Pod Mirror

PODCAST
REVIEW

By : Shyno B Paul

THE MISSING

Cryptoqueen

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Source: BBC SOUNDS
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THE ABSTRACT

The Missing Cryptoqueen, produced for BBC Sounds by Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Catt, investigates the cryptocurrency scam fronted by Dr Ruja Ignatova, the self-described “crypto queen
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THE SCAM...

The series delves into an engrossing complexity of a sprawling conspiracy: The podcasters travel across continents to find both the scammers and their victims, making important stops in the U.K., Germany, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Uganda
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GRIPPING

The series benefits from its breathless narration, which keeps listeners in the present tense of the storytelling. This was an especially compelling series for a large audience who listened as weekly episodes, as the series integrates new information as the investigation proceeds
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Dr Ruja

“Dr. Ruja”, is a charismatic front-woman of OneCoin, the cryptocurrency that raised billions of dollars from investors between 2014 and 2017. Dr. Ruja traveled the world, promising investors that this new currency would make them rich—and then, having enriched herself most of all, she
disappeared.
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Her Promise

Dr Ruja travelled the world, promising investors that this new currency, which she called OneCoin would make them rich—and then, having enriched herself most of all, she disappeared.
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The Reporter...

Investigating her disappearance in this podcast from BBC Sounds is reporter Jamie
Bartlett, who narrates each of the nine episodes, and producer Georgia Catt, who serves as Bartlett’s on-location interlocutor.
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Contact Barlett on twitter
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It's not what you think

Paralleling the experience of OneCoin investors, the listener is first led to believe that this is a story of a cryptocurrency. But it is not...
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It was not a blockchain scam, never...

This BBC podcast will have a smaller audience if were about blockchain, the cryptocurrency technology that is nearlyimpossible to understand. As one proceeds through the episodes the listener gradually realises OneCoin, which as we learn later, had no blockchain. (Rather, it had a database that Ruja and others could manipulate at will. It was an MLM scam
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The aural medium of storytelling...

The aural documentary has proved a useful medium through which to explore the empty promises of companies such as WeWork, Theranos, OneCoin and others that were, in the end, all talk.
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The pain

The breadth of the OneCoin scam was global. In Glasgow, we hear the story of Jen McAdam,
who discovered that OneCoin was not a real currency after spending $10,000 of her own
money, as well as convincing friends and family to buy packages. We can hear the pain of responsibility in McAdam’s voice. Listen to the podcastfor that
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The storytelling

The manner of storytelling keeps the listener in the present tense. The producers clearly learned a few things from the first season of Serial (2014), which alternated between two narrative strands: reporting the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and the subsequent trial of Adnan Syed; and the re-investigation of the cold case by reporter Sarah Koenig and producer Julie Snyder
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New Evidence

In The Missing Cryptoqueen, as in Serial, we hear new evidence as it is found, or at least, as it is presented as being integrated into the storytelling. Cryptoqueen expresses more awareness of its potential impact on the story that it is covering. In episode three, we learn
about OneCoin’s attacks on the “haters” who publicly criticise it
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Gripping

But more seriously, and throughout the story, the podcast makes an argument for its own
relevance. For listeners who subscribed to the episodes and listened as they were released,
part of the excitement was the sense that the story was evolving in real time. Anything could
happen, anything could be discovered — possibly, even, the cryptoqueen herself.
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Immediacy

This sense of immediacy is amplified by the confessional nature of the narration. Bartlett often speaks into the microphone in a fast, breathless whisper, as if he is talking to himself and that the listener just happens to be there, as when he reads aloud sections of FBI documents, as if he is perusing them for the first time
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The voice

BBC's reporter Bartlett often voices his thoughts, describes his concerns, and express his fears. On the hunt for Dr. Ruja, we hear Bartlett turn away from an unhelpful interviewee,then sigh to no one in particular, “This is going to be tough; this is going to be hard work”. Choices like these give the listener the feeling that they are inside the story with Bartlett
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With the storyteller

The integration of asides is a key strategy of this present-tense storytelling in the Cryptoqueen. The inclusion of extraneous material creates the perception that even the reporters do not know where the story is heading.
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The urgency

The podcast gives a good impression of urgency, though the listener eventually gets the sense that little that is truly discovered “along the way.” There are moments of feigned obtuseness that suggest that the reporters pretend to know less than they do. At the “Miss OneLife” beauty pageant, which took place in a club in Romania, Bartlett initially expresses surprise that he and Catt do not circulate unobtrusively among the assembled crowd of mobsters and hangers-on.
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At its core

The mystery that the podcast most fully investigates, because the victims are so painfully accessible, is how so many people could have been caught up in something so scammy. As narrator, Bartlett’s attitude toward the victims is largely sympathetic. The podcast offers explanations rather than judgements: an exploration of the logics of cult-like belief systems
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Beware of the pyramid

Bartlett asks the listener in episode five, not-quite-rhetorically:“How high up the pyramid do you go, before you’re no longer a victim?”
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