Uluç Ülgen invites total strangers to his home for intimate one-on-one conversations.
With the possible exception of certain work-from-home professionals whose clients are disposed, for one reason or another, to assume reclining positions, Uluç Ülgen has likely invited more strangers into his apartment than any other resident of New York City. Ülgen, originally from Turkey, is the founder, host, and producer of mürmur, a podcast he records in his one-bedroom Manhattan rental. To find guests, he hangs flyers from phone poles with his name, phone number, and address beside an open invitation.
Unless it appears at the beginning of a sentence, the m in mürmur goes uncapitalized, a convention that reflects Ülgen’s egalitarian worldview. The podcast, which has aired 170 episodes since February 2015, has no topical theme. In fact, Ülgen actively discourages visitors from having anything particular in mind to talk about when they show up. In April 2015, a man named Sean Walker told Ülgen about his path from the honor roll to homelessness. A few weeks later, Jordan Theodore stopped by to talk about the year he spent watching a thousand movies. Another time, a woman named Flo remembered giving birth alone during the 2003 blackout.
In the popular tradition of eccentric endeavors, the podcast was conceived during a dark period in its creator’s life. Relatively new to New York, Ülgen had become frustrated. He had failed to bring longstanding musical ambitions to fruition and felt unlucky in love. Reflecting that in his bleakest moments—lacking food, money, or shelter—he’d often been helped along by people he barely knew, he resolved to create a platform that would facilitate meaningful interactions between strangers. Read More