The Activist History Review

This essay is part one of a two-part series. Click here for the introduction, and here for part two.

by Kate Steir

Ty Burr in the Boston Globe began his review of the provocative new podcast S-Town with a question: “Is ‘S-Town’ a freak show for the NPR crowd?” Burr is intentionally being glib here, but his choice of words highlights the ways that S-Town, even as it relies on new forms of technology and media distribution to create a new genre of podcast storytelling, is part of a long and complex anthropological tradition.

S-Town centers not only on John B. McLemore’s story, but also on his body.

s-town_lr John B. McLemore. “S-Town,” Courtesy of Ross Mackintosh.

John B. McLemore performed restorations throughout his life both on clocks and on his Civil War-era home. As producer and host Brian Reed explored the network of connections that John had…

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