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What is Podcasting?

Hello everyone! I can’t tell you all how excited I am to be podcasting again! It feels like a dream from some other time. But you’re not here to listen to me rave about my joy at returning to the Podosphere, you’re here to learn more about podcasting.

In this blog post and the ones found below, I will be addressing three things:
•    What is a Podcast?
•    Rhetoric use in Podcast Promos
•    Big name podcast novelists / who they are & why the podcast

Part 1, What is a Podcast?

Audio Companion Episode direct download

The first thing you have to understand about podcasts is that they’re relatively new. Most podcasters have been creating content for more than three years, and they’re still going strong. Some podcasters like DragonPage have crossed the internet/real world barrier, and have their shows nationally syndicated as radio broadcasts or on online radio networks like Sirius Satellite.

But that doesn’t really answer the question that most people ask you right off the bat when you tell them about this awesome podcast novel you found the other day: what is a podcast? It’s a simple enough question, and ironically, the most confusing and difficult one they can ask. Most professional podcasters will tell you that a podcast is “the automatic delivery of media (audio, video, PDF, etc) using RSS feeds”. They will also follow this explanation up by telling you a podcast is free. All of these things are true, but the average Internet user doesn’t even know what an “RSS feed” is, or what the format of a podcast really is like.

The best “what is a podcast” explanation I have found is by the Podcast 411 podcast. In his tutorial, podcast411 takes the stance that he is explaining podcasting to someone who can’t even operate his or her VCR (yes, the reference is a little old, but those people probably haven’t bought a DVD player because the very thought scares them to the core of their soul). After you finish reading his tutorial, even if you had never opened iTunes before, you would understand what a podcast is.

“Explain to them that Podcasts are like Magazine Subscriptions.  With a magazine subscription you register for a magazine (podcast) and then every so often the publisher (podcaster) will send one to your house  (Granted with podcasts the aggregator goes out and fetches it – But you are talking to a Flashing 12 – So stop trying to confuse them with Geek Speak).  Now after the Magazine is delivered, it sits in your Mailbox (aggregator) until someone removes the Mail and puts it on the Kitchen Table (iTunes).  You then decide when you want to read that magazine (Daily Source Code) or some other magazine (podcast411) or you can just throw it away because it no longer interests you (Yeast Radio).  You can also cancel any subscription at any time.”

A podcast is usually an audio recording, usually in the form of a talk show, with one to several hosts. Like other radio shows, podcasts sometimes have advertisements in them, but these are promos made by other podcasters trying to promote their own shows. Sometimes podcasts are video shows, like Ask A Ninja. Podcasts can be downloaded from various places on the Internet, usually from the websites, or “blogs”, that host the files, and most can be found in podcast directories such as iTunes. But the most important thing to remember about podcasts is that they are FREE.

That’s right: you don’t have to pay a single cent for your podcasts. The producers, or “podcasters”, of their show are giving their work away for free. Many people in mainstream media frown at this practice, but the facts don’t lie. When an author like Scott Sigler can give his books away through podcasting, gain over 40,000 loyal viewers, and snag a three book deal and a movie option for one of his hardcover releases, then this “free content” must be working.

Part 2, Rhetoric use in Podcast Promos

Everyone who pitches something uses basic rhetoric tools to spice up their offer, even if they are using them instinctively. Podcasters are no exception.

The perfect example of successful rhetoric use in a podcast promo is Scott Sigler’s promo for his podcast novel, Nocturnal.

First, he uses edgy music, which feels vaguely threatening. It almost seems to be building up to something, just like the opening lines of the promo: “Beneath the streets of San Francisco, they are waiting…”

He also has the lines for the promo read by a man using the classic “movie trailer” voice, that deep husky one that utters, “In A World…” that you are so familiar with from the countless trailers you have seen in the theaters. But this is what Scott is counting on: this voice gives impression that the subject of the narration is something interesting and good enough to merit an announcer, not just the author’s voice.

Then there is the element of the text itself. The opening hook describes a very vague aspect of the story, but you really want to know what the announcer is referring to. Creatures that drag you away in the night, what’s up with that? Who are they? And who is this “Queen”? Next, there is the description of the other book that Scott Sigler has released, Ancestor, which is described as a #1 Bestseller. That line really grabs your attention. You may be thinking to yourself, “oh, he’s a best selling author!” Lastly, there is the closing line, “get your scare on at”. This line helps reinforce the overall tone of the promo: creepy but exciting.


December 10, 2008 Posted by | discusion, podcast | Leave a comment

J.C. Hutchins: Social Media Master and Evil Clone

J.C. Hutchins can best be described as a cheery optimistic fellow with a smile bigger than his face will allow, but don’t let this exterior of sunshine fool you: his head holds the mind that created the 7th Son Trilogy, a gripping podiobook thriller in which 7 men meet their makers… literally. In a epic quest to save their families, their friends, and their country, these men uncover a world wide terrorist organization bent on world domination, government secrets blacker than the most top secret folder with the reddest stamp, and a secret about themselves that will change their lives, or what they thought of as such, forever.

J.C. Hutchins got his start in journalism, but quit in 2002 and began work on his aforementioned thriller trilogy, 7th Son, unaware that it would be one of the most brilliant career move of his life. His trilogy quickly became one of the most popular podcast novels of all time, but J.C. didn’t stop there: he forged onward, creating the first ever podcast anthology set in an existing universe, 7th Son OBSIDIAN. J.C. is also the host of another innovative podcast, The UltraCreatives Interviews Series, where he interviews movie producers, indie artists, and podcast novelists, including author Cory Doctoro and film producers Patrick Lussier and Matt Venne, creators of the movie “White Noise 2”.

In my interview, we discussed many subjects, both new and old to podcasting. As summarizing the entire one hour long interview is nearly impossible, and contains enough material to base a thesis on, I present a list of topics we discussed, in chronological order:

•    Who is J.C. Hutchins?
•    Digital technology in the Mainstream Media scene
•    Building your “platform
•    Why did you decide to start podcasting?
•    Why do you podcast?
•    How do you approach podcasting?
•    What type of audience are you trying to reach?
•    How are you appealing to these audiences?
•    How are you trying to target different audiences to bring in new listeners/readers?
•    How are you including the audience in your podcast?
•    When promoting your podcast(s), what kind of approach do you take?
•    What decisions do you make in the presentation/rhetoric of your podcasting?
•    When writing, do you write with the podcast in mind?
•    If yes, do you find yourself writing differently than for traditional print? What decisions do you make?
•    When writing specifically for the podcast medium, what decisions/changes do you make in your writing?
•    When producing/recording your novel, what decisions do you make in the presentation of the text?
•    Did you decide to create a character for yourself to show to the podcasting community?
•    How do you promote your character?
•    What is your definition of a Podcast / Podiobook?
•    The Future of Podcasting: the possibilities

J.C. Hutchins one of the leading innovative names in the Podosphere, as well as a well informed authority on social media and networking in relation to podcasting. All of his work can be found at

Be sure to look for J.C. Hutchins’s hardcover debut, Personal Effects: Dark Arts in June 2009, and the first printed installment in the 7th Son Trilogy, “Descent” in the Fall of 2009 from Saint Martins Press.

•    J.C. Hutchins’ definition of a Podcast

“The 101, Part 1: What is a podcast?

Podcasts are free audio and video files that can be automatically downloaded to your computer, thanks to a technology called RSS.

RSS connects audiences and content creators in an innovative and worry-free way. Using a computer program called a “podcatcher” (iTunes being the most popular), you can subscribe, for free, to episodic video and audio programs like the 7th Son trilogy. Downloading this content is easy, requiring a few mouseclicks.

This free content is stored on your PC, and you can experience it any way — and at any time — you wish: at your computer, on an MP3 player … you can also burn it to a CD. Better still, new content will automatcially download to your PC when the author releases it.

iTunes is J.C. Hutchins’ “podcatcher” of choice due to its ease of use. Download it here, and read on to learn more about podcast fiction.”

Audio Companion Episode direct download

December 10, 2008 Posted by | discusion, interview, podcast | Leave a comment

Chris Lester: Story Teller and Mad Scientist

Chris Lester is a soft-spoken man with a genuine love for story telling. Although he has a masters degree in Biology and is currently employed as a science teacher in California, and refers to himself as a “Frustrated Scientist”, Chris id quickly making a name for himself in the Podosphere with his anthology of short stories set in the techno-magical modern fantasy realm of Metamor City, but most notable for his current podcast novel which blurs the line between podiobooks and audio drama, “Making The Cut”. This production features over 30 voice actors and fellow podcast novelists, and won the Podcast Peer Award for Best Produced. Chris has also lent his voice to many other multi-voiced podcast productions, including Babylon 5: Three Edged Sword, and Chasing the Bard.

Due to some thoughtlessness on my part, the first half of Chris’s interview was cut off, and was rerecorded at the end of the interview. As a result, the questions will be out of order until I can put in the 2+ hours it will take to fix the file.

You can find the majority of Chris Lester’s work at, as well as links to his other podcasting contributions, as well as a full cast listing with bios for the Making The Cut audio production.

•    Chris Lester’s definition of a Podcast

“A podcast is an audio program that is distributed over the Internet. Podcasts are similar to radio programs in many ways: they are usually focused around a topic or theme that is consistent from episode to episode, which may be anything from alternative music to a hobby-oriented talk show to a full-cast audio drama. A podcast usually has a regular format, episode length and release schedule that the producer attempts to adhere to. Many podcasts contain promos for other podcasts, similar to the commercials on radio shows, which help to introduce listeners to new programs while also providing variety in the listening experience.

The main difference between a podcast and a radio program is that you can listen to a podcast whenever you want to; all you need to do is download the episode and you can listen to it whenever you wish. Some people play podcasts directly from their computers, using music software like iTunes; others burn episodes to CDs to listen to them in their cars, or download them to portable audio players like the iPod or Zune. This power to listen to an audio program whenever and wherever you want is the chief advantage of a podcast over radio, and it is this advantage that gives the podcast its name — the “POD” is an acronym that stands for Portable, On-Demand.”

Audio Companion Episode direct download

December 10, 2008 Posted by | discusion, interview, podcast | Leave a comment

Scott Sigler: Failed Pimp and Horror Author

Scott Sigler is a small, angry, balding man with ambitions to take over the world and rule as the one and only Future Dark Overlord. This is no joke: he states his goals in almost every episode of his podcast novels constantly in the pages of his online community website,

Scott is one of the founding fathers of podiobooks, and is still one of the leading members of the podcasting community. It all started when Scott decided to release his novel EarthCore as a free downloadable audio recording. People could listen to each chapter of the gripping book as Scott recorded and released them over the Internet, and he quickly gathered a loyal following of over 10,000 subscribers. He plowed on, releasing Ancestor and then Infected, which snagged him a three-book deal with Crown Publishing. Scott now has over 40,000 subscribers and has released several other horror novels through podcasting, including his current novel Nocturnal.

While I wasn’t able to get an audio interview with Scott, He did answer my questions:

– Why do you podcast?
Because if I kill people for real, they will put me in jail.

– Why did you decide to start podcasting?
Because it was new, and I realized I could be a first-move and develop an audience.

– How do you approach podcasting?
It’s a performance unto itself. I make it as over-the-top and fun as possible.

– Did you decide to create a character for yourself to show to the podcasting community?
Nope, what you hear is plain old me.

– What type of audience are you trying to reach?
People who want to hear great stories that really show the wrench-time. I work hard to make a great story and I hope it shows.

– How are you appealing to these audiences?
By writing great stories and delivering them consistently.

– How are you trying to target different audiences to bring in new listeners/readers?
Mostly through word-of-mouth. You never know who is going to like certain kinds of fiction, so mostly it’s up to people to pass it on to their friends.

– How are you including the audience in your podcast?
Emails, voicemails, social media, IMs, pub-crawls.

– What decisions do you make in the presentation/rhetoric of your podcasting?
[I’m] just trying to make sure some action or key plot development happens each episode. 30 minutes of back-story or character development, that makes for boring listening. I really can’t control the new listener angle, which could be good or bad. [I] just have to keep going with the same approach that got me here.

– When writing, do you write with the podcast in mind?

– When producing/recording your novel, what decisions do you make in the presentation of the text?
The only differences are in attribution. If I’m doing character voices, I don’t need to put in “Bob said with a gruff voice,” for example, because I say it with a gruff voice and the listener already knows what Bob sounds like. Other than that, it’s the straight story.

– When promoting your podcast(s), what kind of approach do you take?
I use any tool that’s available. Mostly asking audiences to spread the word.

Scott’s innovative use of podcasting has gained him a decent amount of exposure in several newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times and Entertainment weekly. He also claims that he can juggle 4 kittens while standing on one leg for 10 minutes, and that he invented the Internet, the Internal Combustion Engine, and trees, although these statements should not be taken seriously de to the fact that Scott’s ego is larger than the planet earth.

His new hardcover thriller novel CONTAGIOUS, is available on Dec. 30 from Crown Publishing or pre-order now at

December 10, 2008 Posted by | discusion, interview | Leave a comment