#Trypod: What is a podcast and why should I try it?

Today is the last day of March and the last day of the #trypod campaign, encouraging people who’ve never listened to a podcast before to give it a try.

What is a podcast?

Now, for those who don’t know, a podcast is essentially a serialized audio recording that you can download and/or stream online for free. Podcasts harken back to the days when radio dramas were popular and people would be glued to their radio each night, waiting to hear the next installment. The highpoint of these radio dramas was of course Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds.

Podcasts these days come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. There are many that are works of entertaining fiction covering just about every genre. And there are also many nonfiction podcasts featuring interviews and biographies and news discussions, also covering all the nonfiction categories.

How do you listen to a podcast?

The great thing about podcasts right now is that they’re really popular, which is good news, because it means they’re really easy to get access to and listen to, whether it’s on your laptop/desktop or your phone. Also they’re all free .

If you have an iPhone or use iTunes a lot, there’s a specific podcasts section where you can find pretty much every podcast in existence just by searching for it in the search bar. Click on the podcast logo and you’ll see the page with info about the podcast and all the episodes available so far. Click on “Get” with each episode and they’ll all be downloaded for you, and you’ll want to make sure you start with the first episode. Also, if you like the podcast be sure to click on “Follow” and that way new episodes will automatically be downloaded for you.

If you’re an Android user or don’t use iTunes, the best free program to go with is Podbean. There are a number of other podcast programs that people like including SoundCloud, Google Play, Overcast, Player FM and Otto Radio to name a few. Podbean is simple to use and definitely very user friendly. You can download the app for free on your phone or go to the Podbean site on your computer. Just plug in the name of the podcast and just like with iTunes, you can click to download specific episodes, and again be sure to follow to get new episodes automatically downloaded for you.

What do I listen to?

I got really into podcasts about a year and a half ago. I read a ton of audiobooks with my job, and decided to branch out to podcasts. I started with the wacky podcast which has become a massive international success called Welcome to Night Vale.  I am currently subscribed to 12 podcasts: Welcome to Night Vale, Tanis, Black Tapes, Rabbits, A Scottish Podcast, The Bridge, The Bright Sessions, Small Town Horror, The Box, Mabel, ars Paradoxica, and my own podcast, Ostium.

I’ve also recently gotten way into science podcasts and enjoy: Science Friday, The Guardian’s Science Weekly, Anthropod, StarTalk, Orbital Path, BBC World Service Space, Audio News from Archaeologica, Nature Podcast, BBC Inside Science, Science Talk, and because I’m a San Francisco Giants fan, The Giants Insider Podcast.

What I really like about the Podbean app is that it automatically downloads all the new episodes to all the podcasts I’m subscribed to and I can listen to them all in a row without having to do anything other than hit play. You can even create your own playlists of specific episodes if you want.

Why should I listen to a podcast?

So to sum up: why a podcast? If you like audiobooks and find you have lots of time when you’re driving or could be listening to something, the sheer variety of podcasts out there now is just staggering. The subjects that are covered practically guarantee you’ll find something interesting. Also there’s some incredible fictional writing out there and some great drama being recorded that’s just really entertaining, like an addictive book or engrossing movie.

What is Ostium?

Ostium is a podcast I write and create and record with some friends. It’s about a man who discovers a hidden town in Northern California where there are many doors leading to different worlds. You can find out more about it on the Ostium website, or by searching for Ostium on iTunes, Podbean, or any of those other podcast apps I mentioned.

On Serial Box: Episodic Writing: The Golden Era of Podcasts

Writing a podcast is very different from writing a novel or short story, in fact I believe it’s more akin to writing for a TV series, but can’t confidently say since I have yet to be hired on to write the next episode of Game of Thrones. The big difference with this type of writing is that it’s episodic: you’re writing shorter pieces in each episode for a longer overarching story. You might think, well, this is pretty similar to writing a novel with individual chapters each telling a part of the longer story of the book. And yes, there are some similarities, but when you’re working on a novel you usually have a deadline in mind many months or sometimes even a year or more down the road. When it comes to a podcast, especially an ongoing one, the deadlines are a lot more . . . oncoming and perhaps seemingly never ending.

[read the rest of the article on Serial Box]

Listen to the Sound of My Voice

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After winning a $100 Apple gift card from the great people at Blaze Entertainment, I faced a weighty decision as to what to do with said gift card. The choices were numerous and intoxicating: I could buy myself music, apps, headphones or earphones, portable speakers . . . but it didn’t take me long to think back on how I won this special gift.

I followed Blaze Entertainment on Twitter as a fellow podcaster and I was interested in their work and supporting them and learning from them. When they Tweeted about their giveaway, I automatically entered figuring it was worth a shot and then was both shocked and surprised when I found out I won.

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Therefore it was only logical and correct to use this gift card to help improve my podcast and then I found this awesome Microphone for $99 that was USB compatible, and considering the last Apple device I had was an iPod many, many years ago, this seemed fated in some ways. And now that I am possesion of this mic, the sound quality of my recordings have drastically improved and there are many features to this device that I have yet to learn about.

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So today’s lessons are:

  • Listen to and support podcasts
  • Fellow podcasters listen to and support each other
  • Help yourself become better at what you do
  • Follow Blaze Entertainment on Twitter.

“Mostly Void, Partially Stars” & “The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper Perennial, 2016)

 

Go here to enter the Welcome to Night Vale giveaway

For perhaps the first time in history a couple of books have been created, written and brought together for every single conceivable type of fan, but you’ll have to read to the end of this review to find out exactly how. I am talking of Mostly Void, Partially Stars and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe that collect all the episodes for season one (the former) and season two (the latter) of one of the most popular podcast shows in history. I am talking, of course, about Welcome to Night Vale, which features an astonishing number of followers and avid listeners, a bestselling novel (with the same title as the show), and a cast that seems to be continually on tour playing to sold-out shows across the globe, while still recording new episodes and releasing them every two weeks.

The last book I had that collected all the episodes for an entire season was for The X-Files, but as addictive as those books were each time they came out before the airing of the new season, the Welcome to Night Vale collections are just as addictive and perhaps more important, for they feature more material. In addition to the complete scripts for every episode of the season, there is bonus material, such as some awesome illustrations that sometimes relate to the current episode being read and sometimes not. The reader can choose to study the image and forget about the haunting soullessness of say the Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD!) and lose themselves in the detail of the shocking artwork, or perhaps be terrified by the graphic detail of the illustrations that they immediately go back to reading the script.

Mostly Void, Partially Stars features an introduction by bestselling author and awesome tech-nerd (Boing Boing) Cory Doctorow. A contents list for each episode, providing handy referencing. As well as the script for the live show “Condos.” The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe features an introduction by author and Night Vale contributor Maureen Johnson, as well as the bonus script to the live show “The Debate.” Both volumes feature a piece from the creator of all the awesome music for Welcome to Night Vale, Disparition, as well as all the artists featured on “the weather” segment of the podcast. The other really awesome thing about both books is that they feature intros to each episode. The majority are written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, while others are written by Cecil Baldwin (the voice of Night Vale) and many of the other cast members, guest stars and guest writers for the podcast. The intros provide a back story, a history and/or an insight into a specific episode, or just an entertaining anecdote.

Good you’ve made it this far. So if you’re reading this it means you are familiar in some way to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and you may be wondering (though if you’ve read this review fully I don’t really see how) how these books will benefit you. Well, you will likely satisfy one of the categories listed below which each, in turn, explain why you need these crucial Night Vale volumes.

1) You’re a die hard fan of Welcome to Night Vale: You’ve listened to every episode multiple times, you’ve been to many live shows, and you know everything there is to know about the characters. But sometimes you don’t have the option of listening to a particular episode or remembering a particular phrase from the middle of an obscure episode. These books are the tools to accomplish this. You can find that episode and read that phrase in an instant!

2) You’re kind of a fan of the show but haven’t heard everything: So you missed a few episodes here and there, especially in the first couple of seasons. No problem. Just start with Mostly Void, Partially Stars and you can find those “lost episodes” and read them in less than five minutes and get all caught up.

3) This is the first time you’re hearing of Welcome to Night Vale: Firstly, welcome. You’ve made the right choice. Secondly, you now have the option of listening to many many hours of this awesome show, but that takes a lot of time you might not have, especially if you heard the Night Vale cast is coming to a city near you next week and your friend just bought you a ticket and you need to get caught up fast! Well, these two volumes can be digested in record time and then you’ll have a fruitful lexicon for seasons one and two of the show. However, I’d recommend listening to the first episode or two, no, not to boost their download numbers, Night Vale has already broken a lot of records in that regard, but to acclimate yourself to the show and to familiarize you with the deep, baritonally-comforting emanances of the shows narrator, one Cecil Palmer. After that you’ll be able to read each episode from the book with his wondrous voice solidly fixed in your head, equal to a narration by Morgan Freeman or Sir David Attenborough. Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the wonder that is Welcome to Night Vale.

Originally written on September 5, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To help support BookBanter and purchase a copy of Mostly Void, Partially Stars click HERE; to purchase a copy of The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe click HERE.

If You Like The X-Files . . .

. . . You’re probably not too happy that the short six-episode season is now over and who knows if there will ever be more X-Files – though everyone seems gung ho for more –  so you have this massive entertainment void that needs to be filled now and you may be wondering where to turn to next.

How about you check out some podcasts.

The four podcasts recommended below all have a supernatural/paranormal feel that definitely make the listener think of The X-Files and all are produced with such high quality that one actually feels like they might be listening to an audio version of the TV show.

And they’re all free to download and listen through their respective websites and/or iTunes.

They’re also pretty terrifying.

A message that was heard from space 70 years ago is decoded and strange things start to happen.

Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again. In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more, “What happened to the people of Limetown?”

The Black Tapes is a weekly podcast from Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale, and is hosted by Alex Reagan. The Black Tapes is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.

Join the inimitable Night Vale Community Radio host Cecil Palmer as he gives you the very strange goings on in the most unique town of Night Vale.

“Infected” by Scott Sigler (Crown, 2008)

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Scott Sigler is a special, new kind of writer to join the publishing world; one might even call him an author of the twenty-first century.  He wanted to bring his work to the people of the world, for free.  He began on March, 2005, by podcasting his book Earthcore a bit at a time, with continuous updates.  Earthcore was branded as “the world’s first podcast-only novel,” and Sigler started off with three listeners; at the end he had over ten thousand subscribers.  He followed this with Ancestor, Infection, and The Rookie, and currently has over thirty thousands subscribers.  And now, with a big name publisher, Sigler brings Infected to the people of the world in book form (a free version is also available on podcast).

In Infected, something is seriously wrong with the world.  Something is making people crazy, crazy to the point where they are driven to kill others, their family, and then to horribly mutilate themselves, finally taking their own lives.  The government is trying its best to keep this whole thing a secret, and at the same time trying to find out what’s making people do this and find a solution as fast as possible.  CDC is working non-stop, the big problem is once they get to one of the bodies of these “special” people, the rate of decomposition is so rapid that they don’t have enough time to perform autopsies and fully examine the bodies before they are left with nothing more than a black murky puddle.

Sigler has done his research, giving the novel a classic Michael Crichton feel, going into the science and the biology as members of the CDC try to find out what sort of “infection” is making people kill others, and more importantly how contagious it is.  While there is a lot of “head jumping” from various characters that can leave the reader a little disoriented, and the writing at times seems to need some editing, with the flow being disjointed; Sigler clearly has a unique voice in Infected that will only get better with successive books.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on March 29th, 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.