Netflix Looks into Podcasts

On some online forums, fellow podcasters have been discussing how there appear to be more movers and shakers investing time and attention –and almost certainly money– into podcasts.

N’Jeri Eaton (photo via Netflix)

Well, no sooner than that came up than we saw this article in Bloomberg about how N’Jeri Eaton, former executive with a serious storyteller hat at Apple and NPR is now taking her storytelling skill to Netflix.

Now from the article it sounds like the initial push is to create companion podcasts for some of their existing TV and film projects, but Netflix has been creating new shows with reckless abandon for some time, so we’ll certainly be checking out if they venture into the fiction podcast realm.

The Hear Now Festival: Celebrating Audio Fiction

Our move to make more events virtual these days thanks to the pandemic, making them easier to attend, also means it’s easier to forget to attend them.

So, for that reason, we wanted to make sure you knew about one of the events we almost missed: the Hear Now Festival, an annual celebration of audio fiction put on by folks over at NATF (National Audio Theatre Festivals, Inc.).

We missed some of the events last weekend, but luckily for us –and possibly for you– there’s a few sessions that are available to re-listen to, including a great hour-long intro to Norman Corwin, a true master of audio fiction as well as a panel on making modern audio fiction with Fred Greenleigh and many others.

As we’ve mentioned many times artistic director Bjorn Munson grew up listening to vintage radio fiction — one of the reasons there is a Jabberwocky Audio Theater. We’re glad events like this exist and hope to attend some individually or as a troupe in the future.

The Cicadas are Coming! The Cicadas are Coming!

We mentioned last month that Brood X, the prodigious cohort of cicadas that emerge every 17 years to mate and be quite loud about it, are coming this year — possibly near you!

Now, if you’re recording audio like us, this just might impact your production schedule… and maybe you want to record them on purpose.

For those of you who want more of the science behind it all, here’s Mike Raupp, the “Bug Guy” and avowed cicada fan to give you all the details you didn’t know you needed.

(Some) American Podcasters: Prepare for Brood X!

We’re slowly recording our second season of Quorum using COVID precautions, which is stretching out our recording sessions into May, which led producer Bjorn Munson to realize we might need to content with Brood X aka the Seventeen-Year Cicada.

The constant hum is unmistakable.

You can check out this article written by Keith Matheny and Georgea Kovanis of the Detroit Free Press for more details.

Basically from roughly mid-May and for the following month or so, billions upon billions of these grape leaf-sized bugs will emerge and mate. Perhaps because of this single-minded obsession, they will ignore all ideas of social distancing. Now, they don’t have any stingers and are not poisonous, so despite their red-eyed appearance making them look like extras in an insect-themed eco-disaster movie, they’re harmless. If you have a dog, they’ll likely like the snacking options as you go on your walks.

But it’s the mating calls of billions of cicadas which is why we thought it’d be good for some of you audio producers to prepare. Because there’s sound-proofing and sound-prooding, and for those of you who don’t have a nice hermetically-sealed whisper room, you might want to plan your recordings accordingly!

Back to the Future with Audio Theater

The New York Times did a piece this past weekend about all sorts of old radio theater you can listen to on the Interwebs for free.

Old Time Radio aka Vintage Radio is, of course, one of the inspirations for Jabberwocky Audio Theater (along with Mind’s Eye productions and some others). So if you like old time radio, you should definitely check out what we suggested they check out: The Big Broadcast every Sunday from 7-11pm ET on WAMU 88.5 FM (luckily, they keep their shows archived for about four weeks so you can check things out).

And if you want to tell the Times that there’s a bunch of wonderful contemporary audio theater, hey, that’s good too.

Public Domain Day, 2021

Happy New Year! Since we’re somewhat affected by it, we suppose we might want to begin celebrating the fact that New Year’s Day is also Public Domain Day, which in the U.S. means that, as of today, any copyrights from works released or otherwise published in 1925 have expired and said works are now in the public domain.

Montage via the Center for the Study of the Public Domain

While we can and will continue to find works from the 19th century and earlier to use (adapting “Prince Prigio” last year was a lot of fun), we have a keen interest in adapting “new” old works. Bear in mind that we generally go for stories that have a certain amount of adventure (“Adventure Awaits!” is our slogan after all) and we lean rather heavily into the speculative fiction realms of science fiction and fantasy.

For that reason, we’re not likely to do an adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but as Ian Carlos Campbell argues over on The Verge, the Muppets should totally do a version of that quintessential novel of the Jazz Age.

Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, not surprisingly has a nice rundown of many noteworthy works available sans copyright — and also explains why it’s great to have many non-noteworthy works available as well.

Since we have an international audience, we should also note that Public Domain in the U.S. is a bit different than worldwide rights, which vary widely. But it’s certainly worth exploring. What books or films do you want to see new adaptations of?

Ring in the New Year with a Ring Modulator aka How to Voice a Dalek

Rogue Tyger and, indeed, some of our other series take their cliffhanger inspiration from a certain series about a time-traveling alien. And how better to judge the hero than by their villains?

Certainly, the Daleks have been oddly satisfying in that regard. Odd, because through much of their history, their arch nemesis wasn’t the aforementioned traveler so much as stairs. But those voices! And let’s face it, that’s what we really care about here with an audio theater troupe.

So here is the current Emperor Dalek of Dalek voices, Nicholas Briggs, to show you how it’s done.

One Streaming Service to Rule Them All

We don’t want to be doom and gloom, but we do want to be aware of corporate efforts to be the only place for podcasts, especially since so many podcasters like ourselves use the “anyone can get our stuff” RSS distribution model.

Essentially, gatekeepers and would-be gatekeepers have not been a benefit for any indie content creators.

Liz Pelly over at The Baffler goes into some of the risks for indie folks if Spotify gets its precious ring.

We’ll continue to hope for the best, but keep watching for shenanigans.

Where We’ll Be (Online): Podtales Conference 2020

We weren’t able to make it in person last year, but we’ve heard so many good things, we’re actually kind of glad that we can attend the Podtales online festival of audio drama and fiction podcasting.

In part to acknowledge the fact that it’s not going to be one, concentrated, in-person weekend, the events are spread over the first three weekends of November… and in fact, there’s stuff happening right now on their Discord server (yet another 21st century way to meet, mingle, and converse). They also have a showcase of podcasts going on throughout the festival you may want to check out.

We hope to see some of you there (online)!