A Public Personal Journal
...A Look Behind the Curtain
...A Look Behind the Curtain
The year 2020 was a roller coaster ride. For most everyone I know, at least. It took me from selling cars, paid on commission, to now working an hourly overnight gig. In a period of boredom, I realized my desire to create a podcast. If I had known what level of work I was getting myself into, I probably wouldn't have done it. In retrospect, I am appreciative that I hadn't known, and am very excited with the entire process of audio drama podcast production.
I know I won't update this often., let's be honest. But, I wanted to write to myself about my journey. Hopefully, I'll look back at these and realize how stupid I had been, by comparison. The following articles are a public journal, for myself.
*Reader's discretion is advised.
What is wrong with you? Why are you still reading this?
December 31, 2020: 2020, a Year in Review
2020 marks the first year of podcasting for me. In July in an airport on a layover, I wrote the script for the episode Most Precious Girl. December 28th, Episode DEN (Denver International), the fifth fully scripted episode was published.
I was overly-bored one month, and realized I could make a voice studio with the hopes of becoming a voiceover talent. I started one-on-one sessions with a very well-known vocal talent among the voiceover community. I was excited to pursue the avenue, and realized I could start a podcast in the meantime. After producing the first promo for the podcast, I was hooked. I made than, and then recorded the episode Most Precious Girl with Becky Collins. As I started getting more involved in podcasting, I started to realize my passion for that overtook my desire to voice act. I knew the first episode was going to be subpar due to the nature of the content, the fact that it was the first episode, and it wasn't a full production with sound effects and such. I was happy to get the project done, and I am still very happy I completed it. Since then, I have learned how to create a full-production podcast with a cast. From writing, directing, post-production, publication, to social media. I learned a great deal on the second episode Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears. A massive failure at the eleventh episode that still permitted publication. I continued to create and publish subsequent episodes. Each episode, I have made major, and minor educational strides simultaneously. I am truly ecstatic about the episode DEN's production value. This is only solidifying my progression, not necessarily that the episode is the best per se.
Mercury Theatre Podcast now has a collection of social media presence. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Discord. MTP also has a website you may or may not know about. Two, if you count the spelling redirect.
From here on, there are a few resolutions I am going to proclaim. I need a more succinct outro for each episode. I have to figure out how to justify listeners listening through the outro, or trick them by speed. I also get to figure out the intros too. I would fix the abrupt timing of DEN's intro, but otherwise, I like how the intro was inserted.
Good Thing 1: I am so very glad I found a creative outlet that allows me to express who I am, as well as flaunting others' talents too.
Good Thing 2: I like knowing that every episode has been an education. I tried bad methods, and have been making myself familiar with the better methods.
Learning Curve: More succinct outros, and cleaner intros.
December 30, 2020: I Hate My Voice Actors
I intentionally get VA's I secretly hate, and I tell them this fact all the time. "I hate you so much" is one of my most utilized lines during records. If a VA ever hears this line, they should find this the highest compliment from me, despite the words. I truly adore my voice actors, and there is honestly not a group of people I would ever rather work with, than them. This so-called hatred is truly an appreciation for their talent, their wit, or anything else I love that makes the process enjoyable and/or the product as fantastic as possible. My laughter was intense when the commercial narration was being done for the DEN episode. I took quite the beat before I could get back on track. Yes, I was drinking (which I noted in an earlier installment), but that was only a minor factor. I hated Leo at that moment: I adored it. If I tell you I hate you; I love you. If I tell you I love you.., I might love you. My adoration is complicated.
As of today, I am no longer a Gold Member of CastingCall.Club. This is huge. This is an accomplishment, not a loss, as it seems. I have a full cast of 33 VAs I can choose from. I can still post projects, and have auditions open to the public (but no longer featured). I'll continue to let my crew know about the open roles, as well as let my accrued list of followers try their hands at the auditions. I intend to work with the group I have, and if I need to revamp my crew, I can get back to gold status. The consistent listener should expect to get to know the "short" list of VAs, with a wild card thrown in every episode. Technically, with every episode, I should be acquiring a new VA. So, a year from now, I should have like 45 VAs. I'm interested to see how not featuring my projects will turn out, as last time I did it, I only got one audition. With the elements I mentioned, I should have a much higher return. Who's to say I can't use the crew I have right now for a while though too..?
I mentioned once before that I listened to 30+ hours of podcasts a week. Below is a list that shows how I can pull that feats off. Mostly. There are more, but I am keeping a couple close to my chest because I'm a vindictive jerk. I even categorized them, so you're not subject to listening to this stuff, and getting assaulted by "Peanut butt butter! Showbiz!" thinking you were going to learn how to write from the show. Also... I accept no responsibility if you do get audibly assaulted, because you didn't do your proper research into the shows, should you listen to them.
Podcasts I Currently Listen To:
Mercury Theatre Podcast. Duh. (Audio Drama)
Eos 10 (Audio Drama)
We're Alive (Audio Drama)
Citation Needed (Circle Discussion)
Timesuck (Twisted Story-telling)
Citizen's Guide to the Supreme Court (Legal Discussion)
Start with This (Writing Discussion)
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (NPR Political Quizshow)
the Amelia Project (Audio Drama)
Hardcore History (History)
ScriptNotes (Writing Discussion)
Mike Lenz Voice (Voiceover Discussion)
the Side Hustle Show (Entrepreneurial Discussion)
No Bad Ideas (Writing Discussion)
the Skepticrat (Political)
The question! How to transform yet another sailing scene so it doesn't sound JUST like yet another sailing scene. Everything sounds the same! Epiphany. Rain, goddammit! Rain. I can keep everything exactly the same, but just a single sound effect, and change my directing for that one scene. There's an technique I can have the VAs employ whilst talking over the rain, including extending their arm ahead of them in an arc. For whatever reason, people talk OVER something, just because their using this exercise. If you're trying it, I got you! But seriously... it's a fun directorial trick, for voice acting. Here's the problem... Some people may not conform to this technique, but I'll need to enforce the physical act somehow. I may open up the recording with the rule that whoever's in the scene do so, or I'll have them re-cast. Harsh, but I think they'll understand the fervor by which I mean it. "Do it, or I'll be disappointed" wouldn't have the same effect. All this because I want to differentiate the scenes. And, I know how I can write it into the script to my advantage.
I have now the domain MercurytheatERpodcast.com, which forwards the browser to this site MercurytheatREpodcast.com! Now I needn't fear that someone will buy the domain, and sell it to me later. Also, I won't be losing browsers who misspelled the podcast.
Good Thing 1: Epiphanies still come to me.
Good Thing 2: I'm making a pallet wall, and the progress is exciting. Finally a physical project for me.
Learning Curve: Apparently not all of my painting tools made it to North Carolina. Ah well, it's minimal.
December 29, 2020: What's Your Why?
Not that you asked, but I'm about to give you a brief synopsis of the life of John S. Badger, and how he came to make the greatest audio drama ever (yet to be fully realized): I was born at a very young age. I was the youngest child for a very, very short period. I grew up, kinda, and got a GED at the age of 16. I was immediately enrolled in a community college for Culinary Arts, graduated with my diploma, got a job at a golf club, eventually went to the premier culinary school of the world the Culinary Institute of America (the Hogwarts of culinary schools), and graduated with my associates in Culinary Arts there in October 2012. After hating the career for years, I joined car sales in 2016, and was pretty good- not the best, but among the top 1/3. I loved the switch, but got tired of living in Utah. Moved to North Carolina, and LOVE this place. I have lived in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Utah, Florida, and North Carolina, and I never felt home until I moved here. I'm in the Blue Ridge mountain area, and it is gorgeous. Not too humid. Not too hot. I can ride the motorcycle 9 months out of the year. It threatens snow now and again. The Asheville people seems fairly open to you being you, with minimal judgment. I am home, and I have only been here two years. Except, I haven't loved the car sales here. I'm not sure if it's because I was spoiled with my first car sales gig in UT, or if the area here sucks for car sales. I could just never feel good about used car sales, and the people here are typical car sales as you're probably accustomed to hearing about. Then Covid-19 hit, and I was being illegally required to work when nobody was buying vehicle. This particular dealership penalizes the salespeople who don't meet their quota each month, which would have had me LOSING money each month. So I just quit. Told them to fuck themselves, and got a job moving lumber around overnight. This is when I found my passion for podcasting. I had an odd timeframe of availability, and took advantage of it. This brings us to today.
Podcasting has literally changed my life, and I cannot be happier that the career I enjoyed so much failed. I'm making a third of what I had been in the car industry, and that fucking sucks. We're barely scraping by financially, but the fact that I am doing what I love that has potential to be profitable. But with about $3.15 to-date, I am literally losing tons of money, assuming it's in pennies. Okay, maybe not TONS, but close to it. This is when I should ask for donations. Give me money. I'm poor. But seriously, I absolutely love this hobby that I know it will eventually pan out, but I have to sink in a bunch to eventually do so. I need listeners for the sponsors, and I need financial supporters to pay for my efforts, if I ever intend to go full-time, and to make the second podcast series I have in mind. Not to mention that I want to monetarily and/or giftually (my laptop doesn't think that's a word either, but I am owning it. Fuggit. I'll put a TM on it) giftuallytm thank my voice actors for their efforts to making my podcast as successful as it will eventually be.
My financial investments include (but not limited to):
Promotion stuff (car magnets, shirts, etc)
Studio audio noise dampening
Voice Over and Social Media classes
I know I'm missing some, but they're not coming to mind.
This isn't a free endeavor, and I certainly didn't go into this knowing just how much I would drop just to make a podcast on a free platform. And, time isn't free, if you think about it rationally. This isn't actually an advertisement to make you feel bad for me, and my financial state. It's just giving you an idea of what goes into the process. People think all you have to do it talk into the computer's built-in microphone, and then you have a podcast. Many do, and that many (and more) suck.
One of my podcast's most recent episode just implored in its year-end status update to "find your why." It's so true. I used to live day-to-day, just hoping for something exciting to come up, but excitement usually costs money, and that is something I've been short on, especially as of late. But, with producing a podcast- which isn't something I would recommend to everyone- I have found what gets me out of bed. I know I need to submit my audio to Sam, so it can be uploaded to YouTube, or I know I have to get my purchases figured out for tax purposes. These things excite me, and I have a reason not to simply scroll down in my social media feeds, hoping there's a bullshit conspiracy is posted for debunking, while I'm still lying on my pillow. I found "my why," and I can only hope you and everyone else finds their why. It's the best feeling. Maybe I was going through an existential crisis, and Im just now realizing how grateful I am to have found it. I think I've said it on too many occasions recently to not mean it from the bottom of my heart.
It's so bizarre that I had literally no idea what I was going to type, until I started typing. I have a gift... a gift of procrastination to write the intricacies of the privateer episode. Good gollee, I am not a fan of writing the dialogue of this one. I'm also concerned about the lack of SFX soundscapes. It'll mostly be aboard ships, and the soundscapes don't really change from boat to boat. There is a beach scene, but the sound of water is pretty damn similar to the sound of water. There's also a harbor scene. Maybe that'll become my soundscape baby, but it's so late in the episode. It'll likely be like DEN (Denver International). Speaking of... How did you like it? Write your opinion(s) in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
I intentionally embolden some of my lines as a trick to keep you on your toes.
Good Thing 1: I found "my why."
Good Thing 2: Nobody told me how expensive a hobby I was getting into, and that sponsors don't care about you until you have a great deal of interest from listeners. I count this as a good thing, because I wouldn't have gotten into this "hobby" if I had. Is this a discouragement to you? I sure hope so- you're my competition. [insert evil laughter here]
Learning Curve: Podcasting doesn't pay until you have a good deal of listeners, as podcast sponsors don't want to pay for you, until you have upwards of thousands of subscribers.
December 28, 2020: A New Recap Factor
I swear it feels like a race against the clock. On the last Monday of the month, the main episode gets published, as you probably already know. But until it publishes, there is no link to send listeners to. So, come 1 am, I can either update the website with the right link on the Listen Now page, or I can wait until I remember to. Last night, I went to sleep at 2 am, realizing I never added the link. No big whoop. Just do it in the morning. Except I also forgot to set the delayed announcement of the new episode drop on Facebook too. More on that in a sec. So, I immediately jump on the computer in the morning, and update Facebook, Twitter, and the website. Not huge deals, but it still feels like I might miss that listener who is already listening, just by an hour or so.
Facebook groups allow for scheduled posting. This allows for those Fun Facts on Friday, or the Mercury Wednesday Questions to be staged in advance. Guess who forgot he only had them until the middle of December, until just last night. That's right- this guy. Look... I don't claim to be social media savvy- hell! I'm writing on this page like it's a goddam blog!- but I do have to maintain some sort of social presence. I've mentioned my upcoming classes on the subject, for this very reason. I bet the instructor is probably 10 years my junior. How funny/applicable would that be? My point is, while I am going to take the stupid class, I want my first order of business, to be relinquishing the social part of the podcast, and work strictly on production of the podcast. Without money though; there's no way I can rely on anyone else to do it. Becomes a catch 22 if you think about it.
Mercury Theatre Podcast has officially hit 905 downloads. That's all of the episodes combined. I'm going to start keeping a count for disclosure on here, so people can take the journey with us, and if they want to compare to another show, or their own, they can. To do that, we must start on a fair playing field. What it took to get here, and what creates this aforementioned number. Promo episode that I have since replaced: nobody was interested in the show because it had no content. Episode Most Precious Girl: I had basically nobody interested in the show. It was new, had no backlog to listen to. It was also a somewhat depressing episode. My production value was fairly low. Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears: I started bringing in a small following, as well as increasing the production value, with the major fail that happened the day before publication. I didn't try too hard to promote that episode, as I wanted at least three episodes, so listeners weren't confused by the two outrageously different genres. Roll Players: I tried to post that episode everywhere I found D&D minded individuals. I even went so far as to ask group moderators if they'd permit me to post it in memoriam of a group member, but ultimately that endeavor failed. Ironically, looking back at all the downloads, Nikki Sketch is the highest listened to episode, but I want so badly for DEN to overcome that trend. Gradually, each episode was starting to gain momentum. Even if Nikki Sketch had the most listens, it was due to them listening to a newer episode, and going back into the backlog. Back to the timeline... War for December came out, and I guess it just kept gaining momentum. Each episode from Roll Players on, I have been focusing on social media presence, and promoting my show as best I could. Now, one factor I didn't mention was the ad I posted on Facebook. That brought about 52 clicks onto my site. Site clicks don't equal downloads per se, but it did make an increase in downloads nonetheless. Not by 52 unique listeners, I don't think. There's only so much I can comprehend, combining analytics. With each episode, I have gradually seen the graph go up in downloads on an exponential course. The problem with exponentials is that it takes a long time to get rolling. It's easier to go from 10,000 listeners to 12,000 than it is to go from 0 to 2,000. Take this into consideration too: 905 downloads aren't unique listeners. I don't have 905 listeners. I have "10" episodes in one manner or another published, so I have an average of 90.5 listeners, according to the stats. But that's inaccurate, as Nikki Sketch (highest downloads to-date) counts as 170 downloads. If those 170 people listened to all the episodes, I would have 1,700 downloads. Damn... That's depressing. Where's my retention at, bro? Before you get depressed too, it keeps going up in downloads with every episode. Not just that it stacks, but I legitimately have an increase in listeners every time. I'll take it.
Jesus... You just read way more than I intended to post on that one topic of downloads. Feel lucky: from henceforth, I'll pretty much only include the count at the bottom with the other recaps.
Do you think "I swear to god" is unsafe for the kids? Nobody has mentioned it yet, but I feel that line skirts the line of appropriateness. Oh! I have started putting easter eggs in the episodes, harkening back to the/a previous episode. See if you can find them, as of DEN. Hopefully I don't forget to add them from here on.
I guess with that long paragraph, I'll keep to short paragraphs. Timing. Timing is off on DEN, in case you didn't figure that out. Amber's crossing into the dark side was too quick. The timing appears to be too quick to be realistic. I'm referring to walk time. I also jumped right in there after the initial airplane scene. Too abrupt. I can only hope I'm the first to bring this to your attention.
Good Thing 1: Episode DEN (Denver International) is live, and I am extremely happy about the value it exudes.
Good Thing 2: Social media and the site are updated.
Learning Curve: In the middle of each month, I should make sure all my trivia and questions are scheduled. So, I guess when I have an EXTRA episode published, do it same-day.
December 27, 2020: Talk Nerdy to Me
Many podcasting aficionados consider podcasting platforms to be beneath them. Allow me to explain what a platform is, so we can discuss henceforth on a knowledgeable base. When someone has a podcast, they do not take their audio, and it just magically gets sucked out of their computer to be uploaded into the podcatchers' sites. What? What's a podcatcher? I should have gone over this by now, but here we are... Okay. A podcatcher is like iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio, etc. So the podcaster has to submit the audio file to be distributed to podcatchers that have the RSS feed. This paragraph has accidentally become too convoluted. Let me explain RSS in a second. Firstly, the platform. So there are platforms that you submit your audio to, like Buzzsprout, Podbean, Blubrry, Libsyn, etc. These are often pay-to-play, which makes sense. In order to store all the data, and to distribute that data to the podcatchers is a lot of information needed to be stored and processed somewhere. I joined the podcasting world after Anchor had already made its presence known. Many are skeptical as to the legitimacy of Anchor due to it being free. How can there be a free platform, when it has to distribute everywhere? Won't it just be another platform that dissolves after too much data is being used? Questions I never considered before joining the world of podcasting. I justified it by considering advertising, which Anchor would be paid for. Anchor has been bought out by Spotify, so it now has significant financial backing. Now, I see some podcasters turn their noses to Anchor because of their supposed superiority with Libsyn or some such platform. Just recently, Anchor has become an IAB certified platform, which gives accurate listener counts, as opposed to other platforms which are not IAB certified, and they are getting somewhat skewed results due to bots or whatever else might be inadvertently interfering with their stats. This new development with the IAB certification only solidifies my position with Anchor. Not that I have been hiding my involvement with Anchor, but I am now letting everyone know that I do indeed have an account with a free podcast platform.
I said I would talk about RSS feeds. This is a simpler explanation than the last "paragraph." When you have a podcasting platform, it will give you an RSS feed. Sweet! That was easy. Next topic...
Fine. It's a little more involved than that. The RSS feed you're given by your host is then submitted to podcatchers. What? You thought podcatchers ran to the mound to take the ball from the *podpitcher? Not even close. The podpitcher (platform) must make the podcast available, and when the RSS link is given to the podcatcher, it will make that available to the listener. The RSS feed should be a one-time only submission with each podcatcher. Many podcatchers, Anchor submitted to, without my having to do anything manually. I had to go to certain podcatchers individually and submit it because Anchor doesn't necessarily want to for whatever reason. I have literally found MTP on podcatchers I never knew existed. A quick summary using emojis: Baseball, catcher mitt, lollipop, eggplant, water droplets, water droplets. So, maybe the emojis don't work on here. In summary:
1) Podcaster submits audio to platform.
2) Platform makes file available to podcatchers.
3) Podcatcher automatically uses RSS feed to "catch" file.
4) Podcatcher makes it available to the listener.
You thought it was easier than that, huh? I very well could have accidentally missed a step or two, but I don't see those step(s). It's really quite automated, once you've gotten it set up. It happens fairly quickly. I will have MTP set to publish on Anchor at 1 am on the last Monday of the month. I can do that a month ahead of time, or an hour ahead of time. It gets published, and within minutes of 1 am Monday morning, I can listen to it on iTunes.
I don't know why I had an epiphany moment, and realized I needed to post about the gross details pertaining to podcasting. But, here we are. I came here to do two things, to teach you how to podcast, and drink this mojito. And I seem to be all out of mojito. Be a doll, and grab me a mojito.
I definitely still want something for the less nerdy too... So... A picture is worth a thousand words. And, as a podcaster, I can use that to my advantage. I'm sure I've mentioned this on a few occasions before. But, a short bit is that being an audio medium, I can let peoples' imaginations run wild with a few words. The listener can just fill in the final 995 words, when I have only given you five.
Is it weird that I'm proud that when I'm typing the first few letters of analytics.google.com, that I don't get my internet history accidentally haunting me? Analytics: That's another nerdy discussion for later.
Good Thing 1: I am very glad I don't have to set up an RSS feed with every podcatcher every episode. I would die.
Good Thing 2: If I had to pay to become a podcaster from the get-go, I very well may not have learned my passion for podcasting. This hobby has literally changed my life, and I owe the process a great deal. So, I give it a great deal.
Learning Curve: Boy howdy, was it!
*There is no such thing as a podpitcher, to my knowledge. I just started making sports references.
December 26, 2020: Boxing Day
It is hard to feel normal, with this week of awful. But, I am trying to trudge on. You know, the death of someone who had an impact on your life, doesn't always show itself until they pass away. The saying "You don't know what you got until it's gone" has a ring of truth to it. Especially right now. But I try to push onwards.
Today, I am re-visiting the script for Captain Fearless, and am finding it difficult to find appreciation with it. It was no DEN. I imagine once SFX are put into it, it will be more entrancing than DEN but the dialogue isn't as well written. And I'm trying to add characters to justify all my VAs. I've accidentally become too successful in the process of casting, and I fear I may lose some participants as a result. I expect that as of casting for the sci-fi episode, I will likely only cast one new VA for each episode, as I had once dreamed of. I'll probably keep posting roles like I have been, but only cast from my previous VAs, and a fluke for each episode then on. I can see new VAs hating that I have a SHORT shortlist henceforth. If you haven't made it in by now, your window is incredibly small, and that's due to my casting success. Sucks to be so successful sometimes. I honestly have been enjoying the process of casting a LOT.
For Christmas, I have received a new wired keyboard. Why am I excited about a wired keyboard? Because my wireless one misses letters I type in. I try to capitalize a letter using the Shift key simultaneously as a letter, I still may not get it. This doesn't sound like such a hassle, until you live with this happening every three times you do it. And the mouse that came with it was also garbage. I may have posted about how much I hated that little shit. I have replaced it with one we had before. I additionally got a book that I can read. Historically, I have not been a fan of reading. There are movies I could watch instead. Sure, the movie may not be as cool as the book (limited imagination and budget with movies vs. books). But, I get the gist of the book, and I don't have to get to page 162 to realize it's a terrible book. This book the Radio Drama Handbook, I am still in the history of radio drama chapter, and I have already been finding useful information.
No. Of course I'm not procrastinating writing the Captain Fearless episode. Geez! Get off my back, mom! JK. My mother is a terrible human-being who I wouldn't even address in person, but that's a long story deserving of a book of its own.
I just now proved my procrastination by adding an HTML comment box at the bottom of this page. I'm trying to add a contact me widget in the Contact Me page. It seems "easy" to create the box, but far more difficult to make it send to a location I would actually receive it. Imagine a bunch of people thinking they sent me a message, and it never got to me because I fucked up the "mailto" segment. Okay. Maybe not a bunch of people. I have literally only gotten one email from a listener to-date, and I have had it available as of two weeks ago. As it stands, that one listener is guaranteed to receive the MTP water bottle, if nobody else sign up for the free raffle.
Good Thing 1: I am moving forward.
Good Thing 2: I got a new book the Radio Drama Handbook to dive into.
Learning Curve: Know when to close a door, so I don't have too many people excited to do the same project.
December 23, 2020: Fuck 2020
I attended my cousin Jesse's funeral yesterday. There are only so many suicides an employer can hear about in a year before they become suspicious. First it was my brother-in-law who took his life in the summer of this year, and now my cousin. The timing we're told about is suspicious, and makes for an intriguing mystery that I could easily write a series of episodes about, based on theories I can imagine. Maybe a three parter? Fuck 2020. The only good thing I can look back on it as, is the fact that I have found my passion in podcasting. A wonderful passion I found primarily because of 2020 being so goddam shitty, but it is a shitty year nonetheless.
I knew Jesse from his first years, and he always revered me, but I related to Jesse more than anyone understood. He was the family pariah within his immediate family, who desperately sought acceptance, but unwilling to forfeit his opinions. I always felt that I was the family black sheep among the family of black sheep of our extended family. Jesse was the cousin I always hung out with, whenever our family would visit theirs. He was five years my junior, but his older brother always hung around my older brother, which created an unintentional disconnect. Jesse and I grew to disagree on points, but to be respectful of our disagreements, always willing to hear each other out. He was the only cousin who bothered to attend my wedding, and the only one who has been to my house in North Carolina. In fact, when he heard I was moving to this house, he asked when he could show up to help us move. That's the guy Jesse was. I tried contacting Jesse to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner, but he didn't have the same phone number, and had deleted his Facebook account. Got to be ridiculous enough, that I just left it there, instead of diving deeper to find his current contact information.
I wish to my very core that everyone finds their personal version of what podcasting is to me- something that gives them passion. I understand mental health is what ultimately pushed him 'over the edge,' but passion does invigorate people to doing that which they otherwise would have disregarded (I know that doesn't make sense on the first read, but give it a fifth read. Maybe it will then). Find your passion. If you get to the point where you are contemplating suicide, please contact a therapist, or call the suicide awareness hotline 800.273.8255.
"Today, I drink a toast to a man who had so much potential, but had nowhere to properly direct it. A guy who always had a joke, even it had been tucked in his wallet. Drink a yoo-hoo, and pour one out for a brother, as we say goodnight. Goodbye, Jesse Badger."
Good Thing 1: [It's hard to find any silver linings in this post, but science help me if I don't at least try] Jesse was a great guy who was willing to go two extra miles for anyone he cared about, and he cared for most everybody.
Good Thing 2: 2020 is on its way straight to hell. It's now December 23rd, and everyone I know is waiting for the clock to strike 12am January 1st. This year needs an enema.
Learning Curve: If you know of someone who you are concerned about, make sure that they know they are understood. Empathize with them. Love them. Be there for them, because more than likely, they're the one who was there for you in your time of need.
December 20, 2020: You Fools!
What a great concept! Collaboration. It's pulling teeth to find a collaborator, but when you finally find someone who appreciates not only the final product, but the procedure of getting to that final product, makes all the difference in the world. Run-on sentences be damned. There has been serious collaboration on the sci-fi episode, and we seem to both be just as invested in the outcome- which is HUGE. It was accidental that I found a collaborator, and
She has given me permission to call her by name. You may know her as Ms. Clyde from the episode Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears, and other parts since. Georgina Walkington. She'll be taking on the role of assistant director in some episodes, and see how that hat fits. Casting for the English roles of Captain Fearless, Georgina is able to pick out the most accurate, and I can pick a favorite sound with that in mind. We started casting for the all-female cast of the sci-fi episode, and I think I'm going to let her give me ideas. I'll likely be making some vetoes for reasons, but I'm super interested in her opinions. As you can probably figure out by now; I am already so excited to have her aboard. Do you smell that? I'm smelling an upcoming EXTRA interview (This is likely the first she's learning of the proposition, reading this post).
As I'm beginning to write the intricacies of Captain Fearless, I am learning about naval tactics used in battle. I love learning stuff as I go along, for each episode. With the Sci-Fi episode, I expect I'll learn about science fiction terminology, and I suspect I might learn some actual space information too while I'm at it. The DEN episode is another excellent example. I knew OF conspiracy theories, but I now know a good number of them. I'm using my audience as my justification to learn useless information that I may or may not include in the episodes. Mwahahahahahahaaaaa.
Good Thing 1: Having someone excited about the process with you, helps to excite you. You start building each other up, and it is intoxicating, when you really click (or the other pretends they appreciate your stupid humor, anyway). She is quite gracious in that regard.
Good Thing 2: Diversification. It'll make sense later on.
Learning Curve: I get to find out how much of a control freak I am, and let loose some of the reins as we get into the recordings and post-production. An interesting experiment, to be sure.
December 19, 2020: Thanks, Me/You
My readers often ask me "John, what music do you listen to, when writing an episode of Mercury Theatre Podcast?" Thank you/me for your insightful question. I'm not scripting RIGHT NOW, but I'm listening to the Dorothy playlist on Pandora. Usually, I listen to cinematic music while writing. Movie scores are among the best, most underrated form of art. Hans Zimmer is a musical genius. Sure, his scene of the Gladiator fighting the tiger sounded EXACTLY like Pirates of the Caribbean, but my excuse for his insolence, is that he realized his genius in the Gladiator, and used said genius. Over. And over. And over again. My god. How many times can you listen to the same genius of Pirates of the Caribbean, before it gets old? The 18th of the Pirates franchise? Oh well. He's still a fucking genius... Well, since he dropped Video Killed the Radio Star, anyway. Philip Glass is great too. The list is nearly endless. They are the Mozarts of our time, but we don't see them as such, because they're bigger than Mozart in a way, but more tucked away. Everyone hears them, but their focus is on the mood and subject that their eyes are fixated on.
I'm listening to the episode Roll Players again. You have no idea how many times I listen to a published episode. I do it as homework for future episodes. I'm playing with SFX, and they need to start out strong, and taper off to a background noise, so it's not overtaking the show. The owl volume is perfect, except it's too loud. A conundrum I have to maintain. So, if I did it again, I would start the SFX at the current volume, but taper it off a tad, so it doesn't overpower the dialogue. Comparing it to the upcoming DEN, I am quite satisfied with some of my learning curve. Speaking of SFX... There are only so many sound effects for free, so sometimes, my thought process has to be put to the side until I can get my own shotgun mic to record. The Zoom H4n's capabilities are limited, as it'll pick up all sounds, instead of the sound I'm trying to zero in on. In DEN, I really wanted the sound of walking on grate. One of these days, I'll be able to get every sound effect I want.
I emailed my voiceover coach to let him know I have to put him on the backburner. Mercury Theatre Podcast has taken front and center, and I was reluctant and embarrassed to tell him, but this is the direction I am passionate about. But his directorial help has made it easier to direct others when recording the podcast. Physicality plays a huge part in voice acting, despite the fact that the listener doesn't know they're hearing flailing arms, a reach, a bounce, but it sounds far more realistic in the end result.
Good Thing 1: My Social Media Marketing book came in the post today. (Yeah, I said "post" like an englishman. Wanna fight about it?)
Good Thing 2: My dog is so cute.
Learning Curve: It is quite steep, and I am learning so much.
December 18, 2020: Audible Shrug
I have a good portion of the privateer episode completed, and have been asked if we can collaborate on a wait for it... sci-fi episode! Not going to discuss that episode, as it is still classified, but there's good stuff coming. It is a lot of fun to do this, and I feel like I have a lot of input to add to the process. Writing for an audio medium is a new concept for many writers, and it's fun to imagine how a visual should be translated into a sound. A shrug, for instance... How do you write an audible shrug? I get excited when I'm given the opportunity to alter notes. Oh, and first impression gives me inclination to have an all-female cast, which could be fun. I'm tired of being jealous of my male VA's voices anyway. In all seriousness though... I seriously am jealous of a couple of my VA voices, but I adore them for it. There's a reason I kind of give myself the backseat in the world of acting.
I started casting for the privateer episode, and it has truly started a conversation in the Discord channel. I love how it seems there's a community starting with the show. A camaraderie and excitement that everyone seems to have for each other. I swear every time I cast for an episode, I accidentally find a gem. Hopefully, this actor/actress will accept the initial rejection, and stick around for a future episode as I requested. They sound really good.
Good Thing 1: My Discord channel is really picking up, and I love how the interaction between my people is going.
Good Thing 2: Collaboration! It's fun to feel like I have someone who has something to offer, and who also may benefit from my little experience too!
Learning Curve: End of year is coming around the corner. Gotta get my expenses in order for tax purposes.
December 16, 2020: Building a Brand
"Press the button. And, away we go. Ahoy!" "Until next time, I'm John Badger." I am creating a company brand. What do people expect to hear, when they listen to my show? What consistency do I have to show, when I am producing a show with no consistency? Levar Burton would always conclude Reading Rainbow with "Until next time..." and then the butterfly would fly away. It's the English version of the "Au revoir," and I love it. I have decided I want to add the "Okay. Now what?" to the end of my episodes, as I did with one of my earlier episodes. If anyone else is like me, they like those phrases that they can talk along to, in a show.
College textbooks are a scam. In case you didn't know that already. I could rent one for $70.50, buy a used one for $112.50, or a new one for $150. You ready for this? Amazon.com = Rent: $22.49. Used: $52.44. New: $70.02. Prices are literally over double, to go through the college. While the best intentions were had when the government stepped in, financial aid is hurting students, and here's how: College was difficult to afford, but the government knew it would help if there was minimal interest loans and grants, so kids could graduate, and have a good start on their professional career. So, like a credit card, students were able to charge their future selves with debts they would easily afford later on, with their higher paying salaries. Colleges realized this, and started charging more, and just like inflation, there is the constant struggle to see with one would charge too much, or when the state funds would run out. So, as an 18 year old, we were oblivious, willing to incur debts to the government, when the college is scamming the government. This same tactic has been the wheelhouse of insurance. The cost of healthcare has increased, because many people have insurance, and medicine would be paid for by the insurance, with the individual's premium. So the individual believes medical to be too expensive not to have insurance, and then they can charge more. The vicious cycle continues, and you, the individual, pay for this race to the bottom.
Currently, the advertising has gone on for four days. Reached 3,127 people, and has been clicked on a total of 29 times. $21.56 spent to-date. Every click is $0.74. My podcast promo (with me walking down the hall of genres) has hit 81 unique "downloads." Something to keep in mind: just because someone didn't click on my ad, doesn't mean it hasn't had a positive effect on someone. Here's my thinking behind that: brand recognition is huge. Just because you don't rush out to buy a whopper at Taco Bell right now, doesn't mean you don't buy the Frosty the next time you go to McDonald's. Also, some people may be downloading an episode or two, without following the link. All the pertinent information is there in the ad. Since November 21 (site publication), I have had 226 site visits. Hey, this information should be a secret. I by no means should be divulging all this information, and I know that. But, this is a progress report for an individual in the future who may be interested to gauge their own progress against my own. I'm starting out with no knowledge, and attempting to eventually monetize. Successfully.
Good Thing 1: I ordered a book for a continuing education class I have coming up, for social media marketing. I'll likely read it before classes start, because the information should already be applicable to me.
Good Thing 2: I am still so goddam excited about everything this podcast has to offer. The stats, the downloads, the time I spend on it, the excitement of my VAs, my upcoming classes, return postage stickers with the MTP avatar. Just... everything makes me so happy about it.
Learning Curve: What happened in October, that my downloads dropped a tad? Roll Players should have been the most successful episode to-date, and yet it isn't. Were people too busy with Halloween? Do they think it's some sort of sex thing?
December 14, 2020: A New Trajectory
I have been paying far too much attention to each stat. Every statistic is new to me. Google Analytics. Facebook Ad Analytics. Podcast download analytics is the only category I am vaguely familiar with. But the other two throw in a whole new curveball. I can say that with all my might, advertising and my focus on social media has made an impact. I am looking at the graph I have with the podcast downloads. I have had rising consistency, but I could tell when episodes were published, just by looking at the graph, and what kind of episode was downloaded. I added interviews as of a month ago, with a total of two (as of today. Paige Alena woot woot!). So, that dynamic is interesting. I'm hoping to draw in listeners for the entertainment value, and keep them with interest in the VAs (especially the ones featured). So, yesterday alone has changed the direction of the graph. Normally, I would be at a lower download rate than I am now. But yesterday, I think changed the trajectory of downloads. I believe it to be advertising, and a heavier focus on social. So, while I have been procrastinating on the whole writing the next episode bit, I have been useful by other means for the podcast. I now work full-time at my overnight job, but breathe podcasting on the other hand. This is my experiment.
While I have been procrastinating on the privateer episode, I am officially making progress. My episode may be too long, and I'm only halfway to where I need to be. So, that's good. It's easier to cut out, than to add, sometimes. I have created enough character for the casting call, and I have since posted that. I anticipate those roles will be filled by the end of Sunday, but it's open for a couple weeks, just in case.
Oh. Here's a strange endeavor I have taken: I learned that Audible is accepting applications for an audio drama podcast series, with the potential of rewarding the winner $10k to create the show. After some concerns of intellectual property, I proposed them to a podcast group on Facebook. I have gotten all sorts of responses. KC Wayland, a hero of mine responded in the affirmative that they COULD take the intellectual property, but it appears that if it's worth stealing, they might just reward it to me. A gamble, but I think the verbiage in the Terms and Conditions are most likely to cover their own ass, in CASE there are similar ideas, and mine wasn't chosen. Long story short: I have applied, and may not ever know if it was a contender. The idea I proposed is one that I have been holding somewhat close to the vest, and I'm not about to tell it to myself, in the form of an open journal. We shall see if anything comes of it. Or not. Who knows?
Casting Director? Me? Yes please. I know how to cast, and have been pretty darned successful, especially since I haven't had any money to pay anyone yet. If nothing else, I may just be building connections with people who may have string pulling capabilities. I know this paragraph makes no sense to you, and there very well be nothing that comes from this. So, I'm keeping it to myself.
Good Thing 1: I submitted a podcast idea to Audible, and I think it's a good thing. It's fun to not know the results until I have forgotten about the prospect.
Good Thing 2: Episode Captain Fearless (working title) is well underway. I'm learning about privateers, and ship parts.
Learning Curve: I have been discussing my stats this entire episode of the journey, and this is where now that I have numbers to work with, I need to become familiar with. I need to learn how to be smart about my expenses, and spending in the right avenues.
December 13, 2020: Advertising
I have officially begun advertising. On Facebook. I'm expecting to start advertising on Twitter later on. I have some online classes for social media coming up next month, so maybe I'll learn that I made a mistake today. But, the damage will be minimal. I had no idea analytics were on every outlet. I can see how many people, as well as where the ads have been seen. I can do the same for this website. In fairness, I can't see who, but where the IP address is located. It's fascinating. I have done demographic research, and learned who listens to podcasts, and have targeted the ads to those demographics. I can even do the same analytics with the platform my podcast feed, seeing who's listening to the show, and on what device.
I have hit "publish" on the upcoming promo/interview for tomorrow's episode. Scheduling is funny, since when do I set the time of day? I think I have determined 01:00am is fair, since I'm already up, and there's no real reason to hold back from publication. What do I lose if someone listens at 1am, versus not being able to get it until 3pm? If someone can wake up to their new episode, why not be able to listen to the show on their way to work? I think it makes the most sense. The more I type, the less reason there is not to do it at 1am. 12am is too early. Can't have that, now.
Oh! I completely forgot how much time I spend reorganizing this website. Shit. There was so much I did to it. I re-imagined how the homepage is seen, and added a Feature segment, as well as links from all topics to the appropriate pages. I also updated some of the podcast's YouTube channel. I am also going to add consulting to my list of capabilities for podcast producers. Currently, I'm assisting a guy desperately in need of guidance. Even in my short career doing this, I definitely see myself as capable of mentoring people with a far longer list of published episodes. This upcoming episode, DEN, has proven to me that I do have the skills throughout. Okay... So maybe I'm procrastinating writing the upcoming episode. I should be writing lines for several characters, so I can post the casting call, except I have to create the characters. In order to do that, I have to have some sort of semblance of an episode... Perhaps I only did a storyboard, and writing this is a little more fun. I always really enjoy writing the episodes, but that's usually after 5 pages of dialogue. With this Journal, there is literally no structure. Hell, I even ask myself questions on this thread, and may or may not ever answer them. It is ridiculous! 48 people reached, 0 clicks. So, here's the thought... The average subscriber costs a podcast $6. Crazy! But, with these ads, I have it set to $7 a day for 5 days. $35. If by the end of Friday, I have 6 subscribers or more, I'm doing something right. But my god... $6 a subscriber? How the hell does one make that back?
I have a confession: I have a Patreon page. It literally has nothing on it. No content. No posts. Nada. But you know what? The very first subscriber at even a dollar, absolutely everything will get posted. It's not that it's hard, it's just that I haven't had the patience to do that yet. And in 2020, nobody is shelling out money to things they can get for free. But Patreon will have bonus content, commercial-free episodes, and scripts, among other things. It'll be worthwhile to become a patron, but the monetization just hasn't happened yet. And, if you want to advertise through Mercury Theatre Podcast, email me!
I'm updating my advertising thing somewhat out of order. But here's why I'm following it so closely. 1) It's new and shiny to me. 2) I'm sincerely interested in what verbiage it takes to capture attention. The ad reads "READY FOR YOUR NEW FREE PODCAST? Audio Drama - 30 Minute Audio Movies Listen Now, or Download for Later." Words like "free" and "new," I believe are crucial. If you don't know what a podcast is, you likely think you'd have to pay for it. And, if you already know what a podcast is, you're probably ready to broaden your horizons, and find a new one to binge. Maybe with "4" episodes, it's not quite a binge, but it's getting there. I wanted to wait until at least the third episode, before advertising, for that reason alone. No content = no consistency. So, I am watching the advertising too closely, for a specific reason. When I started this paragraph, I had 116 reached, 74 cents spent, and 2 clicks. An odd thing to consider, is one of the people I have written about, is probably reading this. Horrifying, and hilarious at the same time to me. But, chances are, I will have VERY few people ever reading any of these diatribes, and that's okay. This isn't for you/me, it's for me/you.
Good Thing 1: Website was re-designed for the better, I think.
Good Thing 2: Consultation is an avenue I hadn't considered, until by accident. I'll be able to monetize to those who ask me, and I can give free advice for those who are asking the right questions.
Learning Curve: We'll see how this whole advertising endeavor will turn out. 39 cents spent. 62 reached. 0 clicks. Gotta spend money to make money, yo. 45 cents. 66 reached. 1 click. Cost per click is $0.45. I guess 45 is good for something!
December 11, 2020: Tech Successes
Jesus Christ, that took too long! I finally sync'd my email account to my website, so now I officially have a Mercury Theatre Podcast email! Here's the problem though... I will eventually be forced to get an additional email address, as well as a domain. Two domains, in fact. This is why: Theatre. People will fuck it up, and get upset when the email address is spelled wrong, getting a failure to send notice. Here's my solution: get the domain mercurypodcast.com, so it'll confuse people less, and shorten the address. Also, I need to get the domain mercurytheaterpodcast.com, so I can do an automatic redirect to the properly spelled site (this one). If you're reading this in a few months, there is the possibility you spelled the site name wrong, and still somehow got to this site. That is why.
PayPal! I finally have a PayPal account, so people can do a one-time donation to the cause. And, it has no adverse effects financially, unlike Patreon. Patreon has a fee associated with it, so I wouldn't get 100% of the proceeds. PayPal, I would.
And another win! I have discovered how to imbed my podcast episodes straight to this site! I'm too excited to be brought down by your negativity regarding the fact that I didn't know how to imbed episodes, so you can shove it. I'm excited as fuck.
I'm playing with the intricacies of dialogue today. If there's dialogue, I'm finding it fun to push stereo just a TINY bit. One speaker is 20% off to the left, and the other speaker is 20% off to the right. A tactic I have never thought about, until listening to an episode of Start With This. It's a very interesting concept that I think I'm very happy to have discovered. Speaking of other podcasts, there are two that I support financially, because I love their content. And there are quite a few that I wish I could financially support as well, due to their invaluable lessons. If I listen to 10 episodes, and only get one thing out of it that is helpful, I feel I learned something, and they deserve to be rewarded because of it. Eventually, I promise. Right now with Covid, I am strapped financially.
Speaking of rewards! I need to design and order merch for contest winners. This go-round, it'll be MTP water bottles. But, I'll design them exclusively for contest winners. I think. I officially announce how to win on the "half episode" being published on Monday. Now that I have working email, I can do it without hiccups! You have no idea how excited I am to have a domain email address. The "half episode" is the interview with Paige Alena that we did after the recording, as well as the promo for the upcoming episode. I haven't even begun on the promo, but I think I'm just take snippets of the episode that is complete (minus intro/outro and music). Normally, the promo takes a shitton of work, but I think that's because I'm taking raw information, and making a minute and a half of intrigue. This time, I can take interesting parts of the finished product, cut, paste, and mash them together. Maybe put some music in there, to make it cohesive.
Good Thing 1: I have an official email address!
Good Thing 2: I have imbedded podcast episodes to this website!
Learning Curve: I don't think I learned a damned thing, since I have only succeeded. Okay, fine. I did learn stuff. In the future, adding email addresses should be easier. But, that may only be applicable to my Zoho/Google connection.
December 8, 2020: Nobody Notices the Books
When one watches a movie, the average watcher doesn't focus on the minor features of the background. Those finer details that the set designer painstakingly perused shops and bookstores, only to be lost in the background. Without those details, the viewer would know there was a crucial element missing. Almost haunted, perhaps. I add SFX with the sole purpose of filling in gaps that a listener doesn't know to be there. I also consider the reverb in the dialogue. If the room is massive, their voices will sound different, than they would in a bathroom with tile walls. These elements are what will differentiate Mercury Theatre Podcast from so many podcasts. Not that there's something wrong with simpler methods per se, but there is an element missing from most audio drama. Most shows are dialogue. Maybe it's good dialogue. I enjoy Welcome to Nightvale and Wolf 359, or other podcasts of the sort, but I am really striving to add those books in the background. Really fill in those shelves, and those podcasts I mentioned, don't. There are no books. There are no shelves. I add a set of footsteps here, and a fallen pipe over there, and I just added Mark Twain. An elevator door ding and the opening of the door, I just added the works of Shakespeare. For the record: I'm not equating my little additions to be as powerful as the authors' works I mentioned- I am merely filling in the shelves in the background, that you didn't realize were in Finding Forrester. Were those specific books actually in that movie? You don't know. But that's the point! It's the minutia that create the bigger picture. I get focused on the smaller details for the listener to FEEL like they can see the landscape I painted. But the landscape I paint for myself, could look different to you. The magic of audio is so thrilling to me, since I can give the listener the tools to design their version of the landscape, while another listener can do the same. Have I told you/myself recently how involved I get with the SFX? It's among the top two parts of the "job." The first may be directing. I love the camaraderie the crew is building with each other. Holy shit...
You should have seen Leo's face when he heard the role of Morris being played by Angelo... Leo has the best expressions. When he first heard Angelo's read, his eyes were as huge as saucers. He also gets so excited about the clap we do, to sync all our audio. All the VAs are showing their personalities as we progress. It's so much fun. I always look forward to our group records.
You probably have heard the show, and never knew where the opening line "Press the button, and away we go. Ahoy!" came from. It's quite simple. Kittensbeetrippen is ridiculous. She's full of the quirkiest lines. I love every conversation with her because of how silly she is. As she was awaiting the rest of the group to log into our Discord server, she just said that line, and I had the audio. I informed her in post of episode Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears that I wanted to use that as the opening line. And the rest is history. Random tidbit for you.
I listened to this episode probably 15 times last night. So much so, I literally thought on several occasions that I may ruin the tape. You remember cassette tapes? If it had been on cassette, this show would not be capable of publishing by the end of the month. I do this listening and re-listening over and over and over again so I can find all the faults. All of them. The word "grab" sounds like "gab," which doesn't make sense in context. "Limb in Keystone" sounds like a delicious pastry called "Lemon Keystone." So, the pickups fix these stupid little things that the general public would never notice. But, it's the little stuff that makes the episode. This goes back to filling in the shelves with not only books- but the RIGHT books.
Good Thing 1: The majority of my VAs have done a superb job of sending me pickups that I asked them to either re-record, or additions I added post-record.
Good Thing 2: "Commercial" breaks are a fun way to break up the show. I have one in the middle of the show, and it fits perfectly. Once I add the appropriate music. Pin in this until after publication.
Learning Curve: Stop over-booking the same goddam roles! I have been more diligent with the names to the roles, but I missed one. So, now I have two VAs who were expecting their lines to be in the show. Fortunately, there were two lines supposed to be said, but they don't have to be done by the same VA. So, I'll split them, and they'll both be incorporated.
December 7, 2020: The "Warehouse" Scene
SFX! Today is going great! I have many of the extra's lines in, and I have inserted the vast majority of the sound effects. My god... This is really coming together. My time so far is 22 minutes, 40 seconds... jk. I just added a sound distinct to Denver International, that just lengthened the episode by maybe 10 seconds. I am having so much fun with this episode. With every episode, I have a favorite soundscape. This episode, I enjoy the small details, and the sound of the "warehouse." The "warehouse" scene is definitely my baby, regarding SFX (Warehouse is in quotations, because I can't divulge the actual location just yet). I had the basic idea, and then I literally just found random sounds. Hell, there's the sound of a fucking soda bottle opening and spilling in the scene. But it works!
I have my buddy Sam Brown posting the YouTube videos, of my backlog because he's a swell chap. He is a gamer who posts his videos online, so this is just a matter of him putting the pic as the static picture, and throwing in the audio. But, I don't have a video thing on my computer, and really.... It's such a stupid nothing thing to do, but I'm sure as hell not going to buy a studio thing just to do that, when I have a buddy who loves me, who would do it instead. Before you tell me there are free programs out there... I have been doing my research, and searching out Sam, and he's the better solution. Hopefully, we'll keep up the YouTube side of things, as the show proceeds. But, honestly... If someone would ask me which way I would recommend listening to it.. Podcast podcast podcast. It goes through my RSS feed, and I get counts towards downloads, and the Tube of You doesn't really pay without huge numbers, nor does it count when I'm trying for monetization with companies. On the other hand, several listeners would rather listen on YouTube, or just don't have a podcast platform. I still want my podcast visible as much as possible.
The script for January's episode will need to be AMAZING, since there's so much time to write it. I can also get front-loaded, by getting the episode after that one finished, and I can record both in close times to each other, and then have two months to edit both of them. Damn... I have too much fun doing this. Writing is the part that if it doesn't flow out of my fingertips, it can be less enticing. This editing thing though... I go gangbusters. Is that the right terminology? Who cares? I'm the only one reading this anyway.
Good Thing 1: Just because someone's audio quality is subpar, doesn't mean there's nowhere to put their voice. Radio, phone, intercom, etc. If you like the actor, there's likely somewhere you can put them.
Good Thing 2: Sound Effects rock!
Learning Curve: I need to have patience with my voice actors. Just because I'm excited about the project's progress, doesn't mean the VA has to be at the same tempo. Especially when the project isn't due to publish for... oh my god... 21 days. That's an eternity!
December 6, 2020: Fell asleep mid-post
I have been working on the episode all day, and am very happy with the results thus far. I have cut enough to make a cohesive episode. Now, I have to finish the extra roles, and insert those. Add the SFX, and music. Then that's the episode. I am also working on that middle
December 5, 2020: Post Record
My favorite few hours of the month have come and gone, and I am excited by the results. The episode DEN has now been recorded, with the exception of some of the extras. The record went by so splendidly. I love watching the VAs visually respond to others' acting. I like when people can hear the episode in real-time, and appreciate it, even before it has gone through the washing of post-production. As a listener, these aspects are what you're missing, but I can only convey so much via podcast.
I also conducted my interview with Paige Alena (the voice actor who is featured as Nikki Sketch in the episode Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears, and is Amber in the upcoming episode DEN). She is very talented, and I have received many compliments as to her sound and abilities as a voice actor. She doesn't talk much without direct address, but she's a very enjoyable conversationalist, when you get her talking. I figure that interview and the promo will be published on the 14th. That seems like a safe bet.
Good Thing 1: I am happy with the record for December's episode.
Good Thing 2: I am finding VAs I truly enjoy working with.
Learning Curve: Drink a little less before a recording.
December 3, 2020: Suspension of Belief/Disbelief
I have decided three episodes ahead. Privateers. I may have mentioned this earlier, but honestly... this has the potential to overtake the Private Eye (Private I?) episode, and be next, after the December episode. I feel this one can flow a little easier. Writing the dialogue will be fun, with all the swashbuckling terminology and all, but I'm writing the first draft without any of it. Here's the deal: I'm writing this letter to you/me on December 3, but this episode could NOT ever come to fruition. I have an 83% expectation that it will, but I will not let myself feel forced into keeping a bad product, if it is no good. I'm now starting my initial process of learning enough of the topic, so I'm not devoid of knowledge about the subject I'm trying to convey in a fictional manner. DEN was written with so many details farmed from several sources, and yet, it's original. The privateer episode will be unique, I assume. It'll be a different take, at least. So, my storyline will be intact, but the intricacies, I'll learn much about. I'll probably find podcasts on the history of privateers throughout history, focusing primarily on the Revolutionary War. This way, the listener who knows about some of the history can listen, but not lose the suspension of belief. You know... I have no idea which way to say that. Is the suspension of belief in favor of the fictional, or is the... Oh. I think it's the suspension of disbelief. Kind of like a dam, keeping the skepticism at bay. You're welcome for the proof of the deviation of my mind.
I fixed the War for December episode. Now all the monologues are in it, and it even has a thank you to all the writers who contributed to the letters. Hell, I even censored the word "hell" with a squeaky toy squeak. If my promo says it'll always be safe for the kids, it'll always be safe for the kids. Assuming you're not an irrational parent who tries the literal imposible task of censoring your kid's intake of all verbiage. You can't. Damn, fuck, shit, hell, etc. All these words will show up in your kid's life. Well... I guess if your kid is homeschooled, has no access to internet, tv, and isn't permitted to read Tom Sawyer, sure. You CAN censor everything, but then your kid will be unhealthy when introduced to those words in reality for the first time. You may even ironically subject them to being overly-profane. I like to pride myself on not being the guy who fucking uses the fucking word fuck in between every goddam fucking word. We all know people who talk like that, and it is obscene. Not that the WORD is obscene, but their vocabulary is obscenely lacking in depth. Get a goddam dictionary app on your phone. Look up words. Don't be stupid, and don't exude stupidity unnecessarily.
I believe I have a superpower. If we know each other and you don't listen to podcasts, instead of me advertising my show to you, I will find your interests. Based on your interests, I will do some legwork, and give you a recommendation that should get you to trust my stamp of approval. If I know I'll likely never see you again, but I want you to listen to my podcast, I will show you a bunch of podcasts in your area of interest, and then I'll download my podcast, so you can listen to something after you've found something else you might like. This shows you your interests, as well as promoting mine (for those of you concerned about data, I do ask them their data usage plan, and I'll determine what's responsible in their situation). If you like movies, you'll likely enjoy my podcast. Oh! Oh my god. By the time I read this again, it'll be obsolete, but there's a thing Spotify is doing now, called "Wrapped" or something, where it shows your listening history. People are posting their screenshots everywhere. Genius marketing on Spotify's behalf, I'll give them that. But NOW, I can capitalize on that by telling people it looks like they need to diversify, and I add a link to my podcast, and a short description of the "movies for your ears" elevator pitch. I have gotten positive returns from that, in these last couple days alone. Hey, I'll take what works as free advertisement.
Speaking of advertisement, I can take an online class for social media presence, which I very well might take. I could spend a month's worth of advertising on advertising, or a month's worth of advertising on learning how to advertise efficiently. It is still SO strange that I would have to advertise a free product to people. I mean, I get WHY, but it feels so strange. It's free. Listen to it! But, how will you know, if you're not shown what to know.
I am dropping a VA, due to their inability to show up to the show in time for the recordings, despite my consistent reminders to them to be present as agreed upon. I can't have an unreliable person still in my top actors, when there are several who would jump at the chance. I used to be desperate for help. Desperate, I am no longer.
Good Thing 1: I'm building public trust in my Stamp of Approval.
Good Thing 2: I'm starting to learn how to advertise, without being too pushy. Kind of ties into Good Thing 1, but it's my website. Suck it up.
Learning Curve: "Suspension of Disbelief!" That's what the phrase is. Shut upppppppp.
December 1, 2020: Playgrounds Can Still Hurt You
I'm a fairly bit too pleased with myself. But, I am also oddly humbled at the same time. Both for different reasons. I published the newest episode as well as the podcast's new promo. Except the promo was a simple replace of the previous one. It used to have an old time sound to it. This one, I have sounding like the listener is following me, while I show them the doors in a hall. Behind each door is a new genre. I had so much fun producing that one because I played around with the SFX and music (a tiny bit). With using free SFX and music, I'm honestly quite impressed with the capabilities of the podcast. Now, for my failure...
Upon publication, I was informed by (don't look at my previous failure as exactly what I'm about to tell you/me, because it is) two VAs that their monologues didn't make the final cut, and they were concerned I had chosen not to add them because of my dissatisfaction. I was floored. After testing it with the promo, I now know I can replace the audio of the new episode with the updated audio. This also ensures I don't lose my IAB stats on the downloads I already obtained (these stats are helpful when it comes to monetization). So my VAs have their reads out there, the scripts are read, and stats stay on the up and up. Also, I think I need to censor out the word "hell" in the bonus content. My promo says it'll always be safe for the entire family, and that word kind of disagrees. But Basa Duke of Hell in Roll Players is a strange conundrum, I think. I think there should be some allowance, since it's a location. Goddam, I don't miss being a pretentious prick who never swore. As you can see, I do now.
Don't look at me like money is a bad word. I want money for this project, so I can keep making this. When I have advertising in the show, I can get paid without the loss on anyone's part, but a benefit to the show. Oh! And statistically speaking; the average cost per subscriber is $6. I can't afford that. So... tell everybody you know who likes movies who may drive, how to download and subscribe to my podcast. That'll save me some money. If I keep at this, I can make this a full-time gig, and make shows more frequently. And literally, all I need is for people to download the podcast. It's not like I'm asking for money. Okay, maybe I am a little. But, the real monetization comes from downloads and advertisers as a result.
I made the observation in a previous post, that this podcast is my playground, and I find that even more apropos than when I initially wrote it (I expect that analogy will be a common theme in this journal). On my playground, I can still get hurt. Fuck the asshole who gave me a 1 star review on iTunes. At VERY least, the efforts on all the participant's parts deserve 3 stars. I'm pretty sure someone I know personally knows how much effort I'm putting into it, and disagrees with me politically, and knows how to really hurt my progress. I sent out an APB for all friends to rate and review the show, so my 5 ratings that I had, gave me 4 stars. That's a death sentence so early on in the podcast world. So far, I've received one more, so I'm back at 4.5 stars. Any rating in the positive help.
Good Thing 1: Despite the episode being short on SFX, I was still able to make a promo that reinvigorated my passion for the whole production side of podcasting.
Good Thing 2: While I don't like the method I used to make the holiday episode, I am able to eliminate it from projects I plan to do in the future, unless I'm in a crunch for time for a month.
Learning Curve: I am not learning what I have already thought I had learned. The November episode bored me, and the lack of attention to detail was apparent.
November 29, 2020: Listen to Images
I start my journal, often not knowing what it is that I'm going to write. This very sentence was started, just to get my juices flowing, and flowing, they are. My episodes often start as little more than one or two sentences, and then they make themselves into dialogue, and a storyline (in that order, despite how writers recommend you write), and Thanksgiving also comes to mind. Let's start with the writing one.
My character names frequently start as "Main" and "Main 2" or something else. Then, after getting tired of writing those makeshift names, I go onto a random name generator, and find ones I feel fit the personality of the characters. I'll sometimes have the names of extras before I have the names of the main people themselves. But who wants to read about the writing process of names? Tell you something about something a little more exciting in the writing process. Fine. I'll be at my workplace, and get a small epiphany of a storyline or a setting. Say I have no ideas, and then I decide I want to do an episode about an astronaut. That's it. That's all I have. I'll write it into my ideas page, and go along my way. But as I think about it, my idea gets more meat, but NOT much. The astronaut is on a strange planet when asteroids hit around him. When I'm determined to write this, I just... start... writing. I just start typing with the full intent to erase most of my original sentences, but at least start something. And then I'll decide if what I wrote is later in the story, or if it's truly the beginning. "Buck was in his living room with people all around him, but nobody interested him. It was one week to launch, and his mind was focused on the fact that if his math isn't perfect, the whole crew would perish. He wasn't the original pick for the crew, but there was a fight between the captain and the astronaut he replaced. Don't get on Captain Price's bad side. Got it." All this, I wrote just now, with no forethought. It's likely garbage, but the story that could blossom from it, could be great- It could be garbage. Know when you've gone too far with garbage, and be willing to toss it. It's not worth getting too invested so early in the writing process.
I just hit "publish" on the War for December. Slated to go live Monday morning, per the schedule. My email address isn't set up still, so I merely added a teaser for an upcoming giveaway, to be announced when the next preview episode comes out. Gives me a few more days. Should I keep the preview episodes randomly somewhere in the middle of episodes, or should I schedule a specific day each month to publish? These thoughts run through my mind, as I'm writing this tripe to myself. I would apologize, if I thought anyone was actually reading this. I have started listening to the image I have built for a scene in the upcoming episode DEN, and am very happy with the way its being assembled, sound by sound. Listening to an image doesn't make sense to you? It does to me. Gollee!
As promised: Thanksgiving. In 2020, Thanksgiving wasn't what most of us hoped it would be. Limiting headcounts, and often to just those already in our household. What will happen with Christmas? Huge spike in Covid cases this month will lead to some major considerations toward stricter health requirements. Next year will eventually be better than this one.
Good Thing 1: I am thankful for podcasts, and the ability to create my own (with the help of others, of course).
Good Thing 2: I am thankful for Christmas lists. I can pawn off cheap stuff I want for Christmas onto someone else, as well as knowing what others want. I always thought the idea of Santa was stupid... This makes sense though.
Learning Curve: Be willing to discard bad ideas, if improving on it hasn't made a good product. Don't fixate on the bad, when the good is on a new piece of paper (or a new, blank Google Doc).
November 24, 2020: Pricing My Work
It's Monday morning. Just finished working, and then I came home and finished building and painting the miniature stable I was hired to build for a birthday present of a young girl. Honestly, I probably was too precise with the build, given the cost, the recipient, and time. Nope. I definitely did. But to be honest with you (myself), that's what I do. After earning a total of $1.15 for the podcast to date that I have spend countless hours on, I am not in danger of quitting anytime soon. While I love the task of production and the value I put into the podcast, I am essentially doing it as a hobby. A very time-consuming hobby. It's a free podcast (and always will be, except to those who wish to reward my efforts with money, I would literally need about... 600 monthly donors to really pay about minimum wage. Orrrrr... I get sponsors for the show, except they'll require listenership in the thousands. And thousands, I do not have. Yet. This push for money isn't purely selfish; it's logical and a goal to justify my continuing to create more content. I can only extort my voice actors for free so long. I'm just kidding- they love working for free. *cue evil laughter*
I'm nearing completion on the episode War for December. I have now added the missing monologue, and have a record I'll likely do today. I also need to write my introduction and closing, as well as record that too. I'm realizing my Stan Lee appearance isn't in here... Do I even want to? It's not REALLY that kind of episode, I don't think.
My geriatric dog is searching for the stick I threw before I started typing these ravings. She used to have so much life. Now her cancer has returned, but in the lungs this time, and her arthritis is such a hindrance to the active lifestyle she used to live. Oh, and there's a problem with her kidney too. She used to play for hours, incessantly. Now, she lies on the back porch, and watches the sun set.
Good Thing 1: Our dog has been a true friend to me, especially when there otherwise wasn't one in the house.
Good Thing 2: November's episode nears completion, and then I can start production on my favorite episode so far (granted I've only written the script so far).
Learning Curve: Be better at pricing my work, and require what I know I'm worth.
November 21, 2020: Missing Audio
The other day, I was asked why I hadn’t used a recording for the November’s episode. Upon investigation, I realized I had in fact not included his audio. His submission of audio wasn’t in the folder as specified. So, now I get to add that in. It’s the little stuff like that, which makes me feel unprofessional. I have to do a couple re-records, so it’ll be easy to do that at the same time. But damn.
I am starting to feel like I’m getting far ahead on the upcoming scripts. Most recently, I’m making the rules to a fictional game show, so that’s a fun concept. Before that though, I have a Private Eye episode, and even before that, I am nearly done writing the Denver Airport episode. I guess that has me fairly set until the end of February. This time last week, I was starting to get concerned that I’d run out of episode concepts. It’s a sprint with episodes, to me. I have nothing one day, and three ideas the next. I think I have to give myself permission to crank out an idea, before they’ll come to me.
The general listener has no comprehension of the size of a script. You’re looking at about 1-1.5 minutes per script page. Which means a 30 minute episode can easily be 20-30 pages long. Some episodes require more technicality than others. Roll Players, for instance: that episode took far longer to write because it required more technical collaboration with a D&D consultant (Leo). But other scripts can just be off-the-cuff, and written in merely a couple hours. I like those most. Then the only thing holding me back is the speed I can type, and phrasing, as well as time to contemplate all the sounds of a location/event so I can write the sound effects (SFX) in.
I just created an official email address for Mercury Theatre Podcast, except the technicalities of getting it linked with this website is hindering the process. I'm doing this, so I can start a regular newsletter for the fans. We're (I'm) about to announce the launch of a giveaway. I haven't determined how long it will be before the giveaway takes place. Maybe three months (three episodes)? Who knows? I just make all of this up as I go along. I think I'm the only one who gives a fuck anyway.
In keeping up with the theme:
Good Thing 1: Ideas flood me when I'm open to them.
Good Thing 2: I got an email address
Learning Curve: I don't know how to link my email address. Yet.
November 16, 2020: This is My Playground
I am well into post-production of episode 004. War for December. A holiday episode with a struggle between Santa and Krampess, and their armies. But that's not what excites me at this very second. Nope. Episode 005. is right around the corner of production. An episode that took me about 2 days to write (the shorter it takes me to write the 20-30 pages of dialogue, the better it seems to be), and will take until well into next month before I have finished the episode. I get excited over the potential soundscapes, and how to get the listener to feel like they're listening to the environment, and not just the dialogue. That is my goal with any theatrical episodes. Episode 004. doesn't hit that mark. Intentionally. It's more a compilation of monologues. Which took an entire day and a half to record, due to the nature of it. I prefer the process of theatre - Yes. I spell it RE, not ER. I'm sophisticated - I enjoy the communication between actors. I like being able to align all the audio by the "clap," and hear the progression from the letters I wrote on the page, to the vocalized story. The story is choppy due to conversations mid-record, but then I can eliminate those with cuts, pastes, and audio transformation into a cohesive dialogue. And then the sound effects. And the music. All go through an extensive vetting process. If the sound isn't right, can I substitute it with something that sounds even more like the object than the object itself? All these things excite me. Social media is something I'd rather not have to do. I now have merch too. That's cool. Hopefully, it'll take care of itself. Unlike social media.
It happened when I was at home, alone, and I decided to do something different. Maybe learn a new instrument like the marimba (still on my to-do list), or start a podcast. I chose the latter. I didn't want to write my own scripts, but decided I'd do enough to get started, and let someone else take that over. I didn't want to be in charge of editing. That would also be pawned off on a buddy. I wanted to be the star of the show. I changed my stance on all of these aforementioned tasks. I now love writing the script, especially if I'm familiar with the content. I get excited about editing the dialogue, adding music, adding sound effects. And, I now take minor roles in my own podcast. Episode 001. just needed to get published. Don't judge me. I strive for the Stan Lee relevance.
I never had theatre experience as a kid, but I always wanted it. I was "homeschooled," which didn't allow for that. I was focusing on voice acting, wanting to be the next John DiMaggio (I still would enjoy that), but then I realized my passion lied in all things production. In the future, I may become a consultant, while still producing my own works. I still have Universe 25 in the works. That'll be a cool series. But, Mercury Theatre Podcast... This is my playground. I can make any scenario I want. If I'm bored with a method, I can change it up. But, I'll have to eventually pull up my big boy pants for the series. I'll have to stick to procedures. I anticipate with all my experience I'm building up, I'll be able to do that.
To this date, I haven't made a dime on my show. I am very much wanting to do this as a full-time gig, but with no money, I am forced to stick with a real job. When I go into full-time production, I will continue this show, as well as produce Universe 25. I won't be shackled to the "9-5," and doing this too. Imagine... I could do this full-time, and have even better production value. My first month REALLY doing this, I made episode 002. Nikki Sketch and the Big Top Bears. That took WELL over 100 hours. I'm embarrassed to say how many, because over 100 hours is NOT over-selling it. It literally was. My month was 40+ hours at my paid job, then every waking minute was in post-production, and then I slept an average of 5 hours a day, sleeping. My wife hated it. Oh god... Just did the math... 93 hours a week... Granted, my in-laws visited a few days in there too, and my office/guestroom was occupied, so I wasn't doing much for four of those days... But, I was so excited to get on the computer, edit some more, and do some tweaking, and then the day of publication... my episode crashed. I was shell-shocked. I figured out how to pick up the pieces fairly well enough, and published it with what I had.
Added 12.27.20: This is more thoroughly explained in my cameo in the show Better Podcasting,
and you can listen to it by clicking This word riiiiiiiiiight here. It's within the first three minutes.
I should get some sleep now... In closing, I haven't proof-read this, nor did I intend to. That's up to the reader (probably only will ever be me), to decrypt my messages. Good luck.
I'm going to try for a tradition on here: 2 good things, and 1 thing to learn from.
Good Thing 1: I started a podcast. And, a podcast I would like, as a listener.
Good Thing 2: I love working with my voice actors who are instrumental to the process, and are lovely, despite working for free. If I could afford to buy them all a Coke, I would. Eventually, I will get many of them merch as a thank you. In the meantime, if you're a VA reading this now, Thank You. Truly.
Learning Curve: Files need to be saved, and saved in many different ways, and preferably in different locations.