Commentary: Amateur Audio Drama & What’s Wrong With It

Meta SFFaudioWe’ve been talking about audio drama a lot here lately. Personally I like audio drama, and I should point out I like amateur audio drama too. But It doesn’t all make me happy. The industry has a number of problems. This post isn’t designed to discourage people who want to get into the business, it’s your time, you can use it how you want. Heck if you’ll make stuff I’ll enjoy I actively encourage you! But I do see problems, some that are fixed far easier before you start recording. Here are five problems I see in amateur audio drama…

Problem #1: Too many and too little.
Maybe there are too many people trying to do audio drama. It seems that almost everybody and their friend is making original audio drama. Good for you. A recent visit to a dedicated audio drama blog gave me a list of more than two dozen (!) audio drama troupes with websites. There are more without websites. How sad is that? Methinks it is time to consolidate people! Umbrella organizations seem to help with production schedules and technical know-how. In a group you’ll probably find peer feeback feedback will help you keep encouraged, keep you on a schedule and help keep your actors showing up for sessions. Even better as a co-operative you’ll benefit from economy of scale in terms of word of mouth.

Problem #2: Its It’s called DISTRIBUTION, stupid.
I don’t have a handle on the exact extent of the audience for audio drama, and I doubt anyone else does, but I’m going to guess that the audience for some of the amateur productions is not much higher than the number of people involved in making them (if that). Many websites didn’t even seem to be aware of the existence of podcasting. And most don’t do it. This is a major mistake. If you are one of these people do yourself a favour and buy a copy of Podcasting For Dummies. Podcasting is going to be bigger than television is now and bigger than radio was in it’s its heyday. The distribution and infrastructure costs are ridiculously cheap, you only pay big $$ if people LOVE your stuff. If you don’t make it easy for people to listen, they won’t. If your stuff isn’t on the radio, isn’t being reviewed by anyone or being syndicated by another podcast your audience isn’t just going to come to you. Podcast distribution is the solution! Pendant Productions, Darker Projects and The Sonic Society all podcast, this makes them have an audience FAR bigger than if they didn’t. Try it.

Problem # 3: Who the hell are you? And why should I care?
When you name is Llama Escondido or Sheila Whatshername your you’re in deep trouble. I’m more likely to be searching for somebody I already know about and love than you and your vague audio drama, it’s vague name and your vague writer name. Worse if none of my keywords show up in your indecipherable audio drama description, you’re lost. Don’t say that your audio drama offers a “unique perspective,” or that it consists of “funny adventures” with “new visions” that is just boring. Instead use names, either by licencing name authors fiction or by setting your dramas in places I’ve heard of “Barsoom” is better than “Planet Y.” Specifics are always better, 2052 is better than “the future.” Another approach, and Scott’s going to love this one, is to do a little Audio Drama Fan Fiction. Some umbrella organizations take this approach. People will find you this way, searches for Star Wars, Firefly, Star Trek are far more common than searches for:

Generic/Abstract Audio Drama Title
Weitten Written by Boring Guy You’ve Never Heard Of (with a “FULL CAST”)

When J. Marcus Xavier started his Silent Universe audio drama series he smartly compared his show to 24 and Battlestar Galactica. He’s since dropped the comparison (he still uses “choose-your-own-adventure” in the description) in part, no doubt, because his show is now established and known.

Problem # 4: It ain’t all that funny, buddy.
If you haven’t already, consider writing “serious” audio drama. Funny is harder to write well. I think the reason people write so much “funny” audio drama might have to do with the worry about whether or not it will be any good. Maybe it is a defensive mechanism on the part of the writer? If it is supposed to be funny and people don’t laugh, you can always say to yourself “they just don’t have a good sense of humor.” If they point out that your plot is derivative, don’t say “It is supposed to be. that’s what’s so funny.” Fear of critcism criticism shouldn’t be the motivation for a script’s direction. Another related issue: Audio dramatists tend to dumb down the science in their “funny” science fiction audio dramas. Just because it is “funny” doesn’t mean you can go slack on the science. Red Dwarf was full of ridiculously impossible physics, but they respected the audience, knew the actual tropes of SF and made serious SF ideas a part of the plot. Try that.

Problem #5: Do a reality check. Campy isn’t cool.
I’m not saying this to be cruel, I just am getting tired of the obliviousness… one thing that I’ve heard over and over again is a line that goes something like this: “We’re resurrecting Old Time Radio. Millions of people used to be glued to their radios in the 1930s and 1940s. We’re going to make it again.” I’ve heard that or variations on that pathetic dream at least a half dozen times in interviews with amateur audio dramatists. I think that’s part of the problem, you’re taking the 1930s clunky sensibility and expecting it to work in the 21st century. So maybe you did recognize this in the first recording session and so instead of updating the plots and the dialogue, you make it “campy fun.” I can only take so much camp, and right now I’m all filled up. I’m betting “campy fun” is about 100 times more fun to make than it is to listen to.

I am without audio drama sin (or virtue), being just a consumer of it, so I feel justified in casting these stones. Am I wrong?

*Typos fixed: (October 14th). Thanks Joe!

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17 thoughts to “Commentary: Amateur Audio Drama & What’s Wrong With It”

  1. Wrong? Jesse, if you were any more wrong, you’d be on Fox News.

    You do a lot of griping, but you don’t offer any practical alternatives. If anything, once they’ve been run through five universal translators, a Babel fish, and a reconstructed Enigma machine, it becomes apparent that your suggestions don’t even make any frigging sense.

    Semantics aren’t your strong suit. That’s okay. I’ll walk you through it.

    Your item #1:
    I’ll throw you a bone. You have a point about production groups pooling their resources. Unfortunately you also make a false assumption in the same breath, which undermines your premise (well, that and your wishy-washy language; qualifying your ideas with maybe’s and admissions that you don’t have any facts doesn’t exactly build up your credibility.)

    When it comes to technical resources, the advantages of umbrella organizations are readily apparent. In every other respect, however, they have the same problems as the little guys that comprise them. Sometimes people, hardware, or money are committed elsewhere, often because of obligations. Either way, the whole production effort suffers. Personnel aren’t always available — or reliable. Sometimes their know-how goes with them. Money isn’t always there either. Putting the individual resources of 10-20 people with families, debts, and day jobs under one big circus tent doesn’t trigger the sort of alchemy you’re dreaming of, pal.

    Your item #2:
    You’re confusing distribution — the dispersing of your product — with advertising, which is about attracting consumers to your product.

    Distribution means absolutely nothing if no one knows you exist, from one who knows. By your reasoning, every podcast in the known universe is making a killing by sheer virtue of existing. No no no. You have to tell people that your product exists, that it meets certain needs, and that it’s worth acquiring. That’s advertising…otherwise known as screaming at the top of your lungs, begging for an increasingly scarce, rapidly evaporating commodity in today’s market — people’s attention.

    Here’s an example: “The Sonic Society” isn’t just podcast. It’s syndicated on radio stations throughout Canada and the northern United States. That puts their distribution on an international level. That lends them more credibility than podcasting ever could, at least for now. To the corporate mainstream, podcasting entails several thousand people with laptops blogging into a mike, so they’re quick to dismiss it. Not fair or wise, just quick.

    Meanwhile, their podcasts do serve a purpose. They make it easy for listeners to try the show out and tell other people about it. Advertising as distribution. That’s why podcasting is such an effective marketing tool, by killing two birds with one stone.

    So while you’re watching butchered Trek reruns on G4 or something, the rest of us are cold-calling programming managers and journalists, working to get podcasts done, out the door, and noticed while producing CD’s, schlepping those CD’s across the country, hawking them at conventions, desperately (but nicely) chasing people down with a pair of headphones and an MP3 player, trying to convince them we’re doing something interesting. What the hell are you doing about it?

    Your item #3:
    Who the hell am I? I’m Joe Medina, creator of the “Afterhell” audio series. Why should you care? Well, you probably won’t care. It’s not a science fiction rip-off.

    The best way for an artist to get ahead is to copy everyone else — to defer his or her creativity? What’s your idea of a suicide hotline, telling people to jump?

    This might come as a shock, but Barsoom and Tatooine were once unheard of. And if Edgar Rice Burroughs or George Lucas had listened to you, they wouldn’t have bothered inventing them. If you want the next Barsoom, give Whatshername a chance.

    Fanfic is all well and good, but it’s also a trap. Writers can push the same boulders up the same hills for years, constricted by their own obsessions with other people’s canon, only to watch it evaporate when the next Neil Gaiman or Russell T. Davies appears.

    And while I have no objection to adapting literary works, that path has pitfalls of its own. Intellectual property issues get murky, especially with material from the early 1900’s. And if Hollywood has a big-budget movie deal for the same story you’re working on, you’re often politely asked to either make your audiodrama more like the movie or put it on indefinite hold, so that two versions of the same story aren’t competing for the same fanbase.

    Promote an audiodrama with promises that it’s just like a certain TV show? Knock yourself out. Then you’ll have a hell of a time after that convincing everyone that your work is halfway original.

    So spare me your ruttin’ keywords. If you’re searching for nothing but big-brand media-SF retreads, you’ve got plenty of “audiodrama sin” on your hands.

    Your item #4:
    Yes, comedy is more challenging than drama. A loaf of bread is also more convenient when it’s pre-sliced. Are there any more examples of the scintillatingly obvious you’d like to share?

    And who are you to dictate what’s funny? No, I take it back. Anyone citing Red Dwarf as hard science is hi-larious. Would you care to link us to the physics papers that anticipates “Future Echoes” just by way of example? I love Red Dwarf, but it’s hardly Rendezvous with Rama. And hard science and “the actual tropes of SF” are hardly the same thing. No one in the scientific community is ready to swear by FTL stardrives just yet.

    Your item #5:
    You’re getting tired of the obliviousness? You pump out this incoherent rambling, confusing issue after issue, rendering your readers eyesore with your functionally illiterate attempts at grammar, punctuation, and rhetoric…and you have the gall to say that?

    To paraphrase J Michael Straczynski, “If you can’t say what you mean, you can’t mean what you say.”

    Here, you’re confusing three different things: campy humor, nostalgia, and the naivete of over-enthusiastic audiodramatists. You squished them all together into a single incoherent temper tantrum and passed it off as an argument.

    Campy humor…I agree this little trick has been overused. More often than not, camp is the last refuge for the uninspired and the self-conscious. I’d sooner avoid it, myself. But if someone thinks they can put a new spin on it, I’d at least give them a chance.

    Over-enthusiastic audiodramatists… Look, I’m all for setting people straight and giving them a sense of realism, if not pragmatism. But calling their aspirations a “pathetic dream”? What are you, Leo Laporte? If you really want to spare people grief, you should try something a little more constructive than smashing their hands with a ballpeen hammer.

    Nostalgia…that’s not the problem. Actually you’re making the same mistake as the people who resort to campy schtick in the first place. 1930’s sensibilities weren’t “clunky” at the time, only when they’re taken out of their native context. If you want to depict them, you must understand that context — the culture at the time. When actors perform Shakespeare, when they do it well, even a modern audience can follow the dialogue without a second thought. You can tell that production nailed the context. When an OTR-style audiodrama feels clunky, that crew didn’t do their homework.

    You can’t absolve yourself from the state of the market just because you’re a consumer. You’re shaping the market with every purchase. Did you pick up the Willamette Radio Workshop’s Fall of the City? Or are you actively supporting some MacDonaldland audiodrama outfit with cheesy acting, cookie-cutter writing, and absolutely no soul whatsoever? Who’s responsible for the clunk now?

    No, no, if you want change, you should be a better consumer. Better educated. Better informed. A little more diligent. Not as shallow as you once were.

    And please, in the name of God — be more freakin’ articulate! I’m not asking for Bradbury, just legible! You don’t know what you’re talking about, let alone how to bloody say it. Would consulting Strunk & White be too much of a burden for you? If you won’t research your points, the least you could do is run your semi-literate nonsensical rants through a spell-checker.

    I leave you with your mealy-mouthed claims of artistic virtue in tatters, your highness. Now put some clothes on.

    Joe Medina
    http://www.afterhell.com

  2. >Your item #1:
    I’ll throw you a bone. You have a point about production groups pooling their resources.

    Huzzah!

    >Unfortunately you also make a false assumption in the same breath, which undermines your premise (well, that and your wishy-washy language; qualifying your ideas with maybe’s and admissions that you don’t have any facts doesn’t exactly build up your credibility.)

    Ouch!

    >When it comes to technical resources, the advantages of umbrella organizations are readily apparent. In every other respect, however, they have the same problems as the little guys that comprise them. Sometimes people, hardware, or money are committed elsewhere, often because of obligations. Either way, the whole production effort suffers. Personnel aren’t always available — or reliable. Sometimes their know-how goes with them. Money isn’t always there either. Putting the individual resources of 10-20 people with families, debts, and day jobs under one big circus tent doesn’t trigger the sort of alchemy you’re dreaming of, pal.

    I wasn’t talking panacea.

    >Your item #2:
    You’re confusing distribution — the dispersing of your product — with advertising, which is about attracting consumers to your product.

    I don’t think I confused the two issues. Problem 2 points out that distribution – getting your audio drama into the ears of listeners is easier done by podcast syndication than by realaudio clips on a website, streaming radio stations (in different time zones) etc.

    >Distribution means absolutely nothing if no one knows you exist, from one who knows.

    I don’t disagree, but by podcasting and submitting your feed to directories you’ll more likely get people to know you exist.

    >By your reasoning, every podcast in the known universe is making a killing by sheer virtue of existing.

    I don’t think I said anything like that.

    >No no no. You have to tell people that your product exists, that it meets certain needs, and that it’s worth acquiring. That’s advertising…otherwise known as screaming at the top of your lungs, begging for an increasingly scarce, rapidly evaporating commodity in today’s market — people’s attention.

    Robert J. Sawyer, someone who I think is a great SF writer and a marketing master, said something really interesting about this. He said that he doesn’t even try to sell his books to individuals, he puts his marketing time (his advertizing of himself and his books) into mass-media. Getting interviews with radio, TV and magazines. Talking on panels at conventions, giving readings, doing signings. In other words, he lets word of mouth take care of itself. The person to person convincing should be left to the consumers.

    >Here’s an example: “The Sonic Society” isn’t just podcast. It’s syndicated on radio stations throughout Canada and the northern United States. That puts their distribution on an international level. That lends them more credibility than podcasting ever could, at least for now.

    Don’t take this as an attack:

    “Ever could” and “at least for now” can’t co-exist in the same thought.

    >To the corporate mainstream, podcasting entails several thousand people with laptops blogging into a mike, so they’re quick to dismiss it. Not fair or wise, just quick.

    It seems to me that corporations are now taking podcasting up at fast pace. I have no stats but that’s my general read based on the volume of corporate podcasts.

    >Meanwhile, their podcasts do serve a purpose. They make it easy for listeners to try the show out and tell other people about it. Advertising as distribution. That’s why podcasting is such an effective marketing tool, by killing two birds with one stone.

    I see what your saying, I think. But can’t they be both and me not be mealy mouthed?

    >So while you’re watching butchered Trek reruns on G4 or something, the rest of us are cold-calling programming managers and journalists, working to get podcasts done, out the door, and noticed while producing CD’s, schlepping those CD’s across the country, hawking them at conventions, desperately (but nicely) chasing people down with a pair of headphones and an MP3 player, trying to convince them we’re doing something interesting. What the hell are you doing about it?

    Only SFFaudio.

    >Your item #3:
    Who the hell am I? I’m Joe Medina, creator of the “Afterhell” audio series. Why should you care? Well, you probably won’t care. It’s not a science fiction rip-off.

    Nice to meet you Joe. Never heard of you before this. Is your “Afterhell” series SFFaudio related?

    >The best way for an artist to get ahead is to copy everyone else — to defer his or her creativity?

    I didn’t say it was the best way, but I doubt you’d suggest it isn’t an effective way to bootstrap your original productions.

    For instance, I’d heard of Kevin J. Anderson because of his involvement in media tie in novels. Now I enjoy his original fiction. Is this just? Probably not, but did it work? I believe this was part of the rationale behind Sonic Cinema doing Firefly: Old Wounds, to better market their company.

    >This might come as a shock, but Barsoom and Tatooine were once unheard of. And if Edgar Rice Burroughs or George Lucas had listened to you, they wouldn’t have bothered inventing them.

    The latter is pretty interest, George Lucas didn’t create Star Wars in a vacuum.

    >If you want the next Barsoom, give Whatshername a chance.

    Abosultely! Without question! But how, can I even find out about Sheila Whatshername?

    >Fanfic is all well and good, but it’s also a trap. Writers can push the same boulders up the same hills for years, constricted by their own obsessions with other people’s canon, only to watch it evaporate when the next Neil Gaiman or Russell T. Davies appears.

    Doubtless that is the case. But I believe that Russell T. Davies wrote Doctor Who before he was a big name too. Fan Fic isn’t nicotine, it isn’t that difficult a hobby to give up.

    >And while I have no objection to adapting literary works, that path has pitfalls of its own. Intellectual property issues get murky, especially with material from the early 1900’s.

    Try some lapsed copyright stuff. tons of it is available, much of it excellent, and I’m not talking the standards, Dickens, Poe, or even Lovecraft (which I still think there is quite a taste for).

    >And if Hollywood has a big-budget movie deal for the same story you’re working on, you’re often politely asked to either make your audiodrama more like the movie or put it on indefinite hold, so that two versions of the same story aren’t competing for the same fanbase.

    Sounds like a good problems to have.

    >Promote an audiodrama with promises that it’s just like a certain TV show? Knock yourself out. Then you’ll have a hell of a time after that convincing everyone that your work is halfway original.

    That one’s an out and out straw man.

    >So spare me your ruttin’ keywords. If you’re searching for nothing but big-brand media-SF retreads, you’ve got plenty of “audiodrama sin” on your hands.

    I am not searching for nothing but “big-brand media-SF retreads” – not in the least.

    >Your item #4:
    Yes, comedy is more challenging than drama. A loaf of bread is also more convenient when it’s pre-sliced. Are there any more examples of the scintillatingly obvious you’d like to share?

    You get more flies with sugar? ;)

    >And who are you to dictate what’s funny?

    I’m me!

    >No, I take it back. Anyone citing Red Dwarf as hard science is hi-larious.

    Joe. Another straw man, I said Red Dwarf was “full of ridiculously impossible physics” but that in spite of this “made serious SF ideas a part of the plot.” I didn’t say Red Dwarf was HARD SF.

    >Your item #5:
    You’re getting tired of the obliviousness? You pump out this incoherent rambling, confusing issue after issue, rendering your readers eyesore with your functionally illiterate attempts at grammar, punctuation, and rhetoric…and you have the gall to say that?

    I have gall. I am full of effrontery. But I’d still call that ad homenim attack, not a measured response. Incoherent? Mayhaps I do have a funny way of constructing a sentence, but truly incoherent? I doubt that the case.

    >To paraphrase J Michael Straczynski, “If you can’t say what you mean, you can’t mean what you say.”

    Will bear that in mind.

    >Here, you’re confusing three different things: campy humor, nostalgia, and the naivete of over-enthusiastic audiodramatists.

    I was talking about three things, not confusing them. I don’t think I “squished them all together into a single incoherent temper tantrum and passed it off as an argument.”
    I’m not a bully boy, and I take argumentation seriously.

    >Campy humor…I agree this little trick has been overused. More often than not, camp is the last refuge for the uninspired and the self-conscious. I’d sooner avoid it, myself. But if someone thinks they can put a new spin on it, I’d at least give them a chance.

    Of course! I didn’t dismiss out of hand the idea of listening to someone’s “campy” audio drama, I said I was full up.

    >Look, I’m all for setting people straight and giving them a sense of realism, if not pragmatism. But calling their aspirations a “pathetic dream”?

    Maybe I’m wrong but I look at the state of radio today and beleive there is absolutely no chance of getting millions of people to be glued to their radios listening to audio drama like they were in the 1930s and 1940s again. Magazine fiction is barely hanging on. Almost nothing left of it now. Internet audio solutions are the way to go.

    >What are you, Leo Laporte? If you really want to spare people grief, you should try something a little more constructive than smashing their hands with a ballpeen hammer.

    I think he’s a tech guy but I’ve neither heard nor seen his show.

    >If you want to depict them, you must understand that context — the culture at the time. When actors perform Shakespeare, when they do it well, even a modern audience can follow the dialogue without a second thought.

    False, they need to be trained up for Shakespeare.

    >You can’t absolve yourself from the state of the market just because you’re a consumer. You’re shaping the market with every purchase.

    And hopefully with every review!

    >Did you pick up the Willamette Radio Workshop’s Fall of the City?

    No, it was emailed to me, and I gave it a very positive review. :)

    http://www.sffaudio.com/archives/2006_05_01_sffaudio_archive.html

    >Or are you actively supporting some MacDonaldland audiodrama outfit with cheesy acting, cookie-cutter writing, and absolutely no soul whatsoever? Who’s responsible for the clunk now?

    I’d need to know who you think is “McDonaldland” before I could say.

    >No, no, if you want change, you should be a better consumer. Better educated. Better informed. A little more diligent. Not as shallow as you once were.

    I am in the process of eduicating myself. I’m told it is a lifelong process.

    >And please, in the name of God — be more freakin’ articulate! I’m not asking for Bradbury, just legible!

    Now you overinflate my faults. Clearly my commentary was legible.

    >You don’t know what you’re talking about, let alone how to bloody say it.

    I am wounded sir.

    >Would consulting Strunk & White be too much of a burden for you? If you won’t research your points, the least you could do is run your semi-literate nonsensical rants through a spell-checker.

    I can’t both be wrong and nonsensical. As to the spelling, I can attempt more careful checking. Care to point out any corrections?

  3. Jesse and Joe,

    From the original post, I really think the “pathetic dream” phrase was uncalled for. Other than that, the rest of the post was interesting but unclear in that you state at the beginning that you are going to talk about amateur audio drama, then start talking about marketing and distribution, then into the content of the audio drama itself. Are amateurs interested in that? I suppose it depends on why they are doing it.

    The truth is that there is nothing “wrong” with audio drama. There are not “too many” people doing it, and it’s certainly not pathetic. For amateurs, it’s enjoyable as heck to do it (I’ve done some live) and that’s enough. For professionals, it’s a matter of doing good work, then finding an audience amongst people that generally don’t even listen to audio drama. It’s a twofold marketing challenge – not only are you selling your specific content, but you are also selling the idea that audio drama has a special storytelling power all its own and that people should care about it.

    Though I too am full of specific types of science fiction audio drama, people will make what they want to make, which I assume is also what they like to hear. Personally, listening to something like Stephen Baxter’s “Voyage” (BBC Radio) makes me think about how much excellent SF there is out there that could be adapted to that medium. Can the market sustain that kind of thing?
    Will people buy “Ringworld” done as audio drama? I certainly would.

    And that’s another part of the key. “Buy.” Will people BUY it. The current podcast model of having people donate after downloading free content doesn’t seem sustainable to me. You said podcasting would be “bigger than television”, which makes me think that I don’t know what you mean when you say the word
    “podcasting”. Internet delivery is definitely going to be part of the future picture, as will pay-per-view (or pay-per-listen). iTunes is doing very well, and I suspect it or similar services, connected directly to home A/V equipment, will be the future. But, money will change hands before stuff is downloaded. That I guarantee.

  4. Perhaps your remarks would gain more thoughtful consideration if a) you removed the chip from your shoulder before writing, b) edited your copy for precision and brevity, and c) knew what you were talking about.

    Yuri Rasovsky

  5. Scott,

    >From the original post, I really think the “pathetic dream” phrase was uncalled for.

    Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying, nor would I say that Audio Drama, amateur or otherwise, is pathetic. I love the stuff. SOME of it is pathetic, but that isn’t even what I said. If you read “pathetic dream” in the context of “getting millions of people to be glued to their radios again” I think it is a solid claim.

    >Other than that, the rest of the post was interesting but unclear…

    I can’t be sure that your wrong about me being unclear. I ran it by someone to make sure they understood what I wrote before posting. If more than you and Joe say I’m being unclear I’ll accept that. I wanted to be clear. I thought I was clear.

    >at the beginning that you are going to talk about amateur audio drama…

    The whole post is about amateur audio drama.

    >then start talking about marketing and distribution…

    Of amateur audio drama.

    >then into the content of the audio drama itself.

    Yup. All about amateur audio drama.

    >Are amateurs interested in that? I suppose it depends on why they are doing it.

    If they don’t want people to hear it why bother recording it?

    >The truth is that there is nothing “wrong” with audio drama.

    I agree in the sense that audio drama isn’t fatally flawed.

    >There are not “too many” people doing it, and it’s certainly not pathetic.

    I TOTALLY AGREE, with the second thought. Again, the “pathetic dream” only refers to the idea that Radio Drama (not audio drama) is going to be revived like it was in its heyday. People are not going to be glued to their radios. Not in the USA. In Canada professional radio drama is done in very short segments, when it is done at all. It is typically neglected because most of the listening audience don’t make it an appointment listening event and radio is much more difficult to Tivo. I learned quite a lot about the process as it worked at the CBC Radio in the 1980s and 1990s as my uncle, now deceased, was the creator and head writer of a three day a week serial comedy show (basically an audio sitcom) that aired nationally in Canada.

    >For amateurs, it’s enjoyable as heck to do it (I’ve done some live) and that’s enough.

    I see, so maybe it’s like a sport you play for enjoyment? That actually makes a great deal of sense to me.

    >For professionals, it’s a matter of doing good work, then finding an audience amongst people that generally don’t even listen to audio drama.

    Which is most people unfortunately.

    >It’s a twofold marketing challenge – not only are you selling your specific content, but you are also selling the idea that audio drama has a special storytelling power all its own and that people should care about it.

    Definitely. The problem is that in the United States there is no over-arching public radio market for it. Canada (to a very limited degree), Britain, Ireland and even Australia have publicly funded and distributed radio, with radio stations that can play one program at a certain time nation wide. This hasn’t happened in the USA. There is some limited activity now happening on XM Sattelite but it isn’t freely accessible.

    >Though I too am full of specific types of science fiction audio drama, people will make what they want to make, which I assume is also what they like to hear.

    No doubt.

    >Personally, listening to something like Stephen Baxter’s “Voyage” (BBC Radio) makes me think about how much excellent SF there is out there that could be adapted to that medium. Can the market sustain that kind of thing?

    A public radio market as exists in the UK sure can.

    >Will people buy “Ringworld” done as audio drama? I certainly would.

    WOW great idea! Me too! Heck I’d love to listen to a fan made version!

    >And that’s another part of the key. “Buy.” Will people BUY it. The current podcast model of having people donate after downloading free content doesn’t seem sustainable to me.

    Tell that to Steve Eley or Evo Terra. There is a special relationship between you and the things in your ears. I think you’re a bit pessimistic, they can also try advertizing. It worked for radio drama in the USA, why not for podcasting? And by the way I do give money to podcasts that I want to support that have a PayPal button. One thing I was thinking last night is I’d like Second Shift, to put up a donation button.

    http://www.secondshiftpodcast.com/

    >You said podcasting would be “bigger than television”, which makes me think that I don’t know what you mean when you say the word
    “podcasting”.

    What I mean by podcasting is people, making and delivery content through RSS syndication to me and you without being filtered through a GIANT media company that picks and chooses what I can enjoy.

    >Internet delivery is definitely going to be part of the future picture, as will pay-per-view (or pay-per-listen). iTunes is doing very well, and I suspect it or similar services, connected directly to home A/V equipment, will be the future. But, money will change hands before stuff is downloaded. That I guarantee.

    I can’t deny you have to own an MP3 player (or compuer) to listen to podcasts. In almost every case MP3 players are purchased items, rather than consturcted ones. though I’ve read of a few homemade ones. ;)

    The point is those costs aren’t BURDENED onto the producer of a podcast. Podcasters only pay big $$ to syndicate their materials if they are extremely popular. Being extremely popular leads to them making money, by donations, ads etc.

  6. On the amateur audio drama – I’m saying that amateur audio drama is not a business. In your original post, you said “The industry has a number of problems. This post isn’t designed to discourage people who want to get into the business…” Amateur audio drama is not an industry, nor is it a business.

    And two things that are probably subjects for a different thread:

    1) Yes, I would love to see a “Ringworld” audio drama, but no, I’m not interested in hearing a piece of “Ringworld” fanfic.

    and

    2) On podcasting in general as business, yes, I remain pessimistic. Both Eley and Evo are definitely showing people the way. However, time will tell. Is it sustainable in the long run? Maybe it is! Maybe it isn’t. I wish them all kinds of success, but I remain convinced that when (not if, when) large publishing companies start taking advantage of the internet in a bigger way, the mechanism will look more like traditional media sales than like podcasting. Again, see iTunes.

    Your point about using advertising to finance podcasts is well taken. That is certainly a possibility.

  7. >>Putting the individual resources of 10-20 people with
    >>families, debts, and day jobs under one big circus
    >>tent doesn’t trigger the sort of alchemy you’re
    >>dreaming of, pal.
    >
    >I wasn’t talking panacea.

    And yet that was how it was framed. You pointed out a problem, posed an alternative, even laying down points to support it in a cursory fashion. Then you left it at that, as if that was enough. If you had offered more than one response to the problem, or explored the pros and cons of the one alternative, it would’ve been at least more thoughtful.

    >>You’re confusing distribution — the dispersing of your product —
    >>with advertising, which is about attracting consumers to your product.
    >
    >I don’t think I confused the two issues.

    If you were confused, how would you know?

    >>Distribution means absolutely nothing if no one knows
    >>you exist, from one who knows.
    >
    >I don’t disagree, but by podcasting and submitting your
    >feed to directories you’ll more likely get people to
    >know you exist.

    Submitting the RSS feed provides a distribution mechanism. It does that very well, but nothing more. If you’re trying to sell CD’s, swag, or a subscription deal, the podcast is advertising, offering free samples. But then you have to advertise the podcast and convince people to use your chosen means of distribution.

    >>By your reasoning, every podcast in the known universe is making
    >>a killing by sheer virtue of existing.
    >
    >I don’t think I said anything like that.

    You said, “Podcast distribution is the solution!” I can see the neon from here. There was no talk of drawing people to your podcast, only how great things will be once your feed is out there, just waiting to be found.

    >Robert J. Sawyer, someone who I think is a great
    >SF writer and a marketing master, […]

    And he is, a master in all sorts of things IIRC.

    >[…]he puts his marketing time (his advertizing of himself
    >and his books) into mass-media.

    But he’s not an amateur. He’s already made his bones. Your posting was about amateur audiodrama, not the pro circuits. Amateur audiodramatists don’t have the same resources. For most, word of mouth is all they’ve got.

    >>That lends them more credibility than podcasting
    >>ever could, at least for now.
    >
    >Don’t take this as an attack:
    >
    >”Ever could” and “at least for now” can’t co-exist
    >in the same thought.

    Oh great, now you’re proofreading? I wish you’d been this on-the-ball before. Take out “ever” and give it a whirl then.

    >It seems to me that corporations are now taking
    >podcasting up at fast pace. I have no stats but
    >that’s my general read based on the volume of
    >corporate podcasts.

    The corporate sector is getting the idea, but not fully. Many have switched once-free podcasts to a subscription model without warning, alienating their customer base in the process. The sheer number of corporate podcasts has gone up, but the mishandling ends up reversing the trend. As a result, their podcasting keeps held up in committee for “re-evaluation.”

    >I see what your saying, I think. But can’t they be
    >both and me not be mealy mouthed?

    If that was the only point of concern in that respect, yes. But it’s not.

    >Nice to meet you Joe. Never heard of you before this.
    >Is your “Afterhell” series SFFaudio related?

    No, it’s dark fantasy. SF elements show up from time to time, but the overall emphasis is on horror and surrealism.

    >The best way for an artist to get ahead is to copy everyone else — to defer his or her creativity?

    >I didn’t say it was the best way, but I doubt you’d suggest it
    >isn’t an effective way to bootstrap your original productions.

    It isn’t necessarily effective by nature, either; only when the business relationships that entails are mutual. You portrayed it as such. Sometimes it’s not.

    >For instance, I’d heard of Kevin J. Anderson because
    >of his involvement in media tie in novels. Now I
    >enjoy his original fiction. Is this just?

    Er, not the best analogy. By the time KJA was writing media tie-in sequels, he’d already an accomplished writer of hard SF. His future prospects for publication didn’t necessarily depend on that transition. The survival of an amateur audiodrama often depends on whether it makes any sales or gets any feedback at all.

    >I believe this was part of the rationale behind Sonic
    >Cinema doing Firefly: Old Wounds, to better market
    >their company.

    Possibly. But they’re also Browncoats. We’ve have to ask Jack Ward and Andy Dorfman to find out what their greatest motivator was.

    >>This might come as a shock, but Barsoom and Tatooine were
    >>once unheard of. And if Edgar Rice Burroughs or George
    >>Lucas had listened to you, they wouldn’t have bothered
    >>inventing them.
    >
    >The latter is pretty interest, George Lucas didn’t create Star Wars in a vacuum.

    No, there was a lot of Dune in Tatooine. Wait, what does “pretty interest” mean? I need a translator in here….

    >If you want the next Barsoom, give Whatshername a chance.

    >Abosultely! Without question! But how, can I even find
    >out about Sheila Whatshername?

    >But I believe that Russell T. Davies wrote Doctor Who
    >before he was a big name too. Fan Fic isn’t nicotine,
    >it isn’t that difficult a hobby to give up.

    Davies wrote a novel for the Doctor Who New Adventures line. But by then he had several several successful TV series under his belt. And the trap is in the readers’ addictions, not the writer’s. But then considering what Davies has been up to late, sometimes a writer can get addicted too. Good thing for us too, in his case!

    >Try some lapsed copyright stuff. tons of it is available,
    >much of it excellent, and I’m not talking the standards,
    >Dickens, Poe, or even Lovecraft (which I still think
    >there is quite a taste for).

    Working on several Lovecraft adaptations myself. Not for my own series, but for another group. The legal side of it gets tricky, though. Making a good-faith effort to find a rightful owner might be enough to protect us. It might not. I’d rather not have copyright jazz hovering in the background like dread Cthulhu while I’m writing. But the prospect of introducing more people to Lovecraft is too good to pass up.

    >>And if Hollywood has a big-budget movie deal for the
    >>same story you’re working on, you’re often politely
    >>asked to either make your audiodrama more like the
    >>movie or put it on indefinite hold, so that two
    >>versions of the same story aren’t competing for the
    >>same fanbase.
    >
    >Sounds like a good problems to have.

    Your big break suddenly gets stuck in limbo? Oh yeah, that’d be a great feeling.

    >>Promote an audiodrama with promises that it’s just like
    >>a certain TV show? Knock yourself out. Then you’ll have
    >>a hell of a time after that convincing everyone that
    >>your work is halfway original.
    >
    >That one’s an out and out straw man.

    Not so. I worked on a few amateur Doctor Who audiodrama efforts years ago. Each one got pressure to conform to one fanboy canon or another. And when I started work on “Afterhell,” it took a lot of effort to convince all of those factions that it was a completely original work. Things happen even when you’re not there, Jesse.

    >>If you’re searching for nothing but big-brand media-
    >>SF retreads, you’ve got plenty of “audiodrama sin”
    >> on your hands.
    >
    >I am not searching for nothing but “big-brand media-
    >SF retreads” – not in the least.

    But in effect, you defined that action as a standard, warning that a show won’t get noticed unless it conforms to keyword searches for big-brand SF.

    >Are there any more examples of the scintillatingly
    >obvious you’d like to share?

    >You get more flies with sugar? ;)

    Too bad you didn’t try that at the beginning….

    >>And who are you to dictate what’s funny?
    >
    >I’m me!

    Overruled. Hey, if you can take a superior tone, so can I.

    >>Anyone citing Red Dwarf as hard science is hi-larious.
    >
    >Joe.

    Yes, dear?

    >Another straw man, I said Red Dwarf was “full of
    >ridiculously impossible physics” but that in
    >spite of this “made serious SF ideas a part of
    >the plot.” I didn’t say Red Dwarf was HARD SF.

    You complained (rightly so) about the dumbing down of science in comedies. Then you undermined your point by citing Red Dwarf as a positive example. Praise Red Dwarf, by all means. But that was your choice for a better implementation of science as plot. And by your own admission, it’s not a good one.

    >>You pump out this incoherent rambling, confusing
    >>issue after issue, rendering your readers eyesore
    >>with your functionally illiterate attempts at
    >>grammar, punctuation, and rhetoric…and you have
    >>the gall to say that?
    >
    >I have gall. I am full of effrontery. But I’d still
    >call that ad homenim attack, not a measured response.

    You get “full up,” so it’s okay for you for call people “stupid” and “pathetic”? You opened the door to cruelty, not me. If you didn’t want someone else to come in and make walk back to your side, you should’ve kept it civil.

    >Mayhaps I do have a funny way of constructing a sentence,
    >but truly incoherent? I doubt that the case.

    That the case is….? Well, I’ll rest my case on that point.

    >>To paraphrase J Michael Straczynski, “If you can’t say what
    >>you mean, you can’t mean what you say.”
    >
    >Will bear that in mind.

    I would really, really appreciate it if you could. It’s no fun to puzzle over a blog posting and wonder what someone is trying to say, especially on a topic that matters to oneself.

    >Here, you’re confusing three different things:
    >campy humor, nostalgia, and the naivete of over-
    >enthusiastic audiodramatists.
    >
    >I was talking about three things, not confusing them.

    No, you lumped them together under one banner, addressing them all as the same issue. They’re different issues, each of them requiring its own informed approach.

    >Campy humor…I’d sooner avoid it, myself. But if
    >someone thinks they can put a new spin on it, I’d
    >at least give them a chance.

    Of course! I didn’t dismiss out of hand the idea of
    listening to someone’s “campy” audio drama, I said
    I was full up.

    But you said it in the context of offering alternatives, to write serious drama instead of comedy. Instead of calling for improvement, you’re telling them to just stop. And you also said you’re “full up.” That’s not a lot of room for anything except out-of-hand dismissal.

    >Look, I’m all for setting people straight and giving them a sense of realism, if not pragmatism. But calling their aspirations a “pathetic dream”?

    >Maybe I’m wrong but I look at the state of radio today and
    >beleive there is absolutely no chance of getting millions
    >of people to be glued to their radios listening to audio
    >drama like they were in the 1930s and 1940s again.

    Yeah, that’s a point worth noting. But consider this: More and more people are turning their backs on mainstream TV. A significant number of those people plug their MP3 players into some speakers and listen to podcasts instead. Major lifestyle paradigm shifts like that are taking place. I don’t know whether that’ll necessarily generate huge Neilsen numbers or what have you. But after seeing it happen more than once, I’m not ready to dismiss the possibility.

    The other thing: you referred to the “pathetic dreams” of amateurs. You’re exasperated with the current state of things. I understand, but don’t take it out on other people’s dreams. The root of the word “amateur” is the Latin for “one who loves.” People in love say and do silly things. Flag them in for a safe landing on planet Earth. You don’t have shoot ’em out of the sky.

    >Magazine fiction is barely hanging on. Almost nothing left of it now.

    Oh man, tell me about it.

    >What are you, Leo Laporte?

    >I think he’s a tech guy but I’ve neither heard nor seen his show.

    You’d claimed knowledge of podcasting. I figured you’d know about Leo Laporte. He’s in charge of some of the most popular podcasts to date, especially “This Week in Tech” and “The Daily Giz Wiz.” He’s also expressed interest in producing audiodramas.

    A recent “Daily Giz Wiz” podcast, the one I’d linked to earlier, featured a discussion about amateur inventors. At one point, Leo addressed his podcasting audience of techies and gearheads, saying, “Most of you don’t have any great ideas.”

    It’s the whole “catching flies with sugar” thing that you find so amusing.
    >>When actors perform Shakespeare, when they do it well,
    >>even a modern audience can follow the dialogue without
    >>a second thought.
    >
    >False, they need to be trained up for Shakespeare.

    Are you referring to the actors or the audience? Actors need rehearsal, obviously. But not the audience. That’s the point. When the actors do their jobs well, the audience will be able to pick up the meanings of archaic words or usage while the performance is going on. Under such circumstances, laypeople do get it. If it didn’t happen, Shakespeare’s works wouldn’t have endured as long as they have.

    >>You can’t absolve yourself from the state of the
    >>market just because you’re a consumer. You’re
    >>shaping the market with every purchase.
    >
    >And hopefully with every review!

    Well, there you are. And if they were as informed as the one you did for WRW’s “Fall of the City,” we’re all better for it.

    >>Or are you actively supporting some MacDonaldland audiodrama outfit
    >
    >I’d need to know who you think is “McDonaldland” before I could say.

    I’d sooner discuss it by e-mail, unless you insist on covering it here.

    >No, no, if you want change, you should be a better
    >consumer. Better educated.

    >I am in the process of eduicating myself. I’m told it is a lifelong process.

    Well, that didn’t stop you from posting.

    >Now you overinflate my faults. Clearly my commentary was legible.

    It had to be translated first. That took time.

    >Would consulting Strunk & White be too much of a burden for you? If you won’t research your points, the least you could do is run your semi-literate nonsensical rants through a spell-checker.

    >I can’t both be wrong and nonsensical.

    Sure you can. Think positive. From the standpoint of accuracy, they’re synonymous, so you’re doubly covered.

    >As to the spelling, I can attempt more careful checking.
    >Care to point out any corrections?

    >it’s heyday [its]
    >Its called DISTRIBUTION [It’s]
    >feeback [feedback]
    >Weitten [Written]
    >critcism [criticism]
    >It ain’t all that funny[,] buddy.
    >your in deep trouble [you’re]

    And just now…
    >Abosultely [Absolutely]
    >advertizing [advertising]
    >person to person convincing [person-to-person]
    >media tie in [tie-in]
    >eduicating [educating]
    >beleive [believe]

  8. Scott,

    >On the amateur audio drama – I’m saying that amateur audio drama is not a business. In your original post, you said “The industry has a number of problems. This post isn’t designed to discourage people who want to get into the business…” Amateur audio drama is not an industry, nor is it a business.

    In my commentary I placed italics around “business” and “industry” to indicate that they were not the ideal terms, and that I was aware of it. And though some have complained about my typos, long-windedness and incoherence it is mty understanding it is acceptable to use italics when citing words that are being talked about, as an alternative to single quotes. Moreover, I couldn’t think of a more apt phraseology at the time. I fear using the words like “hobby” and “pastime” would probably have gotten me into deeper poo. Your idea that persons who do amateur audio drama are doing it like it is a hobby is an interesting one. I hadn’t thought of comparing amateur dramatization to playing a game of softball. One problem I forsee with it, few persons who play softball expect anybody who isn’t related to the players to be interested in watching a game. And I suspect, that for at least some amateur audio dramatists gaining a wider audience is something they do care about.

    >And two things that are probably subjects for a different thread:
    1) Yes, I would love to see a “Ringworld” audio drama, but no, I’m not interested in hearing a piece of “Ringworld” fanfic.

    Seriously? I would be very interested! If it was terrible I’d turn it off of course. And of course I’d prefer an enthusiastic professional tackle it, but if they aren’t, and they don’t appear to be, I’d definitely listen to an amateur’s attempt!

    >2) On podcasting in general as business, yes, I remain pessimistic. Both Eley and Evo are definitely showing people the way. However, time will tell. Is it sustainable in the long run? Maybe it is! Maybe it isn’t. I wish them all kinds of success, but I remain convinced that when (not if, when) large publishing companies start taking advantage of the internet in a bigger way, the mechanism will look more like traditional media sales than like podcasting. Again, see iTunes.

    The problem with your theory is that this distribution method does not work the same way cable or broadcast media does. I can’t say whether or not any individual people will be able to make a living off of freely distributed podcast content in the long run. And of course the donation model is very, very scary! But I was talking about amateur productions. If they were expecting to make a living off of it, they are going to be disappointed anyway.

    >Your point about using advertising to finance podcasts is well taken. That is certainly a possibility.

    It is just beginning. Several of my favorite regular podcasts are now experimenting with advertizing. Others advertize their own wares. To me things look extremely bright for podcasting.

  9. Joe,

    >And yet that was how it was framed. You pointed out a problem, posed an alternative, even laying down points to support it in a cursory fashion. Then you left it at that, as if that was enough. If you had offered more than one response to the problem, or explored the pros and cons of the one alternative, it would’ve been at least more thoughtful.

    So, there is a problem, and I got the problem right. I offered a solution, but I didn’t offer enough solutions. Feel free to expound, it sounds like you have more experience at production than me. How can we solve this problem?

    >Submitting the RSS feed provides a distribution mechanism. It does that very well, but nothing more.

    Wrong. When I go into iTunes and do a search I find things I didn’t know existed and click on them. When I go to Podcast Alley and Podcast Pickle, ditto.

    >If you’re trying to sell CD’s, swag, or a subscription deal, the podcast is advertising, offering free samples.

    If your saying the samples shouldn’t be complete stories I think that’s a mistake. I don’t listen to sample podcasts. I want a complete story. I still think there might be some leeway, offering an abridged podiobook and selling an unabridged audiobook.

    >But then you have to advertise the podcast and convince people to use your chosen means of distribution.

    You can do more than just one kind of distribution. Podcasting is cheap. Sell a hard copy, sell a downloadable copy (with extras), sell it to a radio station. Give it away on a podcast with ads, or ask for donations.

    >You said, “Podcast distribution is the solution!” I can see the neon from here.

    Out of context. Try putting it back in the context of “If your stuff isn’t on the radio, isn’t being reviewed by anyone or being syndicated by another podcast your audience isn’t just going to come to you.”

    >There was no talk of drawing people to your podcast, only how great things will be once your feed is out there, just waiting to be found.

    I think you’re being a trifle unfair, this was a “commentary” post. One in which I laid out 5 problems that I as a consumer of amateur audio drama saw. I didn’t make an “I’m the audio drama wizard and can solve all your problems if you read my post” post.

    >And he is, a master in all sorts of things IIRC.

    I don’t know what you mean by “IIRC.”

    >But he’s not an amateur. He’s already made his bones. Your posting was about amateur audiodrama, not the pro circuits.

    I doubt ignoring the experience of people who are professionals will help. Especailly when they are good at marketing themselves and they are talking to people who aren’t.

    >Amateur audiodramatists don’t have the same resources. For most, word of mouth is all they’ve got.

    They can get better word of mouth by teaming up. Podcast novels that would never get a second glace, because they cannot be found, will get at least cursory attention when they are shelved next to the better known ones. This is why getting on Podiobooks.com is better than trying to go it all on your own.

    >Oh great, now you’re proofreading? I wish you’d been this on-the-ball before. Take out “ever” and give it a whirl then.

    Ok. And does number of listeners = credibility? We can ask Andrew Dorfman or Jack Ward, about their numbers: “Does The Sonic Society have more listeners through podcasting or through radio?” The nice thing about podcasting, you can have a fairly good idea how many people are subscribed.

    >No, it’s dark fantasy. SF elements show up from time to time, but the overall emphasis is on horror and surrealism.

    We do cover horror on SFFaudio. And I hear that yours is the next show on The Sonic Society? If you’d be interested in sending either a squarish 150 pixel high or 120X120 pixel logo for Afterhell I’d be happy to mention it.

    >It isn’t necessarily effective by nature, either; only when the business relationships that entails are mutual. You portrayed it as such. Sometimes it’s not.

    I think you are reading in a lot more than I intended.

    >Er, not the best analogy. By the time KJA was writing media tie-in sequels, he’d already an accomplished writer of hard SF. His future prospects for publication didn’t necessarily depend on that transition.

    I didn’t say that, nor would I. What I said was “I’d heard of Kevin J. Anderson because of his involvement in media tie in novels”. It wasn’t an analogy, it was me showing how I came to be aware of something.

    >Possibly. But they’re also Browncoats. We’ve have to ask Jack Ward and Andy Dorfman to find out what their greatest motivator was.

    Another question for them then.

    >No, there was a lot of Dune in Tatooine. Wait, what does “pretty interest” mean? I need a translator in here….

    I was thinking more with regards to film serials and The Hidden Fortress. and what I meant type was “Interesting.”

    >And the trap is in the readers’ addictions, not the writer’s. But then considering what Davies has been up to late, sometimes a writer can get addicted too. Good thing for us too, in his case!

    Wait a second, you were saying that fan fic was a trap for writers. Slippage!

    >Working on several Lovecraft adaptations myself. Not for my own series, but for another group.

    Feel free to send an email when something is ready. I am a big Lovecraft fan.

    >But in effect, you defined that action as a standard, warning that a show won’t get noticed unless it conforms to keyword searches for big-brand SF.

    Ok, say I’m setting a bad moral example. That being the case, is it untrue? I think not. People search for things they already know about, and then stumble across new stuff they like. That’s my method.

    >You complained (rightly so) about the dumbing down of science in comedies. Then you undermined your point by citing Red Dwarf as a positive example. Praise Red Dwarf, by all means. But that was your choice for a better implementation of science as plot. And by your own admission, it’s not a good one.

    Okay, I give up, we just have incommensurate views on this one. You are not responding to what I wrote about Red Dwarf, but instead to what you think I wrote.

    >You get “full up,” so it’s okay for you for call people “stupid” and “pathetic”? You opened the door to cruelty, not me. If you didn’t want someone else to come in and make walk back to your side, you should’ve kept it civil.

    Kept it civil? I posted a commentary on a blog. It wasn’t a presidential debate. As for being cruel, the charges don’t fit. My words might have been considered harsh, stern, opinionated, but not cruel. I never attacked any audio dramatists or their activities. What I did was state the problems as I saw them. An outsider’s perspective. I called no persons, stupid. I used a familar phrase “Keep It Simple Stupid” and the idea of “Real Simple Syndication” in problem #2’s title. I didn’t invent the title of Podcasting For Dummies it is a real book, and recommending it doesn’t mean I beleive people who read it are dumb. As for being “full up” I am. I’m dreading to hear more campy stuff. I’m oversaturated my ability to absorb more camp is nil. To the charge of me calling people “pathetic,” I plead not guilty by reason of innocence. I said that I thought the dream of millions of today’s people being glued to their radios listening to Radio Drama was pathetic. Not the people. The people who said it are delusional. it is there dream that is pathetic.

    >I would really, really appreciate it if you could. It’s no fun to puzzle over a blog posting and wonder what someone is trying to say, especially on a topic that matters to oneself.

    Would you prefer to write my words for me? :(

    >No, you lumped them together under one banner, addressing them all as the same issue. They’re different issues, each of them requiring its own informed approach.

    As opposed to my uninformed and ham-fisted approach no doubt.

    >But you said it in the context of offering alternatives, to write serious drama instead of comedy. Instead of calling for improvement, you’re telling them to just stop.

    To switch, to change it, not to stop altogether.

    >And you also said you’re “full up.” That’s not a lot of room for anything except out-of-hand dismissal.

    I’m not the only person who listens to audio drama. Your milage may vary. Overall it sounds like you agree with a lot of the things I wrote. Just ask yourself this: Had I been more careful to avoid hurting feelings, would my argument have been more valid? If not, then your talking strategy, and we will have to disagree there.

    >Look, I’m all for setting people straight and giving them a sense of realism, if not pragmatism. But calling their aspirations a “pathetic dream”?

    I don’t know what I can say here. People who believe things that are that unlikely are doing themselves a disservice. Like hoping you are going to win the lottery if you play your numbners every week. Or like hoping you’ll become an NBA star when your only 5’2″. These are hoop dreams, and “renting the dream” of being a millionare. Sad. Pathetic, in fact.

    >Yeah, that’s a point worth noting. But consider this: More and more people are turning their backs on mainstream TV.

    Me! I don’t have cable.

    >A significant number of those people plug their MP3 players into some speakers and listen to podcasts instead.

    Me! I’m one of those people!

    >Major lifestyle paradigm shifts like that are taking place. I don’t know whether that’ll necessarily generate huge Neilsen numbers or what have you. But after seeing it happen more than once, I’m not ready to dismiss the possibility.

    Me neither. But they aren’t going to turn back the clock on conventional radio in the United States.

    >The other thing: you referred to the “pathetic dreams” of amateurs. You’re exasperated with the current state of things. I understand, but don’t take it out on other people’s dreams. The root of the word “amateur” is the Latin for “one who loves.” People in love say and do silly things. Flag them in for a safe landing on planet Earth. You don’t have shoot ’em out of the sky.

    If I was shooting them down, then I was giving them a place to land that would be better for them. Don’t aim for an audience of millions of radio listeners, it isn’t going to happen, shoot for podcasting, where you can count heads easier. It’ll probably take you a solid weekend to get it sorted. But the good part, no cold-calling required. No unfindable webpage with streaming audio. No specialized equipment.

    >You’d claimed knowledge of podcasting. I figured you’d know about Leo Laporte. He’s in charge of some of the most popular podcasts to date, especially “This Week in Tech” and “The Daily Giz Wiz.” He’s also expressed interest in producing audiodramas.

    I’ve never watched or heard those shows.

    >Actors need rehearsal, obviously. But not the audience. That’s the point. When the actors do their jobs well, the audience will be able to pick up the meanings of archaic words or usage while the performance is going on.

    Again I think we are just working in different universes here. Shakespeare, no matter how well it is perfomed is not accessible without being trained-up. I’m a Shakespeare fan. I saw Richard III as directed by Richard Eyre for the National Theatre in London. This is the production starring Ian McKellen, well before his Gandalf days. That was a STUNNING production, way better than the awful film version (also starring McKellen). I was VERY LUCKY to have been as trained-up as I was back then. I could appreciate it. I have friends who don’t get it. Didn’t want to go see it. They didn’t get the classes, didn’t pre-read the plays. Didn’t get the feel for it.

    >Well, there you are. And if they were as informed as the one you did for WRW’s “Fall of the City,” we’re all better for it.

    That sounded nice. I think. ;)

    >I’d sooner discuss it by e-mail, unless you insist on covering it here.

    Oh I’d prefer to cover it here. Please.

    >Well, that didn’t stop you from posting.

    You are being facetious, surely? You aren’t saying I should just shut-up?

    >Sure you can. Think positive. From the standpoint of accuracy, they’re synonymous, so you’re doubly covered.

    Not all “A”s are “B”s. If I am non-sensical, you can’t understand what I am saying. If you can’t understand what I am saying you can’t know me to be wrong. If you know me to be wrong I am sensical.

    >it’s heyday [its]
    >Its called DISTRIBUTION [It’s]
    >feeback [feedback]
    >Weitten [Written]
    >critcism [criticism]
    >It ain’t all that funny[,] buddy.
    >your in deep trouble [you’re]

    Fixed! Thanks.

    >And just now…
    >Abosultely [Absolutely]
    >advertizing [advertising]
    >person to person convincing [person-to-person]
    >media tie in [tie-in]
    >eduicating [educating]
    >beleive [believe]

    No way to change blog reply posts, sorry.

  10. Yuri,

    I am a great fan of your work! For those persons who don’t instantly recognize the name, this man is responsible for some of the finest professional audio drama produced in North America in modern times.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Rasovsky

    http://www.irasov.com/

    Yuri Rasovsky is a two time Peabody award winner, a Grammy Award winner, a Mark Time Lifetime Achievement Award winner, an SFWA Bradbury Award winner and much more. His 2000X series, broadcast on NPR was a stunning aural achievement. Segments from 2000X available for purchase via Audible and iTunes.

    http://www.npr.org/programs/beyond2k/

    In all seriousness, Mr. Rasovsky, you honour me with your attention, even be it derisive. I am not too
    downhearted though as to be held in contempt by you doesn’t put me in bad a company, for I fear your registered foes are some of my happiest heroes. Though I am not worthy of their company, I do enjoy dreaming…

    http://www.irasov.com/shoo.htm

    To be in your thoughts, however briefly, is enough to make me prance with some joy.

    Jesse

  11. Wow…
    This is amazing.
    I know that when passions are rising high that anyone who might suggest that Audio Drama is dead would have cause to pause.
    I’d like to thank Jesse for all his thoughts and his ideas and especially for bringing this topic up.
    I’m of the mind that more discussion is a whole lot better than less.
    I remember the folks at Space- The Imagination Station getting a little annoyed with the way fans responded to some of the station about something to do with Babylon 5.

    The way I see it, is Jesse is a lover of all things SF&F (I think that’s a safe assumption), and that includes some of the Audio Drama out there.

    I struggle with bringing my own evangelical crusade to the masses about how amazing Audio Cinema is. And in doing so, I’m always trying to listen to the criticisms and the praise equally.

    I grew up loving the Twilight Zone, and most recently have been talking a lot about of it and showing some episodes to my Grade 11 English class. Now, their reactions are both disheartening at times and exciting. Certain things they didn’t initially appreciate. But eventually, they’ve become more and more interested in what the show provides.
    But it means getting over the whole “It’s all in black and white?” simplicity.

    That’s partly what the big problem, I feel is going on with our audience today. Getting them to get out of their eyes, and back in their heads is a huge challenge for us. Not an insurmountable one, but still definitely a challenge.
    We could do one of two things:
    1. Say the hell with those who don’t get us and just do our own stuff. (Which lots of people do, and good luck to them!)
    2. Listen to the criticisms and try to bring those who are critical into the fold. Make new converts by trying to find a middle ground.

    I’m certainly capable of acting with both those options at different times depending upon the different projects I’m involved in.
    For example, Biff Straker is a straight tribute to Buck Rogers. I make no bones about that.
    Wave Front, I’m really considering polishing like an old fashioned X-Minus One style for this reason-
    One of my number one frustrations with this medium is most people love the old time radio but won’t give us new folks a chance. You’ll see tons of people subscribe to “Box Car 711” (good work BTW!) but not nearly as many people subscribe to the Sonic Society. Why is that?
    For all the cheesiness of some of the OTR, its still familiar and people crave familiarity.

    Jesse please meet Joe. The man is an amazing writer and a phenomenal producer. If there’s one thing I would find fault in your writings, it is that you haven’t listened to the phenomenal work done by Ollin Productions and the After Hell crew.
    We can rectify that, ironically enough, by listening to next week’s The Sonic Society where we take a trip into After Hell! (Getting ready for Hallowe’en :) )

    I won’t point by point go through all of your article Jesse. Again, I’m grateful for your feedback, because I’m certain you’re opinion is not unusual for the audience of today.
    But it is worth looking into some of the issues surrounding some of the things we’ve talked about.

    1. Umbrella Organizations.
    As Andrew Dorfman points out when we talk about this. We’re all connected by the internet, and all separated by geography. I would love to move to Oregon (if I weren’t going to be shipped to Gitmo ;)) and be a part of Joe’s team, as well as the good folks at Willamette, and Marc’s from Dry Smoke and Whispers. These folks have it all and it shows. Seriously. You want the renaissance of Audio Cinema in the States- go to Oregon. I can’t stress that enough!
    But while we’re open to satellite actors, and we’re working with editors from all around the world (know anyone else who loves to edit???!) there’s nothing like having people working together, and recording under the same roof.
    The slightest change in environment in microphones sounds horrible in recordings.
    And unless you have the skills and creativity of Jonithan Patrick Russell from DreamRealm Enterprises and you put together a show like “Robots of the Company” where different microphones only ADD to the flavour and kitch of the production.

    So as much as we’d love SCP to be a huge production company (God knows we’re ready for it!), we’ve got to take the time to grow it naturally.

    Yes, The Sonic Society is a podcast and a radio show that is syndicated across North America. We do have direct numbers from the podcast as to how many people are subscribed to our feed. This doesn’t include the number of people who just direct download the shows, listen to the shows from streaming at our mother station CKDU. Nor do we have any kind of accurate numbers as to how many people are listening through our radio broadcasts. Wish that we did.
    Our hope is just to keep getting the message out there- and that message is this- Audio Cinema is alive and well, and an exciting vehicle for stories and ideas.
    People talk about video podcasts and good luck to you. But unless you’re doing an audio blog, you’re looking at enormous turnaround times, even longer than what we take to produce a product. And that’s a shame.
    Let people paint the pictures in their heads when you can.
    I’ve got nothing against visual media, and good luck if you want to go that direction. I think there’s a whole lot more legs in what we’re doing. But that’s just my own hopes speaking :)

    When it comes to Fan Fiction, we are enjoying Firefly Old Wounds, but we’re also excited to get back to what we do best- our own.
    There’s only so far one can get playing in someone else’s backyard. Eventually you still have to go home. :)

    So, to make a long story short, I’d just like to thank everyone again for their thoughts. This conversation IS important. I know I’m interested in finding ways to build the Audio audience. If it means creating a series that will please those who have never liked audio drama before- great! Because I have an unshakable faith that once you get into this stuff, it sticks with you, and you love it. And you want more.

    But that’s just me, your little audio crack dealer. Come by next week, as we’ll be cutting up pure Medina- extra blend!

    All the Best, and thanks again for the opportunity!
    Jack
    Jack Ward
    http://www.sonicsociety.org
    http://www.soniccinema.ca

  12. Jesse,
    You certainly seemed to have touched a nerve…your blog has been forwarded to me by a number of folks (and we do not even do SFF audio). However, as a producer of radio theatre your observations as a consumer are certainly of interest…Oh, and since this is a blog, and you are posting your own opinions, you certainly do know what you are talking about (regardless of what others might say).
    I found your perspective refreshingly cynical…which probably why I read all of it. You made some key points which are very relevant. First, there is allot of stuff out their and much of it is not very good (We at Colonial Radio have certainly contributed to both categories…but are trying to focus on releasing only good stuff). This creates a high level of “noise” which the really good stuff has to rise above. As with any entertainment option, this is pretty much a given. Much like popular music, to make it big you have to get noticed and build a brand, and rise above all that garage band racket.
    Building a brand requires building awareness, obtaining distribution, and continually releasing quality product. Here, one has to move from Hobby to business…Pod casting is certainly a low cost way to achieve some of this. While we do not currently pod cast, we do use XM radio, and offer some free down load programs to build awareness and increase trial. http://WWW.spokennetwork.com has been very helpful in regard to letting folks here sound clips.
    Once you distill everything down, the internet will allow Radio Theatre to find its audience. While it may be only a modest niche in the entertainment market, it should be big enough to support a number of production houses. Down load sales means that you can pretty much sell to anyone in the world who has a few bucks to spend, and has an interest in your genre. The more programs you have that some one wants to buy, the sooner you reach critical mass. This is a very exciting time to be building a broad and varied content library. As of today, we have over 200 productions available for download sale. This is a mix of 27 minute serials, along with or standard 2-3 hour epic. We have a couple of Ray Bradbury collaborations in the queue… (Look for Dandelion Wine come January), and are working on three other XM series with a total of 41 episodes to be completed in the next 6 months or so…not to mention other projects.
    Thanks for starting this conversation, I enjoyed the information (and do not worry about typos…your thoughts are the value here)…well, I have to get along, Fox News “Fair and Balanced” just came on.
    Best Regards,
    Mark Vanderberg
    The Colonial Radio Theatre On The Air. http://www.colonialradio.com

  13. Jack,

    >I’d like to thank Jesse for all his thoughts and his ideas and especially for bringing this topic
    up.

    My pleasure. :)

    >I’m of the mind that more discussion is a whole lot better than less.

    I agree 100%.

    >I remember the folks at Space- The Imagination Station getting a little annoyed with the way fans responded to some of the station about something to do with Babylon 5.

    Indeed. I remember there was one extremely heated discussion on Space:TIS’ old “Speaker’s Corner” message board. A big row over SPACE:TIS showing a documentary on The Titanic. That may have been the final straw in bring it down. That was an awesome board. Thanks for the reminder. :D

    >The way I see it, is Jesse is a lover of all things SF&F (I think that’s a safe assumption), and that includes some of the Audio Drama out there.

    Yes I am guilty as charged.

    >Jesse please meet Joe. The man is an amazing writer and a phenomenal producer. If there’s one thing I would find fault in your writings, it is that you haven’t listened to the phenomenal work done by Ollin Productions and the After Hell crew. We can rectify that, ironically enough, by listening to next week’s The Sonic Society where we take a trip into After Hell! (Getting ready for Hallowe’en :) )

    I’m absolutely looking forward to hearing the next Sonic Society transmission! In my defense, I don’t see how any of the criticism I gave even applies to Joe or Afterhell. He’s is afterall, wisely getting his stuff out into the podosphere (via TSS).

    >I won’t point by point go through all of your article Jesse. Again, I’m grateful for your feedback, because I’m certain you’re opinion is not unusual for the audience of today.

    You’re quite welcome. :)

    >Umbrella Organizations.
    As Andrew Dorfman points out when we talk about this. We’re all connected by the internet, and all separated by geography. I would love to move to Oregon (if I weren’t going to be shipped to Gitmo ;)) and be a part of Joe’s team, as well as the good folks at Willamette, and Marc’s from Dry Smoke and Whispers. These folks have it all and it shows. Seriously. You want the renaissance of Audio Cinema in the States- go to Oregon. I can’t stress that enough!

    Truly, Oregon is a source of much aural delight, Powells in protland, at least the last time I was there had a stunning audiobook section, and Blackstone Audiobooks is based in Ashland.

    >So as much as we’d love SCP to be a huge production company (God knows we’re ready for it!), we’ve got to take the time to grow it naturally.

    Banding together on a common website devoted to audio drama, even if you don’t pool acting, writing and such resources, seems like it would solve a lot of the awarness issues. I note, modernaudiodrama.com is not yet taken. Here at SFFaudio we can only talk about Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror audio, so though we can potentially cover a great deal of the stuff there are things left out. Mind you, if everyone banded together under the Sonic Society banner that’d accomplish the same thing.

    >Yes, The Sonic Society is a podcast and a radio show that is syndicated across North America. We do have direct numbers from the podcast as to how many people are subscribed to our feed.

    That is cool. Any chance of the numbers going public during an upcoming meeting? :)

    >This doesn’t include the number of people who just direct download the shows, listen to the shows from streaming at our mother station CKDU. Nor do we have any kind of accurate numbers as to how many people are listening through our radio broadcasts. Wish that we did.

    Presumably you’ve got, or could get, the potential audience numbers, but even with those you’re still mostly in the dark. That is one of the great things about podcasting you have a good idea regarding the number for subscribers.

    >People talk about video podcasts and good luck to you. But unless you’re doing an audio blog, you’re looking at enormous turnaround times, even longer than what we take to produce a product. And that’s a shame.
    Let people paint the pictures in their heads when you can.
    I’ve got nothing against visual media, and good luck if you want to go that direction. I think there’s a whole lot more legs in what we’re doing. But that’s just my own hopes speaking :)

    LOL! You’re preaching to the choir on this one, I doubt anyone would disagree, we’re SFFaudio
    afterall. Long live Speculative Fiction! Long live speculative fiction audio!

    >When it comes to Fan Fiction, we are enjoying Firefly Old Wounds, but we’re also excited to get back to what we do best- our own.
    There’s only so far one can get playing in someone else’s backyard. Eventually you still have to go home. :)

    And should people come for the Firefly they may stay for the all-original audio drama. :D

    >So, to make a long story short, I’d just like to thank everyone again for their thoughts. This conversation IS important. I know I’m interested in finding ways to build the Audio audience. If it means creating a series that will please those who have never liked audio drama before- great! Because I have an unshakable faith that once you get into this stuff, it sticks with you, and you love it. And you want more.

    Testify!

    >All the Best, and thanks again for the opportunity!
    Jack

    Thank you Jack!

  14. Mark,

    >You certainly seemed to have touched a nerve…your blog has been forwarded to me by a number of folks (and we do not even do SFF audio).

    Cool! It actually looks like you have a number of SFFaudio related projects in the pipe. Feel free to join the SFFaudio Yahoo! Group…

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sffaudio/

    …and drop release info whenever there is something SFFaudio related you’d like to announce.

    >However, as a producer of radio theatre your observations as a consumer are certainly of interest…Oh, and since this is a blog, and you are posting your own opinions, you certainly do know what you are talking about (regardless of what others might say).

    Thanks!

    >I found your perspective refreshingly cynical…which probably why I read all of it. You made some key points which are very relevant. First, there is allot of stuff out their and much of it is not very good (We at Colonial Radio have certainly contributed to both categories…but are trying to focus on releasing only good stuff). This creates a high level of “noise” which the really good stuff has to rise above. As with any entertainment option, this is pretty much a given. Much like popular music, to make it big you have to get noticed and build a brand, and rise above all that garage band racket.
    Building a brand requires building awareness, obtaining distribution, and continually releasing quality product. Here, one has to move from Hobby to business…Pod casting is certainly a low cost way to achieve some of this.

    Ok, you’ve convinced me. ;)

    >While we do not currently pod cast, we do use XM radio, and offer some free down load programs to build awareness and increase trial.

    XM is probably a good way, my understansding the pay rates are abysmall, but the exposure potential is pretty good given you’d be on a dedicated station.

    >Thanks for starting this conversation, I enjoyed the information (and do not worry about typos…your thoughts are the value here)…well, I have to get along, Fox News “Fair and Balanced” just came on.

    LOL! Thanks so much. Let’s keep in touch.

  15. >So, there is a problem, and I got the problem right.
    >I offered a solution, but I didn’t offer enough
    >solutions. Feel free to expound, it sounds like you
    >have more experience at production than me. How
    >can we solve this problem?

    Are we talking about your Item #1, i.e. lots of little groups vs umbrella organizations? I could speak to a few things on that count, I suppose.

    My first thought is to consolidate the other end of the production chain — advertising and distribution. We need a farmer’s market for podcasting, a place that everybody knows. We have lots of podcast directories, but none of them have solved the real problem of “podcasts everywhere and not a drop to drink.” There is no central directory, no killer-app a la Google or Napster. No paradigm shift.

    Frankly I’d like to see a Google News type set-up for podcasters: a searchable directory with a dynamic home page that runs off an automated ranking system. Podcasters would submit their feeds to the directory. The automation would track the most active unique downloads. Those feeds would get bumped to the top 20 list. To make it really fancy, you could even personalize the front page with the user’s choice in topics. That’d refine the data even further.

    You mentioned the sharing of technical knowledge. A central clearinghouse for that would help, but it would do only so much good without a more conducive culture behind it. Once everyone gets past the usual pushing of personal dogmas, the idea that there is only one way to produce radiodrama, information will flow much more easily. As it is, amateurs get confused and discouraged, so they don’t learn anything. Make it a mutual sharing of information, a meeting of like-minded folks, and that’ll change.

    >>Submitting the RSS feed provides a distribution mechanism.
    >>It does that very well, but nothing more.
    >
    >Wrong. When I go into iTunes and do a search I find things
    >I didn’t know existed and click on them. When I go to Podcast
    >Alley and Podcast Pickle, ditto.

    Afterhell is in both directories. So much for that idea….

    >>If you’re trying to sell CD’s, swag, or a subscription deal,
    >>the podcast is advertising, offering free samples.
    >
    >If your saying the samples shouldn’t be complete stories,
    >I think that’s a mistake.

    For the sake of intellectual honesty (yes, I do believe in that), I should point out that, in effect, I’m on the fence on this issue. I’d like to think that if folks hear an Afterhell story on Limewire or KaZaa, and like what they hear, they’ll buy a CD. But we don’t have numbers that show that, so it’s a matter of faith. The first Afterhell podcast was basically an abridged story, but only because I wanted to see whether I could tighten the plot. Meanwhile our online store outlets won’t let us run complete stories on their sites, but they let users hear two free minutes of any track.

    >You can do more than just one kind of distribution. Podcasting
    >is cheap. Sell a hard copy, sell a downloadable copy (with
    >extras), sell it to a radio station. Give it away on a podcast
    >with ads, or ask for donations.

    We’re doing most of that, looking into more. But it all keeps coming back to convincing everybody else that we’re alive. We just had a table at a local conference. Every passerby didn’t know what radiodrama was. We had to tell them what it was, what podcasting is, that they really do exist, and then who the hell we are and why should they care. That’s the world we live in.

    >>You said, “Podcast distribution is the solution!”

    >Out of context. Try putting it back in the context of “If your
    >stuff isn’t on the radio […]

    Okay: “If your stuff isn’t on the radio, isn’t being reviewed by anyone or being syndicated by another podcast your audience isn’t just going to come to you. Podcast distribution is the solution! Pendant Productions, Darker Projects and The Sonic Society all podcast, this makes them have an audience FAR bigger than if they didn’t.”

    …especially if all they do is podcast. TSS is on the radio. Are any other radio outlets running Pendant or Darker Projects? Do they want to be on the radio? For some, it’s not really a priority. In that case, podcasting will only do so much.

    >>There was no talk of drawing people to your podcast,
    >>only how great things will be once your feed is out
    >>there, just waiting to be found.
    >
    >I think you’re being a trifle unfair, this was a “commentary”
    >post. One in which I laid out 5 problems that I as a
    >a consumer of amateur audio drama saw. I didn’t make
    >an “I’m the audio drama wizard and can solve all
    >your problems if you read my post” post.

    No, it read more like a “The Wizard’s not in!” post. And problems are more easily solved when they are clearly defined and expressed. That didn’t happen the first time, just a lot of ax-grinding.

    >>And he is, a master in all sorts of things IIRC.
    >
    >I don’t know what you mean by “IIRC.”

    Sorry, it’s chatroom shorthand. IIRC = If I recall correctly.

    >>But he’s not an amateur. He’s already made his bones.
    >>Your posting was about amateur audiodrama, not the pro circuits.
    >
    >I doubt ignoring the experience of people who are
    >professionals will help. Especailly when they are
    >good at marketing themselves and they are talking
    >to people who aren’t.

    Look, you said earlier that you take argumentation seriously. But you were comparing amateurs to professionals as if their methods, motivations, desires, ambitions, and resources are the same. It’s not a fair comparison.

    An amateur will do something for fun, but their ambitions stop after a certain point. A professional continues to explore, gather more resources, to take more creative and financial risks to pursue his/her goals. My goals (I’d like to think) are leading me into the pro ranks. But Afterhell is still unknown, treated as amateur by most others.

    >>Amateur audiodramatists don’t have the same resources.
    >>For most, word of mouth is all they’ve got.
    >
    >They can get better word of mouth by teaming up.

    Ollin Productions (all two of us) teamed up with two groups here in the Pacific Northwest some time ago, namely Transdimensional Media and the Willamette Radio Workshop. Ever heard of Afterhell or Ollin Productions before all this? So much for that idea….

    >And does number of listeners = credibility?

    You tell me. You’re telling amateurs to podcast, to get on the radio, to expand.

    >If you’d be interested in sending either a squarish
    >150 pixel high or 120X120 pixel logo for Afterhell
    >I’d be happy to mention it.

    Sure, I’ll look into it as soon as I can.

    What I said was “I’d heard of Kevin J. Anderson because
    of his involvement in media tie in novels”. It wasn’t
    an analogy, it was me showing how I came to be aware of
    something.

    But that was in the context of comparing amateur audiodrama and their lack of exposure to KJA’s career. He wasn’t an amateur when he started the media tie-in track. They’re not accurate analogues to one another, not a fair comparison, hence a poor analogy.

    >>No, there was a lot of Dune in Tatooine. Wait, what does
    >>”pretty interest” mean? I need a translator in here….
    >
    >I was thinking more with regards to film serials and The
    >Hidden Fortress. and what I meant type was “Interesting.”

    In that case, yes, it is interesting how George Lucas took from Akira Kurosawa and Republic serials, among other things. Come to think, rumor has it that he wrote Star Wars because his requests to do a Flash Gordon remake were turned down.

    >>And the trap is in the readers’ addictions, not the writer’s.
    >>But then considering what Davies has been up to late,
    >>sometimes a writer can get addicted too. Good thing for us
    >>too, in his case!
    >
    >Wait a second, you were saying that fan fic was a trap for
    >writers. Slippage!

    [sigh] Yeah, running on a few hours of sleep and trying to type faster than Asimov will do that. Pushy readers of fanfic or anything else can entrap writers. Writing goes downhill when the writer makes a conscious effort to placate the audience, instead of simply entertain. (Look at the latter half of F Scott Fitzgerald’s work.) The quest for affirmation and ego strokes can be seductive. There’s always a loud group in the audience just dying to tell writers what to write. Fanfic is especially rife with that.

    And my bit about Russell T. Davies was a tongue-in-cheek effort to lighten up and seek common ground. Should I stop?

    >>Working on several Lovecraft adaptations myself.
    >>Not for my own series, but for another group.
    >
    >Feel free to send an email when something is ready.
    >I am a big Lovecraft fan.

    Sure, I’ll keep it in mind.

    >Okay, I give up, we just have incommensurate views
    >on this one. You are not responding to what I wrote
    >about Red Dwarf, but instead to what you think I wrote.

    Well, I told you it didn’t make any sense. A plea for better science in SF comedies, side by side with praise for a show with “ridiculously impossible physics.” Maybe you should’ve clarified or left it for another posting. It was basically a tangent anyway.

    >Kept it civil? I posted a commentary on a blog.
    >It wasn’t a presidential debate.

    Well, presidential debates are neither civil nor even proper debates. But more on the real issue at hand in a sec:

    >Overall it sounds like you agree with a lot of the things
    >I wrote. Just ask yourself this: Had I been more careful
    >to avoid hurting feelings, would my argument have been more valid?

    Do ad hominem attacks make an argument more valid or less valid? If the answer to this question is “less valid,” then the answer to your question is yes. Then there’s no point in equivocating the distinction between a person and his dreams.

    When I wounded you, did you feel better for it? When I shoot you out of the sky, do you suddenly see things my way? I mean, I’ve given you a better place to land and everything.

    >Again I think we are just working in different universes here.
    >Shakespeare, no matter how well it is perfomed is not accessible
    >without being trained-up.

    I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve even sat in on readings of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon, where the reader gave us a quick run-through of the language, then blew everyone away with the original language. No matter how well anything is done, for some reason there’s always one person who just doesn’t get it. It just happens. And in the case of Shakespeare especially, it’s a shame.

    >You are being facetious, surely? You aren’t saying
    >I should just shut-up?

    I’m saying you’re implementing, knowingly or unknowingly, have a double standard. And you should stop. Amateurs are going through the same lifelong educational process. Venting your spleen, or me venting mine, serves that purpose and very little else, if anything. I got pissed off, so I went postal. You tell me whether that did you any good whatsoever.

    >Not all “A”s are “B”s. If I am non-sensical, you can’t
    >understand what I am saying. If you can’t understand
    >what I am saying you can’t know me to be wrong. If you
    >know me to be wrong I am sensical.

    Jesse, I had to go back over the text several times and extrapolate in a few places. Sometimes I just plain gave up and winged it, like:

    “Wait, what does ‘pretty interest’ mean? I need a translator in here….”

  16. Joe,

    >Are we talking about your Item #1, i.e. lots of little groups vs umbrella organizations?

    Sure.

    >My first thought is to consolidate the other end of the production chain — advertising and distribution. We need a farmer’s market for podcasting, a place that everybody knows.

    Though it no longer retains 87% marketshare, apple’s iTunes is propbably the best bet for this.

    >We have lots of podcast directories, but none of them have solved the real problem of “podcasts everywhere and not a drop to drink.” There is no central directory, no killer-app a la Google or Napster. No paradigm shift.

    If anything was, iTunes 4.9 was that, it made the mainstream take notice.

    >Frankly I’d like to see a Google News type set-up for podcasters: a searchable directory with a dynamic home page that runs off an automated ranking system.

    Perhaps Yahoo!?

    >Podcasters would submit their feeds to the directory. The automation would track the most active unique downloads. Those feeds would get bumped to the top 20 list. To make it really fancy, you could even personalize the front page with the user’s choice in topics. That’d refine the data even further.

    I think there are several of these, only problem is no central clearing house, but I see that as a strength. iTunes, as good as it is, doesn’t have everything.

    >You mentioned the sharing of technical knowledge. A central clearinghouse for that would help, but it would do only so much good without a more conducive culture behind it. Once everyone gets past the usual pushing of personal dogmas, the idea that there is only one way to produce radiodrama, information will flow much more easily. As it is, amateurs get confused and discouraged, so they don’t learn anything. Make it a mutual sharing of information, a meeting of like-minded folks, and that’ll change.

    Banding together under one group at least for recognition purposes would certainly help those who already enjoy audio drama find more.

    >Afterhell is in both directories. So much for that idea….

    I named three directories. The third and most important (in terms of podcast users is iTunes).

    >For the sake of intellectual honesty (yes, I do believe in that), I should point out that, in effect, I’m on the fence on this issue. I’d like to think that if folks hear an Afterhell story on Limewire or KaZaa, and like what they hear, they’ll buy a CD.

    Certainly a possibility.

    >We’re doing most of that, looking into more. But it all keeps coming back to convincing everybody else that we’re alive. We just had a table at a local conference. Every passerby didn’t know what radiodrama was.

    Not surprising at all. Most people don’t know what audiobooks are and most bookstores and libraries stock them.

    >We had to tell them what it was, what podcasting is, that they really do exist, and then who the hell we are and why should they care. That’s the world we live in.

    Get on as many panels at the cons too, the more people hearing your message at once the more likely you will have people interested. Person to person is much harder when the audience isn’t self-selected.

    >…especially if all they do is podcast. TSS is on the radio. Are any other radio outlets running Pendant or Darker Projects?

    I can’t say about either, but I suspect none of their fan fiction is.

    >Do they want to be on the radio? For some, it’s not really a priority. In that case, podcasting will only do so much.

    As in, 50%? You think it’s hard to convince people to listen to your radio drama? Try convincing them to get a portable media device! Even with all the marketing the lag is enormous. Many podcasts are still getting a large percentage of their listeners listening by just listening in front of their computers. All that said, why not take advantage of the market that’s easier, the people who already are looking for content. People like me, people who read SFFaudio. The podcast audience.

    >No, it read more like a “The Wizard’s not in!” post. And problems are more easily solved when they are clearly defined and expressed. That didn’t happen the first time, just a lot of ax-grinding.

    A non-denial denial.

    >Look, you said earlier that you take argumentation seriously. But you were comparing amateurs to professionals as if their methods, motivations, desires, ambitions, and resources are the same. It’s not a fair comparison.

    Uggh! It wasn’t a comparison! The professionals are taking advantage of podcasting’s promise. Most aren’t doing it because they are true beleivers, they are doing it because the opportunity costs are low and the potential rewards, as in letting people know who you are, is high. I’m sure you’ll dislike this, but the effect of podcasting seems to work for a lot of people. James Patrick Kelly attributes his Hugo nomination for Burn to his podcast of it. Established and new authors alike are using the cheap distribution and personal connection podcasting allows to create awareness of their product (namely themselves).

    >Ollin Productions (all two of us) teamed up with two groups here in the Pacific Northwest some time ago, namely Transdimensional Media and the Willamette Radio Workshop. Ever heard of Afterhell or Ollin Productions before all this? So much for that idea…

    I’d heard of Willamette before this.

    >You tell me. You’re telling amateurs to podcast, to get on the radio, to expand.

    Mostly I was telling them to podcast. I’ve basically given up on anything that isn’t public radio actually doing radio/audio drama.

    >But that was in the context of comparing amateur audiodrama and their lack of exposure to KJA’s career. He wasn’t an amateur when he started the media tie-in track. They’re not accurate analogues to one another, not a fair comparison, hence a poor analogy.

    It wasn’t a comparison, nor was it an analogy. I said that boostrapping your name, your product, to known quantities can sometimes boost your own recognition.

    >And my bit about Russell T. Davies was a tongue-in-cheek effort to lighten up and seek common ground. Should I stop?

    I know it’s not in the mainstream of popular opinion but I find the new Doctor Who tv show a little less impresive than I’d hoped. :(
    More running around, less historical and science centered plots.

    >Well, I told you it didn’t make any sense. A plea for better science in SF comedies, side by side with praise for a show with “ridiculously impossible physics.” Maybe you should’ve clarified or left it for another posting. It was basically a tangent anyway.

    I’m writing prose here, no need to read between the lines:

    RD was full of ridiculously impossible physics.

    BUT…

    RD respected the audience.

    RD knew the actual tropes of SF.

    RD made serious SF ideas a part of the plots.

    >Do ad hominem attacks make an argument more valid or less valid?

    Lesse..

    “Jesse, if you were any more wrong, you’d be on Fox News.”

    “You do a lot of griping”

    “Semantics aren’t your strong suit.”

    “your suggestions don’t even make any frigging sense.”

    “your wishy-washy language”

    “What’s your idea of a suicide hotline, telling people to jump?”

    “You pump out this incoherent rambling, confusing issue after issue, rendering your readers eyesore with your functionally illiterate attempts at grammar, punctuation, and rhetoric…and you have the gall to say that?”

    “And please, in the name of God — be more freakin’ articulate! I’m not asking for Bradbury, just legible!”

    “You don’t know what you’re talking about, let alone how to bloody say it.”

    “Would consulting Strunk & White be too much of a burden for you?”

    “If you won’t research your points, the least you could do is run your semi-literate nonsensical rants through a spell-checker.”

    “I leave you with your mealy-mouthed claims of artistic virtue in tatters, your highness. Now put some clothes on.”

    Even after all that I’d still say no. I’m not persuaded by ad homenim, but I do reject straw man arguments.

    >If the answer to this question is “less valid,” then the answer to your question is yes. Then there’s no point in equivocating the distinction between a person and his dreams.

    I disagree.

    >I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve even sat in on readings of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon, where the reader gave us a quick run-through of the language, then blew everyone away with the original language. No matter how well anything is done, for some reason there’s always one person who just doesn’t get it. It just happens. And in the case of Shakespeare especially, it’s a shame.

    I agree.

    >I’m saying you’re implementing, knowingly or unknowingly, have a double standard. And you should stop. Amateurs are going through the same lifelong educational process. Venting your spleen, or me venting mine, serves that purpose and very little else, if anything. I got pissed off, so I went postal. You tell me whether that did you any good whatsoever.

    Indeed yes! It did do my goal some good. Your response to my commentary has attracted much attention. Thank you.

    >Jesse, I had to go back over the text several times and extrapolate in a few places.

    Maybe you need to be trained up to my writing style. Or my lack thereof? ;)

  17. >Though it no longer retains 87% marketshare, apple’s
    >iTunes is propbably the best bet for this.

    If they could do that, in effect putting the pros and the general public distributing product under one roof, that would fantastic.

    >>Frankly I’d like to see a Google News type set-up for
    >>podcasters: […]
    >
    >Perhaps Yahoo!?

    Yahoo Podcast, you mean? It’s still in beta, but it looks promising so far. (I also hope Yahoo has gotten better about spyware. I had to hack a few things of theirs out of my desktop several times.)

    >I named three directories. The third and most important
    >(in terms of podcast users is iTunes).

    Our first CD is on iTunes, but not the second. We’d organized each story on Volume 2 into separate tracks, which would’ve blown any chance of profit under iTunes. Making each individual scene a track, as we did on the first CD, would’ve been more profitable. Live and learn.

    >>We had to tell them what it was, what podcasting is[…]
    >
    >Get on as many panels at the cons too […]

    Done and done. We did one at the World Horror Convention in May, and we’re working on some more. Ironically the reaction to our proposals from con-chairs has exhibited the same disbelief and confusion as person-to-person sales.

    >>Do they want to be on the radio? For some, it’s not
    >>really a priority. In that case, podcasting will only
    >>do so much.
    >
    >As in, 50%?

    As in, most fanfic groups don’t give it much thought. They’d probably worker harder for a more professional sound if they did.

    >>No, it read more like a “The Wizard’s not in!” post.
    >>And problems are more easily solved when they are
    >>clearly defined and expressed. That didn’t happen the
    >>first time, just a lot of ax-grinding.
    >
    >A non-denial denial.

    All right, let me put it this way: Calling a rant “a commentary” doesn’t absolve the writer of his obligations. You pointed out problems, “some that are fixed far easier before you start recording.” All well and good. But those problems could’ve been more clearly defined, which would’ve made it easier for anybody to engage in the problem-solving process.

    >James Patrick Kelly attributes his Hugo nomination
    >for Burn to his podcast of it. Established and new
    >authors alike are using the cheap distribution and
    >personal connection podcasting allows to create
    >awareness of their product (namely themselves).

    Okay, got it. That last point, especially with the example of James Patrick Kelly, cleared it up for me. We were talking about amateur audiodrama in relation to podcasting. Now we’re talking about podcasting and writers in general. Sorry, the tacit comparison of pro- and fanfic writers was confusing.

    >I’m sure you’ll dislike this, but the effect of
    >podcasting seems to work for a lot of people.

    Why would I dislike that? I’m all for podcasting. Desktop media creation has a democratizing effect. I just don’t think there’s any point in demanding that amateur groups fix problems which only the pros and semi-pros care about.

    >I said that boostrapping your name, your product,
    >to known quantities can sometimes boost your own
    >recognition.

    We have to agree to disagree. It’s as simple as that in my view.

    >>You tell me whether that did you any good whatsoever.
    >
    >Indeed yes! It did do my goal some good. Your response to
    >my commentary has attracted much attention. Thank you.

    Okay, in that case…”yer mother wuz a hamster, and yer father smelt of elderberries!”

    >Maybe you need to be trained up to my writing style. Or my lack thereof? ;)

    Could be. All those thee’s and thou’s can get confusing….

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