Monday, 3 February 2014

Podcasting : Audio Broadcasting For The Online Generation.

Yes I know, Podcasting has been around for years and I am probably late to the party when it comes to extolling the virtues of this medium, but I wont let that stop me!

I work as a mobile engineer for a water hygiene company which means a lot of driving around the UK to various different places and about 4000 miles per month of travelling. That's a lot of miles and a lot of time to listen to shitty UK radio stations and generally get bored out of your tiny little mind. that was until I discovered podcasts. I have had an iPhone for the majority of the last 5 years but it was only early last year I discovered podcasts while trying to find something else to do once Chris Moyles left Radio 1 and left me with absolutely nothing on UK radio that I wanted to listen to.

The first ever podcast I discovered was The Nerdist Podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick (Talking Dead, MTV and a long stand up comedy career) along with his good friends and fellow comedians Matt Mira and Jonah Ray. The Nerdist guys have been podcasting for years and I had a massive back catalogue to listen to and as the name suggests all their guests were people I was interested in hearing about from members of the cast from Star Trek: TNG (Wil Wheaton is a close personal friend of Hardwick) to Hollywood A-list celebs, to genuinely amazing people such as Mike Massimino and Chris Hadfield.

I have whiled away many hundreds of miles listening to the Nerdist crew talking to people that I had heard of and as many people I hadn’t heard of too, the thing that kept me listening was their easy relaxed style of interview. In all fairness interview isn’t the right term for what the Nerdist podcast is all about, its a conversation. The conversations I have listened to made me feel in some strange way part of the group, I have arrived home from work feeling like I had actually sat and had conversations with these people not just listened to them on an interview.

This is something that podcasting can give that commercial radio never could, to be able to dedicate an hour to one person (or group of people) and have an in depth conversation with them, to find out where they come from, what they like what they do and why they do it. Commercial radio is about songs per hour and hitting target demographics and not pissing off somebody with weak sensibilities, about marketing revenues and providing up to the minute news and weather reports, and that is as it should be, its commercial venture and I understand that but it still sucks.

It was through the Nerdist podcast I first heard Kevin Smith. I had heard of Kevin Smith from various indie films such as Clerks and Mallrats but never really paid him much mind, never looked into him or his life, but the episode of Nerdist in which he appeared changed all that. I liked the way he spoke, his own brand of smart humour and jarring self honesty had me hooked and I wanted to hear more from this guy, who has walked amongst the giants of the film making world but is the first to admit he is just a small fish in a very big pond.

Kevin Smith has carved out his own ever expanding podcast empire which started out with SModcast, in which Kevin and his long time friend and film producer Scott Mosier in which they talked, just like friends do, they chat shit about the things they love, movies, books, comics, superheroes and anything else that caught their attention. This podcast grew from a small thing with an audience based around Smiths own "Askewniverse" (a name derived from his website and bulletin board based around his production company View Askew) to an acclaimed podcast empire that hosts content that not only Smith himself takes part in, but a whole family of podcasts made by his friends and people he has put his faith in to create content under the SModCast brand. The only prerequisite he expects from the podcasters is commitment.

From humble beginnings to his own small 50 seat podcast theatre he named The SModCastle to selling out the Brea Improv in California for the last 20 weeks with his Hollywood Babble On live podcast hosted with California K-ROQ Radio's Ralph Garman, It just goes to show that from small seeds mighty oaks grow, and it doesn’t take massive business smarts, just honesty, perseverance and consistency. Nothing frustrates me more than waiting all week for the newest episode of my favourite podcast and finding out that there is no show this week for one reason or another, but hey, its free and I really cant complain.

And that brings me to my final point. THEY ARE FREE! It makes me giggle to just say it, beyond the equipment required to download and listen to them and a few adverts in each podcast (which can be easily skipped) they are free!

Have fun people!

Chris.