Now, before we jump into the interview for today, let’s pause for a MetaMoment. This is where we review one or two podcasts about podcasting on this podcast about podcasting.
Today’s podcast MetaMoment is…Podcast Talent Coach with Erik K. Johnson. His podcast focuses primarily on the content of your podcast and how to improve it. In episode 175 of Podcast Talent Coach, Erik shares his journey as a hockey coach and how it relates to determining the “why” behind your podcast. The concept of knowing and following your “why” is not new, but Erik’s story and explanation do a great job at exploring the topic. Check it out at PodcastTalentCoach.com.
This MetaMoment has been brought to your by Libsyn. They are the media host I use and the number 1 place I recommend as I work with new podcasters. I’ve been recommending them for several years now. They are not a sponsor, but I have recently become an affiliate for them, so if you sign up with Libsyn and use the coupon code ‘JOSH’ you can receive a free month of hosting. In fact it’s more than a month because you’ll get the rest of this month and next month free – just make sure you don’t change your hosting level before the free month ends. Again, go to Libsyn.com and sign up using the code ‘JOSH.’
Eric’s podcasting journey
Eric has been podcasting for a relatively short time. He releases a show every other week and there are 17 episodes now. It’s taken effort, work and collaboration because podcasting is all new to him. However, he has been an artist, storyteller and performer for almost 50 years. He started as a modern dancer and also spent many years as a professional clown. He’s just retired from his 31 years as a Theatre Professor at the University of Southern California. It was actually a student who suggested that he start a podcast, after hearing him speak. He was fairly confident with the storytelling side of things, however it was a steep and fast learning curve for the tech.
Eric initially got a grant from USC, and found both his sound engineer, Alysha Bermudez, and music composer, Amanda Yamate, through the University. He found his producer, Harry Duran from Podcast Junkies, at the Los Angeles Podcast Festival. Harry taught Eric everything he needed, and with the help also of Amanda and Alysha, he has been insulated and prevented from making a lot of mistakes early in his podcasting journey.
About Eric’s unique travelogue podcast
E-travels with E.Trules is available on iTunes and Stitcher and is unique in that it combines travelogue storytelling with an aurally immersive experience of sound, effects and music that take you right to the destination. The episodes are stories of off-the-beaten-track, once-in-a-lifetime type trips, told with insights, humor, perspective and an artistic point of view.
The listener of the story gets the treat of both the story and being taken there aurally because Eric chose not to go with royalty-free music but instead have a composer recreate sounds that are very site-specific and original. For example, for a story about Bali, the composer Amanda recreated Balinese gamelan music. However, because of the style of the podcast, the episodes are time consuming to make, so Eric planned to only release one episode per month.
Extending the podcast without creating twice as many travel episodes
Harry convinced Eric to release more regularly than the once-per-month schedule originally intended, and the idea of a behind-the-scenes episode was born. These are interview-style episodes that supplement the travelogue episodes. So every other week, the even-numbered episodes, there is a behind the scenes episode which alternates with the sound-immersive travelogue episodes which are the odd numbered episodes. Episode 0 is the welcome episode, which is the best one to start if you’re new because there are excerpts, examples of different places around the world and a nice introduction.
Harry Duran, Amanda Yamante and Alysha Bermudez have all been interviewed as behind-the-scenes episodes of the podcast. But Eric also likes to feature people who are kindred, artistic spirits, either foreign born or who have traveled a lot. On occasion he has been solicited to be on the podcast by someone he doesn’t know, but he finds those conversations a little anti-septic. He prefers the episodes where the guest is someone he knows, because the medium of podcasting can capture the energy and chemistry of the relationship.
Some examples of people Eric has interviewed are Liz Femi, a solo performer born in Nigeria, Debra Ehrhardt, a solo performer and storyteller from Jamaica, and Morlan Higgins, an actor and musician who is a fellow traveller on the path of life. His episode was also special because it is punctuated with Morlan’s own mandolin music.
Storytelling that makes foreign people and cultures human
Eric likes asking people he knows well about the complications in their countries. What’s interesting to him in human natures and in cultures is not what’s great about them, but the vulnerabilities or flaws that may be present under the skin. He likes to show the stories that are not things going perfectly well, a la Facebook profile. That’s what makes people and cultures human and relatable.
Storytelling is all about vulnerability in a narrative sense: rooting for the underdog, or the main character that you care about. Audiences usually care about the character who is vulnerable because they can identify with them. Eric likes to share insights into experiences that listeners can relate to, as opposed to just a colorful travel story.
The beauty of travel and life
Eric is shocked and amazed and disheartened at how many people think it’s cool not to travel. While he does agree that there is plenty to see in the USA, many people use excuses that other types of travel is too expensive, scary, uncomfortable and that there is terrorism in the world. These things are all true, but the perspective you can gain from leaving your own four walls and country is astoundingly worth it for Eric.
He wants people to realize that America is not the center of the world, that most people in other countries on the planet have lots in common with us. Travelling allows you to see how much they care about family and children and education and putting food on the table too. For Eric, we’re all connected by our humanity and it’s fascinating to see the differences, not in the human spirit but in cultural things: dancing, food, worship and the ways people move through life.
It’s a shame that people think it’s ok not to travel, because if you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and let go of the unknown, that is the beauty of travel and of life!
You can find Eric and the podcast at http://erictrules.com/podcast/
Thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s episode of the Creative Studio. If you found this podcast helpful or interesting, please share it with a friend. You can also reach me by calling (405) 771-0567.
Thanks for having me on the show, Joshua. Had a great time!
The pleasure was mine! Glad to have you.