Much to my surprise, the first review I wrote on Raphael Rowe’s Second Chance podcasts has had a more extensive reach than anticipated, and keeps getting called up. After a brief check with RR I decided to go for a follow-up, simply because episodes 5 – 13 are much more powerful in terms of human interest.
It goes without saying that 2020 has been a disastrous year for anyone who has one foot in the media industry – especially those whose entire output is dependent on travel and close interaction with people. With a large percentage of media professionals being confined to Home Office, bursting with ideas but shackled by limited movement, they have resorted to the next best thing and built up on what can be done with the resources at hand in order to remain on the air and not slip into the pandemic oblivion. Podcasts have seen a major surge all around the world, as well as YouTube videos and webinars. It’s not just boredom that drives people into exploring new avenues of broadcasting, but a desperate need to bridge the social interaction gaps that generate some sense of productivity and intellectual challenge. This is has been the year to re-evaluate personal and professional lives, and what better way to do so than to eliminate the oppressive factors of routine and traditional infrastructures and explore alternative perspectives through the eyes and voices of others.
The Second Chance Podcasts do not sugar coat anything or place anyone on a pedestal. On the contrary: Raphael Rowe’s personal story of seizing a second chance himself is notably the very essence which makes him a powerful investigative journalist who talks to and not down at people, unllike many of his counterparts who have never had a run-in with the law or been incarcerated. The lack of snobbish condescending arrogance is absolutely refreshing, add to that RR’s charm, inquisitive nature, restless energy, passion to inspire and motivate, and indomitable ability to carry on a deep prodding interview on sensitive topics without losing professionalism or putting the interviewee in a compromising situation. This is what made the Netflix series Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons so appealing and has held the captive audience in suspense as to whether there will be a Season 5 or not. Much to the dismay and agony of a large percentage of the worldwide Netflix fans, the Second Chance podcasts are only available in English.
I welcomed RR’s choice to invite non-celebrity guests onto the podcasts whose lives and souls were broken by society, the legal systems and health care infrastructure. Once victims or criminals, the transformative stories of resilience and seizing the second chance that life has given them makes for a fascinating listen each week. The podcasts are long, ranging between 50 – 75 min, and are definitely not binge material like the Netflix series, but they are the perfect companion for the long drive or train ride to work, especially if you are heading into the office and lack the motivation to do so.
Not all the guests are heroes, but their heroic efforts to pull themselves out of the darkness are worthy of admiration and respect. They could have all remained broken and forgotten, or even landed right back in prison, but many of them are now actively engaged in giving back to the community, giving others a second chance. The podcasts are not fairy tales nor glowing accounts of happily-ever-after. On the contrary. I am often left wondering whether these second chances will eventually blow up in their faces at some point. It would be interesting to find out after a couple of years whether the stories were sustainable and what social changes were brought about as a result thereof.
If there was every any doubt as to whether RR’s effectivity as a TV documentary presenter would carry over to the strictly audio broadcasting, episodes 5-13 definitely prove that. RR’s book Notorius is due out soon and I for one look forward to reviewing it. I am curious to find out whether the wit, charm, and voice carry over into the written form this time.
Click HERE for more information on Raphael Rowe’s work.