If you’ve been feeling alone and adrift since Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar advice column ended in 2012, you're about to be very, very happy. “Sugar” is back, now with a new Dear Sugar podcast on WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate.
Dear Sugar started on The Rumpus , with author Steve Almond (Candyfreak, Against Football) penning advice as “Sugar” — a smart, no-nonsense woman who helped people through heartbreak, job loss, and everything in between. Almond actually based Sugar on his friend Strayed to a certain degree, and when he was thinking of moving on, Strayed stepped into Sugar’s shoes, and the popular column became a cult hit.
Strayed’s style of advice was called “radical empathy,” and she relayed stories from her own life in an effort to connect with and help her readers. In one column from 2011, someone called “Wearing Thin” wrote in about their finances and their struggle with student loans. “I’m waving to you from the shores of 43 and the months are peeling away. It’s looking extremely likely that I’ll still be paying off my student loans when I’m 44,” wrote Sugar/Strayed.
Strayed’s mix of empathy and honesty earned Dear Sugar a huge following. Her book Tiny Beautiful Things is a compilation of the best of Dear Sugar, and she left the column in 2012 when it was announced that her memoir Wild was going to be turned into a movie (and it’s an amazing film — run out and see it if you haven’t yet).
“I left the ‘Dear Sugar’ column in a way that always felt like I was going on hiatus instead of quitting,” Strayed said following this week’s announcement that both she and Steve Almond are back as Sugar, on WBUR. They’ll be disbursing that radical empathy for the “lost, lonely and heartsick,” and you can listen to the pilot Dear Sugar episode online now. New episodes start up in January 2015, so you can snuggle up to your radio/laptop/iPhone and get ready for some radical empathy.