The Angel of Vine

On November 14, 2018 the Forever Dog Podcast Network (which according to their website produces innovative podcasts and limited series from next level comedians) quietly dropped a new audio drama: The Angel of Vine.

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The Angel of Vine

By Matthew William

On November 14, 2018 the Forever Dog Podcast Network (which according to their website produces innovative podcasts and limited series from next level comedians) quietly dropped a new audio drama from production company Vox Populi: The Angel of Vine.

And the cast, ladies and gentleman, is incredible.

Joe Manganiello from True Blood is joined by the likes of Misha Collins (Supernatural), Mike Colter (Luke Cage himself!), Alfred Molina (too many credits to list, of which Doc Ock from Spiderman 2 is the most well known?), Khary Payton (Ezekiel from the Walking Dead), Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Rogue One, and countless other voice roles), and Constance Zimmer (UnReal).

This is in addition to some truly veteran voice actors – Travis Willingham (Roy Mustang in the English dub of Fullmetal Alchemist), Matthew Mercer (involved in the English dubs of various anime, as well as cartoons, films, and video games), and Nolan North (Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series) to name just a few.

This is easily the most stacked cast for narrative podcast we’ve seen (heard?) since 2017’s Homecoming, which starred, among others, Catherine Keener, boring Han Solo Oscar Isaac, and Ross from Friends David Schwimmer.

And if the cast alone wasn’t enough to convince you to download, here’s the synopsis:

The Angel of Vine is a noir tale told in true crime style. The “podcaster,” a journalist named Oscar Simons (Oliver Vaquer), is fascinated by cold cases. One of the most infamous is “The Angel of Vine,” a gruesome murder in 1950s Hollywood. Young aspiring actress Marlene Marie Evans was found in a parking lot, her body mutilated and posed, with evidence either nonexistent or destroyed when she was discovered by a stampede of curious onlookers.

The police gave up with no leads, and the case would never be closed… or would it? Ex-cop and private detective Hank Briggs (Joe Manganiello) may have solved the case, but he never told a soul. It’s up to Oscar to search through Hank’s mountain of tapes and clues from more than 60 years ago to uncover the killer.

All in all, a strong hook and a stacked cast. What more could you ask for?

The show straddles the line between a true crime show and an Audio Drama perfectly, and the gritty story line is enough to keep the most demanding listener begging for more.

Shows like this are beginning to prove to the world that Audio Drama is truly coming back with a vengeance. The first season is complete and can be listened to here.

Time Bombs

Written by the dynamic duo behind Wolf 359, Sarah Shachat and Gabriel Urbina, Time Bombs has everything one could want in a miniseries: a tight, compelling story line, some intense nail-biting moments, and plenty of wisecracks. And what’s more, it was created in a week!

Can You Make a Podcast in a Week?

by Alex C. Telander

If you’re a big fan of audio dramas, chances are you’ve come across the fantastic show Wolf 359. If not, it’s a engrossing science fiction podcast about a distant space station orbiting the star Wolf 359, and the various antics the incredibly talented cast get up to. The show ran for three years, was nominated for a Webby Award, has an untold number of fans and listeners, and is still a big favorite for many. Then a year went by and some of the writers and cast members decided they really missed working together, and started a new project together with a seemingly impossible – or perhaps just insane – premise:

To create, write, record, produce and release a podcast in just one week.

Welcome to the wacky and very unpredictable world of bomb disposal with the three-part show, Time Bombs. Enter one Simon Teller (voiced by Peter Coleman), a trained professional in the fine art of “explosive ordnance disposal.” It’s New Year’s Eve and the rest of the crew would rather be anywhere else, except for Teller who’s looking to disarm a certain number of devices before midnight and beat a “coveted departmental record.” Along for tonight’s oh-so-memorable ride is Tatiana Sobrero (voiced by Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs), a reporter doing a profile on this dangerous life. Will Mark Midland (voiced by Noah Masur) graduate from trainee before the new year rings in? Will Sobrero get the exposé she’s looking for? And will Teller set a new anti-explosive record before midnight chimes in?

Written by the dynamic duo behind Wolf 359, Sarah Shachat and Gabriel Urbina, Time Bombs has everything one could want in a miniseries: a tight, compelling story line, some intense nail-biting moments, and plenty of wisecracks. Since the cast have worked together before, they have no problem forming a cohesive crew. The fact that the whole project was completed within one week simply boggles the mind. The good news is, Time Bombs is the first of hopefully many shows under the new flagship network, Fear of Public Shame. Shachat, Urbina and Valenti have also started a weekly show called No Bad Ideas, as they challenge each other to turn a bad idea into a decent story within thirty minutes, and then spend the rest of the show talking about their creative endeavors.

Time Bombs is a great place to start in giving these talented people a listen and from there you can start consuming their growing collective of great podcast.

The Deep Dive Into…

Some 400 years into the history of the New Earth – or Edict Zero as it is officially designated – the first act of terrorism has been committed by one Mister Cooke.

Edict Zero – FIS

By Lex Scott

Ever since I started getting into scripted podcasts, I’ve wished I could find proper full episode reviews and breakdowns. I could never find them, but that might because I never looked in the right place. So, when Podern Times started up and I was asked what I wanted to work on, that was of course the first thing I said. I was recommended a show to check out and review and it was off to the races.

The show was terrible. I thought “I don’t think I can stomach listening to two more seasons of this show”

It turns out it was a joke! I was supposed to hate that show (ed: SORRY! ) and there was something far more substantial, and of significantly higher quality waiting just up next in my podcast queue. The second recommendation: Edict Zero – FIS.

Here was a show that, at eight years old, is still held up as a benchmark of quality for audio dramas, and is regarded by many in the community to be one of the best the medium has to offer. And that’s not just in sci-fi: every new show, regardless of genre, is measured against the astounding quality of writing and production design on display here. And yet no one has really broken it down or analysed it before.

It was everything I’d been hoping for, and almost everything it’s reputation promised: big long meaty episodes roughly an hour each. Excellent technical quality and absolute masterful sound design. I knew, if I could get into the story there would be plenty to sustain a series of articles of analysis, conjecture, and gushing over this veritable audible feast.

So, please join me as I take a long journey, episode by episode, deep into the future of New Earth and the Federal Investigative Services, as presented by Jack Kincaid and Slipgate Nine Entertainment.

And of course, spoilers ahead.

Prequel/ Episode 1, 2415 Part 1

Some 400 years into the history of the New Earth – or Edict Zero as it is officially designated – the first act of terrorism has been committed by one Mister Cooke. An interesting if overly hostile character, our time with him in this episode is sadly very brief.

He unfortunately is emblematic of one of the main issues I had with this episode though: an overly wordy talker, unnecessarily hostile to everyone he meets. It’s a trope I’ve seen time and again in every medium imaginable and I always find it tiresome, because it’s just not believable.

People just don’t get to be that openly hostile to others and still interact with them. He’s rude to the butler who ushers him through the building, he’s rude to security doing his job, the only person he’s not rude to is the girl he rescues.

Side note: I’m assuming both Cooke and Melissa Parker survived, otherwise the entire opening is pointless.

Maybe Cooke’s whole demeanor is meant to make him one of these “characters you’re supposed to hate” but I’ve never bought into that trope. Either engender sympathy for your hero’s plight to make us hate the villain as an obstacle, or make us fear the villain for his actions. Making a vaguely hostile and oddly verbose character just takes me out of the moment and reminds me it’s unrealistic.

Near the end of the episode we learn that Cooke was involved in procuring mystic items for this now deceased mob boss. I’m inclined to believe this suitcase bomb was one of these Paradox Artifacts, and can probably be used more than once. My guess is some sort of black hole or gravity distortion bomb. And the fact that Cooke and Melissa probably survived indicates he probably has more than one in his possession, likely one for some sort of teleportation. It’s debatable whether he also actually does possess the Hex Gate Disc he was supposed to trade for Melissa Parker’s life.

Edict Zero is on the whole an extremely impressive piece of literature. On a technical level it is nothing short of astounding, with sound effects, music, and background noise all expertly layered together to form a truly impressive soundscape that really does build a picture in your mind of where you are. Every scene transition is smooth and flawless without being unnecessarily telegraphed. There is the occasional robotic voice telling us of our new location when it’s necessary or pertinent, but it always feels like it too is part of the world.

It actually feels like an automated train announcement, telling us what stop we’ve just arrived at. This even gives us an extra layer of subconscious detail by subtly telling our brains that time has passed while we travelled here.

Another scene transition that blew my mind in its simplicity was a simple change in audio quality. There are a few instances where a character is on the phone with someone, and we hear their voice as though through a phone. Now in video you can quickly switch back and forth, showing the different locations, but here we slowly transition from hearing one character through the phone’s distortion to the other. And we end the interaction now following the second character, in the new location.

It’s an incredibly subtle change, and I doubt most listeners would pick up on it consciously, but  no one would fail to realise that we’ve suddenly changed perspective.

It’s simple, almost consciously imperceptible, and impressively effective.

There were unfortunately a few times where they spent too much time setting the scene, and the whole thing felt a bit too audibly busy, with sound effects and background noises building and bustling. But, as this is the first episode and almost a decade old at this point, I’m expecting this to be improved as the series progresses.

Our second major character is another trope I’m generally a bit tired of, but in this instance I’m more bothered by the people around him than the actual character.

That is one agent Nick Garrett, an example of the Sherlock type character. He’s studied it all, is well versed in the various sciences, but lacks the intuitive understanding of actual people that most develop in their early years. He lacks the “correct” emotional response to most situations, and comes at everything with a critical, analytical mind.

As this character trope goes he’s not bad, but it’s the others around him that make it aggravating to me as an audience.

He lacks any hostility or superiority in his tone to be truly rude, but everyone he meets acts as though he’s the foulest most offensive thing they’ve ever had the displeasure of enduring. Though admittedly this seems limited to FIS agents, in particular those who seem to really lean on their authority and positions. The son of the murdered mob boss seemed to be pretty reasonable in talking to him. This leads to us immediately distrusting most of the other (non-pov) agents. In particular one Agent Whiteman of the organised crime division.

Side note: in regards to Whiteman, they spent so much time showing us how incorruptible he is that if he doesn’t end up being a traitor I well be genuinely shocked.

A counterpoint to the Agent Garrett character is presented in the form of Agent Kircher, and the way she’s treated by the narrative/ other characters is troubling.

In the briefing scene there are two people interrupting Agent Whiteman: Garrett, and Kircher. While Garrett is removed from the room and verbally dressed down, he’s otherwise allowed to continue his own personal investigation. Meanwhile, Kircher is tolerated in the room but later simply removed from the case entirely.

She’s not given the same opportunity to pursue her (entirely relevant) leads, or even confronted about her somehow “disrespectful” behaviour. She’s simply removed without ever being given the same opportunity to defend her position. This is unfortunate but probably unconscious gender politics on display, and the complete difference in the way their actions were responded to warrants further thought and discussion. I don’t believe this was a deliberate or even conscious choice by the writers, but in 2018 it really sticks out.

We close out the episode with a final scene introducing us to our major lead in the case: the homeless, probably mentally ill “Captain” Socrates, an associate of Mister Cooke.

This scene with Socrates is honestly one of if not the single weakest in the entire episode. I know people say in acting you make a choice and it’s better than not making a choice, and Jack Kincaid – the creator of this show, and actor of this role – certainly made a choice.

The trouble is I think that choice was bad.

It’s a tired and, once again overly verbose, caricature of a mental patient from the 1950’s. Speaking in a pastiche of upper class gentleman explorer vernacular, he seemingly speaks in an interminable mashup of movie quotes and pop culture references that lose all meaning when jammed in next to each other. I get that this is probably the aim, presenting an unhinged character with a scattered brain and neurons firing every which way all at once, but it is so world breaking it completely takes me out of the moment every time I hear it.

I cringe, every time, and not in the way the writer probably intended.

Conclusions/ Predictions

Overall I like this show. It is a master class in audio presentation and mixing, truly the most complex and technical show I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear and I genuinely feel like I learned a lot about the craft just by listening to it. The world building is top notch and genuinely engaging, and I really am looking forward to hearing the next episode and knowing what happens to our characters.

One of my favourite things about finding a new (to me) show with a big back catalogue spanning years is getting to see a kind of time lapse of their skills, as the creators grow and develop as people and artists. Getting to go back to the beginning of a journey and looking for all the kernels of promise present right from the start; crossing your fingers and watching them tease out their problematic or tired tropes into well defined thoughts is always engrossing.

I am genuinely looking forward to continuing with this series and seeing where it leads. And, hopefully seeing them outgrow some of these things that bothered me.

Go download Episode 2 right now, and join me next time as I continue my Deep Dive into Edict Zero – FIS.


Girl in Space

The last man on earth concept is a popular one in science fiction. I am Legend, The Omega Man, and Oblivion all spring immediately to mind, but my personal favorite is a relatively new addition to the subgenre: Girl in Space.

By Lex Scott

The last man on earth concept is a popular one in science fiction. I am Legend, The Omega Man, and Oblivion all spring immediately to mind, but my personal favorite is a relatively new addition to the subgenre: Girl in Space.

This radio play is frankly an astounding achievement, and a testament to a medium many would dismiss off-hand as dead or irrelevant. At times heartwarming, tense, and funny, this show is everything you could want shoved directly into your earballs.

“Abandoned on a dying ship in the farthest reaches of known space, a young scientist fights for survival (and patience with the on-board A.I.). Who is she? No one knows. But a lot of dangerous entities really want to find out…”

This is how we are introduced to the girl we’ll come to call X, and it is so wonderfully compelling you wouldn’t believe. It sucks you in with concept, and hooks you with it’s superb acting and excellent execution.

Let’s talk about that execution.

Girl in Space is written, produced by, and stars Sarah Rhea Werner, a professional writer, speaker, and podcaster She left a decades long marketing career, (why are all us writers former/current marketing professionals? I mean, there’s some crossover skill-wise but still…) to pursue her creative passions. I personally believe that move has paid off tremendously. Sarah’s performance is so rich in emotion and honesty that it alone is enough to pull you in. Acting is hard, and voice acting is even harder. I seriously cannot heap enough praise on this performance. It is nothing short of mind blowing.

The writing itself is fantastic. Polished and tight without any real wasted time, while simultaneously feeling very raw and off the cuff. The character of X is one with no filter: on a space station alone, and encouraged from an early age to vent her free-flowing thoughts into a portable recorder will do that to a person. So her character needs to do a lot of free association and be allowed to let her mind wander, (even in life or death situations; let’s just say that her mouth gets her in trouble a few times). This gives X a very charming, naive quality that’s never boring or off-putting. I’m not usually a fan of “naturalistic” dialogue; I always say if I wanted to hear natural dialogue I’d just go outside. I always want tight, focused speech from characters, a heightened reality. But coming from X and Sarah’s performance it is such a perfect character choice. Like having a friend who talks all the time, but in such a pleasant way you can’t help but be charmed.

The sound design is a triumph. Filled with subtle ambient ticks to truly sell the out of this world atmosphere. We hear the whir of Charlotte’s (the ships irascible A.I) hydraulic arm as she moves in and out of the story, subtle music cues filling in emotional beats and pauses in the narration masterfully used to convey the almost wistful stream of consciousness present throughout the entire show.

The overall production quality is excellent. The actual voice recording is professionally crisp and clean, no pops or odd spikes in volume. Each sound, from speech to music to effects, are entirely clear; in many podcasts I find myself manually tweaking the volume as I go to adjust for someone suddenly becoming inaudible (through moving to far from the mic or to account for extra noises going on in the show) but I never found myself doing this with Girl in Space. Even at its most busy (and that’s never much, it is a very laid back show) I never found myself struggling to make out words over effects or musical cues.

The writing itself is amazing in its simplicity. In essence it is a stream of consciousness narrative: X, the eponymous girl in space, is alone on a space station. We know this, and we can infer from certain clues that she was there with her parents until one day they weren’t. From a young age she was given a recorder and encouraged to share her thoughts with it, both as a useful log of events (and a helpful training tool for scientific recording) and as a diary to stave off loneliness and provide a creative outlet. This leads to a character essentially with no filter, who’s spent her entire life (approximately 24 years by my count?) venting a stream of unfiltered thoughts into her diary.

You might think this would make for a boring character but surprisingly it doesn’t. The stream of consciousness is endearing and well presented, and helped along by being thoughtful and emotionally honest. It provides a genuine and narratively consistent window for us to experience her life as an audience.

Girl in Space is the only piece of literature I can think of that is absolutely perfectly suited to the medium it inhabits. Pretty much everything we consume, movies books television, can be (and often is) presented in any kind of medium. Any movie could be presented just as well as a book and you wouldn’t lose anything of the core content in the translation. Sure many movies or books do take advantage of their respective mediums, and any adaptation will by its very nature focus on different things, Harry Potter the book is not fundamentally different when experienced as Harry Potter the movie.

Not so with Girl in Space. It could not exist in any other form without being fundamentally, unrecognisably, different. Not just that it would lose something in the translation, but that it would not be Girl in Space anymore.

At every turn Sarah takes full advantage of the fact that her audience can only hear what’s going on, that she’s not limited by words on a page or the budget required for visual effects. She paints a rich landscape of emotion, futuristic setting, and engaging characters, all while only engaging a single one of our primary senses. This alone is enough for me to recommend this show to everyone I meet.

Girl in Space makes great and successful efforts to maintain a clean rating, and was intentionally created for all ages to enjoy. I never have any qualms about recommending it to any even remotely mature acquaintance. However if you are squeamish about slightly disturbing imagery such as descriptions of wounds and blood, and sci fi gun violence it might give you pause. Also it is very um, let’s say science friendly, and you should definitely be prepared for such graphic words as coagulation, narcissism, and epigenetics.

I might already have mentioned I’ve actively recommended Girl in Space to every thinking, breathing person I have even a brief interaction with. Quite frankly I think this show is a marvel and a tremendous achievement on every level. It succeeds technically, from sound effects and recording, to presentation and performance, and of course is narratively gripping and compelling in a way you just can’t believe until you listen for yourself. Do yourself a favour and check it out, I promise you won’t regret it.

Serial Meets Moonlighting – Arden Podcast

It seems each and every #audiodramasunday there’s a new podcast dropping about an unsolved murder where the killer is discovered and brought to justice within ten or twelve episodes. These types of shows – audio drama crime shows – are riding on the huge success of “true crime” podcasts such as Serial and S-Town and many others that continue to grow in popularity. And then there’s the Arden Podcast . . .

Serial Meets Moonlighting: The Arden Podcast

By Alex C. Telander

It seems each and every #audiodramasunday there’s a new podcast dropping about an unsolved murder where the killer is discovered and brought to justice within ten or twelve episodes. These types of shows – audio drama crime shows – are riding on the huge success of “true crime” podcasts such as Serial and S-Town and many others that continue to grow in popularity. And then there’s the Arden Podcast . . .

It began as an idea in 2016 when Todd Vanderwerff (Vox, A. V. Club) pitched his writing partner, Christopher Dole (National Theater Institute), with the tagline: “Serial meets Moonlighting.” Dole was immediately on board, and the two then brought in comedy writer Sara Ghaleb (Ruby LA House Team The Burbs), who apparently isn’t familiar with Moonlighting, but was just as excited. The result is a show that is in some ways like other crime dramas, and in many others completely unique and compelling.

The story is set within the glitz and riches of Hollywood stardom.

Ten years ago the renowned actor Julie Capsom ran her car off the road on a rainy night in Northern California, far from the safe and familiar environs of Los Angeles. No sign of her was ever found, she appears to have disappeared into thin air, while a headless corpse of an unknown man was found in the trunk of her car.

Now two unexpected people have decided to solve the case and explain it to the world on the podcast Arden.

There is Bea Casely, a reporter who knows how to follow the rules, but also knows some rules need to be bent every once in a while to get what you need. Brenda Bentley is a former police officer and now turned private detective, who has seen it all and very much wants to find out what exactly happened to Julie Capsom. The two, while not necessarily actual friends, are certainly acquaintances, and very competitive, but ultimately are willing to put their prejudices and feelings aside to work with each other towards this common goal.

Arden podcast is extremely well produced with limited but key sound effects, music that goes well with the dialog and moves the story along. The two main characters – Bea (performed by Michelle Agresti) and Brenda (performed by Tracey Sayed) – have a rapport and dynamic that is unique and special, and at the same time like any well-performing duo. The delivery of the lines, the acting, and the way they feed off each other is hilarious and makes the listener stop whatever they’re doing just to focus. Along with the rest of the cast, every actor is strong and compelling, so there is never a dull moment.

And to “cap(som)” it all off, Wheyface Industries – “the good people” – who owns the radio station and a good chunk of Hollywood, cuts in with some very interesting advertisements in each episode, such as an ad for Wheyface Industries itself [Arden Wheyface Industries Sound File], or the Wheyface Industries Dehydrated Drinks for Adults [Arden Dehydrated Drinks Sound File], or the new dating app Wheydate [Arden Wheydate Sound File].

In the style of the Amelia Project, A Very Fatal Murder, and The After Disaster Broadcast, Arden Podcast is an enthralling murder mystery that has ample humor and a dynamic cast that will leave you wanting more at the end of every episode. Do yourself a favor and download and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Alex’s Best Podcasts of 2018

I started listening to podcasts over five years ago, so narrowing down a best-of list is never easy, though I decided to make it a little easier by only picking shows that started in 2018.

By Alex C. Telander

I started listening to podcasts over five years ago. I began getting hooked on audio dramas around three years ago with the likes of Welcome to Night Vale, The Black Tapes, The Message, and Limetown. Since then I’ve had a continuously growing download list of audio dramas that seems to increase every week. Some shows I try and they don’t grab me; others I hang on for a while and then they lose me and I stop listening; and then there are the many that I devoutly wait for a new episode to drop each week.

The hashtag #audiodramasunday helps me a lot in finding new shows and makes me look forward to every Sunday, and not just because it’s a guaranteed day off from work for me: Creators and fans recommending on Twitter are a big way I discover and try out new shows. It helps that podcasts are a booming media and there are new shows starting every week.

Narrowing down a best-of list is never easy, though I decided to make it a little easier by only picking shows that started in 2018.

A little easier.

So here, in order of when they debuted, are my top six podcasts of 2018 (because I couldn’t get it down to a nice five).

“Desperate to find meaning in his life, troubled Matthew Leads takes a job as the caretaker of an Antarctic Research Facility. An atmospheric isolation horror following his struggles with mental illness, a broken heart and the suffocating presence of Station Blue.”

Created, written, and directed by Chad Ellis, who also voices the main character, Station Blue is a haunting show on many levels. Both the imagery and the tone of the show are icy and cold that helps to create an evocative atmosphere. There is of course the terror-filled nature of a man alone at an Antarctic Research Facility surrounded by miles and miles of ice and no other human beings, but the underlying subject the show wrestles with is mental illness.

Leads has never had anything come easy to him in his life, and to say he’s gone through a lot of shit doesn’t do it justice. Ellis imbues the character with life and empathy that leave the listener often moved to tears in his portrayal. With plans for two more seasons, I look forward to seeing where this show takes its characters (and me) next.

“A city of nightmares, horrors and shifting streets. I Am In Eskew is a fortnightly horror podcast, taking place in a nightmarish and ever-changing city. This show contains frequent scenes of body horror, bloodiness, and disturbing behaviour.”

When I listen to I am in Eskew, I am reminded of the “Hotel California” lyric: “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” There is no place like Eskew, where every horror you can imagine comes alive and is possibly waiting for you around the next corner, or behind the next door. It’s a town where it always seems to be raining and you never want to end up in. It is the story of David Ward who is stuck in Eskew and must live its everyday horrors. A British audio drama that not only features familiar English weather, but a sense of supernatural horror that fans of the late bestselling author James Herbert will appreciate.

“We Fix Space Junk follows seasoned smuggler Kilner and reluctant fugitive Sam, as they travel the galaxy, carrying out odd jobs on the fringes of the law.”

Another engaging and very entertaining British audio drama, We Fix Space Junk has the whole package, from a great logo and catchy sound effects and theme music, to impressive acting, and a great storyline that gives listeners an unpredictable episode every two weeks. Kilner and Sam get up to all sorts of adventures across the universe, working for the omnipresent and domineering Automnicon. It’s a fun show that always leaves listeners endlessly amused.

“A podcast about podcasting”

Wil Williams (if you’re a podcaster and you don’t know who she is, you are seriously missing out and need to get that fixed right away) and Gavin Gaddis (The Pod Report, Red Light Library, Standard Docking Procedure) teamed up in the spring of 2018 to do a podcast about podcasting, which doesn’t begin to cover the depth and insight this show reaches.

With 20 episodes in the can, Tuned in Dialed Up runs the gamut from “Spoilers Ahoy!” episodes, to numerous featured guests (the likes of Lizette Alvarez, Elena Fernandez-Collins, and Erin Kyan), to incredibly important episodes on casting calls to ethics in podcasting to monetization.

Sometimes TIDU can get dark and bleak, but that’s because sometimes podcasting needs to, to talk about incredibly important subjects from trans representation, how creators should treat fans and how fans should treat creators, to listeners and actors with disabilities. I avidly await each new episode TIDU, because I always know I’m going to learn a lot.

“Arden Podcast: Arden is a scripted audio drama that’s both mystery and comedy. The 12 episode first season follows Bea Casely, a journalist, and Brenda Bentley, a detective, as they work together to solve the 10-year-old disappearance of starlet Julie Capsom.”

Definitely one of the highlights of the year for me. The Arden Podcast began with the tagline “Serial Meets Moonlighting,” and recently wrapped up its first season (yes, you do find out what happened to Julie Capsom). Bea (performed by Michelle Agresti) and Brenda (Tracey Sayed) have a rapport and dynamic together that is up there with Cagney and Lacey and Kirk and Spock. Timeless and forever entertaining.

Humor is always present to add a levity to the grim subject, and the sexual tension between the two feels at times veritably palpable. There are plans for another season and I can’t wait to see what case this dynamic duo tackles next.

“Of course there are bad ideas. Like, a lot of them. But any idea can become a good story.”

As a writer, it can feel somewhat condescending to hear bestselling authors talk about writing and how you get it done when they’re not too worried about where next week’s paycheck is coming from. No Bad Ideas is a different sort of writing advice podcast. It features a trio of greats from the hugely (and still) popular Wolf 359: Zach Valenti, Sarah Shachat, and Gabriel Urbina.

The first hour is spent turning a terrible idea scoured from the Internet into a compelling and entertaining (and always amusing) story. The second half of the show has the three talking about the state of their creative endeavors and it is always so insightful and humbling as none of three hold back and confess to fears and worries all writers have on a daily basis.

And there you have my top podcasts for 2018. Have you listened to them all? You should really check them out. Have some favorites of your own from last year? Let me know what they are in the comments below.

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: Diary of a Madman

Continuing our Halloween countdown of all things scary, we look at the new season of Diary of a Madman.

Diary of a Madman

By Dōhai

Continuing our Halloween countdown it would be remiss of me to not mention Diary of a Madman. (Warning: Contains gratuitous self promotion.)

As you are probably aware from my last post in the countdown you can throw all manner of ghosts, ghouls, and even a few killer clowns at me all day long and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid, but add a real world psychological twist to it and now you’ve got me.

Diary of a Madman follows the audio journal of a murderer. A unique insight into the rationale of a killer and his reasons for doing what seems abhorrent to us all. But is it? Abhorrent to us I mean. After all, we see it everywhere and yet we don’t seem to be up in arms about it. We shrug our collective shoulders and carry on with our daily grind until that is, it affects us or our immediate family.

Created by Paul Sating, the pen behind many other podcasts such as ‘Subject: Found’ and ‘Who Killed Julie?’, season one comes in the format of 24 short diary entries that average around 5-6 minutes, and is definitely one that sent chills down my spine.

It both chilled and inspired me to begin writing fiction, and when Paul asked me if I would like to write season two, I almost ripped off his arm and beat him to death with it I was that excited. (Luckily there’s a small body of water between us.)

If you haven’t had the pleasure of being chilled to the bone by the first season, then I suggest you go binge it now, because season two launches on Halloween!


 

Have you been enjoying our countdown to Halloween? Come and join us in celebrating all that is horror by sharing your favorites in the comments below!

Just caught this series? Why not start from the beginning and work your way through, otherwise there’s a new post tomorrow!


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.

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.