Happy International Podcast Day, wherever you are on the globe. That’s both the beauty and misunderstanding of international podcasting day. It’s not only for people who podcast internationally, requiring you to be an international traveler or anything like that. No! It’s for podcasters of every nation. It’s a day for podcasters all over to celebrate the industry, chum around with other podcasters, and generally raise the awareness of podcasting. Hooray!
To that end, and to help illustrate that podcasting is not always a straight path, I’m going to break down the +17-year journey of one podcaster… me!
A Long Time Ago On A Scifi Podcast Far Away...
My official entrance to podcasting started in October of 2004 with The Dragon Page, a scifi-focused show that started life as an internet radio show back in 2002. But if you think that “radio” experience gave me a leg up with some amazing radio skills… you clearly haven’t listened to much internet radio.
That show was what I’ve termed “two dorks with microphones” because that’s what we were. Two dorks with microphones interviewing science fiction and fantasy authors.
Even though the exact details are hazy after so many years, our pivot to podcasting was certainly a catalyst to… well, everything else. My partner and I created a new show, Slice of Scif, to cover scifi movies, TV, and other non-book content. Instead of just doing a straight interview, we introduced the concept of segments to Slice, letting us break up the flow and even have some guest voices for some segments.
Right behind that, we launched Wingin’ It, which started as a geeky variety show but quickly morphed into a live weekly show with a dozen or more people on each recording. It was really more of a party in our recording studio, and it was my job to make sure the episode flowed nicely. Which was a challenge, since more often than not, the beer was flowing even more nicely. I’m very glad those episodes have been lost to time. Fun as it was!
Around that same time, we launched The Dragon Page With Class (I said Cover to Cover in the audio episode, but that was a mistake). I wasn’t the host of this show. Nor was I doing the editing. Instead, I was helping produce the show, which was focused on YA-books and hosted by two elementary school teachers. Teachers who just happened to be our wives.
With four podcasts under our purview and a lot of—for the time—buzz, we decide to start a scifi podcast network called Farpoint Media, opening it up to other scifi podcasters to join. At the time, FarPoint Media was the largest science fiction podcast network. But it was also the only science fiction podcast network. This was 2004-2005, after all.
Parallel Podcasting Projects
During the flurry of activity above, I decided that I wasn’t busy enough, I guess? Because I started two different projects with new people to stretch my podcasting wings.
Some of the authors I’d met had the idea of using their previously written books as the basis of a podcast. To help facilitate that, I started a company called Podiobooks.com to act as a sort of network and distribution point. That grew to some 700 titles, which taught me a lot about the business and operations side of running a large network.
And it was one of those same authors—Tee Morris—who asked for my help writing Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices For Dummies, arguably the worst book title ever. If you bought the first, thanks for the $0.85! If you bought the latter… you are part of a very exclusive club. (It didn’t sell very well. At all.)
I Can’t Take This Shit No Mo’
I parted ways with FarPoint Media in mid-2007. And while I was still very busy running the books-a-podcasts network AND holding down a day job running a digital advertising agency, I found I missed being behind the microphone. So I tried my hand at a couple of solo podcasting projects.
The first was called Cult Cast (yeah, not very imaginative) where I would write and deliver philosophical observations of the world around me in podcast form. What hubris. It was short-lived, but did help set some of the foundations for what would become Podcast Pontifications a decade later.
I also started an infrequent podcast that went by the pointless name Found Things. The show had no structure. No format. And no real reason to exist. In fact, I can’t even remember any of the topics I covered. No big loss.
Betting On The Wrong Trends
The financial collapse of 2008 left me with plenty of time on my hands and lots of smart friends of mine in a similar position. One of them, D. Patrick Lewis, suggested he and I start a podcast to cover all the latest happenings of the new smartphone platform that we were convinced would upend the market—the Palm Pre.
We were wrong. Like, really wrong.
But we did make a few episodes of Palm Fu before we both, along with the rest of the world, realized what a POS that phone was. But the show was pretty good, I think.
A few years later and deeply disgusted by the cesspool Facebook had become, I jumped into Google+ with both feet. I got in early, was a huge advocate, and nabbed a coveted ‘suggested follow’ status, which quickly gave me something like a million followers. So why no parley that “fame” into a new project?
I had started a sort of publishing company called ePublish Unum along with my best friend, Jeff Moriarity. We were looking for some sort of outlet to talk about how we saw the publishing industry changing, so we started a show called The Books & Beer Hangout. The world “hangout” is there because that was our live streaming and recording service of choice. Google Hangouts, a part of Google+. Yes, that was a terrible platform on which to build a show. But hey, I like to try new things.
This One Goes To Eleven
Between those horribly bad tech predictions, I realized I missed the fun feel of live, group podcasting. So along with my lovely wife, Sheila Dee, and a close friend of ours, Debbie Walker, I started a new studio-based podcast called Evo at 11. The show featured the more “forward” parts of my personality, with Sheila and Debbie calling me out on my nonsense. Also, because I really wanted to go back to just being the talent, I taught Debbie everything she needed to know about the technical bits of podcasting, from audio editing to publishing.
We did exactly 100 episodes until I pulled the plug. And the episodes. To protect the guilty as well as the innocent. Those more forward parts of my personality can be a little biting, and as with Wingin’ It years before, some cheap and easy jokes were too tempting for me. No, I’m not running for office anytime soon. But I also don’t feel the need to provide lasting evidence of my assholery for new people to stumble across.
Podcasting Through A Shared Midlife Crisis
Still running the book-focused podcast network, I was without a podcast of my own until late 2014 when Sheila and I decide to sell everything we owned to travel the world. True story. A true story we documented in a journalistic style podcast as we hopped the globe under the brand The Opportunistic Travelers.
I learned quite a few things making those podcasts. First, making a journalistic-style podcast means spending hours recording in the field. Then hours listening back to all that tape to find the good bits. Then hours again writing scripts and recording voice-over parts. And then more hours assembling the final episode… which comes out to around 7 finished minutes of audio.
Because of that time commitment and my constant desire to try new things, we changed the name, focus, and the format of the show just about every season. In theory, the show is still live. But it’s very much podfaded.
Our travels landed us living full time in Bangkok, Thailand, where I met long-time expat Greg Jorgenson. Over beers, he mentioned he used to host The Bangkok Podcast, but put the show on ice after his partner moved to a different country. Together, Greg and I relaunched the show and gave it a whole new look and feel. I co-hosted about 70 or so episodes of The Bangkok Podcast until I too left the country.
Bangkok is where my podcast consultancy, Simpler Media, was born. And it’s still what I do full-time today, providing strategic podcast consulting services to businesses to businesses large and small around the globe.
Podcasting Back In America
We moved back to The States in 2018, and it was only a few months later that I started Podcast Pontifications, the show you’re reading an article from right now. I also do some contract as-needed podcast hosting for a variety of podcasts for medical centers. I'm the editor for Sounds Profitable, the podcast ad tech newsletter. I also sit on the advisory board for Captivate.fm, Maps.fm, Scribl, and a few other companies with connections to the podcasting space.
Podcasting is very much what I do.
So much, that I probably missed a few things. I’m not one for keeping a diary, so I’m relying on my faulty memory for a lot of this. As you can see, my memory is a little full!
Bravo! Amen! Preach it Brotha!
Much thanks, Dave! Here’s to 17 more years!
My First International Trip in Next Week!
My very thick, very full passport will get another stamp in it this weekend when I arrive in Belize. It’ll be the first time traveling internationally since 2018, and we’re terribly excited. And nervous, because obvious reasons. But we’re fully vaccinated and will be spending most of the time outside on the beach.
But that does mean that I’ll not be producing new episodes next week. But I shall resume those on Monday the 11th of October with yet another Podcast Pontifications.