Laura Krantz is fascinated by the otherworldly, the supernatural and the mythical — and people's obsessions with those realms.
In 2018, the former National Public Radio journalist released the first season of Wild Thing, a podcast about Bigfoot. Hers wasn't a journey to prove whether the creature was real or make a sweeping discovery; she was looking to see what research was being done, what was behind the myth, and why people were so interested.
The show was a hit. The Atlantic dubbed it one of the best podcasts of 2018. Then Krantz got back to work on her next season, which starts September 17. But this time, she's not investigating a mythical monster. She's asking an even bigger question: Does extraterrestrial life exist?
"Everyone has questions: Are they out there? Will we find them? Have they already found us? Or are we truly alone?" Krantz says in the first episode of the new season. Beyond that, she questions what it means if we are alone and what it means if we aren't.
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In part, her podcast explores the appearance of an interstellar object called 'Oumuamua that sped through the solar system in 2017, raising questions among scientists about its origins and whether they were extraterrestrial. She also looks into the secret Unidentified Flying Object program the Pentagon was running from 2012 to 2017.
"The Pentagon confirmed that this program existed," Krantz says. "The stories about this blew up, because when people hear 'UFO,' they equate it with aliens. Then it kind of went to the fringes of the Internet. Between 2012 and 2017, there were questions as to what was going on. Then 2017 was when the headlines about all this stuff came out."
Throughout the podcast, Krantz speaks with scientists researching extraterrestrial life along with conspiracy theorists who believe the government has been lying to the public for years. The point of Wild Thing isn't to find answers or prove whether extraterrestrials exist, she says. Rather, the podcast continues to explore what has and hasn't been discovered and how people think about the subject.
"I wanted to look at all angles of this," Krantz says. "From the perspective of people who are doing hard science, but also people who are going to the Roswell UFO festival."
You can stream the podcast starting September 17, and a new episode will be released every Thursday. If you buy the full season ad-free, it includes bonus episodes with people like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Sara Seager, a professor at MIT; it will be available for purchase on the Wild Thing website.