy rather than a 'you owe me, pay me' mentality."

—Alicia, Hong Kong

Listen to This: Audio We Love

A black square with gray gridlines. One square is yellow, and the words "99% Invisible" are in yellow and white in squares on the bottom left.
A white square with the words "A Better Life?" in orange capital letters, except the "I" in life is replaced with a blue figure wearing a white backpack and holding a blue briefcase. The "Life?" is underlined in blue and yellow.

“What does it take to be a priority in this system?” That’s the question reporter Katie Mingle set out to tackle in the new special series from 99% Invisible, called According to Need. The series looks at the homeless services system in California, and how it’s functioning—and isn’t—to keep people sheltered as housing instability in the state has skyrocketed in the last decade. Katie spent two years reporting on the system, and following people in it as they struggle to plan for their future when the present is so in flux. “You don’t know what your life is gonna be in the next two hours,” a man named Reggie says. “You know, it just swallows you up.” The first two of five chapters are out now. 

The podcast “A Better Life?” examines the experiences of immigrants in the U.S. and how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped their relationship to the U.S. In the first episode of their “Call Your Elders” series, producer Florence Barrau-Adams calls her parents, Monique and Eric Barrau. Monique and Eric came to the U.S. from Haiti in 1968, and now live in Florida. They’ve been in isolation since March, and in a very heartwarming conversation, they reflect on how they spend their days together and how they’re managing to stay optimistic during so much uncertainty.

"I have always loved DSM but during the pandemic it has felt like a lifeline. Thank you. Keep up the great work. The world needs you and so do I."
—Jessie, Illinois

Join Jessie in supporting our work at Death, Sex & Money!
Donate now at deathsexmoney.org/donate.
We hope you're finding ways to enjoy some time alone this week.
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