This post originally appeared on Donnell Bell’s excellent blog:
The main reason people listen to podcasts is to be entertained, and to learn something new. But why this format? It’s convenient. You can listen while driving, going for a walk/run, working out at the gym, or doing mundane tasks at home. Reading or watching a video requires your full attention while listening is more passive, and lets you do these other things simultaneously. Multitasking at its best. You can knock out other tasks while learning something, or being entertained.
Podcasts come in many varieties with a broad range of topics. Science, history, pop culture, self-improvement, inspiration, and my favorites crime fiction and education. There’s something for everyone.
I also feel that podcasts are more intimate and personal than reading. You can hear the podcaster’s voice with all its tone, rhythm, and nuance. Much like a stage play. You get drawn more deeply into the story and get a better sense of what the person is saying.
I’ve listened to podcasts for many decades. Long before they became “a thing.” First, I grew up on radio—an old cathedral Philco. Yes, I’m that old. Gunsmoke, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, The Whistler, The Inner Sanctum, and many other old radio shows. Many memories. For the past 25 years, I’ve listened to courses (college-level classes) from The Teaching Company’s Great Courses (and now Wondrium). They offer hundreds of classes, with excellent instructors, and I’ve run through many of them. We don’t take a road trip without them. I also subscribe to several true crime podcasts. I listen to a Wondrium class or a podcast every time I’m in the car.
I suspect it was this love of the spoken word that drew me to create my own podcast: Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction. As I developed the concept, I knew I didn’t want it to be interview based. Many excellent podcasters have already covered that ground. Plus, for several years, I co-hosted Crime and Science Radio and knew that the logistics of gathering everyone at the same place and same time often proved problematic. So, I decided I’d run solo with this new venture.
Of the various hats I wear, physician, author, etc., I enjoy teaching the most. I think this came from my love of school while growing up. I relished learning new stuff. I loved many of my teachers. I respected their knowledge and their willingness to share it. In fact, that’s at the heart of it. Knowledge is only useful if it’s applied and shared. Seeing the light bulb pop on in a student is so rewarding. I remember many of my light-bulb moments well. Those “now I get it” moments. Priceless. Indelible.
Okay, so if I wanted to pass along knowledge, what would I talk about? Things that interested me, and hopefully others, and topics where I felt I had something to offer. I’ve written several books on forensic science. I created, or co-created, and ran several writing schools for International Thriller Writers: CraftFest, Master Class, and the Online Thriller School. So, Crime fiction and forensic science seemed to be logical choices. Criminal Mischief was born.
Okay, cool. I had a concept. Now what? How do I make that happen? Fortunately, I knew Pam Stack who shepherds Authors on the Air. She guided me through the process and added me to her platform. Thanks, Pam. The first step was to explore various recording software. There are many but I finally landed on Audacity. Simple and intuitive to use, and it creates excellent recordings in many of the needed formats.
I was off and running. Since then, I’ve recorded shows such as: Murder Motives, Cause and Manner of Death. Time of Death, POV in Crime Fiction, Gunshot to the Chest, Elements of a Thriller, Common Medical Errors in Fiction. The MacGuffin, Storytelling in Dixie, Toxicology, Body Disposal, PIs Make Great Characters, Nasty Deadly Poisons, Amnesia and Trauma, Trace Evidence, Setting As Character, and many others.
As of this writing, I have 53 shows posted, and more to come. Recently, FeedSpot named Criminal Mischief one of its 30 Best Crime Fiction Podcasts. Now, that’s pretty cool.
Are you considering your own podcast? It might seem daunting but once you get into and learn a few of the ropes. it’s not that hard, and it’s fun and rewarding. Decide what type of show you want, what topics you want to delve into, which format you want your show to take, and then try recording a couple and see how they turn out. The various podcasting services are always seeking new and creative content, so jump in. The water’s fine.
Criminal Mischief: The Art and Science of Crime Fiction: