A year or more has passed since I last got in front of a microphone to record a podcast. I put the bottom drawer on hiatus as I went into maxillofacial surgery, and indeed the recovery took a very long time. I struggled with nerve damage that continues to this day. My speech slurred for months and talking for more than a few minutes exhausted the recovering muscles of my face. To say I lost impetus is an understatement, and as the months went on and 2019 ended, I began to wonder if I ever would continue where I left.
Of course, that was always going to be impossible. You never step in the same river twice, as the well-worn cliche goes. Stasis isn’t natural, and the world and I have changed. Indeed, the post COVID19 world looks very different as I record this in September 2020. I’ve been working from home for 120 days, and my home city of Melbourne is in stage 4 lockdown following a secondary outbreak. Meanwhile geopolitical stasis is threatened by the rise of China, hastened by the social and political upheavals in the United States, and the crumbling of our economies.
It’s safe to say we’re witnessing a watershed in history, and it might take us years or decades to find a new normal.
And yet, life must go on, and here I am in front of a microphone again. It’s something I’ve had to do often for my day job. And yet, The desire to reboot my podcast came, not from the necessities of work nor the desire to talk politics, but out of an experiment to record an extract of a forthcoming novel. Perhaps it was doing something more creative, but it triggered a renewed interest in podcasting.
As I record this reboot, spring is in the air here in Australia and in the spirit of change, I’m running things differently this time. Those six episodes last year were my first crack of the whip, a learning experience more than anything. Listening back and I realise, I lacked focus and drive, and episodes were too infrequent. There were technical problems too, my editing was sloppy, my mastering poor. If I want my podcast to succeed, I need to treat it with the same level of professionalism as my blog.
My first change is the transition to Anchor FM as my podcast host. Last year I self-hosted, creating the RSS feed with my blog’s static-site engine and hosting the files on an Amazon S3 bucket. While this was fun, and satisfied my inner nerd, it created a level of technical debt. It took time to maintain — time I should have spent on creating content.
That’s where I hope Anchor will help — I can offload that technical debt and maintenance burden onto them. It also breaks the dependency with my blog’s GIT and command-line based publishing system, which is also getting long in the tooth. With Anchor, I can manage, or even create an episode right from my iPhone or iPad.
The second change, and by far the most significant, is the need to single source. Last year I blogged, first and foremost, while the podcast took second fiddle. Indeed I approached them as two different projects, adding to my workload and the disconnect I felt was there.
This time I want the podcast to mirror my blog, perhaps even be an audio version thereof. This way I can write an article once, and repurpose it for different media. That may very well change the way I write, and I’m not yet sure if this is a wise approach — but I won’t really know until I give it a try.
Oh, and I’m also using a different microphone, and I’m sitting in a DIY vocal booth. This is closer to the setup I want to use for recording audiobooks, so I figured I might as well get used to it. Recording this way, also breaks the association I have the desk-bound gear I used last year. That’s the setup I now use for work, and I want to break that connection and draw a line between by job and my creative pursuits.
Lastly, I’m changing my podcast’s album art and theme music, abandoning last season’s gothic and dramatic tone. Instead I want something more approachable, something evocative of an evening chat over a pint in a quiet pub, an experience I’m sorely missing in lockdown.
So, there you have it — the bottom drawer rebooted at long last.
Thanks for listening, and if you like following me on this uncertain journey, subsribe in your favourite podcatcher.