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About Unread

A new narrative podcast series written and hosted by Chris Stedman for iHeartRadio

“Best Podcasts of 2021” —Vulture
“Best New Podcasts of 2021” —Mashable
“Among the podcast highlights of the year… Deeply moving.” —The Guardian

One December evening in 2019, Chris Stedman noticed a new message in his inbox from his friend Alex, sent at exactly 7 p.m. He and Alex hadn’t talked in a while—was Alex writing to tell him off for being a bad friend? But it wasn’t that. “listen,” the note read. “i am writing to let you know that when you receive this scheduled email, i will no longer be alive.” At the bottom of his message, Alex included a link to a private SoundCloud account. “here’s Alice recordings,” he wrote.

Alice. Alex had talked to Chris about her before. A Britney Spears superfan, Alex had befriended this anonymous figure in a Britney fan forum years earlier. Alice had become the stuff of legend in Britney fan circles, and for good reason—she happens to sound exactly like Britney herself. Why was Alex including these recordings in his goodbye email? Who was Alice, really, and what had she meant to Alex? More importantly, could she help Chris understand why his friend was gone? With help from Alex’s loved ones, Chris decides to track down the elusive Alice, in the hopes that she can answer some of the questions Alex couldn’t.

Listen to Unread in full on the iHeartRadio app, Apple podcasts, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

Praise for Unread

Unread is a peculiar little puzzle box. It’s a brief four-episode nonfiction piece built on a personal tragedy wrapped in a mystery that comes with a hell of a hook. I picked it up with slight unease . . . There are ways, I thought, that this could get sticky, emotionally and ethically. But it never does, and that’s a testament to the focus and sensitivity of both Stedman and the team around him.
Stedman’s narration is writerly, essayistic — guiding listeners through the journey and its many moving parts with an elegiac thoughtfulness. Its central mystery might be a little zany and potentially sensational, but to an extent, it feels incidental. Stedman never wavers from why he is ultimately in your ears: to tell you about his friend, the life he lived, and how he affected the people all around him.
Gentle, smartly edited, and beautifully written, what he makes is a moving tribute to a friend.”  —Nick Quah, Vulture
“[Unread] is a clever and moving personal essay, where Stedman honors his friend’s story and reflects on friendship, contemporary loneliness, mental health, digital and sexual identity, on the relationships we establish in the online world and how those interact with our non-digital life . . .
I’ve been listening to podcasts for years . . . Until Unread I had not heard one that ventured so brilliantly in a genre hardly explored in audio, covering so many different topics at the same time.” —Diego Salazar, El Washington Post
Unread is not for the faint of heart. The mini-series has an unflinching determination to cope with grief, trauma, depression, loneliness, and the need to reach across the screen for connection . . . As much a loving eulogy as it is an internet mystery, the podcast is really an ode to all of us lost souls who must turn to the internet for acceptance.” —Jess Joho, Mashable
“Although the hook of Unread is solving the mystery of Alice’s identity, and the possibility she could be Spears, the podcast ends up becoming something much deeper.” —Barry Divola, Sydney Morning Herald
“Extraordinary… a delicately plotted journey through one person’s grief, a fandom’s relationship with an icon, and humanity’s attempts to understand the unknowable.” —R. Eric Thomas, Previously On…
“An affecting story and a compelling mystery, Unread [is] among the podcast highlights of the year . . . A poignant journey . . . Deeply moving.” —Ammar Kalia, The Guardian
“A wild tale of self reflection and investigation . . . [Unread] is a journey of mental health and mystery with a rewarding surprise ending.” —Mara Davis, Paste Magazine

“An incredibly moving story about grief, mental health, friendship and finding community . . . It’ll be one of the best podcasts you listen to this year — and one that sticks with you for even longer.” —Áine Ryan, 9Honey Australia

“Death always has and always will be hard to understand, but perhaps it is even more so now in the digital age, where people leave traces of themselves electronically more than ever. The new podcast Unread is a beautiful real-life exploration of such an idea . . . A touching and sometimes devastating podcast about suicide – so it goes without saying that this comes with a major trigger warning. Listen with care, but if you’re up for it, I’m sure you’ll find it as moving and healing as I did.” —George Fenwick, Stuff New Zealand

“A heartbreaking show about losing a friend and trying to pick up the pieces, with a strange twist about Britney Spears.” —Ann Friedman, The Ann Friedman Weekly
“So riveting and ultimately heartrending that I had to listen to the final episode twice . . . Truly beautiful.” —Garrett Schlichte, them
“One of the most original podcasts this year.” —Buro (Serbia)
“While Unread was born out of Stedman’s grief and curiosity about the files Alex sent him, it turns into much more than that . . . A podcast for our times that’s at once heartbreaking and hopeful.” —Chris Hanna, Yahoo Canada
“The beautiful and fascinating podcast Unread is both a titillating internet mystery that involves the pop icon Britney Spears and an insightful and curious elegy for a friend who took his own life.

Unread is one of those stories and listening experiences that is difficult to represent. It sounds flat when it is so full, so much like navel-gazing when it is deeply relevant. Unread is at the same time a narrow, personal story of the narrator Chris Stedman’s loss of a beloved friend, and a broad view of the phenomenons of suicide, loneliness, and internet culture . . .  No spoilers, but a vehement recommendation. ☆☆☆☆☆” —Eva Eistrup, Politiken (Denmark)
“One of the most beautiful podcasts (perhaps the most beautiful) we’ve heard this year. Unread is a real gem in four episodes . . . With meticulous research, Stedman stitches together the pieces of his friend’s hidden digital life and returns a portrait full of love and respect. Unread is the deepest story of a friendship, but it’s not just that. It also explores the political meaning, in a broad sense, of mental health, of how the marginalization of those suffering from mental illness is a systematic fact in our society. In short, it is a mine of thoughts and richness. And there is also a lot of Britney. A true masterpiece.” —Sara Poma, The Podbuster (Italy)
“Will stare right into the heart of every millennial who lived and loved online . . . Unread is a story about grief and friendship and fandom and the multitudes we contain both in real life and online. Recommended.” —Ashley Lusk, The Bello Collective
“A beautiful four-part series about friendship, loss and misfits.” —Anne Moraal, NRC (Netherlands)
“A moving ode to friendship, internet culture and misfits . . . The #FreeBritney movement was started by its fans. Unread proves that they are at least as interesting as their idol.” —Max De Moor, De Standaard (Belgium)
Unread is about working through mental illness, coping with grief, and finding your people on the internet – all weaved together by a Britney Spears stan mystery. Somehow it works and I loved every minute of it!” —CBC Podcast Playlist, Pick of the Week