“By the year 2000, every man, woman and child in this country will have his or her own talk show, at least for 15 Minutes.”
— Joe Franklin (1926-2015), former New York talk show host, to the Associated Press sometime around 1994 about the world of public-access television
For the past few weeks, this invitation has been staring back at me when I log into WordPress:
Since at least last month, WordPress and the Spotify-owned podcast platform Anchor have had some integration partnership between the two of them. One, if they so desire, can now turn their WordPress-hosted blog into an Anchor-hosted podcast, or vice versa. It’s a one-stop shop for letting your thoughts be heard and not just seen.
For sure, this sounds like an intriguing proposition. Well, at least it does for those who have the gumption to start a podcast. Of course, they also need enough intriguing, attractive, and unique content for audiences to be inspired enough to download it. I emphasize unique there because the podcast world is like the Wild West (or at least YouTube), in which there are seemingly so many shows to listen to that it can be hard for an up-and-comer to stand out, but just the same it’s the latest, coolest way to make your thoughts heard. (It’s why I was inspired to include that Joe Franklin quote about public-access television at the top of this post.)
Now that you’ve read that last paragraph, I can hear you telling me that I have troves of both unique content and communicating talent to keep a podcast running and keep listeners tuning in. (“Tuning in”? Does that term apply to something you can download?) Yes, I can write at least one blog entry a week, but oftentimes it’s hard to think up of what to write about, let alone write it in a moving way. And even though I’ve performed poetry en femme before live audiences in the past (which seems like centuries ago at this point in the pandemic), I’m still not the a brilliant conversationalist when it comes to talking to and with other human beings.
But while I’m still skittish and hesitant at this point when it comes to adding my voice (literally) to a podcast, at least I can find some sort of inspiration for conceiving a show that may or may not ever come. There are the countless podcasts out there that come out every day, though to my ever loving shame I haven’t listened to one in a long while. There are also platforms such as the aforementioned Anchor that can provide recording, editing, and uploading options that are easy to use…
And there are those like the 14-year-old you see to your right. He’s Ben Brown, a high school student here in Madison who, during the still-ongoing pandemic, has combined his skills of getting to know people and sparking conversations with them from the comfort of his own bedroom. The result has been The Madisonian Podcast, which I didn’t realize was a thing until it was profiled today by The Capital Times. (See? Like I just said, so many podcasts out there…) Ben has talked with everyone from teachers to farmers, news anchors to activists, and politicians to photographers that call our wonderful city home.
When reading that profile of Ben Brown, I was struck by two things about his approach to The Madisonian Podcast. For one, he seems very eager to learn from his guests and from what they have to say, and he hopes his listeners feel the same way. The other is that Ben doesn’t plan to do this for very long. Matter of fact, he’s planning to sunset the podcast sometime this summer before his plate gets too full with other things, namely going back to in-person high school classes and ballet practice, though it’s possible he may start a new podcast in the future.
Yeah, some nice things to emulate, or at least look up to, if I were to turn my blog into my own podcast. That’s still a big “if” there since, you know, my strongest aspect as a crossdresser is not the aural sense but the visual one. Odds are that most of you out there are the type of people who like me better when I just type out words and look pretty for the camera.
As this blog’s regular readers will know, however, I’m more than whatever dress or hairstyle I may be wearing at any given moment. So, perhaps I could chat with someone from the CD/TG support group I’m part of (if they were open to do so, of course); just shoot the breeze with my best friend; or entertain questions from you, the audience. Of course, I’d have to brush up on my interview and listening skills before doing all that.
But then, there’s that old adage of knowing your audience. And judging from the still very high viewership stats of this oldie but goodie, there are those who still prefer drinking from an old can of Pepsi no matter how many times I lead them to fresh water. So perhaps my podcast — again, were I to create one — would be just me retelling some old stories or re-reciting some poetry I’ve already published on here, maybe even give them a fresh new spin. Hopefully, though, I wouldn’t do that so much that I’d wind up earning the Poddy for Most Unnecessary Podcast.
(Quick circle back to something mentioned above: The “turn your blog into a podcast” thing makes it sound as if Anchor would apply the robotic voice of an automated reader to every post I’ve ever written. Good for the visually impaired, yes, but it wouldn’t make for scintillating audio.)
No matter what content I might include, I would like my podcast — again, were I to create one — to be, like this blog, something worthwhile, something at least one person not named Allison M. can enjoy and feel inspired by. Something… that I can be proud of doing. Even if it wouldn’t have the longevity of Marc Maron’s show or lack the cultural zeitgeist of a Serial, I would consider my podcast a success if it were to check off all three of those boxes.
My clicking on that “Create an Anchor account” button is a long way off at the moment, and it may be something I’ll never do. Still, I won’t deny how intriguing and alluring it would be to have Allison be more than just an image on Flickr or YouTube and more than just keystrokes into a WordPress blog. Of course, I’d still have to make one very key decision before even thinking about starting a podcast: Finding a decent microphone to speak into. I mean, it wouldn’t mean a hill of beans if you couldn’t hear a word I was saying.