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The words "Audio Dramatic" on top of the logo, of a pair of headphones with a pen across them, against a sparkly daytime sky with peeks of skyscrapers at the bottom edge
Hello, fellow listeners!

We're all back from PodCon 2: Podcast Boogaloo, and bracing ourselves for both the reviews and the unavoidable longing to be back in one space with our friends. Such is the way of conventions.

In the meantime, I've been listening to some old podcasts and some new, including some that were brought to my attention at or during PodCon. I'll take you through my exciting post-PodCon playlist, some preliminary thoughts on PodCon 2 and the opportunity we have a relatively young medium with fan and creator conventions, and a good set of IndieGoGos that need your attention.

Janus Descending, Entry 12 & Entry 2 (episodes 15 & 16): Jordan Cobb's science-fiction horror miniseries has been stealing my breath away from the beginning. It's no easy to nail a finale for any kind of work, but between Cobb's writing and Schifini's sound design, the ending to Janus Descending is exactly what the story as a whole called for. Anguished, horrifying, and heart-breaking, Cobb and Olivieri are a duo with intense chemistry and skill; pulling off some of the work in Entry 12 in particular required both courage and confidence. If there's one thing I recommend you listen to exactly as it is presented this year, it's this one. [16:16 & 18:12]

Palimpsest, Faerie Tale, Ending (episode 10): The second season of Palimpsest has followed the story of Ellen, an Irish immigrant's daughter in the late 1800s, and her journey with a strange circus and meeting the Fae. Palimpsest is a masterclass in atmosphere, and this was another finale that stayed true to its core. I absolutely cried; the uncertainty of Ellen's future is the ending I didn't know I needed. [16:04]

The Forest Guide, Chapter Two (episode 2): The second part of this four-part miniseries gets deep into the magical, with an irate Fae guide trying to open an overwhelmed graduate student's eyes. This episode is especially beautifully scored alongside the poetic and unpretentious writing of Jack Pevyhouse, who doesn't get so lost in the building of a new world that he forgets why his protagaonist is where he is.. [20:49]

Love and Luck, Time Capsule (episode 63): Experiencing the lost and found voice of Kane's mother Julie has, for three episodes, been painful in its beauty. I spent this episode thinking about my own mother, and immediately called her afterwards to hear her voice. Kyan's dedication to putting so much of himself into his writing has paid off with a storyline that will, with ease, encourage listeners to think about family, both birth and found, and what it means to them. [11:46]

Vega, The One Where Everything Changes (episode 5): Vega is what I want everyone to listen to when I need to prove that single-narrator fiction is vibrant, active, and still acknowledge the listener as a participatory entity. Okoro is confident, secure, and relaxed in her narration and acting; the first episode will immediately snag you by the collar and drag you on an adventure without letting go. [27:39]

Caravan, Riders in the Sky & On the Road Again (episodes 1&2): The Whisperforge's new audio fiction is a weird Western, horny adventure; it's hard to not immediately love the protagonist. If I had to pick one single thing I want listeners to pay attention to, it's to listen to the marvelous decision to have a difference in accent and dialect between when the protagonist speaks aloud and their inner monologue. It's such a clever, accurate portrayal that accomplishes the inner/outer distinction so easily. [21:26 & 22:48] 

Cybernautica, Breakwell--The Caprican Job (episode 1): The debut of this New Atlantis cyberpunk podcast was full of adventure, gruff smugglers, excellent design, and a well-laid hook. Cybernautica boasts a full cast as well as an intermittent narrator, who brings color and life into the background and to the action. It isn't easy to make the transition between dialogue and omniscient narrator a smooth one in audio, but this podcast's vibe and tone make the narrator a natural choice. [17:02]

Over Ruled, The Great Plains (episode 3): The three-episode first season of Over Ruled boasts a classic private investigator drama, complete with the under-slept and raspy-voiced lead and just-left-of-Boston villain. It brings me straight back to a childhood of murder mysteries and thrilling cover-ups; though some of it is a little over-the-top dramatic, it feels like it's on purpose, and it's very easy to get swept away by the third episode. [14:44]

Moonbase Theta, Out, Eight (episode 13): Don't let the length of these episodes fool you; listening to the twenty-week shutdown of a scientific moon base through the reporters of a communications officer end up being as cute, weird, and worrisome as a fifteen-minute or longer episode. The shutdown is not going well, to say the least, and in five-minute increments, Roger is able to slowly unfurl the universe and the system that they must work in. [5:18]

Going Lowbrow, Going Highbrow (episode 2): The long wait for episode 2 was absolutely worth it for the screwball comedy musical of my dreams. It's a hilarious romp through a fairy tale world where an exiled prince, hiding from an uprising against the aristocracy, ends up in the rebellion, and maybe falling into love with the rebellion's leader? If you're looking for ridiculous, gay musicals, now's your time. [32:43]

a photo of an empty auditorium from the position of the stage, with balcony seating
While I did not give any specifics for PodCon 2 hopes in the previous issue, I think it would be helpful to talk briefly about one thing: featured guests, speakers, and why podcasting as a medium growing into having multiple, international conventions needs to stop itself from falling into the trap laid by previous media. The trap?

Lack of payment for guests and speakers, especially when adjusting to the demand for honestly diverse line-ups.

I sometimes think that I'm preaching to the choir, but then I remember not getting paid to do convention work, both as a planner and as a speaker, and IG get very tired. Listeners, convention planning is hard (if this sounds familiar, I said the same thing last week) and budgeting for young conventions is even harder. When we ask all conventions to improve their diversity, we need to be sure to include that they get paid; when we plan a convention or a conference or even a little workshop or retreat, a necessary pat of that plan is who is getting paid and how much. PodCon 2 added a ton of late speakers after the schedule was posted, and a surprisingly large quantity were added in response to the call for more POC and trans folks in particular.

But they weren't paid. They should be, and speakers everywhere should be paid proportionate to the amount of work they put in. Several speakers at PodCon 2 had more panels and workshops than featured guests, as well as booths or tables, and yet they weren't paid for the professional labor they put in to help make the content as excellent as it was. To continue to not pay the people who present at a convention or conference, especially when they are already marginalized voices who may not be able to afford to come otherwise, is, I hope, something that we as a community can continue to push for.

It will most likely mean more expensive tickets, especially in order for young conventions to cover that cost without good sponsors. Accessibility to conferences is still important to keep in mind, and this is where ticket tiers can come in handy--Austin Film Festival, for instance, has tickets that allow entry to a specific track of panels and viewings, or across a certain number of days.

There are not that many large conventions dedicated to podcasting--the largest is likely Podcast Movement, started in 2014 via crowdfunding on Kickstarter. This means the podcasting community does have an opportunity to set and follow a standard. Not paying presenters at conventions is nothing new or unusual; in fact, it's partially expected, and we react in surprised delight when we hear someone even had their hotel or travel comped. I would encourage fans and creators, when buying tickets or when submitting to speak, think about what the cost of their ticket is going to be supporting, about how to ask to be paid for your work, and to bring an understanding of these issues to the convention floor. PodCon 2 was frustrating in some respects, but I had a wonderful time connecting with fans and creators for many days; what I want is a better and more equitable future.

I can't go into all the knotty parts of convention planning here (plus, I'd need at least one bottle of wine while dredging up those memories), but know that this is complicated, and that's why I'm going to keep talking about it. I'd highly encourage you to read Wil Williams' thoughts in her newsletter yesterday. And if you went to PodCon 2, please remember to fill out their audience survey; you should have an email somewhere in your inbox and if you don't, ask them for one!
13 Indie Fiction Podcasts You Should Listen to in 2019
Olidie but a goodie: podcast conventions and audio fiction
If you want to see more reviews, interviews, and other articles from me, you can support me over at my ko-fi account! 
Ko-Fi Support

The Austin Film Festival's Podcast Script competition is open for submissions! The early deadline is April 15.
Standard Docking Procedure, a hopepunk science-fiction sitcom, has an IndieGoGo that is ending in 2 days. Listen to their teaser mini-episodes and go donate.
The Directory of Indie Audio Drama is open for business! Find new shows, creators, actors, and even submit your own podcast to be included.
Kalila Stormfire's Economical Magick Services is crowdfunding for season two. Their IndiieGoGo ends in 3 days, so go help support queer, POC created audio fiction.
I had the privilege of sharing a booth with the folks from Alba Salix, and I got to watch Sean Howard teaching people about Patreon, live and in-person. Now that we aren't in the same space anymore, I am voraciously reading the next entry in his Patreon Growth Experiment.

It's been a slow build-up back from PodCon and the holidays for most critics and reporters in the field, but Howard had been rocking it. This is a must-read about gatekeeping in audio fiction, and why we can't put barriers on what is and isn't fiction.

This is recommended listening instead, but Radio Drama Revival had a stellar interview with Morgan Givens, the creator of Flyest Fables.

I genuinely cannot wait for the next time I'm in a giant room stuffed with podcasters and podcast listeners, because you all bring joy to my heart with your care and enthusiasm.

If you'd like to ask me questions or send me comments, you can reply to this newsletter (it goes directly to my email!) or reach out to me on Twitter.

Happy listening,
Logo, of a pair of headphones with a pen laying across them.
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