Dahlia Beta and Ben Hamm are the creators of the fantastic podcast The Secret Room. I recently asked them a few questions about the concept of the show, what it's like working together on it, their favorite podcasts, and The Secret Room's second season, which airs today! Read on for their great answers...
I'm a big fan of The Secret Room, but for those who haven't heard it yet, could you tell me a bit about it?
Ben: The Secret Room is a place for people to tell stories they don’t normally share.
Dahlia: We talk to everyday people about silly little secrets like not paying for fruit at the supermarket, to much more substantial secrets like why a woman couldn't tell her mom she had an abortion.
Ben: We try to mix it up, with both serious and light topics. But either way we hope they’re always really fascinating to listen to.
Ben, you've been in the radio world for a while. But Dahlia, you're pretty new to it, correct? What's it like working together on the show?
Ben: Dahlia may be a new radio-maker, but she’s a total natural. I learn stuff from her. She picked it up so fast.
Dahlia: That’s nice Ben, but really I’ve learned so much from you. It’s a really good match, Jessie. He’s worked in public radio and in television for a long time. We really complement each other. I think what I offer is a fresh perspective to production and storytelling — mostly because I come from a more musical and visual background, creatively speaking.
Ben: Podcasting is a new form of radio, and I sometimes get stuck in all the old rules that we had to follow. Rules I’m proud to have mastered, but I need to shed them for podcasting, and it’s hard. Dahlia helps me a lot with that.
I love the idea behind The Secret Room — it sounds like it'd be so much fun to create. Have you always been confidants for your family and friends? If not, how did you come up with the idea?
Ben: I think I’ve always been a good listener, and I’ve definitely been a confidant for people close to me. Dahlia is too, she’s my confidant sometimes!
Dahlia: I don't know that I'm the "confidant" or the "keeper of the secrets" per se, so much that I find there's an honesty in people and a truth in their secrets. The secrets they keep and the reasons they give for holding those stories close are kind of a peek into someone's soul — and I like seeing that.
Ben: As for the show’s concept, I was thinking, what could a storytelling podcast with a twist that pushes the genre forward look like? Then I thought, well, stories that people don’t tell would fit that bill. And there it was. Dahlia and I fleshed out the concept and she came up with the name.
The show has shared quite a few intimate secrets (a six-week marriage, a story of revenge, an online persona, etc.). Have you ever had to turn secrets away? And how do you decide which ones will work best on the podcast?
Ben: We don’t get too dark that’s for sure. We’ve received a few bleak secrets, but we don’t want to go too far down that rabbit hole. It can get very unpleasant. We want to fascinate, engage and surprise our listeners. And we want them to have a good time while we're at it. If the story is just too dark we don’t do it.
Dahlia: Everybody knows why you keep a dark secret. Part of the human condition is suffering, and oftentimes secrets go hand in hand with that. But the stories people are willing to share with us — personal, offbeat, uncommon — those help us shed a little light on our guests, and maybe on all of us. And sometimes we can go a little dark...just wait!
Ben: For sure. Just not too dark.
Do either of you have a favorite secret from the show?
Dahlia: My favorite is Ben’s Challenge. It’s episode six. Ben talks to his mom about how his dad dealt with memories of fighting in the Hungarian Revolution — stuff he never knew.
Ben: And my favorite is episode four. It’s called Bee Gees and in it Dahlia’s father reveals that he sold pot to the Bee Gees in the 60s. It’s gold, hilarious. My favorite moment is where Dahlia attempts to sing a Bee Gees song! Hahaha!
Dahlia: It's a...creative interpretation.
Season two of The Secret Room airs today! What can listeners look forward to hearing?
Dahlia: The first episode is about a woman whose ex-husband burned down his house for insurance money and got away with it!
Ben: Later this season listeners will learn who Crackhead Johnny is! People are wondering since we teased him in the season two trailer. I can’t say any more on that! Also, we'll talk to a couple of women who claim to be in a plural marriage.
Dahlia: I'm pretty sure the term is polyamorous relationship, but we'll get into that.
Ben: Dahlia will be exploring the concept of "sacred" versus "secret," and how some religions use the term sacred to hide questionable or historical practices they'd rather not have public. And an actress from the TV show Glee who now has her own podcast does a dramatic reading of a listener’s secret.
Dahlia: It’s gonna be a great season!
Finally, I know you're big podcast enthusiasts. Which shows are you loving right now?
Dahlia: I'm a bit of a trivia nerd, so I've been having a lot of fun with Good Job, Brain! lately. They're just so...enthusiastic about trivia! Criminal is another show that started out like us, with two people in a room, and they've shared so many interesting and engaging stories about crimes throughout history. Lastly, I've been a devout follower of Throwing Shade for the past year or so. Two comedians from L.A. talk about issues dealing with ladies and gays. Enlightening and hilarious, but sometimes they talk about grocery shopping a bit too much!
Ben: I’m so excited Why Oh Why is coming back. Andrea Silenzi talks about dating and technology. The first season was a mix of fact and fiction about the love lives of her and her friends. It’s sexy and a lot of fun. Also, Switched On Pop, a rollicking look at what makes pop music great. And I always look forward to Zoe Nightingale. She interviews people living on the fringe in New York City. I’m still trying to figure out Hollywood Handbook. It’s a strange take on two loser dudes who think they’re connected in show business. And I’m really excited for the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Someone Knows Something to come back. It’s a cold case crime show. The first season was extraordinary!
Thank you so much for sharing, Dahlia and Ben! If you haven't yet, be sure to check out the very first episode of The Secret Room's second season, out today!