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Thursday, July 5, 2012

State of the Show - July 5th, 2012


So! I promised an update, and here it is.

Last week, I was initially planning to host a four-hour Bit Gen playlist in lieu of a proper show. However, those plans changed on Wednesday night, which I spent in the emergency room after some frightening chest pains and some dizziness. A few tests and some medications later, I'm doing fine- the whole thing was caused by some nasty acid reflux brought on by a particularly stressful week.

However, even though this instance was brough on by extraordinary circumstances, there has emerged a distinct pattern, and I'm going to address it right now.

I first started this podcast business in August 2010, when I started producing WNES for All Noise Radio, the Connecticut School of Broadcasting's newly-founded student radio station. Since then, I've done some really cool things. I've talked to some of my favorite musicians, including Kirby's Dream Band, 8-Bit Duane, Careless of Random Encounter, Brentalfloss, Nicole of Hello, the Future!, Mega Ran, Rainbowdragoneyes, and many more. I've given a forum to people I like and respect, such as the MAGFest board of directors, game journalist Jess Brohard, Jason Richardson of J1 Studios and Eric Bailey of Nintendolegend.com. I've even had the honor of twice talking to Jon St. John, professional voice actor and party animal. I've gotten to play lots of great music, and gained the respect and even admiration of a lot of great people.

However, it hasn't been at all easy. In this time, my career, mental health and personal life have been tumultuous, and sadly, the show has suffered because of it. From the first official airing of WNES on August 25, 2010 to today, I've had to take 14 unplanned off weeks due to schedule conflicts or personal exhaustion, as well as four extended show-remodeling breaks totaling another 30 weeks without content. Whatever momentum I've built up, I've often lost due to these sorts of circumstances, and I don't see them ending anytime soon.

One of the main reasons for this is that, even after two years of growth, my show- first WNES and now the Blue Shell Manifesto- still isn't quite as good as I think it can be, and I've got no desire to remain stagnant. The purpose of this project is to build a better podcast, to combine the variety and independence of podcasting with the precision and production values of FM music radio, and create a listening experience beyond anything that exists anywhere else online. I've always loved radio. My podcasts are as much of a love letter to the old-school jock shift as they are to video games and everything about them. I see an art in music radio that most people don't, and one of my goals in life is to perfect it.

But, I do this whole thing for free. All my costs, such as server time, music buying and promotional things such as table setups and prize giveaways, come out of pocket. I'm not big enough yet to start selling show-branded merchandise, and I can't even start to take paid advertisements without either damaging the artist goodwill that allows my show to exist, or undergoing a long, long series of royalty negotiations that would take up all my production time on its own. Thus, whenever things in my life have taken a sharp turn, like jockeying for a promotion or spending a night in the hospital, the show always ends up being the first thing sacrificed. Thus, it looks like the long breaks and off weeks will be as much of a part of the process as anything else.

However, there's no chance I'm going to build any kind of regular listening base if I have to continue taking unannounced, unpredictable breaks all the time. It sabotages my own work, frustrates any potential fans, and diminishes what I have to offer to the people kind enough to join me on the show.

So, here's how I'm dealing with this.

Starting this fall, the Blue Shell Manifesto will be produced on a seasonal format. I'll be broadcasting three 13-week seasons of shows ever year with four weeks of downtime between them. In that downtime, I'm going to concoct new segments, develop new show parts, schedule interviews, collect pre-recorded segments, plot out theme shows, and invent other cool things I can do in the context of a seasonal format. During my time slot on those four off weeks, I'll be scheduling reruns, jock shifts, best-of shows, and other special features.

In the short term, there won't be any other changes. The five-story format, the featured artist showcase, and everything else I've established thus far are going to stay the same. But I've got a lot of growth planned for the future, and it starts September 6.

As for the immediate future? I'm taking tonight off, because my entire studio setup is still in pieces following a much-needed remodeling of my living space. I'll be back in business July 12, for four more weeks of full shows that will round out Season 1 of the Blue Shell Manifesto.

Thank you all for listening, and I'll see you in a week!

P.S. I had a blast at Bit Gen. If you've never been, you should totally go next year!

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