Internet | July 14, 2022 6:33 am

Review: “Mailin’ It” Is USPS’s Official Podcast and It’s Bizarrely Bland

Propaganda with a random side of legitimately interesting mail trivia, delivered to your ears biweekly — but why?

A desktop microphone and a US Postal Service hat
"Mailin' It" is an official government podcast and its mere existence is unusual
Getty/Postal Uniforms Direct

“Join us for a fun look at your United States Postal Service.”

First thought: No. Also, how? 

Mailin’ It — a strangely punny title for the official USPS podcast that’s not nearly as hilarious as the greatest podcast moniker of all-time, Who Charted? — seems to have developed a modest following in its ten months on the air. It’s currently the eighth most popular program on Apple Podcasts in the “Government” section, just behind Fever Dreams by The Daily Beast and ahead of Macroaggresions by Charlie Robinson. 

Reviews have been less kind: The show currently has a 3.6/5 rating on Apple and features several one-star reviews, with most of the attacks on current Postmaster General and occasional Mailin’ It! guest Louis DeJoy. 

The biweekly show, now 20+ episodes in, is hosted by Yasmin DiGiulio and Dale Parsan, who both have full-time jobs at the USPS Office of Strategic Planning — so don’t worry about “our taxpayer dollars are going toward this!” Given their daytime roles, the duo certainly have no incentive to ask tough questions, but they do sound genuinely inquisitive. Even if the back-and-forth can be a bit scripted, I believe the two very much enjoy their jobs and wish we loved the USPS as much as they do.

“Our goal is to help you better understand the vital yet overlooked the Postal Service plays in keeping us connected,” DiGiulio says in the trailer for the first episode. Whee? 

Besides the lack of confrontation, what most harms Mailin’ It is the overall sameness — there’s an intro, a bit of generic island pop music that’s bright and inoffensive, a 20+ minute chat with somebody connected to the USPS (ladies and gentleman, Mary Anderson, Executive Director of International Postal Affairs!), and then a “Did You Know?” trivia section that is by far the most interesting and concise part of the podcast — no, I didn’t know postal office clerks once wore roller skates in an effort to save time. Legitimately fascinating! Would love to see this absurd detail thrown into some period piece screwball comedy. Oh, mail carriers have to be careful about everything from bears to bees to wild turkeys? Tell me more, Linda DeCarlo of the Corporate Safety Office. 

Still, why does this show exist? I’m not sure even the USPS knows what to do with this 27-32 minutes of biweekly self-promotion. I’ve seen Mailin’ It advertised on those daily email digests that tell me what mail is arriving — however, it’s hard to find on the postal service’s actual website. You have to click on the “newsroom” page, which then features a link to a dedicated page for the podcast.

For every seemingly innocuous episode (“Stamps, an American Obsession”) that probably would have worked better as a four-minute NPR segment, we get a few troublesome moments — particularly, the two episodes featuring DeJoy. To the hosts’ credit, in-between the “tell us about this exciting new Postal Service initiative” form of leading questions, they do touch on the controversy about the USPS aggressively slowing down first-class mail and removing letter-sorting machines, which would impact mail-in ballots. 

While DeJoy answered defensively but in a manner I’d describe more as “pragmatic evil” (he even complimented bipartisan support for recent bills helping out the USPS), he received no pushback or serious follow-up because, well, his employees are asking the questions. Having someone on from outside the service — perhaps a former postmaster general or agency watchdog or journalist — would have helped here. And the hosts seem congenial enough that they could have allowed for modest debate. [Side note: I will 100% support Mailin’ It if they can somehow convince me what passes for post offices here in New York is the best USPS can offer.]

In the end, maybe the Postal Service wins here: I might not agree with DeJoy, but he came across as a not necessarily nefarious person who has a real plan — perhaps flawed — to help his agency. 

One one-star review of the podcast compared Mailin’ It to Pravda, the old Russian propaganda broadsheet. While lacking that scope of power, my opinion of the USPS and its leadership has probably changed a little bit for the better after listening (admittedly kind of in the background) to a few episodes. As annoying as aspects of the USPS can be, here the post office did their job.