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Radio Free Burrito Episode 44: The Cecil Hotel

wil, · Categories: Books, Music, Television, Uncategorized

RFB LogoIt’s a Halloween episode, sort of, with a spooky, creepy, weird story that gets really dark by the end.

Here’s your embed:

And here’s a direct link to 044-RFB.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

67 Responses to “Radio Free Burrito Episode 44: The Cecil Hotel”

  1. Dave Crocker says:

    Hello Wil,
    just catching up by listening to older episodes and wanted to share a website for you to check out. TONS of free music (techno) under Creative Commons.

  2. ellen says:

    Good episode. A tragic story, indeed. I really appreciated the reflection and encouragement you share afterward, as well as the story and your telling of it. It mattered to me.

    More generally, this podcast is my favorite among your projects…experimental, not, and full episodes. I don’t comment much online but I’m overdue in telling you that.

    I could go on, but I’ll just say thanks, and I look forward to the next one.

  3. Teri says:

    “It went viral in the US and in China, where it received 3 million views and more than 40,000 comments in the first 10 days.”
    You said Canada the article says China although I’m certain it was also a big deal in the Canada.

    I liked this. It was interesting and I think you did a good job.

    As a person who recently lost someone who graduated high school with her (I wouldn’t necessarily call him a friend, we ran in different social circles him being a popular and me being a nerd) to suicide I appreciate the “you are never alone even when you feel your most lonely” sentiment. That is very important to remind people.

  4. Christian says:

    Ummm, Wil, Obvious man has a rank, and that rank is captain? He didn’t go through years at the obvious academy to be called man. 😛 Just kidding of course. That was mesmerising, well done.

  5. Kelly says:

    I loved this episode. The music was evocative and well suited to the truly tragic story of this lost woman. If you are wondering if this episode of RFB mattered and was compelling, the answer from me is an unqualified, enormous YES. I am also most appreciative of your kind and thoughtful comments at the end. We all need to be reminded of our worth in this world. Thank you for making this.

  6. Jeanne M Besaw says:

    Thank you for this! I am utterly speechless, which friends will tell you never, ever happens…The themes of loss, depression, murder and suicide are all sadly the horrific theme of my life. While I have no comfort in my own tale. Your open sharing of a dark tale strangely comforting…
    You, too are loved.

  7. Dave Diamond says:

    Wil, this was great. My wife and I really enjoyed the story you read – you did a fantastic job producing it as well as reading it! Funny story, right after we listened, my wife was on Pinterest and saw this picture. Made us LOL.

  8. Laura says:

    I really liked this. Although, I have to admit, I had to pause it on my way home. The darkness got to me when I was walking home in the dark empty streets on a calm Sunday night.

    It was well done in every aspect and you should definitely do more of episodes like this, when you have time.
    Thank you for this.

  9. Rob c says:

    Love this episode. Please do more story telling.

  10. Great job Wil Wheaton, I enjoy everything you write. Your podcast is amazing especially this Halloween special. I have to say the first American horror story was good I watched it with my wife as well. We too have lost interest. Have you watched mr Robot?

  11. Tokind says:

    Thanks for this interesting and well produced episode Wil.

  12. Gary says:

    Hi Will,

    I just listened to this on a flight to Singapore. When you are trapped in a metal tube for a few hours and are trying to drown out the screaming kids, I find podcasts to be the best medicine.

    I became so engrossed in this particular one. For a start, the writing is amazing and I can see why it originally caught your eye. But your performance is what stood out to me. You delivered the piece with such sincerity and clarity. As others have mentioned, the personal stories and opinions you shared at the end really completed what was an emotional hour and a half.

    I have always respected you for honesty regarding mental health, and have you have helped me immensely with my own personal anxiety and panic attacks.

    Please keep up your amazing work and sharing it with the world (and for making flights tolerable and borderline enjoyable ).

    We appreciate it.

  13. Chris says:

    wow, I was expecting something light and fun but thanks Wil and Josh, for reminding us about the tragedy within the mystery!

  14. Frans says:

    Please do this more often. You’re one of the best story readers I ever heard, so just pick something interesting and read it to us.

    I must admit, from the title I expected this to be about you staying in a hotel with the voice of Nightvale.

  15. Adam says:

    Wil, this was a fantastic episode, very well done! You obviously put a lot of hard work in to producing this. I really love this idea and hope you get an opportunity to do something like this again at some point in the future.

  16. ben says:

    Enjoyed the episode. Different from some of your podcasts, but I think thats nice.
    You can pick and choose what you want, so the diversity is good.

  17. Tom says:

    I listened to this episode today at work – I usually don’t like commenting on things like this, and I really hope I don’t come off as sounding like a brown-nosing fanboy, but WOW. The story caught my attention from the opening and kept my headphones glued in my ears until the end. The story was incredibly powerful on many levels, and I really felt like I was sharing the author’s emotional journey about Elisa. I am a fan of Radio Free Burrito, but this has been – without a doubt – my absolute favorite episode. Your delivery and production were top notch, Wil. By the end of the episode, I really just felt drained. Thanks very much for making an hour at work fly by. I hope you decide to do more episodes like this in the future, because you are an excellent storyteller/narrator. The reflection after the story really hit home with me as someone who both deals with (mild) depression, and who has lost/almost lost people close t me to suicide.

  18. Chris says:

    Fantastic episode. Not just the story but your reflections afterwards. Thank you and please do more. More of this, more tales of your adventures in the world, more poop jokes and bell-ringing. More Radio Free Burrito.

  19. Robert says:

    Wil – Thank you for this podcast – very interesting, I love both this podcast and your audiobooks – fantastic. You mentioned another podcast in the episode, I’d re-listen but… do you mind letting me know the name?

  20. Khador says:

    Wil, again a brilliant and dark podcast with a beautiful nugget of truth, please keep making as these are some of the best podcasts I listen too

  21. Matt says:

    Great episode Wil!

  22. Just_J says:

    Damn, dude. Nice. This is the first Radio Free Burrito to which I have listened. Awesome first dose, I guess, but I think maybe the bar has gotten set pretty high. Will listen to others, now, though. Thank you!
    Oh, and I get depressed a lot, too, but I am not nearly as sick as this poor girl clearly was. If I thought there was such a thing as God, I suppose I would thank Him for that. But I don’t, so I guess I will just count myself lucky…

  23. Earfuel says:

    I had neither heard of this case, nor do I watch AHS, but I was absolutely enthralled by the way you presented this. The pacing, the tone and the audio in the background was wonderfully done!

    Your closing comments were spot on, and I really appreciate you putting this one together. Stepping out of the comfort zone was a home run!

  24. Megz says:

    This is definitely worth the money, Wil. Is there still a place to feed the burrito? I’m happy to kick in a few bucks toward licensing fees. As long as you’re enjoying making this, you’ll have an audience.

    Congrats on a successful full episode, format experiment, and yet another moving performance. Well done.

  25. Parallax2099 says:

    Great job, Wil! Thank you for sharing Josh’s article and Elisa’s story.

    I’m a longtime RFB subscriber and look forward to mores episodes after you engagement on Powers. I think it’s great that after you resigned yourself to turn away from Hollywood that this part found you.

    Keep creating!

  26. Chris Hopkinson says:

    Hey, Wil.

    I really enjoyed that. I listen to a lot of podcasts at work (along with music). It helps break up the monotony of my office job. That was really mesmerizing. I feel like I should be giving you money…like in a patreon or something. 😉

    I imagine you don’t because you have some many other things on the hook and it would be another strain on your time.

    Anyway, loved this episode.

  27. Andrew Martin says:

    Long time fan, recently started listening to this podcast after hearing you on the Nerdist podcast. Your ability for telling stories is incredible and I have enjoyed the past few times where you have read this or your own creative writings (referencing the meteor shower). With very little effort on my end I can say it is well worth it. Do what you do and I’ll keep listening.

  28. Seth Moland-Kovash says:

    This is indeed a tragic story. And somehow the weird voyeuristic nature of the story and the search allows us to SEE the tragedy. So often we look past one another’s pain. We look past our own pain. Interesting. I’ll mull this one a long time.

  29. Richard says:

    Just wanted to drop you a quick comment and say “Thank you” for the time and effort that went into this episode. I hope that all goes well for Blizzcon and Powers, and look forward to hearing from you again when time permits. (Even if that turns out to be the “worst case scenario” where I get to both hear and see you when the next season of TableTop or TitansGrave hits our screens. :-))

  30. Megan P. says:

    Hey Wil,

    Thanks for posting this RFB, for sharing this story. It’s one of those things I kinda needed right now, since I struggle with many of the things she and you and others do.

    I’ve missed RFB, and I really hope you continue doing them. While I love all your other work – TableTop, Titansgrave, your acting stuff, etc – but RFB will always be my favorite, because there’s something rare and awesome and even beautiful about just…. talking, yknow? Sharing stories, sharing geeky things, sharing odd bits of music, and especially sharing thoughts like those you shared at the end of this. I miss these. Thank you.

  31. Jess says:

    I just finished the episode. I am sitting outside a hospital waiting for my spouse of 17 years to be out of (not scary but still a thing ) surgery. I am knitting for my niece, who is in a hospital far away in a sedation coma waiting for her body to heal after she was struck by a bastard about 3 weeks ago. And I got to listen to this podcast. It felt like you were talking just to me at the end. <3 Thank you.

  32. Tim says:

    I feel pretty much the same way about Gotham as you do about American Horror Story: The Cecil Hotel. Gotham has WONDERFUL actors and so much to work with, but they seem to go after the shock and gore rather than story. I keep giving it chances because Penguin’s Umbrella during the first season was such a great episode, so I know they have potential. Anyone else feel the same?

  33. Jessica Willson says:

    Goddamn it Wil, this was captivating. You’re like a curator of awesome. I absolutely love the way you tell a story, even one that’s not in your own words. More of this please! Actually scree that, more of whatever it is your pretty little heart thinks is worthwhile. I’ve yet to disagree. Thanks for making stuff. I like it when you make stuff:)

  34. Rob says:

    Super episode.
    Bravo to the original author for writing it.
    Bravo to you for reading it.
    Nuff ced

  35. Eric says:

    Wil, terrific episode of RFB. I thought it was well produced and very compelling.

    I also really liked your interview on the Mission Log Podcast. Your insights into TNG were very interesting. I thought you very eloquently explained your experiences and perspective on the show.

  36. Louise says:

    Hey, I really liked this episode. It made me think of LORE podcast, and I immediately went and listened to four episodes of that.

  37. Alex says:

    Thanks for the sharing that amazing story. Very tragic but still a great story and now has me looking more into the story. Thanks again.

  38. Andi says:

    Thank you for sharing this story. I read about the case before on the Internet but never really got hocked. But the way you presented and read the story took my on a emotional ride from fascination to marvel and back to a little bit of sadness.

  39. Carl says:

    Personally, I think you did a fantastic job with using music to layer the mood. Also, your delivery was spot-on. It’s a great piece to begin with, and your rendition of it really helped make it more vibrant.

  40. Nellie says:

    Kudos to Josh Dean for the story and to you for reading it. Back when the story broke, I was disturbed to see so many people jumping all over it with ghoulish fervor or worse, using it for their own self-promotion. It’s human nature to be fascinated by mysterious deaths, but it seemed disrespectful for her death to be turned into such a freak show. I truly appreciate you taking the time to humanize Elisa and to present her death as the tragedy that it truly was.

    • Carl says:

      Excellent points, Nellie. That, too, was something missing from all the other reporting, this wish by Josh Dean to make her a person, and understand her as something more than this macabre story.

  41. Jessica says:

    This was so well done, excellent job all around. From the original piece by Josh, to your narration and selection of music…so captivating. It pays great homage to some of my favorite podcasts, and I would love to hear you do more of this. Understandably it’s A LOT of work, but I hope you have time/inclination again. Thank you!

  42. Stephen says:

    I really really enjoyed this episode! Thank you so much!

  43. Bejon says:

    This was kind of wonderful. While this reading was a little bit out of my normal reading genres, I found the story compelling and thought provoking. I also appreciated the emotions you interjected during and following the reading. Thank you for sharing this tale.

  44. David says:

    Great episode. Very good underlying article, and your reading of it was an excellent balance–neither monotonous nor intruding on the text. Your postscript was itself a good piece of writing. I would enjoy more like this. (I’m a listener who isn’t very interested in video games, comics, etc.)

  45. Gwen says:

    Horrifying that Josh Dean published a completely unredacted version of the autopsy report without family consent. That’s legal in California but was it really justified? Couldn’t he just have quoted from it? I thought that was gratuitous and I feel bad for her family.

  46. Stanley says:

    This was an amazing episode of the podcast. I would be very interested in you doing things like this in the future for special occasions.

  47. Paul Whitsett says:

    Thank you for this wonderful episode. Getting something of this qualify for free is a treat indeed! The story of Elisa Lam is everything you said: spooky, sad, weirdly voyeuristic but I think you nailed if with your words at the end. Good luck at Blizzcon! I’ve got my virtual ticket ready and can’t wait to see what you have created for us!

  48. Dave Mackie says:

    Hi Wil,
    Just wanted to stop by and let you know how much I enjoyed this edition of RFB. The story was fantastic, I loved your performance and all the extras you added in – totally had a “serial” feel to it. I hope you do something like that again.

  49. Karen says:

    I loved this episode! I am going to check out the other podcasts you suggested. Thanks for your comments and discussions.

  50. Stacie says:

    This episode was spectacular. I was very excited when you said that you were going to read something that fit into the Halloween ambiance, and then slightly disappointed that it wasn’t some horror fiction that I assumed it would be. Disappointment quickly faded as you read. I remember when this happened, and had seen the video – one version of it, anyway. I’m saddened for her family that she was found the way she was, and that they don’t know exactly what happened to her. Your reading of Josh’s account was mesmerizing, and the addition of the music made for a haunting listen. Thank you for all the effort that went into this episode!

  51. Jason Cooley says:

    Hi Wil,

    Just listened to the “Cecil Hotel” episode. I’m not sure the word entertaining is appropriate given the subject matter, but suffice it to say I found it riveting. Thanks for sharing that article and the story. For what its worth, my respects go out to the Lamb family for their loss.

    Keep ’em comin’ sir!

  52. Joe says:

    Great, thought provoking podcast. More like this would be great.

  53. Mike says:

    Wow. I’ve read the story for myself several times, but having it read aloud with the music and spooky effects was chilling. I got goosebumps.

  54. Jaye says:

    I really loved this. Please read all the stories. Wait… I’ll get a blanket and some cocoa. Ok.. go!

  55. Johan Björn says:

    Happy anniversary bro!!
    Love the burrito! Keep up the great work!

  56. Collin Ziemer says:

    That was an amazing story (kudos to Josh Dean!) and very well read by you. I had a vague memory of the incident from when it happened. By the mid point of the story, I was ready to dive online and spend hours researching. By the end, while not satisfied, I felt like the story was complete and about all it could be. You and the author did a wonderful job. Thanks for the netcast!

  57. patricia ann perkowski says:

    wonderful story telling.

  58. Long time fan, just getting around to listening to the podcast. I’m also a huge fan of Serial, Night Vale, Black Tapes, The Message…. so I found this episode really fantastic. Very well done! I also hear that you killed it at Blizzcon – no surprise to me at all. Wish I could’ve been there!

  59. JD says:

    Well done. Great story, with wonderful reflection for context. Thank you. Totally worth the time, effort and $. Please continue the not-RFB, as you are able!

  60. Vanessa Pacheco says:

    I have been listening to RFB since the beginning, and reading your posts at since the beginning, but I have never posted a response or sent an email. Maybe it is because, as is typical of someone with depression, I never felt that I had anything to say that would matter to anyone but me.

    But this episode touched me so deeply that I felt compelled to respond. Had there been an Internet in 1990, I would likely have posted very similar things to Elisa Lam. It took me 9 years to get a diagnosis, but in retrospect, it is quite obvious that I, too, was suffering debilitating depression at 21 as well. I know now that my depression is why I ended up taking a couple of semesters off, and flunking out of one in college. In some ways, it was a miracle that I graduated, albeit 2 1/2 years late.

    Both Elisa Lam’s story and your commentary at the end were exactly what I needed to hear. Sometimes, despite otherwise being a logical and intelligent human being, we need a reminder that we are loved and needed. In isolation, it can be too easy to focus on our failures. Your comments are a great reminder that we are not in this alone, even if it can seem like it in your darkest moments.

  61. Russell Wright says:

    This was a very powerful episode for me. I have had friends who have struggled with various mental health issues, and even experienced loss of friends via suicide. The story was tragic, but your coda was poignant. Thank you for sharing it.

  62. Al Everett says:

    Thank you for this driveway moment. Sat in my car in the cold for 30 minutes because I had to listen to the end.

  63. Kris says:

    This was an amazing episode. The story was so tragic, but I’m glad to have heard it. And when you said “you are not alone”, that spoke to my heart. I know how hard it must be to put yourself out there sometimes, but it means a lot to those of us who also struggle. If some one as amazing as you can talk about mental health issues (both personal and others), then it makes it just that little bit more ok, both for me personally and for everyone. Thank you!

  64. Ronald says:

    Hey Wil,

    I’m a new listener and just listen to this epsiode. I’m from the Netherlands and this story wasn’t known to me (and probably many more Europeans). Funny fact is that when i hear you say that this “horror” story was about a hotel on Main St. LA I was really spooked because i stayed at The Stay on Main in June while i was visiting E3 and suddenly remembered the sign Cecil Hotel.

    Probably wouldn’t have stayed there if i heard this story a few months earlier.

    Thank you for the great podcast.

  65. Maggie says:

    Really loved this episode!