Episode 72: Podcast Saga Part 25 - The Next wave of Indies


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            Temptation is everywhere…. I say that because yes, I did see that Vulture article about audio fiction shows that defined the genre. And yes I have thoughts about it. Thoughts that could fit into the Podcast Saga had I not just announced its… not-exactly end. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but I’m not all that active on Twitter anymore because that platform for me on a good day is a colossal time suck. And I don’t really have much time to spare. We’re not even going to talk about the bad days. I’m just going to leave it at this: it’s just a complicated relationship, so I come and go as need be. But I did see this article. And it reminded me of more shows that I love that I could comment on. Shows that I had considered commenting on, but I had to make the difficult decision of setting aside those topics for now just so I could keep this show’s momentum. Well, the production momentum. I can’t really control how you feel about the show.

            But I am going to hold firm to my original plan. I have to. I have already done a fair bit the prep work for some topics from other mediums, and I’m pretty excited for them and for this show to be a bit less of a hot mess. So… slight revision to the plan with some clarifications. Podcast episodes are going to be a monthly guarantee from here on out, but they will be the only type of guarantee. Books, movies, television shows, etc, all those things are still going to come and go. It will be like a surprise every week except for the podcast week.

            But other than that, the plan continues as normal. So this will be last episode of the podcast saga for a while. It turns out that this “while” will be a month, but between now and then, I’m taking next week off in hopes that I’m not going to be so at the mercy of the highs and lows of my daily life. I mean, that’s only going to give me a bit of a buffer, but it’s better than what I’m dealing with now. Which might be in a negative in terms of a buffer. I’m not going to think too much about that now.

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            What I am going to think about and what I did want to talk about this week is—essentially—the pulling podcasting is experiencing. Or the growing pains it’s experiencing. Or the labor pains. I don’t know. I was genuinely looking for a good metaphor to put in there, but I never found the right one. But that was based on a particularly bold assumption I think. Because now I don’t think this sort of thing could have ever been classified or sorted so easily.

            And I’m talking about the future of podcasting. This new horizon it could potentially be on, and the serious ramifications of that shift.

            Certainly you’ve noticed, right? Podcasting is being portrayed or is seen as the next media frontier—a place full of opportunities for commercial success and growth—and established voices are now flooding the figurative market. I say “figurative” because this is not the next gold rush. As in, there is no physical we are all pursuing. It can be hard to break even on podcast production, never mind make a profit. But then again, a celebrity might bring to the table a certain amount of prestige that a streaming platform would love to cash in on or invest in with some exclusive content deal.

            This goes beyond Luminary, if your mind went there. Spotify has done it too. But even when we aren’t talking about exclusive content deals, let’s say someone with an established following were to post segments or the entire episode with video of their podcast on YouTube, well now there’s ad sense. Or even basic advertisements in their content is a completely different game because, even if a podcast platform didn’t want to lock down an exclusive deal, other brands will. And from that desire comes more potential advertisers, probably a bigger catalog than any indie podcaster could hope to see. Which would then side step the issue of advertisement fatigue that then escalates into a disconnect between the podcast production and the podcast consumer.

            You can see what I’m getting at, right? There are advantages to an established voice (quote) cashing in on this trend, which has been noticed and will continue to bring people in. And what will that mean?

            I’m not going to pretend that I know what this will all entails or that I have the sort of expertise necessary to make definitive statements or trustworthy one, but personally, I don’t necessarily think that something so entrenched or so fundamental to the understanding of a medium can be changed so easily. As long as other indie podcasts can rise up, that scene will hold its ground. Casual listeners might find it harder to break into our world but not necessarily. I would say that for an audience member would just change form. Rather than persuading someone that podcasts are worthy of their time, it will be a conversation to try to get them to try a specific show from a content creator they’ve never heard about. It will more closely resemble pitching television or movies to your friends. Rather than trying to get them to download a podcatcher in the first

            And as a way of further emphasizing that there is still a place for new indie podcasts, I’m going to talk about some today. One that had its debut on the International Podcast Month RSS feed and some others that have a couple episodes, or at least one episode, under their belts.

            Including the new Miscellany Media Show.

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            Hi. It’s M. Welcome to Episode 72.

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            So I’m going to go ahead and start with the new Miscellany Media Studios show. I mean, it might make it easier for you to skip if you are not interested. But why I think it is important in an episode like this is that, well, this particular audio fiction show genuinely cannot exist in another medium. It’s podcasting or nothing.

            But basically, Aishi Online is the second audio fiction show for Miscellany Media Studios, and it was launched in September on a biweekly schedule. It’s the story of the voice actor from Oracle of Dusk who—after she finds she can’t maintain something as simple as an in-character Twitter account—starts to careful consider her relationship with the digital world. A major part of which was the online friend she made in an obscure forum attached to a just as obscure game.

            The basic premise of this is that MJ can finally tell her story… Well, it’s meant to play with reality a bit, though. And that’s only possible if MJ can have an internet presence again in which she has to struggle to create a proper sense of divide, and perhaps more importantly, MJ needs to have access to a medium she can post to completely unfiltered. Believe me when I say that if MJ had to face any sort of scrutiny, the story she tells couldn’t be told. There are a pretty critical details that someone else would have caught if anyone else was involved.

            It’s like found footage. Actually, no it really isn’t. It’s also an investigation that doesn’t have to answer to anyone. Okay, even that description doesn’t quite feel right. It’s a podcast: a person telling their own story that might not find its place anywhere else. Reasons for such aside.

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            Okay, with that out of the way. Second is the podcast that has yet to launch, and its called Y2K. It’s slated to launch in January 2020. However, it did release a prologue for the International Podcast Month RSS Feed.

            If you are too young to remember, Y2K as a concept was this big freak out that happened during the new year when 1999 became 2000. So Y is year and 2k refers to 2000. The year two thousand. While I’m cutting out a lot of nuance, I know that’s not a great thing to do, there was this fear that computers couldn’t handle the turn of the century and would completely crash. That this new era, this new turnover was going to mark the end of our civilization as we knew it. Because yes, we were already fairly dependent on technology back then.

            While it is definitely too soon to tell, the Y2K podcast seems to be capturing this idea. Jess and Kat, two friends who live in the year 2000 are on the verge of a major shift in their lives beyond the new millenia. And that is, they will now living across an ocean and will be dependent on voicemails to most effectively communicate. While they seem fairly optimistic in the trailers and in the debut episode that this will work, there is still a lingering fear that this could actually be some sort of more definitive end to their friendship and not just a new chapter.

            As an additional layer, their stories are being brought to us by Olivia, a present-day or 2020 day student who is turning these voicemails into a podcast. And while we haven’t seen or heard too much of her yet, it seems like making this podcast is her major shift. Which… as someone who makes podcasts is an accurate way of imagining what it can feel like.

            I’m trying to make comments on limited information, and I recognize that this is not a wise thing to do, but okay, as a listener, I know that Y2K already has a website. So I went  to it, and the description of the show there reads that it is a story about love, identity, and long distance friendship, which grounds what this alleged shift is going to be about. These things are just as critical to the self as computers were to life in 1999. And still today.

            So the clock hands have turned over, but we are going to listen to the reckoning unfold.

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            There is a great Twitter feed that helped me find this next show. The feed is called Audio Drama Debut for those who might have 48 hours of content in their backlog but still want to find new audio dramas…. I feel called out, and I’m the one who said it.

            But there’s this podcast that just launched this week called Dart. It’s about grief, fear, and life in the gig economy. The gig in this case is the app called Dart, a food delivery app where someone else darts to the store to get your burrito, pizza, or veggie burger. Whatever you can’t get for yourself because, let’s say, you’re sick in bed, you’re behind in your work, you were editing a podcast and now your cats have somewhat pinned you to your chair. Wait, it doesn’t work for that last one because then you have to get up to get the delivery, so that’s not a great solution.

            Regardless, anchored in this story is the modern way some people provide for themselves, so it is a modern story for a very modern medium. You can make whatever jokes you want about every millennial having a podcast, but this is our home, and we will put our feet on the furniture if we want. As in, we took this concept and ran with it. We’ll tell whatever stories we want, thank you very much.

            At this point, it’s hard to say where exactly this is going to go, but I feel a momentum there, albeit not a very explicit one. It’s in the character and the character of the story, like including a panic attack in a darker situation. Like, uncertain, dark. I almost wish I hadn’t discovered the show so soon because it feels like it has a binge worthy appeal to it. And the Twitter bio promises some paranormal elements to this microfiction. So yeah...

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            Speaking of bingeable shows, Disenchanted has two episodes out, which is a little better for binging. I wish it was more. Again. Its main character, Lyra, whose audio diary we are listening too inherits this old house from her father out in the country. Where, hey, no neighbors to deal with so audio blog to your hearts’ content, but you know… Neighbors can at least feel like deterrents to certain problems. But other ones can happen no matter where you all. Life gives and take

            And Lyra is trying to seize this new opportunity gives. But it’s not going to come without its drawbacks. And we the audience happily get to be along for the ride. Put happily in quotes.

            In terms of the title, I can’t tell yet how much “disenchanted” is about disillusionment or the paranormal shenanigans that just seem inevitable when you’re isolated without neighbors. I’m sorry, but I don’t hear about ghosts in new apartments whispering NSYNC lyrics into the night. There’s a time and place for these things is all I’m saying.

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            The final podcast I want to discuss is Radioland, a show that has already had a pretty respectable run: its RSS feed having five episodes after a September launch.

            The story is that of the radio in the community of Wendell, a community that Gabe Rodriguez now finds himself in. He has also found that nothing makes a great deal of sense, even if everyone else seems to think it does. And sure, cultural relativity and all that, but it quickly becomes apparent that these differences are actually deeply concerning in a more objective sense.

            It’s just not something people are going to immediately realize. Because it will still feels like their normal. And they are constantly hearing both about it and that it is their normal. They have this feeling constantly being affirmed. So it is easy to understand why they are so steadfast in their belief that this is truly normal. And that’s a pretty critical detail.


            Radioland is, among other things, about our relationship with the media we consume. It is a window into the world outside of own head… Actually no. Scratch that. It’s more like the series of windows we have that looks out beyond the world of our immediate circle, beyond the world that bore us and tries to shape us. These windows help us lay out the larger land we could wander around in if we so choose to do so. And also shows why we might chose to do so. It also shows us the various opportunities available to us, thing to do and be. And as apart of all of that, it can confirm or dispute the statements we were told about the rest of that world, our families, and ourselves.

            And while sometimes it can be difficult to admit that we’ve come to believe lies, it can be very much necessary.

            And I think one of the major strengths of Radioland is not just that it argues this, but that the entire show has this spooky, surreal quality to it. It is acknowledging that feel and that discomfort. It essentially meets the listener where they might be.

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            This has been a production of Miscellany Media Studios with music from the Sounds like an Earful music supply. Thank you for listening. If you like what you heard, considering leaving a review or buying us a Ko-Fi. All those links are in the description.

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