Podcasting so far has had a fairly interesting path in terms of formats. Starting off simply as audio blogs, moving towards on-demand radio, interviews, then to serialized storytelling, and the latest podcasting trend seems to be closer aligned to spoken word. This is the blurred area The Reader Reads plays in.
Some times you don’t want to have to spend a lot of mental capacity diving intro a true crime podcast story or dealing with the latest political news. Some days you just want relax and just listen.
The Reader Reads also presents a pointed use case and motivation for upcoming and soon-to-be podcasters. The common excuse I hear from eager potential podcasters is, “I want to, I just don’t know what it’d be about.” Here’s proof you can have a successful podcast about literally anything.
Recently I spoke with Mark, host of The Reader Reads and discussed how they decided to come up with the show format and advice to budding podcasters.
Discover Pods: How did your podcast get started?
Mark: I was looking over my bookshelf one day, and was struck by the variety i seemed to have there. I wanted to do a reading show for some time, and finally just got on with it. The show changed quite a bit from the original concept I had. Originally I was going to do funny readings in goofy voices, and read literally anything, song lyrics, bad poetry, recipes, back of a cereal box or a VHS tape, you name it. But I also wanted to do “straight” readings. Eventually, before I started production, the one supplanted the other, and now I read everything “straight.” The comedic stuff might have been fun, but I realized that’s ground already covered by others, and would get boring fast. There’s probably a lesson there for people considering their first foray into podcasting. Don’t be a slave to your original concept. Bad ideas have a habit of falling out of orbit on their own, so let them!
DP: Do you have any background in voice-over work, or how else did you work on honing your voice for an audience?
Mark: I’ve done some radio and television, even a spot of theater, though all that was years ago.
DP: Why did you choose a podcast over other mediums?
Mark: For what I’m doing, it seems most like audiobooks, or perhaps public radio. Podcasts seemed to naturally fit with that, as opposed to say, something like Youtube. Besides, rendering video takes too darned long!
DP: What’s unique about your podcast?
Mark: I’ve looked around, but not found too many people working in this space. I don’t know why, because podcasting seems to be a perfect vehicle for dramatic readings. I’ve found some shows where people read trashy books like 50 Shades or Twilight, mostly for comedic effect, and there’s a guy basically making audiobooks for later sale. There are a few horror shows, too, but not anything much like what I’m doing. Most of what I read is older, probably better written, and mostly in the public domain. There aren’t any guests. Just me reading.
DP: How has the feedback been?
Mark: From what little feedback I’ve gotten, people generally seem to like the show. Really haven’t gotten many complaints, either, so I’ll chalk that up in the win column!
DP: Why do your listeners keep coming back?
Mark: There’s a lot of variety, and most episodes are under half an hour. The show is a quality product. For all the occasional little engineering flubs and things, I think the production values are quite good, and the sound design, too, if I do say so.
DP: What are your personal favorite episodes and what do they cover?
Mark: I have a few that I feel really clicked and turned out very well. “Robin of the Hood” (episode 28) was taken from Howard Pyle’s original Robin Hood book, and is a bit different from the usual Robin Hood stories we all know from the movies. A recent episode (number 73) was a short story by H.G. Wells called “The Star,” in which the Earth is battered by a passing planet. I got to destroy civilization in that one! My favorite is a bit of a toss-up between “Vision of the Fountain” (episode 34), one of Hawthorne’s “Twice-Told Tales,” and “The Werewolf” by Eugene Field (episode 58). That one’s a bit different, sort of a medieval-age werewolf story. “Fountain” is a nice little reverie of young love.
DP: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring podcasters?
Mark: Just do it. If you want to start podcasting, don’t obsess over pricey gear, or the millions you’ll make, or stats and numbers, or whatever. Just do it. If you’re unsure, or scared, or think your voice is lousy, whatever, just do it. Start. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get better at it, learn what you need to improve, and go from there. But you have to take that first step. Just do it.
DP: What’s next?
Mark: I’m toying with a big project for the show later this year, serializing an adventure novel. It’s very lengthy at thirty-odd chapters, so it will take a lot of time to get through. I may just break it up by doing other kinds of readings between every so many chapters.
DP: Where do you want to take your podcast?
Mark: This is probably not the kind of show that will make millions, but eventually I’d like it to at least pay for it’s own hosting and whatnot.
DP: What are your favorite 5 podcasts?
Mark: The Retroist is one that updates infrequently these days, but I love the variety of retro things it covers. Games, computers, movies, songs, you name it, all things “retro.”
“Let Me Tell You a Story” This one is fairly new, but I really love it. It’s fairy tales told with a bit of a wink and a smile.
“United kingdom Talk” Chris Reardon has had a show for the longest time, and he’s a lot of fun to listen to. These days he seems to mostly be on Youtube. He basically just talks about his life, life in general, and things going on. He’s always wanted to be a “presenter” (a TV or radio host), so he does that via the internet.
The others are on the Simply Syndicated network. Masters of None, Starbase 66, Movies You Should See, and several others they’ve had over the years.
DP: Anything else you want to add?
Mark: Never forget that you can learn a lot via YouTube. Software tips, how to design a proper recording space, dealing with room echo, all sorts of stuff. Half the technical stuff I was tearing my hair out over I found ready solutions for just by screening a few videos.
DP: Where can listeners find you?