How are my Levels?

Auphonic is an online company that has made normalizing and equalizing your audio file as easy as a few clicks, a short wait, and then downloading your perfect sounding audio file.

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Podcasting 101: How Are My Levels?

By Alex C. Telander

 

One of the most inviting aspects to making your own podcast is that there’s not really a rule book to follow. There’s no publishing house vetting what type of podcast you want to make, whether you’re doing it right or wrong, and the audio drama community is welcoming and incredibly inclusive and supportive.

So you’ve got your well written script, a variety of impressive sound effects, some great original music, and your talented cast of voice actors spread around the world all with their own microphones. The first episode you’ve just finished putting together sounds great and you feel you’re ready to hit the upload button and make your podcast a reality . . . except you just did a final listen and you noticed not everything is at the same volume.

You’re using three actors in this episode and in the dialog scenes one person sounds louder than the other; the music is too quiet, and the sound effects are too loud. You just want everything to be at the same level. You’re not really sure how to do this, and definitely not without it taking a long time . . . and you’re exhausted. You’ve been working your butt off the whole last week and you’ve got to be in to work early tomorrow. So what can you do? Enter Auphonic.

Auphonic Productions is an online company that has made normalizing and equalizing the many parts of your audio file as easy as a few clicks or taps, a short wait, and then downloading your perfect sounding audio file. And the real awesome thing about it is it’s basically free.

Auphonic was started by founder Georg Holzmann when he was at university, working on audio processing, signal processing, and audio engineering. He had been listening to a lot of podcast creators telling him the most difficult part is always the audio post-production. Holzmann started working with a podcast creator, looking to ‘automate his work flow’ and make the post-production easier. He worked on creating elaborate algorithms, especially with [the] adaptive leveler, which matches the loudness of different parts of a podcast, as well as developing other tools involving encoding, tagging, and the distribution of the podcast.

Holzmann decided to make a product out of it and applied for a grant in Austria, where he’s based, and formed a team. The first version of Auphonic was released in 2012 and was originally completely free, but once the grant expired, it was necessary to introduce a pricing model.

The beauty of Auphonic is you can create an account for free, and by doing so you automatically get two hours of free audio processing time per month. There’s a lot you can do with the many settings of this free account, but I’m going to concentrate on a quick and easy overview for now.

Auphonic’s Goal

The goal of Auphonic is to automate all the audio post-production once you have your music and dialog recorded, as well as making the steps after the audio recording is complete easy and efficient. The adaptive leveling algorithm classifies different segments for different speakers, as Holzmann explains, creating a balance between the speech and music parts, and when the two are playing together, “otherwise one would destroy the inner dynamic of the music.”

Auphonic is looking to make it so none of the post-production audio work needs to be done manually. It has also expanded its capabilities to include working with audio not just in podcasting, but also with radio stations, conference recordings, lecture recordings, and even television and film. Pretty much wherever dialog is mixed with music, Auphonic can be used.

Ever since its release, Auphonic has become a popular audio editing program to use, whether it’s with the online version, or the desktop app version. Users range into the hundreds of thousands.

Auphonic Quick and Easy

So you’ve got your free account all set up, you’re ready to make the most of your two hours of processing time, and you just want to make that first episode sound balanced and even. Where do you start?

You go into the New Production menu. Choose what file you wish to upload. Make sure ‘Leveler’ and ‘Loudnorm’ boxes are checked, choose your Loudness Target – there’s a setting for Podcasts and Mobile – and hit Start Production. And that’s pretty much it. You’ve done the hard work. The next screen shows an upload bar, as it uploads your audio file, and depending on its length this can take a couple minutes at most.

Then you wait a little longer. You can close the screen if you want and you’ll get an email when you’re audio file is all ready to download. A few minutes later you’re following the link to the page with a clear download link for your audio file. And below that is a cool looking graph showing where the volume was raised and lowered in your audio file. You can even click on an option to see the original version superimposed over the new one to show what was changed.

That’s it. Download your file and you’re ready to go. You can relax, knowing you’re audio now sounds leveled and great.

Auphonic’s Advanced Parameters

There’s a lot more you can do with Auphonic depending on your experience level and comfort with audio processing. The beauty of the program lies in the interface: you have the option of a very simple and clean layout that’s quick and easy to use, or a much more in depth display where you can customize exactly how you want your audio processed.

Firstly, your file can be either audio or video (here is a list of all the supported audio and video file types for Auphonic).

When uploading your file, you can choose to upload your audio via your computer or device, or via a website. You can choose a specific intro/ outro to add to the beginning/ end of your audio file through the same upload methods.

The next category is Basic Metadata, where you can choose the title for your audio file and select a file image to upload that will be attached to it permanently, along with details such as Artist, Album, and Track. Extended Metadata lets you create a subtitle, choose a genre and year, and create a Summary. After that you can add details about the publisher, URL, license, license URL, and Tags. You even have the option to create your own license.

Next section is Chapter Marks, where you can either import specific chapter marks that you already have in your audio file, or add your own. Once this has been done you can choose what format you want the final version of your audio file to be, along with choosing the Bitrate, adding a Filename Suffix if needed, as well as a few more tweaks.

There is also a handy section on Speech Recognition, which offers affordable speech recognition in 80 languages. You can register a speech recognition service and get it added easily; more can be found out about that here. Publishing/External Services such as Dropbox, YouTube, SoundCloud, and Libsyn (to name a few) can also be registered and added.

The final section, and perhaps most important, is the Audio Algorithms section. There are six options to play with in this category; the first four can be checked or unchecked, while the last two can be adjusted with a drop-down menu.

Adaptive Level: Corrects level differences within one file between speakers, music and speech, etc. to achieve a balanced overall loudness.

Filtering: Classifies the lowest wanted signal (male/female speech, base in music, etc.) and adaptively filters unnecessary/disturbing low frequencies in each audio segment.

Loudness Normalization: Adjusts the global, overall loudness to the specified Loudness Target (using a True Peak Limiter), so that all processed files have a similar average loudness.

Noise and Hum Reduction: Classifies regions with different backgrounds and automatically removes noise and hum in each region.

Loudness Target: Set a loudness target in LUFS for Loudness Normalization, with higher values resulting in louder audio outputs.

Reduction Amount: Maximum noise and hum reduction amount (in dB), with higher values removing more noise. In Auto mode, a classifier decides if and how much noise reduction is necessary (to avoid artifacts).

When I’m using Auphonic for adjusting audio files for Ostium I have all four options checked, with Loudness Target set to -16 LUFS (Podcasts and Mobile) and the Reduction Amount set to ‘Auto.’ And when I download the edited audio file, it sounds just perfect.

Auphonic Range

If you find that the two free hours per month for your audio work is not enough, there are two main options you can choose to add more time: you can pay a monthly, recurring fee of $11 for 9 hours, or $23 for 21 hours, or even higher totals of hours depending on what works best for you. Alternatively, you can get one-time credits of 5 hours for $12, 10 hours for $22, and a number of higher options. And if you’re looking for some Auphonic software to acquire and download, such as desktop apps, there are options for that too, which can be found here.

Auphonic Future

For the future, the team behind Auphonic is looking to build new leveling algorithms, with more detailed parameter settings, as well as building new desktop applications. They’re looking to develop the levelers to be more universal and not limited to just podcasts or speech audio. They are really looking to push the audio envelope: to work on improving and creating new things with audio.

Whether you’re a professional sound engineer or a complete novice when it comes to things that make noises, I definitely think you can’t go wrong with choosing Auphonic to magically make your work sound great.

PodernTimes and Alex C. Telander are not sponsored by Auphonics in any way.

The History of Audio Drama

This series takes a look at the history and people that shaped the face of audio drama. In this, the first article we look at the Theatrophone, the first ever stereo broadcast.

The History of Audio Drama

By Dōhai

My flux capacitor finally arrived last week, and now that I have finished calibrating and fitting it to the DeLorean, that can only mean one thing. It’s about time we took a trip into the past to look at the History of Audio Drama.

640px-TeamTimeCar.com-BTTF_DeLorean_Time_Machine-OtoGodfrey.com-JMortonPhoto.com-04​​

By JMortonPhoto.com & OtoGodfrey.com, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44599380

 

Before we zoom off into the annals of time, let me give you a little bit of an outline, so that you know what to expect from this series.

There is more than enough material for us to wade through regarding its rich history; one could not only write a book but probably a whole shelf full of tomes, should time and inclination not be heavily weighing factors in any writers life. Who knows, maybe in the future? But for now I plan on keeping it light and entertaining, factual and to the point.

Consider it a fun little road trip down this historical highway.

The plan is to give you a general idea of the evolution of audio drama, and bring you links to some of the landmark shows of the past, for your listening pleasure. So strap yourself in, because eventually the DeLorean WILL reach the required 88 mph, even if I have to Thelma and Louise this bad boy off a cliff!

 

Le Théâtrophone, an 1896 lithograph from the Lès Maître de L’Affiches series by Jules ChéretLe Théâtrophone, an 1896 lithograph from the Lès Maître de L’Affiches series by Jules Chéret. Credit: Wikipedia.

 

So where did it all begin?

It all began with Clément Ader (1841 – 1925) a French inventor and engineer, known mainly for his pioneering achievements in aviation. Before dedicating his life to flying however he studied electrical engineering where he improved Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone just two years after its invention, and then went on to set up a telephone network in Paris 1880.

A year later he presented his recent invention, what would later be dubbed the Théâtrophone, at the Paris World Expo of 1881. He had arranged 80 transmitters across the front of the stage at the Palais Garnier, and broadcast the opera, via telephone wires, to listeners at the expo some 2 km away. What was different than just listening to the opera via the telephone was the fact that listeners received a separate channel for each ear, thus this was the first ever binaural stereo transmission.

Within three years of this initial demonstration, experimental systems had been commissioned in Portugal and Belgium. Within a decade this system had been commercialized in France, there dubbed ‘Lé Théâtrophone’ (The Theatre Phone), and systems were beginning to pop up the length and breadth of Europe.

Word of this amazing technology had reached America, and in 1890 it’s first demonstration had been set up. Some 800 people in the Grand Union Hotel, Saratoga, listened to The Charge of the Light Brigade, conducted nearly 200 miles away at Madison Square Garden.

By the turn of the century, coin-op telephone receivers charging 50 centimes for five minutes listening could be found in hotels, clubs, and cafés all across France. Even home subscribers could enjoy listening to live plays and opera for a small patronage.

Zuhörer des Theatrophons an Münzapparaten, 1892​​Zuhörer des Theatrophons an Münzapparaten, 1892. Credit: Wikipedia

Riding the high life of entertainment, it all came crashing down for the Théâtrophone after 42 years, due to the rising popularity of wireless radio broadcasting and the phonograph. The Compagnie Du Théâtrophone stopped broadcasting in 1932. This was by no means the end of audio drama, oh no, this was merely the beginning.

 

 

In the next post we take a look at how The Great War put Marconi’s wireless telephone on the fast track into almost every home in the world.

Horror Countdown: Mabel

If like us, you’re hungry for all things Halloween, the check out our spooktacular countdown and the wonderful Mabel.

Halloween Countdown: Mabel

By Chad Ellis

Sure gore filled, jump scare driven haunted mazes are fun, but when I think of Halloween I think of tradition, rituals. Societies meeting in the woods. Friends and strangers telling stories by firelight. The subtle things that resonate with all humans who have spent a night outdoors.

If you prefer bargains to dismemberment, poetry to screams of agony, and a love that hurts so deeply it shakes the bones of the earth, Mabel is your show this Halloween Season.

Not to say that Mabel lacks dismemberment or blood curdling screams, but their presence is there to add beauty, not shock value.

Mabel opens with a fairly simple premise: a caretaker of a dying woman in Ireland is attempting to reach that woman’s Granddaughter, Mabel, by phone. This elegant format carries us through the first Season of this predominantly single narrator show.

But what happens when you add an old, strange house that doesn’t behave quite the way we expect houses to behave? Or a mushroom ring in the garden? Or a spell initially misunderstood?

Every episode weaves new threads into this tapestry. Like a frog in slowly boiling water, we are steadily taken, from the grounded world of a house in a storm, to the ephemeral world of nightmares and missing dates, and kings under hills.

The moment you hit play you will be met with a stormy night, a ringing phone to a beating heart, an ominous drone, an answering machine. This audio anointment sets you on a path to minimalist sound design, inspired background music and a bond with the narrators both deep and strange.

The first batch of episodes brings you through all of the familiar feelings of haunted houses and dreams. The next batch takes you beyond our familiar veil, to a place of questions and trust. And once you make it to Episode 15: Killing the Moon? Raw, primal poetry in action and a love story unlike any you’ve heard in the past.

I love this show and it is my top recommendation for Halloween. Check out the series right here, and subscribe to stay up to date.

And if you’ve missed the previous entries in our Halloween Countdown, they start right here.


Chad Ellis is a Los Angeles based writer responsible for the Isolation Horror, Station Blue.

 

Check out the rest of the Podern Times team on our About Us page.

 

 

Halloween Countdown: The White Vault

Welcome to Outpost Fristed, a cold and chilling place where we continue our Halloween Countdown with The White Vault

Halloween Countdown: The White Vault

By Alex C. Telander

Out in the freezing wastes at the top of the world, on the island of Svalbard, is a place you’d never want to be… Welcome to Outpost Fristed, a cold and chilling place where we continue our Halloween Countdown with The White Vault.

The White Vault is a found footage-style horror show that is both brilliantly produced and genuinely entertaining.

Photo Credit: Press Kit

An intrepid team of strangers is brought together by the enigmatic Sidja Group, tasked with taking care of an “equipment malfunction.”

Four of the characters are not native English speakers, and begin their reports and recordings in their native language, before switching over to speaking English. This really helps to create a tremendous sense of realism and immersion in the show.

There is a large variety of different types of recordings, from dictaphone, to camera audio, to journals and scribbled notes, all collected together and presented by the Documentarian.

There’s also a great variety of constant sound effects, doing a fantastic job of immersing the listener in this icy environment. Coupled with strange unknown sounds, and the characters audibly becoming more and more scared as the show progresses, it all helps to draw in the listener further.

The team consists of Walter Heath, a technician who’s pretty handy with recording equipment; Graham Casner, a confident guy who knows his way around the wild; Dr. Rosa De La Torre; a medical doctor; Dr. Karina Schumacher-Weiß, a talented geologist; and finally Jónas Þórirsson, the person seemingly in charge, and who seems to knows the most about the Sidja Group.

The White Vault is a professional, very well produced audio drama, with a variety of evocative sound effects and talented voice actors, and is skillfully edited together. Each episode immediately sucks the listener in, as they’re waiting to find out what happens next. Some episodes end on a bit of a cliffhanger, some don’t, but either way the listener is left really wanting more from this show.

Photo Credit: Press Kit

Season one started October 2017, and all ten episodes are now available. The first episode of season two dropped October 2, 2018, making now the perfect time to check it out, which you can do right here.

Also check out our previous entries in our Halloween Countdown right here and here.


 

alex telander aviAlex C. Telander is the creator and writer of the Ostium Podcast.

 

Discover more about Alex and the rest of the team on our About Us page.

Halloween Countdown: Palimpsest

We continue our Halloween Countdown today with Palimpsest, “a bi-weekly audio drama about memory, identity, and the things that haunt us”

Halloween Countdown: Palimpsest

By Alex C. Telander

We continue our Halloween Countdown today with Palimpsest, “a bi-weekly audio drama about memory, identity, and the things that haunt us”.

“Every story is a ghost.”

“Embrace what haunts you.”

If ever there was a show that really lived up to its name, this is it. A genuinely layered show, the creators have filled every scene, every moment, with extremely well-produced audio. There’s a complexity in both writing and sound design that keeps the reader completely hooked in, wondering where the story is going next, and what scary or horrifying things are about to unfold.

Season One tells the story of Anneliese, and her struggles with the death of her sister Claire when she was younger.

Told through a series of audio recordings that Anneliese makes at the recommendation of her former therapist, each recording gives her more confidence to reveal her secrets. Secrets like how she can still see Claire sometimes.

Just standing next to her.

There are also strange happenings in her new apartment, odd people that live there. Or, people that maybe don’t live

The series is written by Jamieson Ridenhour, and performed by Hayley Heninger. Hayley does a simply masterful job of imbuing the character with life, and performing the lines with such emotion that the listener experiences them right alongside the character – be it sadness, anger, or fear.

The entire audio landscape is simple but effective, and the music helps to add to the spooky and unknown nature of the show.

Season Two launched September 4th and will run bi-weekly for ten episodes, so now is the perfect time to get on board this unique gem.

It’s set in the nineteenth century and it tells the story of Ellen, a new maid in service to a diminutive, unique, and beautiful looking woman who could best be described as… a fairy? Find it right here

And if you haven’t yet check out previous entries in our Halloween Countdown right here.


 

alex telander aviAlex C. Telander is the creator and writer of the Ostium Podcast.

 

Discover more about Alex and the rest of the team on our About Us page.

Halloween Countdown

So it’s almost all hallows ‘eve and no doubt you’ve been celebrating all things spooky since October began. Here’s a few of our favorites to get you in the mood.

Halloween Countdown

By Dõhai.

There are nine days to go until all hallows ‘eve and no doubt you’ve been celebrating all things spooky since October began. We here at Podern Times are no different. Well okay, maybe a little, as the picture below states “Horror is for life, not just for Halloween” and this is pretty much our mantra.

As we’re a brand new publication we thought what better way to introduce the team here at Podern Times than by sharing some of our favorite spine-chilling podcasts with you all.

Tribulation

Take a coven of witches, add a vampire or two, and a sprinkling of werewolf, and then add a huge dollop of zombies to the pot and simmer for twenty minutes.

This is usually enough to get most folk either running for the hills, or their pitchforks and flaming torches. Not me. I’m reaching for the popcorn, because quite frankly it ain’t scary.

No. What scares me is a huge bag of realism and psychological horror. Take ‘Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Se7en’, ‘Saw’, or ‘The Shining,’ these are the stories that get the blood flowing so to speak. And for me, cults are a biggie!

Imagine if M. Night Shyamalan had written ‘The Village’ more Manson family than the Waltons, and added a little ‘Inception’ to the pot, then you will have some idea of what ‘Tribulation’ is like.

Stacy Carlson employs the help of a conspiracy theorist to find her missing husband Greg as the authorities don’t believe her account of how he disappeared on their trip home from a visit to her parents.

Find Tribulation here in all its glory for apple users, or here on Stitcher.

Did you enjoy Tribulation as much as I did? Are you looking forward to a season two? What are your favorite spooktacular podcasts? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Check back in two days for another showcase from another member of the team!

 


dohai profile pic

Since falling in love with podcasts back in 2015 Dōhai decided to begin writing on the subject. He soon found himself trying his hand at acting, (Black Bart in The Drift and Ramble Podcast), and more recently writing, with (Diary of a Madman season 2) Set for launch Oct 31st, 2018.

 

Check out the rest of the Podern Times team on our About Us page.

Creepy: 31 days of Horror

It’s October, and we all know what that means: the whole internet has gone pumpkins, and the things that go bump in the night have come out.

Creepy Presents the 31 days of Horror

By Lex Scott

It’s October, and we all know what that means: the whole internet has gone pumpkins, and the things that go bump in the night have come out.

That’s right, it’s Halloween season and Creepy – one of the best, most reliable regular purveyors of horror on the internet – is again giving us a spooky 31 Days of Horror Halloween countdown.

Days 1 – 3 Tales from the Gas Station

We start the month off with a seven part series following Jack, our plucky protagonist and the only full time employee of a weird gas station on the outskirts of a quiet town. Strange things go down in this place where, mysteriously, no phone or internet signals seem to reach.

From toilet cowboys to hand plants, doomsday cultists to dark gods, and even mysterious politicians who just won’t stay dead, this place has everything you need. They might even pump your gas if you need it.

The narration is simple and hypnotic, as of a man who’s so far gone with insomnia he just rolls with everything weird in his life. It perfectly captures the dull monotony of working the graveyard shift in the service industry; isolated from everyone normal and even normalcy itself, the bizarre becomes your new mundane and allows you to become very zen with your situation.

Day 4 Kisaragi Station

Our journey through the Gas Station situation is interrupted by this creepy pasta originating from 2chan, the Japanese message board. Presented as a simple dramatic reading of the original posts, we go on a journey with an unfortunate girl to an abandoned isolated train station.

With spooky strangers, ominous name translations, and improbably mobile reception, we’re taken on a late train journey you probably don’t want to go on.

Days 5 – 8 Tales from the Gas Station (cont.)

Back at the gas station we learn that Jack has deleted his original day 4 post and urges everyone not to seek it out. As far as we’re concerned “nothing happened” wink wink.

On a personal note I’ve always loved this kind of meta-narrative, where real world realities of publishing and timetables directly inform the stories presented. It brings the audience in in a special way, making us directly part of the story and co-conspirators with the author/ narrator.

Tales from the Gas Station continues and concludes uninterrupted on day 8 with a simple, somewhat expected climax and resolution.

I don’t say this to be critical, I’m simply saying that a modern audience will see this ending coming. The tone and turn are all familiar and expected, and dare I say, classic in their own way.

There’s a comforting familiarity with the conclusion that I am definitely okay with.

Day 9 The Quiet Child.

Here we’re presented with instructions on how to summon a dark god, aspect of stark truths and the primal fear of confronting and knowing the unknowable.

This episode mostly consists of deft atmosphere building, through the lens of painstaking descriptions of the steps necessary to invoke the presence of The Quiet Child.

It has echoes of other classic horror/ thriller child tales, like the twilight zone episode It’s a Good Life, but it feels more reminiscent of Faust or D’jinn: bargains struck by over eager mortals, only to be confronted by the very cost they’d been warned against.

Warnings they had ignored.

Source: Freeimages

Day 10 Voicemail Transcription [BETA]

New narrator, new writer, this genuinely affecting episode presents a horror that is all to real: a stalker.

Now there is a supernatural bent to this tale, but like all fairy tales/ fables it presents a very real and frightening danger it wants to warn us about. In this case, the fear and danger of someone following us.

It perfectly captures that feeling of terrifying vulnerability that comes with knowing someone out there can see us, but we can’t see them. Knowing that, because we can’t perceive them, any time they want to they could harm us.

It takes away everything that makes us feel safe and comfortable in this world, stripping everything away to make us feel alone and isolated. Then they strike.

Like I said, genuinely affecting. A powerful story.

Day 11 The Perfect Child

A new take on the classic tale of greed and the dangers of obsession. You’ll most likely recognize this story, but that makes it no less effective in it’s execution. This is a cautionary tale humans have been telling themselves for millennia, and there’s a good reason for that.

Day 12 Dear Scammer

Have you ever been the victim of your own generosity? What about just losing sight of the important things when an opportunity came along. This is a story that presents you with both sides of each of those situations, while maintaining a single solitary perspective.

It’s graphic and unpleasant, but that’s what you’re here for right?

Day 13 Midnight Dancer

Who likes clowns? No, I mean it I’m genuinely asking. Who are they for? Why do they persist after over a hundred years of entertainment? I seem to remember once reading an article claiming that clowns were never actually designed to be funny and charming, that they’re supposed to be tragic and at least mildly upsetting. But I’ve never been able to find it again and check it’s sources.

I can’t help feel like this tale, or the title at least, was inspired by Pennywise. He is after all, probably the most famous dancing clown. One thing I can say about it is that the ending is perfect.

Day 14 Cupcakes

This is the one episode that Jon Grilz – creator and lead narrator of Creepy – specifically mentioned when I reached out to him.

“On the 14th we have a story that I’m really curious to hear listener feedback about. It’s one that we’ve had requested before, but I was never sure if I should put it as its own weekly episode. It’s dark in the weirdest possible way.” – Jon

It may seem bright and sparkly (can you guess it? I managed to) but be prepared for plenty of body horror.

Source: Freeimages

Day 15 Moonface

This episode brings us back to a primal aspect of childhood I think we all experienced: that profound sense of unbridled joy, coupled with the disconcerting realization that sometimes people just don’t want to spend time with us. It’s a saddening and confusing realization, but anyone with siblings can probably relate.

Hopefully it didn’t go as badly for you as it did for this young boy.

Day 16 What Was In The Store With Me?

Is there anything more mundanely otherworldly than a retail store after hours? Maybe a supermarket, but you probably won’t run into any ghouls there; just the weirdos buying ice cream at 2 am. Not so for this unfortunate night owl employee restocking for the holiday season.

Day 17 Little Red Ranger

Once upon a time, the older traditions of All Hallows Eve said that ghosts walked the earth that night, and if you left your home you would encounter them. People took to dressing up as monsters to avoid being recognized by these ghosts, instead being seen only as fellow spirits.

This story has echoes of that old tradition, with one small boy eager to show off his latest obsession, and another who just doesn’t want to be lonely anymore.

Day 18 Chatroom 98

Who among us hasn’t found and old unmarked CD in their house, put uncaringly into their drives to search for interesting things? It’s the modern day version of looking for buried treasure, and it’s usually harmless.

Hopefully next time you boot up someones discarded old discs you’ll have some solid protection in place. Not much else I can say without spoiling things unfortunately!

Day 19… Subscribe to find out!

So there you have it, all episodes so far of this years 31 Days of Horror as presented by Creepy Podcast. They will be continuing with a new one every day for the entire month of October. I asked Jon Grilz if he had any words or thoughts he could share about how he’s planning to close out the month and he only said this:

“We have a mix of everything from classic creepypastas and listener submissions that I think people will really enjoy. I don’t want to give anything away, but as far as how we will close things out, I guess it will be like last year. The devil’s in the details.” – Jon

Make sure you check out Creepy right here so you don’t miss their 31 Days of Horror series before it ends.


 

Lex is a professional writer from New Zealand. He’s studied copy writing and social media marketing, and is known for his outstanding web series, Reggie’s Case Files.

 

To learn more about Lex and the rest of the team visit our About Us page.

In Ink #1

Welcome to the first issue of ‘In Ink’, a supplement to Podern Times. Here we will be taking a look at some of the posts that have been published by podcasters, or about podcasting in general.

In Ink

Issue 1

 

Welcome to the first issue of ‘In Ink’, a supplement to Podern Times. Here we will be taking a look at some of the posts that have been published by podcasters, or about podcasting in general.

inhale1080-718

‘Inhale’ is the beautiful tale of reluctant superhero Tammy Tracer, a ten part stand alone audio drama series from writer and creator Rick Coste. (Behemoth, Pixie, Bryar Lane to name a few.)

Just over a year later, we now have the pleasure of an ongoing fictional journal from Tammy. I would suggest listening to the audio drama podcast first however, we wouldn’t want you to trip over any spoilers now would we. If you’ve already had the pleasure of listening to it then please feel free to breathe in this inspiring new creation.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Rick and asked him about this new direction.

It actually stems from the need to continue writing.  Over the last few months I’ve focused my attention on finishing some long held book ideas I’ve had.  A couple are now in the hands of my agent and, while they are being reviewed and shopped around, I felt it was a good time to try something new.”

I really wanted to continue Tammy Tracer’s story but I also wanted to do so outside of the audio drama medium.”

 

If that wasn’t amazing enough, Rick has also released another fictional journal, this time for a completely new character, Kira. ‘Kira’s Journey’ follows the thoughts of an AI (Accidental Intelligence as Rick puts it) from the moment of consciousness, through her escape, and into the exploration of the larger world. Could we be looking at the inception of a new audio drama?

I just want to see where her story takes her as she explores what it means to ‘not’ be human.  There’s quite a few directions I could go with it but my main desire is for her to be able to do so in her own way.”

You can find all of Rick’s wonderful tales over at modernaudiodrama.com


 

Elsewhere on Planet Pod

A review of Sarah Werner’s sci-fi epic ‘Girl In Space’ from The Fantasy Inn.

The latest Bello articles tell us to take a break from listening to podcasts, and then recommend ten shows to listen to.

 


Do you have a companion blog for your podcast? Do you write about podcasting? Would you like to reach new readers through this publication? Just email us a link to your latest blog post and we’ll share it here.

In A Word… War

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?

Last time we read the words of Jamie Killen, writer and producer of Spines, and Mirrors podcasts. This time around we have the prolific writer Paul Sating, who’s latest drama, Who Killed Julie? we reviewed last week.

Paul began creating audio drama podcasts in 2015 with Atheist Apocalypse, a satirical comedy set after the rapture over four seasons. While writing that he has penned Diary of a Madman, two seasons of Subject: Found, the aforementioned Who Killed Julie?, a patron only podcast called You, and a writers podcast by the name of Horrible Writing. So I can only say thank you for squeezing in a thousand words for me.

The Word I have chosen for Paul is…


War

/wɔː/

noun

a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.

“Japan declared war on Germany”


War is air. War is life.

The metallic cloud of spent rounds.

The thudding in your heart when the world explodes.

The ripping of the air as the Klaxon screeches and the C-RAM tears apart the invasive enemy.

The overwhelming frustration of boredom and the numbing of the mind. Essence flows from your soul as a river through a dry land.

War is humans at their most animalistic. War is us.

This… is war.

Life changes in a flash. One minute, your mind is fixated on all of those moments you’re missing. Your middle school child starring in the school play, helping with homework assignments you don’t understand, a spouse having a bad day at work and just needing a sympathetic ear. Christmas morning waking alone, on a cot that no one over nineteen should sleep on; no tree under which are the carefully-placed expressions of love. Sleeping. Bored. Dreaming of home one moment… the next, you’re flopping out of your cot in the middle of the black night, scurrying like a cockroach for cover under six inches of used and abused cloth, polyester, and foam that provides restless sleep each night. Your heart threatens to thump its way out of your throat.

There is no sense.

No balance.

The world is an enigma.

Your friends are subversive, playing politics in the middle of extensive periods of boredom. Your enemies, the people you’ve sworn to kill if need be; humans, with wives, mothers, and children who depend on them to survive.

You realize they’re a lot like you.

In war, everyone believes they’re on the right side.

In war, you cling to the things that have meaning. Angels in heaven or demons walking the earth. There are atheists in foxholes. A lot of them. War helps you see that.

Beliefs.

Diversity.

The silliness in believing in anything that isn’t human motivation. You watch as God allows his throng of believers to die painful deaths at the end of an enemy gun. God turns his nose as limbs and lives are lost. No purpose is served beyond the single concern of the powerful; the ultimate god of mankind.

No, in war, there is only one god. And he is green.

Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors; bleed red so the rich are swathed in the perpetual flow of riches. Exuberant deals. Money moves from one government to the power brokers of another. Favors curried in the hallways of the Pentagon, a world where small people have no access, even though they give their sons and daughters to the cause.

Dust in every crevice.

Minutes which feel like hours.

Minutia for the sake of minutia.

War

Source: FreeImages

Blind eyes turned away from crimes committed to preserve the state.

Thinking, feeling… loving humans, convinced to kill one another for the sake of a state that does not care for them or their kind.

This… this is the reality of war.

The ignorant, the blind, those unwilling and incapable of seeing its realities stroke the canvas, painting the scene which they want to portray. They are no less guilty than the mongers who lust for more: power, money, control.

The compliant tote patriotism like a badge to be earned. They cannot see it is nothing more than a mechanism to manipulation, that the species is the greater good. They fear the other. The unknown. The different.

The liberal expounds and pontificates, as if they’re experts on a subject for which they’ve never attended. They assert knowledge; an asset they lack. They’re just as ignorant as patriotism’s lemmings, and in the same state of denial.

The only sane are those who retain the ability to independently think while dressed in the standard uniform of warriors. They see the abuses: of the powerful, the governments, their agents. They see the harm, the unnecessary, and the waste. They know the courage and sacrifice required to execute and influence, sometimes for and against the same entity.

Simultaneously.

The heart aches, longs for things it cannot have, unfulfilled by the dishonest proclamations of those who claim to hold the truth.

Duty.

Patriotism.

Honor.

These are preached from behind the safety of international borders and oceans. The detached eye observes the price paid by the powerless, the voiceless; paid by those who have bought the lie or serve in complicity because they aren’t of the privileged.

Boxes, draped in the three colors that used to stand for something, drift past, born by friends, associates, brothers and sisters-in-arms. Eyes wet; eyes vacant; eyes seething with wrathful vengeance examine the box. Inside is a sister. A brother. A son. A daughter. A husband. A wife. A mom. A dad.

Lost.

Promise of life needlessly and heedlessly spent.

The desert dust carries the spirit of what remains of hope. Here, in war, we exist. Nothing more. There is no happiness in accomplishments, no joy in the good news from home, no sense of importance. Here there is what there has always been for the warrior who thinks: a longing to return… home. To touch the hand of the grandmother. To hug the crying child. To feel the softness of a kiss shared by intimate partners.

To the thinking warrior, war lost its honor when money became its justification.

In the thinking warrior, there is no greater opponent of war.

War nor its warriors are monolithic.

Its warriors must be actors.

The enemy is the friend; the friend, the enemy.

Confusion is king and clarity, a casualty.

The one who says they understand war… the liar.

The one who demands to abolish war… the denier.

Why deny that which we are? Why strive for the unachievable?

To do so is to delay measures of resolution and to hold true discourse amongst adversaries. It is to fail to invest in dialogue in that which prevents us from embracing our most basic instinct.

We could.

We won’t.

We should.

We haven’t.

War is air.

War is life.


Who Killed Julie?

Who Killed Julie? released its first two episodes over the weekend, (September 23rd). This and all of Paul’s other shows can be found over on his website, or on your podcatcher of choice.

My review of this story can be found here.

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Review: Who Killed Julie?

It seems the world and his dog loves true crime dramas if the glut of shows on your podcatcher is anything to go by. Take the soon to be released third season of Serial, Sword and Scale, recently released Dr. Death, or… well the list could go on.

It seems the world and his dog loves true crime dramas if the glut of shows on your podcatcher is anything to go by. Take the soon to be released third season of Serial, Sword and Scale, recently released Dr. Death, or… well the list could go on.

Who Killed Julie?

Who Killed Julie? follows in the footsteps of many of these shows, in the form of an investigative journal that slowly unfolds week by week. The main difference here, this isn’t a true crime story, but a work of fiction from writer/ creator Paul Sating.

Paul’s first foray into this genre releases this Sunday (September 23rd), and I would argue has been a rather successful venture on several fronts.

Firstly it’s nice to see a writer tackling something new. Rather than sticking to the ‘tried and tested’, rather than staying within the parameters where he’s comfortable, he seems to push himself into unfamiliar territory with every new project.

Those that are accustomed to his work will know he’s worked all over the spectrum. Satirical comedy, (Atheist Apocalypse), horror, (Diary Of A Madman), and out this Thanksgiving, 12 Deaths of Christmas. Lore, (Subject: Found), dystopian futurism, and LGBT+ love stories to name but a few. Hell, I even have a poem of his in my inbox that I will be publishing next week!

I had the opportunity to ask him why his catalog feels so eclectic.

“I get bored easily, lol. Beyond that, I don’t want my writing to get stale.

“I’ve been dealing with a lot of horror. Diary of a Madman is a dark show. Who Killed Julie? Isn’t exactly a Sunday morning family program either. So I enjoy breaking away from those things from time to time. It keeps me growing and developing as a writer and it keeps me stimulated.

“I even have a new audio drama coming in 2019 that is totally different from everything else I’ve done. I’ve written 6 episodes thus far and it’s definitely a stretch for me. But it makes me excited when I work on it and it is forcing me to consider things I’ve never had to before, because of the story and target audience.

Secondly, Paul’s work just keeps getting better. Even though this story covers very adult themes (you have been warned) to include domestic abuse, murder, and prostitution, the story is both realistic and sensitively told.

Julie may not have been a “model citizen” (in even most liberal eyes) but she was, as the story shows, a very sensitive and caring person. To her children first and foremost, and to everyone (even her detractors) in the wider community.

“Julie has been living in my head since I worked in a military sexual assault response office. I understand the sensitivity of the topic. That experience opened my eyes to the dichotomy of sexual assault; who the friends and enemies of sexual assault survivors are. After the show runs, I’ll release my reason for writing Julie’s story, but she came to life from that experience.

“I thought I understood sexual assault, but that job showed me just how much I didn’t know. Julie is an amalgamation of the survivors I had the honor of serving. Her story is a real story; it’s something that no one should have to live, but far too many do. And I felt it was time to tell it.

Third, and most importantly, the story lends itself as a platform in which real social issues are put into the spotlight rather than swept under the carpet. It shows the very real fear of admitting to being abused for fear of becoming shamed or shunned. It boldly holds up a mirror to society, and shows us how ugly we really can be. As Emerald poignantly reminds us, “This is the story of us!” Add to this fact that the show aims to raise money for Safe Place, Olympia, a 24 hour shelter for victims of domestic violence, for me, puts this show in the must listen category.

Safe Place, Olympia

The story starts slowly with episode 1. Maybe that’s because I’m used to hearing shorter episodes from Paul, but I found myself drifting off a little towards the end. Episode 2 however picks the pace right back up, and keeps you on the pulse throughout the rest of the entire seven episodes, with brilliantly written dialogue that slowly unfolds the story and it’s characters.

The cast, though small is superb. Ashley Litsey as Emerald Johnson, takes the lead perfectly, giving us a full range of emotion. Dealing with others character flaws professionally and with empathy, when alone she switches from angry, to heartfelt, and emotional, to downright sassy.

In support, Rhiannon McAfee plays a hard-faced, bad mouthed Rachel. Robin Siegerman takes to the role of Julie’s self-centred, uncaring mother Angela. John McClain the saddened, doting father, and Christopher Rocco portrays the ‘one true love’ Caleb wonderfully. All of them have nailed these characters perfectly.

One or two of the ‘phone call’ conversations are a little too distorted, something I can live with if it’s just a two minute call, but when a call lasts beyond five of minutes I find it becomes a distraction.

A couple of places, early on in the story, I also found distraction in a lack of background noise. Sure, that sounds a little odd, and possibly picky, but distracting nonetheless. You could probably get away with not noticing the ticking of a clock, or the occasional passing car under a short dialogue, but there are some weighty monologues throughout which you would feel background noise would become a distraction to. However for me, not having that white noise present made the conversations a little more oppressive. Not sure if this was the intention, but with a dark topic such as this I feel it’s not needed in this case.

As I stated earlier, Who Killed Julie? is NSFW. It uses adult language to describe adult themes. If you are at all worried about this, then I suggest you don’t listen. I will say however if you managed to get through the latest trailer, then you have already heard the most graphic part of this whole story, something that isn’t repeated again.

That being said, this story is a very important one. It’s a story I feel everyone needs to hear, and a conversation we all need to be a part of if we are to grow as individuals, and as a society. You can catch it’s release this Sunday (September 23rd), and every fortnight after that.


 

You can check out Who Killed Julie? and all of Paul’s other shows over on his website, or on your podcatcher of choice.

If you have a new podcast/ audio drama season coming up and would like us to take a listen, then feel free to drop us a line.


Podern Times is powered by coffee. Do you like what you see here, then please consider donating a cup of Joe for yours truly by clicking the Ko-Fi image below. Thanks!

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