By BRENNEN KAUFFMAN
of the Post Register
IDAHO FALLS — The second season of an Idaho Falls native’s podcast moves from the mysteries of the Pacific Northwest woods to the unknowns of outer space.
Laura Krantz graduated from Idaho Falls High School and still visits the area regularly to see her family. One of her distant relative’s passion for proving Bigfoot was real became the basis for the first season of “Wild Thing” in 2018, where the reporter and former National Public Radio editor tried to unpack why there was so much fascination with the creature’s potential existence.
Grover Krantz, a Bigfoot expert who taught at Washington State University, was her grandfather’s cousin. She never met him, according to an article by Vox.
Her show was listed as a standout podcast of the year by the Atlantic and Vox. The second season, subtitled “Space Invaders,” shifts the focus to the broader topic of the unknowns of possible alien life. Krantz said she was nervous the choice of topic would keep her stereotyped in “National Enquirer territory,” but she felt drawn to the stories about aliens that came up while working on the first season.
“I think at the heart of both of those is curiosity and wanting to know what’s out there, in the wilderness or in the universe,” Krantz said.
One of the key stories that sparked her interest was in October 2017, when an observatory in Hawaii noticed a small but unusual object passing through the solar system. The item, later given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua, was the first confirmed interstellar arrival into the solar system and quickly drew speculation that it could be an extraterrestrial vessel because of the way it traveled.
Krantz opens the first episode of the second season, which debuted Sept. 17, with the discovery of that object. While the history of possible extraterrestrial life dates back to the alleged incidents at Roswell and even longer in sci-fi novels, she wanted to give the audience the same experience she had when first hearing that story.
“That story about ‘Oumuamua was so weird and interesting and surprising to me, that in all the time looking at the stars we hadn’t seen an interstellar object,” Krantz said.
The questions about the existence of life outside of Earth were wider-ranging and more scientifically grounded than her Bigfoot story. One of the missions for NASA’s Perseverance rover that was launched this summer was to look for signs of organic life in Martian soil.
Future episodes of the show include interviews with Frank Drake, creator of the Drake Equation used to determine the likeliness of other life existing in the universe, Sen. Harry Reid speaking about government funding for UFO programs and a science fiction professor talking about the history of fictional aliens.