Look, I love true crime podcasts as much as the next Gen Xer who grew up in the Pacific Northwest where the evergreen trees whisper Gary Ridgway, Robert Lee Yates, and Ted Bundy's names. But as the world gets increasingly overwhelming, so can the constant stream of murder. Comedy podcasts can be an entertaining alternative, but I don't always want to completely ignore the hellscape burning outside. (I have Love Is Blind for that.) And political podcasts? These days, for me, most go one of two ways: Too wonky or too depressing. 

Forgive me for going full Goldilocks, but Text Me Back, KUOW's newish podcast hosted by the hilarious Lindy West and her democracy policy expert BFF Meagan Hatcher-Mays, is juuuust right.

West and Hatcher-Mays have been best friends since high school and each episode feels like you're listening in on their hilarious, relatable phone conversations. They touch on everything from current headlines and political news to adolescent inside jokes and weird pockets of pop culture from the '80s and '90s.

For example, have I ever seen the 1998 made-for-TV movie Big and Hairy starring Richard Thomas? No. But when West and Hatcher-Mays shared a decades-long mystery about the film in an early episode, which was then solved in a following episode by a surprise appearance from THE SCREENWRITER OF THE MOVIE HIMSELF, I found myself invested in every second of the ride.

They rank the members of the Supreme Court, do a deep dive on The Lord of the Rings, debate whether or not Chris Pratt is funny, laugh at Trump's obsession with sharks, and take internet retailers to task for delivering packages after midnight. (Who does that? Of course it's going to get stolen!) The pair have also started bringing in the occasional special guest, including tech journalist Taylor Lorenz and Dave Matthews's #1 fan Samantha Irby. 

It's smart, and at times delightfully irreverent, and it's a lovely reminder to call your best friends sometime.

Ahead of their first live episode—tonight at Town Hall!—I spoke to West and Hatcher-Mays over Zoom about mysteries, the secret to a flourishing friendship, and how they manage to maintain the magical balance between comedy and current events in this soul-crushing and not-at-all-hilarious hellscape we're all trapped in.

How long have you guys been friends? When did you meet? 

Lindy: Just under the wire, we were probably seventeen. Senior year of high school, which was a great tragedy for us that we wasted the first three years of high school not being friends for inexplicable reasons. Our paths did not cross.

Meagan: I feel like [laughs]—I was gonna say, I feel like I never saw you at a party. 

Lindy: Yeah, you sure didn’t! No one ever invited me to one! 

Meagan: Let's be honest, would you have attended? Also no. It's not like we were enemies or whatever, we just never really met, which is weird, because we had half a dozen really good friends in common. It wasn't until senior year that we met in the gym. A mutual friend was like “Oh, do you guys know each other?” And I was like “No, is that weird?”

Were you like “Let’s do a podcast together in 2024?”

Meagan: [Laughs] Kind of! When we met that day in the gym, I don’t remember what it was but Lindy said something that just scratched that itch in my brain, like made some reference to Conan O'Brien or something. And I was like "You watch that? I watch that! Where have you been my whole life? Let's be best friends." And then we really were. There was no ramping up to the closeness. It was just immediate best friendship, immediate marathon hanging out sessions. Driving around in Lindy's Volvo and buying hot sandwiches from QFC and just screaming at the loudest possible pitch.

Lindy: And pink cookies from 7-11.

Meagan: And those Totino’s pizzas? Ugh, so good. But we really did used to be like "When we have our radio show we're going to talk about that." Or "When we have a radio show, we're going to talk about this." And actually, some of the things we said then, I think we have in fact brought to the show. 

I think the idea of soulmate best friends or platonic love being as dynamite and as much a connection as romantic love gets underplayed and understated. Do you have any advice on the secrets of a long, flourishing friendship?

Lindy: It was really easy when we lived in the same city. It gets harder and harder as you get older and you get married and you have jobs. Meagan lives in Washington DC. I feel like we would go long periods without talking to each other, but luckily the best friendship energy never died. All of a sudden we would just start texting again and be like “Oh, hey, my dog fell in a sinkhole and disappeared and I have to go to the center of the earth to rescue him, will you come with me?" [Laughs]

Meagan: Yeah, absolutely [laughs]. I’m trying to decide how serious I want to be with this. It really is like some sort of love at first sight when you meet somebody who becomes your best friend or soulmate in some way, whether platonic or romantic. And it really did feel like that with Lindy. There's something about this friendship that is very, very special because I think, for me, there's something so valuable about having a friend where you don't have to explain what you mean all the time. We have so much in common and she always understands what I'm talking about. Even though we have had those periods of not talking as much. And again, sorry to overstep if this is too serious, but that's my advice. We have talked about that. [We've asked each other] "Is that okay? That we sometimes go three or four months without talking?" Last summer we talked about it and we both were like “I don’t like that. I miss you.” When we were younger it was easy, but as you get older, you really have to keep recommitting to your friendship with that person. 

Lindy: It was actually really cute. We had Feelings Talk and we were like "Let’s recommit," and then I went to DC and we went to George Washington’s house and we went to the Guy Fieri restaurant and had trash can nachos.

Getting into the tone of the podcast, it really is just you guys being friends and inviting people into that friendship in a really lovely, relatable way. Obviously, the political climate, the media landscape, our society is in a very dark place. We are at the beginning of an election year, and shit is only going to get worse. Did you consider that when pulling together the idea of Text Me Back? Were you like “We need to help people calm the fuck down and remember to laugh and remember to love their friends.”

Lindy: That’s actually a good question and I don’t exactly know the answer because I feel like maybe we would have different answers, Meagan. I was just thinking about this because of some comment we got that was like “It’s so therapeutic to tune in to something that is just two people laughing and being positive and silly.” I specifically didn’t want to make something that was just like “Let’s laugh! The world is so scary! Let’s tune it out and have a good time!” We consciously acknowledge politics are happening. I think we do provide that little bit of escapism, but we’re not pretending that it's not happening. I personally believe it’s really important for people to stay, if you can, to stay in a positive place and a place of hope and connection. I started out wanting to make a "haha" podcast with my friend and talk about politics sometimes but the point was to be funny. I didn't know it would be a balm for people in that way. 

Meagan: I don’t know if that’s totally true, I think we both were like "We want it to be a comfort listen, we want it to be cozy," and I think our podcast has a very strong pro-cozy stance. But we didn’t want it to be apolitical because that’s actually not possible. It’s not possible for anything to be apolitical and we didn’t want to be ignorant of the reality of what is going on. It's not like the podcast exists in a different universe where nothing bad happens. It's just that the goal of the podcast is, very selfishly, it's an outlet for me. My day job was working on voting rights and democracy and the Supreme Court and its hideous effects on our lives, and I don't necessarily want to spend my downtime doing that. We initially conceived the podcast as being a little bit more political—I think the original thought was like "Oh, well, Meagan's a DC swamp person, she can give context about what's going on in DC, what's going on in politics, and then Lindy will bring joke stories and that will be like the balance." And then as we started recording some of the initial segments, it was like “You know, the best part of the show is just when you and me are talking.” Unfortunately, KUOW agreed with us [laughs]. So it really became more about our relationship, but it's not like our relationship is apolitical and it's not like our relationship exists outside of the reality that we're all living through. But also, when we were sitting in Lindy’s basement thinking about what our radio show is gonna be in 20 years, it was like "We have got to talk about ghosts."

I want to talk about unsolved mysteries. If there could be one unsolved mystery or conspiracy theory that you could see either solved or confirmed in your lifetime, which would it be? 

Meagan: I don't know if you guys know about this one. It's this woman from North Carolina named Leah Roberts, who had read On the Road and had got this, like, wanderlust to go on a road trip through the United States. [She] didn't really tell her family where she was going, but packed up her all her stuff and her cat into and drove all the way to Bellingham, Washington, and was never seen again. There was maybe a sighting of her at the Bellis Fair Mall, which is wild because that is where I used to go spend money I did not have when I went to college. That's where I saw the first Harry Potter in 2001. They found her car in the woods, but the way they found it was so weird. It was like somebody had driven it, but there was no sign of her. The way they found the car, the location of the car, it kind of suggests foul play, but there's no evidence. It is so crazy. It was the sort of twilight period between phones and no cell phones. She went missing I think in 2000. Someone has to tell me what happened to this girl. I think about her constantly because I was in Bellingham for school like six months after she disappeared and I feel the seed was planted in my mind as an 18-year-old and has grown into a full tree of confusion. I have to know what happened! 

Lindy: Sorry, this is cliche and pedestrian but JonBenét. I gotta know. I feel like when it was happening, I tuned it out because I didn't like the child pageant stuff, I didn’t know how to engage with it, and my brain kind of shut down. And then watching that documentary that came out a few years ago, with the brother and the pineapple. I gotta know! I can’t believe we don’t know! 

Meagan: I totally agree. Do I believe in an afterlife? No. But if there is one I would like that to be the question. "Welcome to heaven, you get one mystery solved."

Lindy: Could you imagine? In heaven if there’s like a library that has the answers to every unsolved mystery? Could you imagine the line of angels at the library trying to get in? You’d have to wait all day.

Lindy West and Meagan Hatcher-Mays will host a live episode of Text Me Back at Town Hall Friday, March 15. Tickets are (surprisingly!) still available here.