Podcast Idea: The Hunt

A podcast about treasure, obsession and the lengths people will go to solve a puzzle.

Description: What drives people to give up their lives and hunt for treasure? Why are puzzles so alluring? On The Hunt we meet people who have committed their lives to crafting riddles, and those who are obsessed with solving them. From the families of those who’ve died seeking a poet’s buried treasure, to brothers who have spent their entire savings on a remote island, to a mysterious golden rabbit. Why can’t we resist a good treasure hunt, and at why can’t some people walk away?

Host: ???? (who should host this on y’all? I am tired and stumped)*

Executive Producer: Rose Eveleth **

Comps: Cults meets Obsession

Sample Episode 1: In 2017, a Paris Wallace, a pastor from Colorado, went missing. A week later his body was found in the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico. A year earlier, authorities found the remains of another Colorado man named Randy Bilyeu, this time west of Santa Fe along the Rio Grande. Wallace and Bilyeu had never met, but they died doing the same thing: looking for buried treasure. The same buried treasure in fact. Both men had set out to hunt for a cache of “gold coins and nuggets, precious gems and ancient artifacts” buried by a man named Forrest Fenn. Fenn announced the treasure in 2010, and penned a memoir he says is full of clues for treasure hunters. On this episode we meet the treasure hunters, and talk to Fenn* about how it feels to craft a mystery that people are willing to die for.

Sample Episode 2: In 1979 a book called Masquerade was published to immediate frenzy. Within a few years it sold nearly two million copies, and lit all of England on fire. And it wasn’t because of the book’s plot — a rather boring tale of a boy who is supposed to deliver a jewel but loses it in his adventures — but rather the book’s trappings. It was a puzzle, an elaborate mystery, and if you could solve the whole riddle there was a prize: a beautiful, intricate golden hare, buried somewhere in England. On this episode Jess Zimmerman takes us on a tour of how ““Masqueraders” dug up acres of countryside, traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, wrote tens of thousands of letters to Williams, and occasionally got stuck halfway up cliffs or were apprehended by police while trespassing on historic properties.”

Sample Episode 3: You may have never seen it, but the Curse of Oak Island — a show on the History Channel — is about to broadcast its 100th episode. The show follows two brothers, Marty and Rick Lagina*, who are convinced that there is treasure buried somewhere in the vicinity of Oak Island in Nova Scotia. The island has been the center of all kinds of tall tales since the late 1700’s. Even Teddy Roosevelt thought there was gold to be found there. For centuries treasure hunters have flocked to the island, hoping to find buried treasure. So far, nobody has found anything. But the demand is so great that in the 1960’s they built a new causeway over to the island to get heavy equipment across. Today, the brothers Lagina own most of the island, and continue to dig and theorize. They’re obtuse about their funding, and at least one crew member has died during production. At this point, they are genuinely considering just digging up the entire thing and sifting through it. This episode recounts the history of the myth, and explores how long people will go in the absence of evidence that anything was ever there at all.

Audience: People who love puzzles, and people who are fascinated by obsessions. Anybody who’s had a loved one get deep into some kind of puzzle based mystery. Anybody who’s failed to get out of an escape room, or who can do them in record time.

If you have a podcast idea that you’d like to see me turn into a Podcast Idea, send it my way! rose.eveleth@protonmail.com, or just reply to this email.

Bonus Podcast From Twitter

* Hosts and guests have not signed on in any way. I’m making stuff up here!

** This newsletter is for fun. Ideas belong to their initial creator, credited here as Executive Producer. Don’t be a dick and don’t steal these ideas. If you love a show, and really want to get it made, get in touch with the person who came up with it.

Long live independent podcasts. Long live bad ideas.