The After Disaster Broadcast

(CW: The After Disaster Broadcast is set in the US following a supervolcano eruption. Episode show notes contain content warnings; and this post contains discussions about the aftermath of the volcanic eruption and life in a post-apocalyptic world throughout, as well as discussion about menstruation in paragraph six.)

The After Disaster Broadcast is a post-apocalyptic comedy by J.J. Ranvier, which is told through ham radio broadcasts. Jo Prendergast was the host of a radio show called Weird Like Me before the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted, and her radio skills come in handy as she tries to navigate the new world she finds herself in.

In episode one we find Jo, hiding away in a cabin in her uncle’s bunker, deep in the woods.  Her uncle was a prepper, and the bunker is stocked with enough food and water to last her a long time. And, there’s also a ham radio in the bunker. After some initial…trouble with the radio, she begins broadcasting, desperately looking for other survivors, worried that she’s the only one left. The volcano erupting has had a devastating effect on the world, leading to night-time darkness at 3pm, and what looks like snow (spoilers, it’s ash) falling in June.

Part-way through the first episode, Jo is discovered by Jee-Hyun and Scout, two absolutely badass women who come across the cabin, on their way to Chicago – which also happens to be where Jo’s from. She’d been living in New York before the eruption, and her uncle had let her stay with him when things started to go bad. This is when Jo has to decide between going to Chicago with Jee-Hyun and Scout – not only heading out into the unknown, but also heading towards the direction of the volcano – and staying in the bunker all on her own, talking into the void via the ham radio. What eventually makes her go ‘fark it’ and decide to leave is when a huge amount of birds start flying through the sky all in the same direction, some breaking through the cabin’s windows and hurtling through the house. She asks Jee-Hyun and Scout if she can go with them, and they agree.

Loooh-cation update… After three days collecting supplies (Jo wasn’t reluctant to leave, no not at all), their long walk to Chicago begins. Jo, of course, brings the wind-up ham radio with her, too. They follow the road, and the first strange thing they come across is what looks to be an abandoned college.

Along the way, they meet other survivors. Some are friendly, others…very much not. Of course, being set after a world-ending event, the show has a dark backdrop, but Jo has a talent of finding a comedic way of looking at things. This is also reflected in the language she uses – Jo has the need to not swear ingrained into her from her days as a radio host, and finds very amusing ways of avoiding saying actual swear words during her ham radio broadcasts. There are also some absolutely absurd situations the group finds themselves in – and so have to find a way out of – in order to continue their journey.

One thing I love about The After Disaster Broadcast is the focus on how living in a post-apocalyptic world could be for a lot of folks with uteruses. As I’ve mentioned several times before, I’ve been a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories in any kind of media for years, and I find The After Disaster Broadcast so refreshing in many ways, as it deals with issues that many other post-apocalyptic stories in any kind of media don’t even touch. The topic of menstruation comes up early on in the show, in episode four, titled The Road to Aunt Flo. It turns out that the three women don’t have any period products, there weren’t any in the cabin. Unfortunately, they’re now in the middle of nowhere when their desperate hunt to find anything suitable begins. 

The After Disaster Broadcast is also wonderfully queer. Jo is a literal disaster bi, and, no spoilers, she’s far from the only LGBTQIA+ character in the story. Outside of fiction podcasts, it’s something I haven’t seen that often in other post-apocalyptic stories – or at least, not with this amount of representation. It’s very much a post-apocalypse featuring characters which traditionally have been ignored or overlooked in this setting, which is one of the reasons I love it so much.

The After Disaster Broadcast has been on hiatus since March 2020, and while I very much hope that it’ll return, I completely understand the reasons for a break. The last few episodes before 2020 hit also deal with illness and physical disability, and I would recommend reading the content warnings in the show notes.

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