Featured Host: Alyssa Small

Every month we interview one of our hosts  to learn about their backgrounds, projects, and passions. This month, we're saying hello to Alyssa Small, the sole Gryffindor of Secret Weapon Productions and resident bookworm on Wordstruck.

The Interview

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What drew you to podcasts, and what advantage do they have for you over other forms of media?

I never wanted to make podcasts. I didn’t even like listening to them. I blame all the news-heavy podcasts I tried at first. They just hit too close to work for me. The podcast that changed my mind was “Gilmore Guys.” It showed me podcasts can be finite and fun. I loved that I could listen to people enjoy each other and go on a journey with them. And that made me crave a journey of my own. I’m just glad I could talk Clark into it with me! As a busy person with multiple projects in progress, I enjoy podcasts today because I can listen to them on my way to work, while I cook and while I workout. I never imagined I’d be a person who chooses podcasts over music, but it appears I am!

“I loved that I could listen to people enjoy each other and go on a journey with them. And that made me crave a journey of my own.”

What are some things you’ve learned in your first few years of making podcasts?

I get rambly close to midnight, but hot tea helps. When I have no outline, it takes me forever to articulate what I actually think. My poker face (and poker voice) is atrocious. And just like I’ve matured since I first read Harry Potter, my taste and tolerance for simple storylines have changed.

What is your favorite episode from your podcast and why?

I love a lot of our early episodes, even though they are a bit of a mess to go back and listen to. My favorite recording experience remains our sorting hat episode. I just never saw that result coming! I love that we captured it on audio.

What is a non Harry Potter related book you hope to review on Wordstruck?

I would love to hand Clark the reigns and read something he loved (not Animorphs...I’m hoping for something a little more sophisticated than that). Perhaps Redwall, similarly to Clark’s experience with Harry Potter, Redwall was read to me during elementary school, but I remember very little of it. There was a clock scene, I think? I’d love to dive back in with Clark and see what he thinks of it today and rediscover the story with new eyes. I fear my predictions wouldn’t be as entertaining as Clark’s, though.

What are you working on outside of Secret Weapon Productions?

I’m about to start NaNoWriMo in November. I think I’m going to explore a mystery about a missing woman. There may or may not be a ghost, as well. I haven’t decided yet. In the more tangible world, I’m in the process of building a bathroom in my basement. Last week we replaced the old sump pump, and then laid pipe where before there was none and covered it with concrete! It was hard work, but satisfying.

What’s your favorite moment from your podcast?

There was that glorious moment in Season 2 when Clark focused so much on the dwarves dressed as Cupids delivering valentines and missed Ginny’s horrified reaction to her diary being discovered. I thought Clark would remember that moment and see Ginny’s relationship to the diary coming from a mile away. But I kept it together and bluffed him well enough without calling too much attention to it, and Ginny’s Suddenly Voldemort moment was that much more satisfying.

Any new audio projects in the works?

Honestly, audio isn’t my main medium. I’m way more comfortable when I don’t have to speak much. Outside of Wordstruck, I’m focusing on my noveling muscles.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with another member of Secret Weapon Productions who would it be and why?

This may be obvious, but I pick Clark. He’s got some real foraging skills, loves all creatures great and small, is a similar level of introvert and being quite a bit of sunshine to every interaction. Plus, his love for modern conveniences would keep him motivated to find a way off the island rather than going full Robinson Crusoe when he befriends some lizard.

What is your favorite podcast not on SWP?

Shows I savor whenever there are new episodes include “Hello Internet,” “Lore,” “Dear Hank and John” and “Delete This.” The newest podcast I’m digging is NPR’s “Believed.” It’s horrifying, but so well told.

Featured Host: Austin Logan

Each month we interview one of our hosts  to learn about their backgrounds, projects, and passions. This month, we're introducing you to Austin Logan, one of the founders of Secret Weapon Productions and resident sociopath on 20 Minutes of Banter.

The Interview

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What drew you to podcasts, and what advantage do they have for you over other forms of media?

I first started listening to podcasts just because they were sort of there, the free thing that came with my phone. The more I listened though, the more it struck me as an incredibly genuine medium. I think the challenge of getting something out on a regular basis, or even just filling the silence, brings something out of people.

“The more I listened though, the more it struck me as an incredibly genuine medium. I think the challenge of getting something out on a regular basis, or even just filling the silence, brings something out of people.”

What are some things you’ve learned in your first two years of making podcasts?

Just get it done. I think the most important part of doing it is consistency, so that the listener that you'll be there week after week.

What is your favorite episode from your podcast and why?

I think it's around episode 12. Dan, Dan's wife Courtney, Clark, Alyssa, and I are all in Fort Peck, Montana for a show Dan did. We ended up recording it on the porch of the only hotel in town, because it was the only place away from others that had a power outlet. The audio was terrible, but it was such a fun time I still think about it.

Do you have a favorite 20 Minutes of Banter bit?

Dan always has a bit he wants to try that he's really excited about, and he usually tells me right before the show starts. The whole "okay, now do your little thing" bit fills me with joy every single time. Or maybe that's just Dan's suffering.

What are you working on outside of Secret Weapon Productions?

Nothing, really. Adulting. Holding down a job, figuring out various student debt nightmares, you know. The norm.

Any new audio projects in the works?

A couple. Clark and I have been tinkering with the idea of a mental health podcast for a while. Dan also has a few audio dramas he wants to flesh out. I'm really excited about both, so we'll see what happens in the near future.

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with another member of Secret Weapon Productions who would it be and why?

Alyssa, hands down. Everyone else, every single person including myself, would be dead in a week. Alyssa is the only host I can imagine learning to fashion a spear from sticks and reeds. My only real chance for surviving would be to be the Wilson to her Tom Hanks.

What is your favorite podcast not on SWP?

I think it's a tie between My Brother, My Brother, and Me and Last Podcast on the Left. Both of them are just so consistently good, I don't know how they do it.

Featured Host: Maia Mills-Low

Each month we interview one of our hosts  to learn about their backgrounds, projects, and passions. This month, we're introducing you to Maia Mills-Low, co-host and resident mixologist for Dizzy Channel Original Friendship.

The Interview

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What drew you to podcasts, and what advantage do they have for you over other forms of media?

Ever since I was a little kid I enjoyed radio shows. From oldies like Jack Benny to modern hosts like Phil Hendrie I enjoy the creation of characters and the fun and laughter that is spread throughout the audience. Later I started listening to shows like Comedy Bang Bang and Professor Blastoff. These podcasts showed me how conversation with funny people can make you feel like you’re in the room with them. There’s an intimacy in podcasts that isn’t in the radio shows that I love. I want to be able to bring people into the recording studio as it were. Make jokes with us. Enjoy (or hate) what we enjoy (or hate). It’s social, and I’m a social person.

What are some things you’ve learned in your first two years of making podcasts?

Podcasting takes a lot of hard work. It’s a commitment. It’s also an amazing way to share my thoughts with our listeners. Even with craziness there is a structure that I find comforting. I learned that I wouldn’t be able to do this without the great support of Secret Weapon Productions and of course my pod-life partner Adair. We all hold each other up.

"Podcasting takes a lot of hard work. It’s a commitment. It’s also an amazing way to share my thoughts with our listeners. Even with craziness there is a structure that I find comforting."

What is your favorite episode from your podcast and why?

I’m sure everyone would expect me to Camp Rock or Lemonade Mouth. But honestly? I’d have to say the recent podcast of Z-O-M-B-I-E-S! The movie was so surprisingly enjoyable and so was the drink! Also Let It Shine was so much fun to record. I like the episodes where we don’t have high expectations for a movie and we are proven wrong. It’s so fun to be surprised.

What are you working on outside of Secret Weapon Productions?

I’ve been reading a lot of YA. Contemplating new possibilities. In talks with my sister about another podcast.

Do you have any favorite drinks from past episodes of Dizzy Channel Original Friendship?

My favorite cocktails are the ones I got to be creative with. Like the Zombie Mule:
4 oz Ginger beer, 1 1/2 oz Vodka, 1/2 oz Midori, 1/6 oz Lime juice. It’s refreshing and light, a fun twist to a classic drink.

Any new audio projects in the works?

I’m still in the proto planning stages of something. I’ll keep you posted.

What is your favorite podcast not on SWP?

Man that’s a tough one. I’m going to have to give you a few. First, on the suggestion of Dan Crary, I started listening to Bubble made by Maximum Fun. It’s a great serial and easily addictive. Second, Clarksworld Magazine by Clarksworld. It’s a sci-fi story podcast narrated by Kate Baker who has the most soothing voice. A new story each time and it’s thought provoking and fascinating. Finally, How Did This Get Made? By Earwolf. It just cracks me up. Seriously, funny as hell.

Featured Host: Reiley Wagenhals

Featured Host: Reiley Wagenhals

Each month we interview one of our hosts  to learn about their backgrounds, projects, and passions. This month, we're getting to know Reiley Wagenhals, co-host for the cooking podcast Me Cook Pretty and the now retired Into The Echo.

The Interview

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What drew you to podcasts, and what advantage do they have for you over other forms of media?

I was a little late to the game and started listening to podcasts in 2012. The first podcast that hooked me was called Professor Blastoff. It was a comedy podcast with Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger.  I loved the open format of a podcast, and I’m a sucker for free entertainment.

The advantages of a podcast…hmm. I really think that any spoken word mediums hold a lot of power over other varieties because there aren’t any crutches hosts can stand on. Sure, you can over-produce the hell out of your sound design (looking at you Radiolab), but that’s about as flashy as it gets. Spoken word relies entirely on the ability of the host(s) to piece together their words in a way that is entertaining and concise, neither of which I have mastered in my own endeavors.

"I really think that any spoken word mediums hold a lot of power over other varieties because there aren’t any crutches hosts can stand on."

What are some things you’ve learned in your first two years of making podcasts?

Podcasts have taught me a Lebron-sized handful of things. First and foremost is that I am not as good at staying on schedules and meeting deadlines as I thought I was. Certainly as an amateur podcaster, there are some expected delays with getting episodes out and all that, but did I ever underestimate how laissez faire I would be about being a month behind on episodes. 

Secondly I discovered just how much creative energy I have. From designing logos to running Instagram accounts, I never knew I had so much artistic and creative energy in me. I wish podcasting could be a full-time job so I could get it all out!

I suppose I owe a special shout out to my fellow co-host and life confidant Clark. I’ve learned so much about our friendship and myself through the lenses of music and cooking. It’s been incredible. A lot of important life events have happened since we started our first podcast Into The Echo, and we have talked about it ALL, mostly on air.

What is your favorite episode from your podcast and why?

My current podcast, Me Cook Pretty, is a fledgling show, so I don’t have a whole lot of library to look back on. I will however draw on my former podcast Into The Echo for an answer to this question. Into The Echo was a misguided, semi-directional, uninformed, emotional romp through the world of mostly alt-rock music. Now, my favorite “episode” is more of a favorite moment from an episode. 

We have an episode called “Freudian Dad”. There was a moment on this episode, I forget the context surrounding it, in which Clark whole-heartedly, truly, and honestly called me “Dad”. I don’t know what subterranean, Freudian consciousness we were stimulating with discussions about his dreadful taste in pop music, but something inspired his heart and mind to call me dad. I will never let him live that down, because I can never unhear that.

What are you working on outside of Secret Weapon Productions?

Gardening! I currently spend a lot of time at a garden plot that I have for the summer. It is producing more food than I know what to do with. It takes almost daily care, but it is the best chore I have ever had.

I also am part of a crew of folks that makes incredibly weird PSA videos about grocery stores called For The Right Price Productions (4TRP). You can find us on YouTube under our series moniker JAFR. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, it is uncomfortably weird.

I am also technically the founder and owner of Kumo Ramen. I make ramen noodles and sell them. By that I mean I haven’t had the time to pursue running a business past the initial paperwork, and I sometimes make ramen and give it to people. I need more hours in a day so I can continue working on this one!

Any new audio projects in the works?

Ideas! I have a couple ideas, but zero time. I have a hard enough time managing to stay semi-scheduled with Me Cook Pretty that I could not add another project on top of the current one. I also just cannot get used to recording episodes by myself, so that is going to be necessary before I produce another show.

What is your favorite podcast not on SWP?

This is going to sound dramatic, but I’m serious about this. One of the top 10 experiences I have had in my life has been listening to The Adventure Zone by the McElroy’s. This podcast is absolutely next-level incredible. I’ve been in stitches, tears, and suspense countless times, even on my third listen of the series.

Currently I listen to a lot of the McElroy brothers’ other show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, because I am all caught up on The Adventure Zone. MBMBAM is the scratch that my unsettling sense of humor needs almost every day. I feel like I am best friends with the McElroy brothers after I listen to every episode. You guys, if you are recruiting new family members, I am so in.

Featured Host: Adair Rice

Featured Host: Adair Rice

Each month we interview one of our hosts  to learn about their backgrounds, projects, and passions. This month, we're getting to know Adair Rice, co-host and editor for Dizzy Channel: Original Friendship and Slow Claps and Rewrites

The Interview

You’re a writer and poet by day; podcaster by night. What drew you to podcasts, and what advantage do they have over the written word?

Becoming the host of a podcast was never a specific goal of mine,  I was actually very late to the game when it came to it. But once I really grasped the medium, the freedom that comes with it and how I wanted to approach it; I began to feel a levity that I don’t experience with writing. You don’t get the chance to second guess your choices, so little of what we talk about is planned out so I’ve learned a lot about my impulses and the beauty of not overthinking what I say when I’m recording.

What are some things you’ve learned in your first year of making podcasts?

I think the first thing you learn when you begin podcasting is how to hate the sound of your own voice, it’s humbling to edit the awkward pauses and meandering stories but you learn a lot about how you navigate conversation. Another huge lesson is how important it is to pick the right partner/co-host in a creative endeavor. You need a person who can make you laugh but who can also empathize when things aren’t going smoothly, I could not imagine these podcasts being half as good without Maia and Dan.

 

"I think the first thing you learn when you begin podcasting is how to hate the sound of your own voice,"

 

What is your favorite drink from Dizzy Channel: Original Friendship?

My favorite drink to look at was the Witch’s Brew cocktail we made for Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, it had dry ice and was so cool visually but it was too strong for me.  The drink I love the taste of is the Zetus Lapetus, a Zenon themed drink I created including Limoncello and Prosecco, it’s strong but so refreshing.

What are you working on outside of Secret Weapon Productions?

I’m still happily contributing weekly to the poetry project Dan Crary and I created last year entitled “Everything’s an Island” and recently had a poem published in the TILL’s 2016 Chapbook.  In April, one of my poems is being featured by 4Culture’s Poetry on Buses contest and I’m working on final edits for my first solo chapbook.

Any new audio projects in the works?

Not yet, I’ve been toying around with a possible scripted project but, for me, it’s all about finding the right collaborator and getting them on board with my reckless enthusiasm.

What is your favorite podcast not on SWP?

I have recently become a huge fan of “Comedy Bang Bang” and am a Nerdfighter at heart so “Dear Hank and John” is always a favorite.