For decades, consumers have been trying to control the way they get their entertainment. From cassette tapes, recorded at just the right time, to burning CDs with the latest MP3 download, to those VHS tapes littered with artifacts and distortions from recording dozens of episodes of our favorite shows on the same tape, we did everything we could to hold onto our favorite things.
Nowadays, we don’t even bother to own a CD or even a DVD anymore, with streaming services meeting the needs of anyone looking for that song that’s stuck in their head or that movie they hadn’t seen since they were a kid. We have the internet to thank for this. And with the internet, not only have we found new ways to consume our media, but we have new mediums as well, which is exciting for anyone who was looking to get their voice heard. One such medium is the podcast.
Despite podcasting being over twelve years old, it’s still a form of media that’s still new to a lot of people. It is often described as internet radio, which is somewhat true. There are plenty of podcasts with DJs who play music, give the news, and share a slice of life like traditional talk radio. The only difference is, is that anyone can do it, and that’s a great thing.
It can seem intimidating at first, with many podcasts hosted by well-known comedians, actors, scientists, and social media influencers. From my time creating podcasts, I learned one important thing. If you love what you’re talking about, an audience will follow. There is someone out there who wants to hear what you have to say, no matter what it is. Are you a struggling artist? Talk about your process, what you love about the craft, and who inspires you. You will find someone who relates to you and is interested in what you have to say.
Podcasting is a tool that is just reaching its potential. Many use it as a platform to share their love of a fandom, or share stories, and ideas, but it can be used for so much more. I used to work for a small family run business that did podcasts to promote their company. They would do skits with a comedian and impersonator that were creative, fun, and informative. Other companies like Sephora and General Electric have used podcasting in creative ways to promote their products and company. The one rule for making a branded podcast is not to make it a commercial. Make it imaginative and light-hearted and people will come.
But let’s take a step back and talk about how I got into podcasting, and why I continue to do it eight years later. During a difficult time in my life, when I was homeless and living in my car, I needed a means to keep my mind busy. I listened to a lot of podcasts to stay informed and make me laugh. Just to name a few: Buzz Out Loud, the Frosty, Heidi, & Frank show, Kevin and Bean, and so many others I can’t remember. The fact that these folk, many of whom are professional broadcasters, encouraged me to do my own show. It was a form a therapy with everything that was going on in my life.
So I started my first podcast, called Geek Love Radio (a show title I didn’t know I was stealing from an older defunct podcast). I got myself a Blue Snowball mic and began to record my thoughts and feelings onto MP3. I wrote out scripts, to make sure I made sense, and I would spend hours recording myself, editing the audio on Audacity, every beginning sound editor’s friend, and hoping I didn’t sound like a complete fool.
I had a small, dedicated audience, who didn’t really interact with me, but from what I could tell, kept downloading the show every week. And every week, I’d wear my heart on my sleeve and prepared myself for the inevitable hate mail. Twenty episodes in, a listener sent in my first e-mail and I was elated. It came from a man in Ireland who was enjoying the show but felt that the one man format was a little stilted. I appreciated the constructive criticism and was open to his suggestion of getting a co-host on the show. He suggested himself.
I’m a sucker for Ireland. Been fascinated with the country since I was a child. Having a cohost from Ireland sounded like the best thing I could do. It made me international, which I thought would also bring in an international audience.
Dave the Drummer, from Ireland, soon joined my podcast, and I’ve been doing shows ever since. I tried to be unique with every show I created. I did one on nostalgia, one on un-pop culture, and some on fandoms. Podcasting gave me an outlet, and opened doors for me that I never knew were doors I could go through. I met new friends, guested on other podcasts and YouTube shows, and have been press at several local and not so local comic book conventions.
I used to discourage people from taking up podcasting. It’s a very saturated medium with plenty of people trying to find a way to cut through the noise. But so is music, and so is television, and every other version of entertainment out there. That should not be a reason to not let your voice be heard. Therefore, if you are at all interested in recording your voice, and putting it out there in a podcast, do it. Get a good mic, a quiet room, put in the legwork with your editing, talk about something you’re passionate about, and you will find people who want to listen to you.