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The WildeBeat
GENRE: Travel | Downloads (14987) | Comments (5) | Get Podcast | Visit Site

The 6.5 Questions
1. How long have you been podcasting?
Our first show was posted in April, 2005. I actually recorded our first location audio for the show in October of 2004, but it took us 6 months to work out exactly what kind of show we were going to do.

2. How many shows have you done?
64 have been posted. A couple more are done and waiting for their release date. I started out on a monthly schedule, and then I did a couple two weeks apart. By September 2005 we'd committed to a weekly schedule.

3. How has your quality/performance changed since your first show?
We weren't quite sure of the format of the show at first. My original concept was a 3-6 minute segment. At the very beginning I was pretty nervous about being able to do clear, clean, professional delivery after so many years away from doing radio. I've relaxed a lot more into a delivery that's more like the voice I use when I'm teaching.

We've settled now into a 10-minute show length. We put a lot more time into the shows now as well -- doing more background research, more fact-checking, more planning, and more travel. I used to do a 12-15 minute interview for a 6-10 minute show. Now I'm doing 90 minutes or more of interviews for a 10 minute show, and only using what we think is the very best of what they have to say.

4. What podcasts do you listen to and which are your favorites?
In the earliest days of podcasting I listened to Evil Genius Chronicles, Morning Coffee Notes, and WGBH Morning Stories. I eventually found them filling-up my MP3 player, un-listened-to. A few others I listened to faded, like Bike Talk. I'll probably disappoint the PCA audience by saying that I mostly listen to shows that are professional efforts: Earth & Sky, Earthnews Radio, NPR's Living On Earth, NPR's On The Media, NPR/National Geographic Expeditions, and Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything. But I do listen to some great indie stuff as well: Slacker Astronomy, Robert Butler's Trailcast, and occasionally Media Artists Secrets. I sadly miss AJ's Road Rage. There are a bunch more I'd listen to if there were more hours in a day. But my favorite, without a doubt, is Jim Metzner's Pulse of the Planet.

5. Tell us about your show and who should be listening to it?
The full title of the show is "The WildeBeat: The audio journal about getting into the wilderness." The "getting into" is a double entendre, in the sense of physically going into a wilderness, and in the sense of getting interested or enthusiastic about wilderness. Each edition is a 10 minute public-radio style news and information story about wilderness recreation. The show is highly edited to stay strictly on-topic. Many stories are very sound-rich with lots of audio recorded on-location, outdoors. Some of the stories are particularly timely, but as many or more are fairly timeless. We publish a lot of companion information on the web site, when we have it. We do stories in 4 categories: Skills, Outings, Wild Places, and Gear.

Spending time outdoors away from civilization is not an extreme sport, but a lot of the mainstream media portrays it that way. 144 million Americans say they engage in some kind of outdoor recreation, and 300 million people visit National Parks each year. But the number of nights per year Americans stay in the backcountry, in roadless areas, has declined by almost 25% in 10 years. Some of this is due to changing demographics, and some is due to the change in the economy and the amount that people have to work, but a lot of it is due to media that drastically exaggerates the danger of a night in the woods.

So The WildeBeat is for anyone who appreciates nature, but needs a little encouragement to actually get out in it. And it's for the people who already do get into the wilderness. Being audio, it's convenient for active people who might have time to listen while they're hiking, cycling, running, or even driving, but can't be watching or reading something.

6. What is your background (especially if relevant to your podcast)?
I was working in public radio and sound for public television in the midwest in the early 1980s. I was also doing professional classical, jazz, and folk music recording. Later I worked in the pro-audio industry servicing high-end music studio equipment for some of the biggest names in the late 80s and early 90s, and later found myself designing large broadcast facilities.

In parallel to that, I've been into a wide range of outdoor activities ever since I can remember. I've taught skills like backpacking and snow camping on and off for the past 25 years. Now I lead about a dozen outings a year for various organizations.

My partner, Jean, is a former educator, and currently a writer and editor. She's passionate about getting outdoors. She's also passionate about making sure the show is well researched, well written, and fact-checked.

I had the idea for doing a public radio show along the lines of The WildeBeat back in mid-2002. The barrier to entry was high, and I never got very far with developing funding or distribution. Then I came off of a month of backpacking in September 2004, and saw the term "podcasting" on some geek news site, and I knew right away that I had to do it. A week later I was recording the first interviews for what became our second show.

6.5 Is there anything else your listeners should know about you, your show, etc?
How long do I have on this soap box? OK, I'll keep it short. I always intended The WildeBeat to tell the stories of regular folks getting into the wilderness -- rather than the super buff, highly skilled dudes taking spectacular risks in exotic places that you see in glossy magazines and fast-paced videos. To further encourage audience participation, I created a companion podcast feed, Vox WildeBeat, to showcase the calls I get on the toll free line. I want listeners to tell the stories of their adventures and their favorite wild places. I want the eyes and ears of my listeners helping me virtually visit all the beautiful wild places and doing all of those activities I can't get to. Hopefully, the show's not about me, it's about them. Perhaps it's about you.


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