As the barrier of entry to podcasts has lowered, it seems anyone with a gripe, sour grape or grievance to air is now able to reach the biggest megaphone on the planet with just a few clicks. That rant, delivered as an episode on the heels of a firing or a breakup or any manner of dramatic flareup — the revenge pod, if you will — seems to be gaining in popularity in recent years.
Is there entertainment value to the fury and raw emotion of someone who believes they’ve been wronged? Absolutely. A recent example: Cane & Corey, former morning show hosts at New York’s Alt 92.3, whose firing in Dec. 2021 the two recounted bitterly on an episode of a podcast (titled “WE GOT FIRED”) they recorded 30 minutes after being handed their walking papers.
But it’s one thing to lash out for an episode, and another to carry a series with regularity once all that pent-up frustration is released.
Michael Cohen’s “Mea Culpa,” which takes aim at former President and ex-client Donald Trump, is among the best-known revenge pods, consistently ranking among the most-listened-to news shows on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
“The way Michael Cohen speaks about Trump, he is, in many ways, a jilted lover,” says Jared Gutstadt, founder and CEO of AudioUp Media, which produces “Mea Culpa.” Twice a week, the former lawyer and fixer rehashes and deconstructs his relationship with his former friend. “[Cohen] got thrown in the can for his transgressions and paid the ultimate price, and now he’s back telling his story with his democratic vehicle that he has in the form of podcasting. It’s a form of revenge, but he’s using the podcast in the best possible way: to enlighten, entertain and fix.”
Who else is making a career out of spite? These six revenge pods are worth a listen…
Podcast: The Joe Budden Podcast
Host: Joe Budden
Distributor: Joe Budden Network
Gist: Hip-hop, sports, culture and relationships are among the topics former major label rapper Budden explores on his freeform twice-weekly show which just passed the 500-episode mark. About 125 episodes earlier in August 2020, Budden told Spotify, its exclusive home for three years, “Fuck y’all and that deal.” He claimed the company had “undermined and undervalued” his popular podcast’s contribution to the platform, and that he turned down a “big bag” offered by Spotify to extend his contract.
Choice episode: 375 (“Views From the SPOT”)
Podcast: Just B With Bethenny Frankel
Host: Bethenny Frankel
Gist: The “Real Housewives of New York City” alum is one of several grads of the Bravo franchise to try her hand at a podcast. Frankel’s show, which features interviews with business and thought leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Cuban, aligned with the start of the pandemic, but she broke from the guest format for an episode to mark the ink drying on her divorce, legally freeing her to share many of the gory details of her breakup and custody battle.
Choice episode: 80 (“Bethenny on Divorce”)
Podcast: Mea Culpa With Michael Cohen
Host: Michael Cohen
Distributor: LSJ Entertainment; AudioUp
Gist: Donald Trump’s former fixer leaves no stone unturned as he recounts the insanity of his years working for the Trump Organization. Cohen’s own Impassioned tirades and verbal contrition mark most of the episodes, along with one-on-one talks with key players and pundits like Anthony Scarramucci, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Joy Reid and Stormy Daniels.
Choice episode: A Conversation With Rosie O’Donnell
Podcast: New Rory and MAL
Host: Rory Farrell and Jamil ‘MAL’ Clay
Gist: An impasse related to their business roles led to an explosive exit by these Joe Budden Podcast alums, who defected their twice-a-week sidekick gig as a united pair to start their own show — and burned that bridge so badly, their new home SiriusXM made zero mention of their previous podcast affiliation in a press release announcing their arrival.
Choice episode: DK Akademik’s analysis of the split
Podcast: Shock Jocks – The Rise and Fall of Opie & Anthony
Host: Matt Provenzano
Gist: A well-researched, clip-packed chronicling of radio duo Opie & Anthony’s multiple firings over a 20-year-career. The two courted controversy practically daily, which eventually did them in when SiriusXM pulled the plug on the show in 2017, three years after terminating Anthony Cumia for posting racist tweets. Opie pivoted to a twice-weekly podcast, “Opie Radio,” which is nearing 500 episodes.
Choice episode: 6 (“Greggshells”)
Podcast: Catch and Kill
Host: Ronan Farrow
Distributor: Pineapple Street Studios
Gist: In reporting on the persistent predatory crimes of former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ronan Farrow finds himself navigating corporate manipulation and intimidation by a host of powerful media men, including high-ranking NBC executives and tabloid newspaper editors. From Hollywood to Washington to New York City, the dominoes start falling thanks to Farrow’s efforts and conviction to right years of wrongs. Next up for Farrow: an HBO doc investigating violence against journalists.
Choice episode: 7 (“The Editors”)