One of the Atlantic's Top 50 Podcasts: 'Rumble Strip Vermont' | Live Culture

One of the Atlantic's Top 50 Podcasts: 'Rumble Strip Vermont'


'Rumble Strip Vermont' podcast producer Erica Heilman - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • 'Rumble Strip Vermont' podcast producer Erica Heilman

The Atlantic magazine has released its list of the top 50 podcast episodes of 2015, and "Rumble Strip Vermont," which we profiled back in May, has two entrants.

East Calais resident Erica Heilman launched "Rumble Strip" nearly three years ago. The podcast focuses on Vermonters whose lives play out beyond the gaze of traditional media, and episodes eschew the polished veneer and traditional narrative structure common to public radio.

The Atlantic chose two episodes of "Rumble Strip" for its list. "I Am in Here," features Colchester resident Mark Utter, who suffers from nonverbal autism and communicates with supported computer typing; and "An American Life," features St. Johsbury barber Vaughan Hood discussing his experiences in the Vietnam War.

"Mostly, the episode offers a vignette into an isolated and othered sect of humanity, one that demands a lended ear," The Atlantic wrote about "I Am In Here. "But, listen for the moment when Utter talks about the sheer helplessness and danger inherent to his wordless life, listen for when he and Heilman argue. Both prove that deep thinking need not be verbal, and that words aren’t the only path to love, sorrow or even self-actualization."

Heilman, a former New York City television producer, produces the podcast in her bedroom closet and, though she has a part-time job, usually releases an episode every week.

"There are so many small, irrelevant, not-newsworthy stories that I think people would fall in love with in this state," Heilman told Seven Days in May. "And they don't have to be framed, they don't have to have a beginning, middle and an end. In fact ... it might be interesting to feel the floor go out from you and be inside a story whose structure might not be so clear to you."