What if I Recorded a Podcast?

Some time in April (April is beyond the time I can imagine right now), I’ve been asked to contribute to a roundtable on Byzantium in the Public Sphere. More on this in the near future, but the prospect of contributing to a roundtable with some luminaries in the field has me mildly terrified. 

It also pushed me to think about what I do to make my scholarship and interest accessible to a wider public. This was part of the point this blogging enterprise when I started. As I thought about this, I felt drawn back to an idea pitched to be by Richard Rothaus months (maybe years?) ago: we should record a podcast. For a variety of reasons, I ignored it at the time. Then Andrew Reinhard produced a couple podcasts. These were so iconoclastic that, like MC5’s Kick Out the Jams, they are best admired from a safe distance.

I also had to good fortune to meet and spend some time with Emily Guerin who is a radio reporter for Inside Energy and worked on a story featuring me and Bret Weber out in the Bakken oil patch. We spent some time talking about podcasts, and I had to admit to rarely listening to them except, of course, the excellent Professor Footnote, which was more like radio theater than what I envisioned a podcast to be. But what did I know? 

Over the last few weeks, I started listening to podcasts largely because I got a little injury from running around the new year, and cut back on my mileage and intensity. As a result, I went from listening to music to listening to podcasts. Since one of my side interests on the web is technology websites – particular those related the cult of Mac, I started to listen to Mac related podcasts using Marco Arment’s lovely Overcast application on my phone. I was immediately struck by the informality of the podcasts produced by John Gruber, Marco Arment, and Jason Snell. These are not only good and more or less interesting podcasts, they are also conversational and, at least to casual listener, unstructured.

Well, anyone who has ever hung out with me for even a little bit (or read this blog) knows that I love unstructured, and it just so happens that Richard Rothaus is not afraid of the lack of structure either. So, sometime soon, we’ll very quietly release a pilot (or a first draft) of a podcast. We don’t have a name for it. We don’t have guests (at least right now). And we don’t really have a plan (ok, we have a bit of a plan). 

Anyway, since I’m traveling today, I thought I’d drop this little tidbit of news and see what people think. I think it is possible that people might enjoy a podcast talking about archaeology, late antiquity, the Mediterranean world, academia, and “things that Richard is interested in” (which is a topic so vast that I can’t even start to summarize it here). The hope is that we can find in conversation the hooks that bring an audience to Byzantium (broadly construed) or at least to an interest in the past.

In our test run last Sunday, we discovered that we both had good stories about things we did to make our advisor, Tim Gregory, mad. So that was fun. Hopefully, there is more to it than that. With any luck we’ll premiere this project in the next week or so, if we can master the technologies and editing necessary to sound both unstructured and polished. 

Stay tuned!

One Comment

  1. I’d listen!

    Podcasts are a lightweight and information-dense form of media. They’re easy and cheap to make, and strike a wonderful balance between rich narrative, personality, and archival utility.


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