About Meghan and The Unspeakable

Who Am I? What Is This?

If you’ve gotten this far, chances are you know me at least a little. (Scroll to the bottom of this page for a brief biography.) I’m a writer, a podcaster, a teacher, and, most recently, founder of a new enterprise called The Unspeakeasy. This Substack will bring all of these efforts under (mostly) one umbrella and allow you to keep up with what I’m doing.

Here’s a rundown.

The Unspeakable Podcast is the interview show I launched in the summer of 2020 — otherwise known as the Summer of Podcasts. (Scroll to the bottom of this page to see some listener ratings and reviews.). It features free-ranging, candid, Nuanced AF™ conversations with all kinds of fascinating people.

As of 2024, the podcast will be paywalled most weeks (not every week, but most). The interviews are long, so the free public feed will still offer healthy portions of the interview. But to hear the whole thing, you will need to become a paying subscriber to this Substack. The podcast is audio-only, but you can also access it on The Unspeakable YouTube channel.

A Special Place In Hell, my podcast with Sarah Haider, launched in June of 2022, looks at culture and society through the lens of our twenty-year age difference. It’s been likened to an “after party for The Unspeakable” but it’s very much its own thing. A Special Place In Hell has its own Substack page, which is wholly separate from this one, as well as a YouTube channel.

The Unspeakeasy is a community for freethinking women that offers in-person retreats as well as an online community. Since the fall of 2022, we’ve done eight retreats in different areas of the U.S. and nine more are planned for 2024. Our online community, which you can read more about here, is also thriving and growing. The Unspeakeasy has its own online space and mailing list and is wholly separate from Substack. But I’ll keep you updated here on our progress, including information about our “sanity spa vacation” retreats.

As of spring of 2024, The Unspeakeasy has a couple of different offerings that are not only for women, including our first-ever coed retreat June 4-5 in Chicago and writing courses open to anyone. The Unspeakeasy was featured in this article in The Spectator in the fall of 2023.

Speaking of writing courses: I periodically teach private writing workshops in personal essay, memoir, and opinion writing, mostly on Zoom (they used to be in my apartment in NYC; those were the days)! I’ll keep you posted about those courses here so you’ll never miss an announcement.

Finally, you will find here my own writing, including new personal essays. If you’ve only discovered me in the last few years you might not realize that all the opining, podcasting, teaching, and, lately, bellyaching about free speech only came about because I built a career on personal essays. I haven’t done that kind of writing in a while, but it’s time I got back to it. Sharing such work requires a lot of vulnerability and trust on my part, and you’ll have the chance to become one of my early readers.

Want to get in on all of this? Here are the ways you can do that by supporting me here.

Free Subscriber

  • As a free subscriber you will receive periodic updates about what I’m doing. That includes writing classes, public events, the latest about The Unspeakeasy and links to things I publish here and elsewhere. Periodically I will publish a piece of new writing on the page for free and, as a subscriber, you’ll know about it before it goes mega-viral on Twitter. You’ll also be able to access the entire catalog of Unspeakable episodes right here on the Substack page, though you won’t have access to premium content such as the bonus portions of the conversations or, as of January 2024, the paywalled portions of episodes.

Monthly Subscriber $7/month

  • You get to hear the entire podcast interview. Again, free subscribers and those listening to the public feed have access to a certain portion of the conversation, but at some point, it fades out and they need to become paying subscribers to hear the rest. Since you’ll already be a paying subscriber, that won’t happen to you! You’ll also get to hear the episode early—usually the Friday or Saturday before the main version drops—on a private RSS feed.

  • Up until 2024, before the paywall went up, paying subscribers had access to bonus portions of the conversation, where the guest stayed overtime and we talked a little more informally (this was often the best part). As a paying subscriber, your back catalog access will include those bonus portions.

  • Commenting privileges. As a paid subscriber, you can participate in comment threads about the podcast or anything else I post. This is fun because the commenters are really smart and interesting. (Although maybe a little more subdued than the commenters on A Special Place In Hell.)

  • All sorts of Unspeakable extras, including discounts on Nuanced AF merchandise, access to premium versions of the podcast, and the ability to leave comments.

  • You’ll get everything mentioned above, plus new writing from me. This is big. And we’re not talking about hot takes or quirky jeremiads about the culture wars. I’m going to go back to my roots and write personal essays. I’m going to write about what my life is like in this particular moment in time, how I feel about the past, and what I both hope for and fear for the future. Maybe this will become part of a book someday and maybe it won’t. But they will amount to early drafts of the next phase of my writing life, and you’ll be the first to read it.

Founding Member $200/year

  • For this, you mainly get my undying and awestruck gratitude. Aside from that, you get all the regular paid podcast perks plus the chance to join regularly-scheduled monthly Zoom hangouts with me. I’ll meet with all of you for about two hours once every six weeks or so (I’ll give you plenty of notice) and we’ll discuss recent episodes of the Unspeakable podcast. You’ll also get cameo appearances and/or barkerruptions from my Newfoundland dog, Hugo.

By the way . . .

If you are a paid subscriber to A Special Place In Hell, my new podcast with Sarah Haider and are thinking “but I just paid for a whole new podcast why do I have to pay for this one, too?” I hear you. Substack is working on some bundling options to address this very scenario, but they’re just not there yet. So for now, email me and we’ll figure something out.

All of this is a reader/listener supported endeavor. To get the full experience, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Here’s a little about me (in the third person).

Meghan Daum is the creator and host of The Unspeakable Podcast and the author of six books, most recently The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through The New Culture Wars, a New York Times Notable Book for 2019.  Her collection of original essays, The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, won the 2015 Pen Center USA Award for creative nonfiction. A Los Angeles Times opinion columnist from 2005 to 2016, she has written for numerous magazines, including The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. Meghan is the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2016 National Endowment for the Arts grant. She has taught graduate writing students at Columbia University and The University of Iowa and now teaches private workshops in personal essay, memoir and op-ed. Her latest projects include a new podcast, A Special Place In Hell, which she co-hosts with Sarah Haider and startup venture, The Unspeakeasy, an intellectual community for freethinking women.

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Meghan Daum is the host of The Unspeakable Podcast and the author of several books, most recently The Problem With Everything: My Journey Through The New Culture Wars. She also co-hosts, with Sarah Haider, the podcast A Special Place In Hell.