Understated Audio

For the better part of a decade, I've cherished podcasts as part of my routines and rituals. I’ve developed parasocial relationships with podcast hosts, and have turned bad moods around by listening to my favorite people have friendly conversations.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to contribute with this medium that has meant so much to me, or even just learn enough about its production to further appreciate its nuances, but I wasn't sure where to start. I thought about making a limited-in-scope podcast to audition friends as podcast hosts, but never ultimately had the time or motivation to make it a priority.

This changed when the COVID-19 pandemic derailed a year's worth of travel plans and freed up all of my tentatively planned vacation days. I continued to guard these days off throughout the year, holding on to a shred of optimism that I might be able to catch a flight somewhere before the year was out. Alas, as January drew nearer, I realized I needed a plan-b, and I opted to use all of my vacation days to give myself four-day workweeks from September through December.

With an extra day for personal projects every week, I finally had enough space to do my research, plan my strategy, coordinate with a potential co-host, and build the infrastructure to handle show notes and generate RSS feeds for an arbitrary number of podcasts with minimal manual tuning. A few weeks later, I had understatedaudio.com and its first show, One Fun Thing with Amanda Huesmann, a loosely-premised show in which we each do something fun in our own lives and talk about it together, while mostly using it as an excuse to just talk to each other about life while the red light is on.

There are so many easier solutions than building my own podcast website, but I wanted something that I had near-complete control over, and something that I could scale accordingly (modestly) in case I decided I wanted to add or retire shows in the future. I also just wanted to understand the process and technology stack to further appreciate how it all works.

I'm happy to share my process and implementation details in another post if there's interest, but for now I'll spare you the details. I do, however, remember a moment years ago listening to Marco Arment from Accidental Tech Podcast (and the developer behind my favorite podcast client, Overcast) talk about Forecast, his free podcast encoding and MP3 tagging utility, and yearning for an excuse to use it. Now I use it a few times every month, and I feel a sense of gratitude every time I open it, just to be part of the club.

Now I'm back on five-day workweeks, and my time and motivation has waned, though I do have some modest aspirations for the future of this little network when I have the opportunity to turn my attention to it again. Now that I'm up and running and have enough experience to record, edit, and publish podcasts, I want to help make it easier for people who don't look like me do the same, much in the spirit of Myke Hurley's podcast mentorship program, by either offering guest episodes, full shows, or any knowledge I have to offer to people who are interested in stepping into this beautiful medium in which they are under-represented.

If that sounds like you, please reach out.