Acquire what you admire!
~ Wes Watson
I think the first podcast I began listening to was This American Life, although I’m not completely sure. But I do know that I became an avid fan of not only that show, but many others in short time.
I’m the kind of person who loves to learn. Not being actively involved in school, podcasts served as a way to feed my brain, particularly when I didn’t have time to read. When I first started listening to podcasts I had an exorbitantly long commute time, and it was a great way to hear conversations, and learn things, and consume news…everything from TED Talks to learning about the Supreme Court and the Constitution of the United States. Hell, there is an abundance of podcasts about history, which I was teaching at the time.
I also don’t remember the initial moment that I thought I would like to have my own podcast, but I do remember the first time I mentioned the idea to someone. I was at Team Redzovic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Lincoln Square. One of my training partners, a long training and well traveled individual, was telling some stories about his early days of training, and the variances in attitude and approach in the Chicago Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community, as well as the cast of characters he’s met over the years.
I remember saying something to the effect of “I need to record all of this..like an oral history of Chicago Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Recall that I’m a former history teacher, and I love sociology. And so that is how the concept began. And though I hadn’t actually heard someone say it at the time, I was already attempting to acquire what I admire.
Probably a year after the first conception, I purchased a microphone on Amazon, a Blue Snowball USB condenser microphone, in Neon Green for $60. I purchased it on November 28, 2016 to be exact (Thanks for the history Amazon!). From there, I downloaded free recording software Audacity.
I didn’t actually start a podcast until September of 2019. In between, I attended classes, workshops, seminars (Thanks to Andrea Klunder and Sean Cannell for both educating me and helping spark ideas. I pored over what i wanted the show to be, learned all about the process once you actually have a product.
And the artwork. Man, I actually love the artwork. I have a dear friend, Heather Calvert, whom I talk to daily. I was complaining to her about prices on Fiverr for artists and artwork that I liked. She said that she would be willing to try and do the art for me.
Me: “You do art?”
Heather: “Yeah! I went to school for interior design.”
Me: “I didn’t know that means you do art, and don’t you work in an office???”
And so she asked me some questions about what I wanted. I wanted it to scream Chicago, and this is what she came up with:
I loved it the moment I saw it. Heather is an amazing artist. Also, as of yesterday, she is an official member of the Off The Beaten Podcast Team. I really don’t know that that means beyond once I can talk her into finally starting an online shop and selling her art and services, she will get free sponsorship on OTBP. Heather is an appreciated confidante, and is one of my loudest cheerleaders.
I figured out music, I figured out how to record without the proper equipment…it’s been a labor of love, and an amazing learning process. It’s something I genuinely enjoy doing. I’m doing something I’ve been doing for years; I’m uplifting the Chicago story. I’m offering a different narrative than what CNN, WGN, Fox News, or any other news outlet really wants to tell about Chicago.
Even more so than a city of neighborhoods, Chicago is a city of people. We’re a tough people and hardy people. We always think Chicago is the best city ever. We think our hotdogs are the best (true), our pizza is the best (true), our Mexican food is the best (debateable) and we have the best sports teams (even in a losing season, they’re developing).
And that is what a podcast can present to the world. A podcast can teach, and inform, and offer opinions, and stories, and laughs, and moments of retrospection. I like to think, over time, my podcast will offer everything that is lacking in mass media…including having a soul. A goddamn soul.
And I am now a podcast producer, with dreams that my podcast will grow with time. In a perfect world, I will have a whole clique of like-minded individuals, and we can rise and fall together. I’m hoping my team grows, but even as small as it is, we’re powerful, and our voices can be as strong as WBEZ, or WGCI, or any other outlet…that is the true power of Podcasting.
And I am very sad that I did not find out it was International Podcasting Day until so late in the day. But I can assure you that it’s already on my calendar for next year, as is Chicago Podcast Festival later this month. I have 5 episodes already, with coming out in a few days, which already puts me in the upper echelon of podcasts, so many of which unfortunately don’t make it past episode 1. I want them all to be successful. There are 7.53 Billion people in this world, and 327.2 Million in the United States. I’m pretty sure I can find a few hundred to listen to my bullshit. If i can find a few hundred, I can find a few thousand. If I can find a few thousand, who knows what I can do next. On and ever upward.
So, if you’re already a podcast listener, do yourself a favor and go find a new one today. Right now, I’m totally geeking out on Podcast 99, a podcast breaking down Woodstock 99. I’m about 15 episodes in, and loving it. These guys did graduate level research on the event, and it’s in depth, and interesting, and it shows. Shout out to Culture Dumps for producing it.
If you don’t listen to podcasts, go do yourself a favor and listen to one tomorrow. I could make so many suggestions, so I will simply say if you’d like suggestions, comment down below, and I will toss a few your way based on your interests, or you can even go to my podcast page on my old blog, where I give a synopsis of a few that were my favorites at the time, and many of them I still listen to weekly.
Also, be sure to stop by the International Podcast Day webpage.
So, what is your favorite podcast currently? Any hot discoveries as of late? If you’re just getting into podcasts, which is your first love? Let me know all the haps down below in the comments please.
Also, as I mentioned above, I’m now a podcast host. The show is Off The Beaten Podcast. You can find this week’s show on Apple Podcast, on Stitcher,or on our website. Also, follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see the sights of the city and what’s going down.
Also, if you’re so inclined, Sign up to get Off The Beaten Podcast in your inbox.