‘Casting

2 Mar

Recording with Gary Dinges in Episode 3 of the new podcast. "Statesman Shots" photos by Ralph Barrera / Austin American-Statesman

Recording with Gary Dinges in Episode 3 of the new podcast. “Statesman Shots” photos by Ralph Barrera

Last time, I said I would tell you when this big podcasting project went live.

It did! And I didn’t.

Part of it was that things just got really busy. Like cray-cray-biz-bay. I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in a kickboxing match, but not as a fighter because that would be really unfair, more like a referee having to hop back and forth. Still! Very busy. And it’s not even South by Southwest Interactive yet, but that’s coming. Like next week, already!

But I think the real reason I didn’t rush on here and post a shorty just to let you know the first new podcast was posted was that it still didn’t feel real. We recorded a pilot episode in November and as of the last writing, we had recorded our first official, “Real” episode, but even when it was up two days later and we sat back and admired how our little project had become a real reality, it still hadn’t sunk in that this was something we were going to continue doing every week.

Our blog had just launched, we weren’t on iTunes yet (that happened the following week), we were still trying to figure out what to do with Twitter and Facebook and there hasn’t been a moment of recording that I haven’t been paranoid that something would go horribly wrong, equipment-wise, and we’d be left without a podcast at all.

But as of this date, four weeks later, I’m thrilled to report, with a sense of finality and much-boosted self confidence that yes it happened. It is happening. IF this was a movie, it would be The Happening (but with a better ending). This idea we had in freakin’ mid-2012 and that we formalized into a proposal at the end of that year and that Tolly Moseley and I spent the better part of another year trying to make a reality now feels like a real gig. And now it’s a ton of work, real work, week after week on top of my regular work, but it’s work that I’m so happy to do and so thrilled to have some control over that it’s changed the whole dynamic for me of what it is to get my stuff done.

(If you want to hear Tolly’s take on our little adventure, please read her recent post. While I’m dealing with balancing a commute and kids, Tolly is in pregnancy land and handling it all with grace and good humor.)

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It’s one of those be careful what you wish for things, but I think I wished really well this time. I partnered up with someone who in unfailingly positive and gung-ho about every aspect of what we’re doing and who has built a reputation in town for years as being kind and generous; we’re seeing a lot of that good karma come back our way. (Aside: a big lesson I’ve learned through this has been the difference between working with naysayers versus can-do’ers; it can really tip the scales from failure, delay and unwanted compromise to success and excitement). We knew from the beginning what we wanted to do and never gave up that it would happen one way or another.

statesman_shots_logoSo enough of me talking it up. It’s called “Statesman Shots.” It is a podcast, a weekly discussion with me, Tolly (who I knew as a witty and thoughtful writer on Austin Eavesdropper) and a different guest each time, many of them drawn from the talented folks I work with at the Austin American-Statesman. Back in November, we spoke to Joe Gross, one of the most pop-culture savvy people I know. For our first new episode, we agreed Addie Broyles, our prolific and high-profile food writer, would be the perfect person to join us.

And then we kept rolling! For the third episode, we welcomed TV and radio biz/entertainment writer Gary Dinges and then, music writer Deborah Sengupta Stith came on to talk about South by Southwest Music and a recent set of stories she worked on about pay-to-play in Austin. Last week, Joe Gross returned to talk about SXSW Film, the Oscars and a lot more. And then Michael Barnes, the Statesman’s social writer, came in and blew us away with his wisdom about Austin’s culture and its people. We’re so lucky to have such amazing guests.

The podcast is on a blog that we’re starting to update with non-podcast stuff as well. Like I said, we got on iTunes which was a huge deal. We got on Twitter and Facebook. And, the part we weren’t anticipating was that we’d be pair up with some video wizards, Tina Phan and Alyssa Vidales, who have not only been producing our audio, but who’ve been knocking out videos every week to go with the podcasts. They could easily just be shorter versions of the podcast, but they’ve gone above-and-beyond to make them more visually interesting and to give the videos their own personality.

If this sounds like a big old ad, it maybe should. I’m in love with this project; it’s something that feels like it simply couldn’t exist if Tolly and I hadn’t dreamed it up and willed it into existence over a very long period of time. My kind editors have been great in supporting the project, but also just letting us run with it and shaping it to the things we think would be most fun and interesting to talk about.

This week, we hit six episodes. A lot could change and we’re only now starting to get a little bit of feedback from our tiny starting base of people paying attention. But I haven’t felt this confident in a project I’ve worked on in a while. In fact, for years, I avoided anything that smacked of leadership or project management. I became an editor at a really young age and did it for enough years to realize I was very unhappy as a manager. So I went back to being a creative/worker bee and felt much more fulfilled. I was thrilled to not be in charge of anything but my own work.

But this is different. It’s a passion project and I’m throwing myself into it all the way.

Mostly, I hope you like it. I hope that it’s not just Tolly and me who have this crazy notion that Austin needs a show like this done in this way with guests coming on to blow us away with their expertise.

I’m thrilled with how it’s going and what I’m probably happiest working on right now.

There’s like 10 or more videos by now, at least one or two for each episode, but here’s two of my favorites:

Other Statesman stuff

I wrote a column about the Austin-made, Norse-themed game The Banner Saga and also wrote up a blog post with additional details that didn’t make it into the article.

A column explaining The Internet of Things and examining how the future of Internet-connected everything might play out.

A column about Austin’s podcasting scene and how our new “Statesman Shots” show fits into that.

An overview column about what to expect from this year’s South by Southwest Interactive, which I’ll be attending next week.

And a column loosely related to SXSW about how to use digital tools to manage big conferences.

Digital Savant Micro features about cryptocurrency, SoundCloud and how to listen to and make podcasts and what is “WhatsApp?”

I wrote about Austin’s first Bitcoin ATM and wrote an ode to Clone High on the Shots blog.

When it was announced that Comcast is going to be buying Time Warner Cable, I Tweeted some stuff about it and that caught the attention of a producer I know at the local Fox 7 station. So they invited me to come on the air and answer questions about it! I will admit that my butt clenched up when they started asking, “You posted some Tweets last night…” I mean, shit, that could be anything! But it went well, I think, except for me spilling water in the green room (which was not actually green; the room, not the water) and how after the segment I tried to go up and hug and high five everyone but they were getting ready for the next segment and shooing me out. Here’s the interview:

On Previously.tv

A boy and his pudding

Walking Dead is back! I worked up my first “Particles” feature on the mid-season premiere, “After.” That was followed by Particles for the second and third episodes of Season Four/Second Half.

How I Met Your Mother: not half bad half the time!

A really good, Mother-focused How I Met Your Mother and then a not-so great one about Ted’s continued whining and pining for Robin and then a pretty good one about hangover cures.

Also new at Previously: Forums! Come chat with like-minded pop-culture junkies about zombie TV and comic books and stuff.

Space Monkeys!

Flyin' kitesA comic about fitness wristband gadgets (your FitBit, your Nike FuelBand+, etc…).

A comic about LEGO obsession.

And one about the very-losing Denver Broncos who did not play very well at the Super Bowl.

A comic about Meany’s Oscar submission, which capped off a short two-part storyline.

And probably my favorite of the bunch, a comic about kites that turned out really, really nicely. Ironically, the Zilker Park Kite Festival, which inspired the comic, was delayed for bad weather.

Other stuff

  • As I’m wrapping this post up, Teatro Vivo’s new show, “The Mexcentrics in Pulga Time Machine” just closed its three week run. It was a really interesting writing process on this one, in some ways very different from last year’s “Pulga Nation”. We had a lot less time to write it and we ended up combining a new storyline with some of the stuff we liked from the first, very short show. We saw it last week and really enjoyed it. Here’s some photos from after the show:

Post-show

Selena lives!

  • South by Southwest Interactive starts Friday, so my whole next two weeks are pretty wrapped up in that. I’ll have plenty of updates from that to share, but probably not till long after it’s all over. Pretty much all the action for me will be on the Digital Savant blog.
  • The girls are doing pretty great. Took Lilly to see Wicked, which they’ve been obsessed over since Frozen started to wear off. She had a pretty great time:

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