News Desk #1

w/e Sept. 16 2018

This Weeks Playlist

Mirrors Podcast

This week saw the launch of Mirrors, a brand new audio drama podcast from Zoom Doom Stories, creator of Spines. Starring Lucy Pearce (Passage), Sarah Hemmi, and Jamie Killen (author/ producer), with a special guest appearance from Sarah Rhea Werner (Girl In Space).

Mirrors is the story of one haunting told by three different people, over three different centuries, and will be released fortnightly so be sure to subscribe.

The Internet 3.0 podcast

I remember when I was a child my father brought home an Atari VCS. Almost every kid on my street came by to check out this new alien thing, and we’d play Space Invaders and Pac-Man all day. Then at school they started new classes called “Computer Studies” where we learned to program in Basic and Ceefax. I remember the launch of Windows (yes, I’m old lol) and floppy discs when they were floppy!

Since then things have moved on in leaps and bounds, to the point we are now talking about Internet 3.0 and how technology will shape the future. Now you can get your geek on with this amazing new podcast from Zac Valenti and Blockstack. Here you can find some great interviews with the movers and shakers that are shaping our technological future.

I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of listening to the as yet unreleased audio drama podcast ‘Who Killed Julie?’ in its entirety. I sent the critical feedback to the creators this week, so you can expect a review to grace these pages in the next couple of weeks.

If you have a new podcast that you want some feedback on, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


In The News

Panoply

Panoply to stop creating new podcasts

The big news this week has to be Panoply’s decision to stop developing new podcasts, and get rid of their editorial staff. Now the company will be focusing solely(?) on its hosting platform Megaphone.

This news came hand-in-hand with the news that Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor in chief of Slate Group (owners of Panoply), has decided to leave the company.

“After 22 years, there’s no good moment to leave, but you start to feel like it’s now or never if you’re ever going to”

The podcast world was notably confused, seeing as Panoply had just last week announced a slate of new podcasts at IAB Podcast Up Front.

 

Stitcher

Have you updated your website’s Stitcher logo yet?

What about the app on your iOS? (Don’t worry Android users, the app will soon be updated there.)

“Stitcher has a new look and feel. A bit more modern, a bit bolder. Representative of the continuing evolution of podcasting, yet still harkening back to our roots.”

Here are the Press releases from Stitcher and Midroll, their sister company.

Women are driving podcast growth

New research released this week suggests growth in podcast listening for women has increased by 20 percent to 5.5 hours a week [per unit if available?]. Car entertainment systems and smart speakers also see significant rises in podcast listening.

Read more here.

In Other News

Guardian to release new Daily News podcast

Twitter launch an audio only Periscope

iHeartMedia buys Stuff Media


This week’s articles

In A Word... Serenity

This week I asked Jamie Killen of Spines and Mirrors audio dramas to paint me a picture using just 1000 words.


If you are enjoying our content then please consider supporting it with a coffee, (it will stop me falling asleep at the keyboard at least). Click the image below to make a donation now.

Ko-Fi

In A Word… Serenity

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I’ve decided to challenge a few of my friends to see if they can paint the reader a picture in just one thousand words.

In A Word

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I’ve decided to challenge a few of my friends to see if they can paint the reader a picture in just one thousand words. The subject of this picture? A single word. An emotionally charged word full of subjectivity, giving plenty of scope for my guests to get their creative writing on. After all, isn’t that our job as writers? To pull the audience into a scene, and connect to them emotionally, to let them share in the beauty of our world?

Today’s guest is the wonderfully talented Jamie Killen, creator of audio drama podcast ‘Spines’, and brand new drama ‘Mirrors’, which releases tomorrow (September 12th). Jamie is also an author of speculative fiction. Her latest, ‘The Wandering Land’, is a beautifully told tale of five peoples adventure in a mysterious place of magic, and is currently a free read on Kindle Unlimited.

The word I have chosen for today is…


Serenity

/sɪˈrɛnɪti/

noun.

the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

“an oasis of serenity amidst the bustling city”


 

Serenity: you sit next to a bubbling stream, breathing in the clean smells of nature. Your thoughts are quiet and still, your worries far away. You stop worrying about the future, and you stop agonizing about the past. You close your eyes and feel the sun on your face, and for that one moment you are at peace.

Then you open your eyes, and you meet the gaze of the creature stalking you through the shadows, and that serenity is gone.

There’s a reason the oasis is the primary metaphor for serenity. What’s so special about an oasis? It’s just a pond and some palm trees, after all. There are more beautiful places than that all over the world.

No, it’s not what’s in the oasis itself. It’s what’s around the oasis that makes it special. Surrounded by parched, deadly desert, a lake and a few scrubby trees become the promised land. Serenity is special because it is surrounded by danger and trauma. And, just as you must leave the oasis and continue on your journey across the desert, you cannot remain in a state of serenity for long.

An oasis of unlimited size isn’t an oasis anymore. It’s a swamp.

Serenity’s beauty lies in its brevity. No one can live in a permanent state of serenity. Some might try, or claim to have achieved something like a state of perfect contentment. But to be truly serene, one must be free of fear and rage and worry. To be truly serene, one must be ill-equipped to survive for very long.

The serene person walking along a desert trail does not fear snakes, and so does not watch for them.

The serene person watching evil play out on the streets feels no rage, and so takes no action until the secret police show up at their door.

The serene person raising children does not worry about their future, and so does nothing to protect it.

Anger and terror keep us alive. Serenity doesn’t.

Serenity is temporary because it has to be, because a person cannot indefinitely exist unmoored from their past and future, from the dangers and love and everything else intruding on us.

This is what I think of when I think of serenity in my own life: It’s evening, and I’m standing in a quiet spot near the Thames. I’m listening to a street musician singing a Nina Simone song. It’s calm and beautiful and for the duration of that song I let myself be serene.

Why can’t I be like this forever?

Because the past and the future and the fucked-up present won’t allow it. For a brief moment I can feel serene, but that moment is bracketed by a past in which the city I stand on is soaked with blood and bombed from above. It’s made possible by the music of Nina Simone, a woman who fought to survive in Jim Crow America. I don’t know it yet, but this moment is already hurtling toward a darkness that will come years into my future, when my country begins its descent into authoritarian madness.

Oasis

Source: Freeimages.com

It’s not all the larger forces, either. I make a conscious decision to let the serenity shrivel and die, because once this song is over I have to walk back to my hotel by myself, and a woman walking alone at night does not have the luxury of serenity. Serenity is incompatible with the need to watch the shadows for men who hate women.

This isn’t to say that serenity is without merit. Serenity is an emotional vacation. It’s the mind unplugging. Serenity is the mind in a moment of stillness, when we are so accustomed to the mind in constant motion. A short period of serenity allows for reflection. It calms and consoles.

And when that anger and sadness and fear return, they are more focused. They are no longer a directionless hum. They have a purpose and a target. They are oriented around tasks to complete, problems that must be solved. Serenity has cleansed the palate, and you can move forward with clarity.

But still we seek the serenity. We meditate, a little longer each time. We take vacations. We seek to prolong the periods in which we can honestly describe ourselves as serene. Sometimes it can last for a while, but at some point, inevitably, you must leave the oasis.

But wait, you say, what about the serenity of Gandhi and Buddhist monks or Malala Yousafzai? Or our serene great leaders in fiction, Dumbledore and Yoda and Aslan? They seem so content, so tranquil. Haven’t they achieved a state of serenity?

No. They’re calm. They’re focused. They have purpose. That’s not serenity. That’s just managing the terror, not leaving it behind. They see the creatures in the dark. They see the blood and chaos. They know what’s out there.

Serenity can never last. It shouldn’t last. Serenity is special precisely because it is rare, and because it should be rare. Deep down, as much as we all long for serenity, as much as we cling to it when it comes, we all know this. A short period of serenity is beautiful. Indefinite serenity is an opium den. Permanent serenity is the grave.

Serenity is an island paradise surrounded by shark-infested waters.

Serenity is a cozy cottage with a wolf breathing against the door.

Serenity is an oasis in the midst of salt flats and blinding heat.

Serenity can never be more than this: a breath, a moment, a blink. The briefest respite from the things chasing you through the dark.

So take those moments. Take the flashes of serenity that you are lucky enough to receive. Sit by the stream, and close your eyes, and feel the sun on your face, and bask in your little moment of serenity. Get lost in that song for the four or five minutes that it lasts.

Then stand up, and face the shadows, and let the serenity slip away. The monsters are coming.


Mirrors Podcast

Don’t forget, Mirrors launches episode one tomorrow! You can check out the trailer now, or go and listen to all three seasons of the amazing Spines right now.

Don’t forget, most of Jamie’s work is offered to everyone for free, so please be sure to swing by her Patreon page and offer up a little support.

If you have a podcast, book, or other passion project you would like to promote here, then please contact me via email or even DM me over on Twitter.


Check out the next post in this series, ‘In A Word… War’ by Paul Sating, is a wonderfully moving poem.

Welcome To Podern Times

It feels very strange that I’m here again, especially as this is the first ever post from Podern Times, and yet it feels remarkably familiar. Like that favorite jumper you love to wear on those cold winter nights, curled up in front of the television watching Groundhog Day over and over and over, until you finally realise that you haven’t been watching Bill Murray repeat the same day ad nauseum, but you’ve actually been watching Ghostbusters. Then you realise your favorite jumper is actually a dalmatian onesie, and your owner is yelling at you to get down off the couch you “bad doggy!”

Okay, I’m starting again!

Are You Sure? Is the latest episode from Welcome To Night Vale (133), and since its launch on the weekend (September 1st) I’ve downloaded and listened to it so much it has driven me mad!

“Why?” I hear you ask, if you are not one of their regular listeners. “I know it’s good, but why would you download the same episode multiple times?” you will also say. Well it’s all due to ‘dynamic insertion’, you know, the way they put advertising on podcasts these days. It turns out those crazy cats at Night Vale have used this technology to give the episode three different endings… or have they?

These endings are added purely at random, so unfortunately I’ve had to listen to this episode all week, but to date I have only heard two different endings. This has turned me into a cold hollow shell shivering in the corner, pleading with my family to give me back my favorite jumper so that I can curl up and watch a rerun of Bill Murray as Garfield. Apparently I’m not allowed to watch this either because I “bark at the cat on the TV all night long!” And why do they not take me to the dog park anymore???

If you have listened to all three, please let me know. Please… my nerves are shot!


 

You Me and the Big C

My condolences go out to the family and friends of Rachel Bland, host of ‘You, Me and the Big C’ who died age 40 on Wednesday.

Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2016, and had since worked tirelessly to raise awareness, and remove the stigma attached to cancer. She began with her blog ‘Big C. Little Me.’ documenting her journey through treatment, and then on to co-host the podcast with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon.

A tweet on her official account was posted on Wednesday morning saying: “Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family. We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support. You’ll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie”.

The podcast deals with all the big questions you would expect, mental health, chemotherapy, alternative and complementary therapies, doctors, money, family, and death, in a frank and funny way. If you haven’t listened already, then download this amazing show now, and recommend it to everyone; especially those people who will say ‘what’s a podcast?’


Serial Podcast

After two and a half years Serial returns for season three on the 20th of September. They take a look at the criminal justice system and the litany of charges thrown at it by reformers. Where season one looked at one extraordinary case, season three spends a year in one courtroom, Cleveland Ohio, looking at many ordinary cases, and the problems they faced.

Check out the link above to hear the trailer, or follow this link for an interview with Sarah Koenig and Emmanuel Dzotsi over at Clevescene.


Audio Verse Awards

It’s that time of year again peeps! The Audio Verse Awards are taking your nominations now! All eligible productions that have “aired” between October 1st, 2017 and September 30th, 2018 are up for consideration.

The Audio Verse Awards are an annual awards show dedicated to celebrating the best in free audio drama around the world. It started as a thread on Audio Drama Talk, ballooned to a Facebook group, then shrunk to a dedicated group who sat down and helped make the Audio Verse Awards a reality in 2013.


 

Spotify

On Wednesday (September 5th), Turner Podcast Network announced that they would be launching their entire portfolio of over 60 shows on Spotify. This comes only a month after the Swedish music streaming giant announced a deal with the BBC for users in the UK. I have heard however that BBC podcasts have been appearing on Spotify in the US and other countries outside the UK.

This is hot off the back of them teaming up with NPR back in May, so it’s safe to say that Spotify are serious about taking the scalp of iTunes. Let’s hope they now take a more serious approach with the indie podcast world than they have in the past.


In other news:

Lime Link posts a video highlighting how the iTunes podcast chart is being manipulated.

Brands are set to double their spending on podcast advertising.

Science proves what we already knew, that audio is more emotionally engaging than film.

Well that’s it for now. If you enjoyed it please share it with your friends, if you didn’t then share it with your enemies.

If you have any podcast news you would like to share with the community, then give us a shout, or maybe send an email, (probably the better option).

Are you a podcast blogger? Would you like to be? We are looking to create a small team of full/part time writers. We are always looking to take on guest writers and feature the work of those in the industry. If you would like to contribute, drop us a line, we are more than happy to chat about the best way we can promote you and your work.


If you are enjoying our content then please consider supporting it with a coffee, (it will stop me falling asleep at the keyboard at least). Click the image below to make a donation now.

Ko Fi donation button