The other day, my friend Candy Minx and I published the first episode of a new podcast called The Agency. That is to say, it is hosted and with the link you can read it – but we’re waiting for iTunes to tell us our podcast will be listed in their directory. Tomorrow, I’ll look into other directories as well. We started a facebook page for the podcast before we had even completed the first issue. Our friend Karen asked, What is the Agency Podcast? I’ll offer up a few thoughts about that. My co-host may or may not agree.
Had you suggested to me a month ago that I would be co-hosting a podcast, I would have laughed. I had taken a stab at podcasting some time ago with The 27th Street Podcast, which I abandoned after a few episodes, and I have not been thinking at all about doing this sort of thing again.
The idea came together recently when Candy and her husband Stagg were in town for a visit. I’m not sure exactly how it happened. Candy had mentioned that her and Stagg had toyed with the idea of an art-related podcast at some point. Maybe Candy can tell you how the conversation went from there to the possibility (which quickly became a certainty), that Candy and I would co-host one. I’m not even sure. It became inevitable.
I met Candy in the early 80s at York University, where we were both studying Fine Arts, and we quickly became friends – the kind of friendship that lasts for years and years. I think of Candy as family. Since that time we’ve argued about just about everything under the sun. I suppose we both recognize there is something in those conversations we appreciate and want to capture in the podcast format.
I can’t tell you what the content of any episode will be. Of course I’m prepared to introduce topics and ideas I want to talk about and the same goes for Candy, but we’re not discussing that prior to the podcast, and there are no rehearsals. If we have any rules, that is the big one. The recording session is in a way like improv. Whatever magic emerges will come out of the interaction, when we get to places neither of us expect.
In a way this podcast is also kind of like a game, in which both participants bring ideas to the table and interact during the recording. Topics might be of greater or lesser importance and they may be discussed at greater or lesser length. At the same time both participants have to be flexible. Unlike a game, though, the participants do not aim to defeat one another. Each episode is recorded in a single session.
The Agency is not live streamed and one of the questions we face is whether or not to do any editing. There are arguments both ways. I can say that there are a few minor edits in the first episode, one little bit cut out and some dead air removed. I think we both want to aim to produce these in the future with the least possible editing. That doesn’t mean we will never make any edits, but our goal is to become good enough at producing and hosting these things to create episodes we are happy with without messing with it at all, most of the time. Going along with this will be developing the confidence to live with episodes that are messy or confusing or flawed in any number of ways.
Episode titles are applied after the recording to reflect in some way or another the spirit or content of each eclectic episode. The music at the beginning and end of each episode features traditional tunes played by me on clawhammer banjo.
Our friend Scott commented on Instagram – “Agent Candy and Agent Knapik?” Ha! Special Agents actually. Who knows what all we’re going to end up talking about, but if you need a podcast fix, The Agency will fill it. Of course agency has other meanings as well. I’m sure they all apply.
There is a kind of Mickey and Judy DIY aspect to this approach to podcasting, something not unfamiliar to me in my creative life. Hey, let’s put on a show! Neither of us have a high level of computer technical skills. We don’t have a producer and we don’t have a pro studio. What we do have are microphones and headphones and we have Skype so we can be in in different cities (I live in Toronto and Candy lives in Chicago) and still record.
We’ve begun by recording our conversation directly on Skype, then moving that recording to Garageband, where we can add in music, and if any editing is done, it can happen there. There were some technical challenges with doing it this way. When I tried to drop the MP4 file from Skype into Garageband, a big chunk of the conversation disappeared. This was really vexing. I tried all kinds of possible fixes for this and none of them worked until I converted the MP4 to a WAV file then dropped the WAV file into Garageband.
Initially we tried a different set-up, which I learned about from a YouTube video. There are YouTube videos showing how to do just about everything, aren’t there? Our initial approach involved using two additional apps, one called Line-in and the other called Soundflower. Although I followed instructions carefully, I couldn’t make this approach work and I’m not sure why not.
We will likely record episode 2 directly on Skype again, although I’m not convinced this is the best way forward. If there is anyone out there with some technical experience who can share a better way to record a phone call for a podcast, please email us at email@example.com. We’d appreciate some good technical advice as we want to output the best possible podcast in all ways.
We would appreciate your feedback on The Agency. We’d love to know what you like or don’t like, and if you want to make some suggestions, go right ahead. You never know, we might end up adopting some audience suggestions. Of course you can leave your comments here or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once The Agency is up on iTunes and other directories, we really hope you will subscribe and listen regularly. Please also rate and review The Agency on iTunes if you have a few minutes. Our podcast will always be free. If it turns out you really dig The Agency and want to support this effort, we have set up a Patreon page. We’re working out the various support levels and what SWAG we can offer any patrons.