by Sarah Nove ‘20
Podcasts are blowing up right now, and it’s clear some creators are hopping on the bandwagon. There are probably hundreds of podcasts without a clear concept, and even those with a clear raison d’être struggle to achieve originality. However, that’s not the case with “ScamWow,” a new podcast hosted by comedians Caitlin Brodnick and Sue Smith. “ScamWow” debuted in November 2018 and has since released episodes on a weekly basis. The premise is simple: two comedians (and the occasional guest) talking about scams.
The chemistry between the hosts sets the tone of each episode––it’s clear Brodnick and Smith enjoy each other’s company. They share a mutual respect and understanding that allows conversation to flow naturally. Additionally, the rapport between Brodnick and Smith extends to each of their guests, who clearly feel comfortable with the duo and never seem like a ‘third wheel.’
“ScamWow” is anything but overproduced––in fact, one of the show’s running gags involves Brodnick and Smith failing to say the opening lines in sync. Where many podcasts would cut out these kinds of mistakes, “ScamWow’s” minimal editing is a key feature of its personality. By leaving these bits in, Brodnick and Smith preserve the authenticity of their conversations and endear audiences with their goofs. Listening to the end product feels more like observing a light-hearted conversation between friends, rather than a serious production.
The cheerful tone and casual atmosphere contrast the subject matter without coming off as insensitive. Brodnick and Smith find humor in the often-ridiculous scams they discuss, but they also show compassion for both the victims and, sometimes, the perpetrators. Their jokes never overshadow the stories, which are always well-told and fascinating. Additionally, the duo bring a unique perspective to every scam or scammer they discuss, as they mainly commentate on their subjects, rather than criticize.
The only glaring weakness of the podcast is its lack of definitive facts. The episode descriptions always include a disclaimer, “we are comedians and this is satire,” and the hosts often warn listeners to do their own fact checking, as Brodnick and Smith are not always confident in their sources of information. The pair has even admitted to using Wikipedia as a source. Although their honesty is refreshing, their approach seems slightly harmful––after all, Brodnick and Smith have a platform where they influence the way their listeners view scammers and scams. As a result, they should have some accountability for the stories they tell. A little more research and source citations would go a long way towards building their credibility.
Despite their slight lack of credibility, “ScamWow” is entertaining and charming. Brodnick and Smith curate their topics well: the stories themselves are captivating, and each one fits with the podcast’s theme. What really makes the show special, however, is the personal anecdotes from Brodnick and Smith. The genuine friendship between the hosts allows them to be vulnerable with each other, and the audience by extension. Brodnick and Smith shine when they speak with each other, and it shows in every episode.