RoleyShow Episode 18: Starting From Scratch
It took eighteen episodes, but I think I have an idea. If you're keeping score, that's early. You're welcome.
Part of this show is going to be talking to you about starting from scratch. I deliberately wiped out my entire back catalogue of podcasts, all the things I have done since 2005 and a little bit before, because I want to start over and do something with my name attached to it instead of a character. I was lost on exactly what I wanted to do with this show as far as actual content was concerned...
AL: BECAUSE HE HASNT HAD AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT IN HIS HEAD SINCE THE EARLY NINETIES.
That is blatantly unfair. In fact, I've had…
AL: Uh huh...Let's hear it.
Well, I had...well, no, that ended up being American Idiot...
No, wait...I had...no, that was TWiT...
AL: STILL WAITING
I had the American
BUBBA: Hendrie? The American Hendrie?
NO, THAT is not fair! I was doing that on AM radio in suffolk before I knew that man existed.
AL: AND GOT FIRED.
...and got fired. Right. So, the pioneer takes the
BUBBA: Keep dreaming, chuckles.
OK, fine. Just cut me some slack, ok?
SHUT UP. A little back story. As I just mentioned, I worked in local radio back when dinosaurs owned radio stations before they evolved into douchebags with satellite dishes. After that, I got a real job, and one day after I got married, I bought a 486 computer. I signed up for CompuServe and we had barrels of fun. Then one day I was...
BUBBA: I have a question?
BUBBA: Was this before or after you deleted DOS off that PC? I ask merely for informational
BEFORE. BUBBA: OK, just asking.
Nothing, nothing...I just would like to get on with this. Can I do that? Do you think that would be possible?
AL: OK, he's getting' all butthu(OW!) (slap)
AS I WAS SAYING...that PC had SoundBlaster, which was a sound card, but I didn't realize that it had a studio program with it. So I started playing around with it, and figure out how to create audio files. Then Real Networks came along, and I figured out how to take that WAV file and encode it in Real Audio and stream it on a Geocities Page.
BUBBA: and that right there was the beginning of the end.
That’s cute Anyway, The footprint of those sites were such that I could only do little things. As the tech progressed though, I was able to figure out how to do full shows. The first major thing I did was an audio wrestling PPV for a USENET Newsgroup I belonged to, alt.pro-wrestling.wwf. It was called FrostByte. It was April of 1999. I did five or six of these events over the next year and a half, and while it would probably make me cringe to hear the quality of that work today, it led me to an inescapable conclusion that may seem obvious to you today: On demand audio content over the internet was going to be huge one day. I just didn't know how. So, I set about trying to figure this out.
With the help of a friend named Wolfy, who designed the first few incarnations of my original website, the Left Of Center Internetwork, we tried to figure this out. Wolfy had a great idea back then, this would be about 2002-2003 now, for when you hit the listen button on my webpage, my website would determine what time it was at your location, and serve up the relevant 15 minute segment based on your time from an SQL database we had on the back end. SQRL Radio, he called it. It was great. I could create 15 minute segments to keep the day parts fresh, and I had the idea to make it a 24 hour streaming station based on that format. I created a radio serial to go hand in hand with the launch of SQRL, called We Interrupt This Message, where my characters had to deal with a biochemical attack in Downtown Norfolk, and I made it in the style of War of The Worlds, having my radio shows over the next 24 hours break in with news, and covered the attack in what appeared to be real time.
The downside to this, is that I spent all my waking hours when not working what ended up being 70 hour weeks at my day job, creating new 15 minute segments every day. I was able to cover real time breaking events this way as well; well before the age of streaming live content, I covered the effects of Hurricane Isabel here in Virginia Beach this way. I'd record a segment, and upload it to the database immediately to get as much info as I could out to people, until the power went out. I'm very proud of that moment.
I continued using SQRL Radio until my nervous breakdown in 2005. All work, and no sleep or family time took a toll on my health, and my marriage. I took six months off from doing anything with websites or radio and worked on 'us'. I promised I would be a different person, and feed inone of the things that meant to me was find a way--and the time--to get this creative urge out and not do further damage to my family.
It's 2005, and Podcasting was born. Adam Curry's Daily Source Code.
Podcasting in it's bare bones, is adding an enclosure tag to post in an RSS file. That's it. Your RSS reader displays the file location, you can download it, and listen to it. Long before iThings, you could slap my feed in your RSS reader and go. Early mp3 players like the Creative Zen, for example, could be synched to a pod catcher like iPodder, and it would create directories and synch the files over. iTunes eventually embraced the platform for iPods, and now of course, iTunes is the largest catalogue of Podcasts in the world.
The upside for me, was being able to create a show maybe once a week or twice a month, get it up, and be done with it. But I was just a little guy, and there were already great shows out at the time. Tekdiff, Keith and the Girl, Daily Source Code, Pacific Coast Hellway, and with one exception, they were all on PodShow. I started The American Smartass on PodShow in 2005, and made that show for three years. The best show I think I have ever done was episode 40 of that show, where I did my first ever long form interview with George Tabb, one of the original NYC Punk Rockers, and an advocate for folks who had World Trade Center Sickness.
As politics became more and more divisive, I began to receive rather unique and colorful messages from people due to the name of my website, The Left Of Center InterNetwork. As time went on, these became intolerable to me. I was simply being attacked not because of my content, or because of anything I ever said or did, but because Left Of Center is another way of saying Liberal. I never considered this when I thought of the name so many years before. IN 2010, I decided to end the website and create something else. WYRD 101.
WYRD 101 was the name of the fictional radio station that I used when I was making cassette letters for my friends who moved away back in the late 80s. The theatre of the place was a small Podunk radio station out in Pungo, Virginia. Pungo is a real place, so I used a bit of artistic license with the place, and I usually referred to it as the Pungoverse. Many of the people were characters I made up, but the locations of businesses usually had something to do with real places here in Virginia Beach. For example, Chip Fitchett's Institute for Self Actualization was a rip on Edgar Cayce's A.R.E, which is right up the road here. It was a return to something I did at the old radio station back in Suffolk: I’d have my characters 'call in,' and I'd argue with them. I did both voices live, plus have AL and BUBBA argue with me while I was arguing with my 'caller'.
I'll tell you something about that kind of comedy on the fly: It's physically and mentally draining. I realized very quickly that the demand of doing that every day was going to put me back in the position I found myself in 2005. Unless I could make money doing it full time.
I quit my job and made WYRD 101 my primary goal in life, and for about two years, I made it work. We made money. Then the bottom fell out of the economy.
Being the stubborn fool that I am, I stayed home for two more years trying to keep the ship afloat, and I failed miserably. We were about to go into foreclosure. I did what I had to do to right the ship, and I'm glad to say that I was able to save the house and my family in the process. I scaled back everything. It was then that my sister Sue handed me an interesting proposition: How would you like to do a weekly radio show for a station in Vermont?
I ended up doing two: In return for doing a Sports show called The Sport Aleck for WNMR in Burlington Vermont, I would be able to bring WYRD 101 to terrestrial radio, and it allowed me some closure I did not get in my previous life working for the peanut gallery in Suffolk. Proudest moment in my life was signing on that first day. My dream came true.
The station changed owners 4 months later, and my shows were not renewed. I was able to walk from that with my head high. I had done it, and did it well.
I decided to branch out and createnew shows on the network based on my interests. They succeeded for a while, but again, I was spending more time in my office and not being out in the world. I stopped doing that, and tried a new show called One Exit Short, which was very much the forerunner of what we're doing here. It was short-lived, and I decided to not work with it further.
I let WYRD 101 linger for a while, before pulling the plug on it in 2013. But I knew I wasn't done.
So here we are. RoleyShow. I've done 17 episodes without understanding what that means. Now I know.
This show, such as it is, is going to be about a journey of entertainment, enlightenment, and empowerment. It will be funny. I can't help that, AL and BUBBA will never leave. But here is what those three E's mean to me. I am going to take you step by step through the process of what I'm doing to work my way back to independence. I'm going to teach you how to podcast. I'm going to talk about the different things that come to my mind about how to create, distribute, and promote a podcast. How you might be able to make a profit from it. We will fail at all of this, but we will get a lot of it right, and I will be transparent with you about it. I'm going to tell you what works and what doesn't.
I'm going to take you through the process of designing a podcasting Wordpress theme that doesn't suck, and we're going to sell it.
I'm going to learn how to design an app, and you're going to learn with me.
We're going to talk about what's going on in those industries that make it easier or harder.
We're going to write an ebook, and we're going to sell it.
We're going to talk about the things that make me tick. Doctor Who. Pink Floyd. Stuff like that.
I'll share stories of my family and friends who join me on this ride.
I'll share stories about how we're going to become and remain financially independent.
I'm going to share with you things that help me not be the guy I used to be in 2005, and I'm going to tell you when I fail and become that guy. I'll tell you what I do to try and fix it when I fail. I'm going to talk about things that we all should be able to understand, but don't because our media and our schools don't think it's a priority anymore. If that thing happens to be something that affects your vote, I'm going to make sure we educate, and empower you.
I'm going to be very opinionated and profane at times. But if you've listened to this show or any other ones I've done over damn near 15 years, then you know you shouldn't expect anything less.
This, warts and all, is RoleyShow, and I'm 100 percent Grade A Roley. Always have been, and today, on this show, I'm going to tell you that I think that is more than enough.
Welcome to my life. Now let's get back to work.