The Art of the Podcast

It takes a lot to impress this guy when it comes to media. I’ve known some pretty talented people in both radio and TV over the years, and for something to grab my attention, it has to be extremely remarkable.

Now, in the arena of podcasting, I seriously don’t have a lot of experience. Then again, I never felt the need. I’ve got the thousands of channels on my cable TV system, along with everything Prime and Netflix has to offer. I stay up on local radio, subscribe to Sirius XM and have my phone loaded with some pretty good songs. I’ve got media aimed at me from all directions, so the last thing in the world I needed was one more medium to become familiar with–the podcast.

Not to say I’m completely unaware of that world. For the longest time, I felt it was “an Apple thing” and being a die-hard Windows Phone/Android guy, I figured I would leave them to the nerds and hipsters. I heard that Adam Carolla, when his radio career went away, launched a fairly successful podcast and continues with it to this day.  Respecting the category, I actually produced a 10-20 minute podcast–the Wacky Week Podcast–for 167 episodes before my stalled radio career was revived. Sort of an Adam Carolla with .005% of the audience. For me, this was more like audio-scrapbooking, as I wanted to preserve some of my radio moments of the past. Seemed like a good way to use the podcast technology.

But one day, I was listening to KIRO in the afternoons when the now-departed (from radio, not the world) Ron & Don were interviewing a guy from a Salt Lake City radio station about their podcast, called, “Cold.” The topic was one of those morbid, “I can’t believe this happened” subjects where a guy undoubtedly made his wife disappeared and then, blew up the house he was in along with his two young sons. Sort of the “if I can’t have them, no one can” mentality.

I had followed the case from afar and, after listening to the host on the radio, decided to embark on my very first podcast experience (outside of my own).

Oh, my God.

What the team at KSL did with their “Cold Podcast” was a detailed explanation of what happened and how it all went down. How the couple met, what went on in their lives and all the details about how Susan disappeared and what happened when the boys were dropped off at their father’s house on their last day in this world.

There were not only interviews with the police, family and friends who were anxious to tell this story, but also audio recordings of both Josh Powell and his dad, who both kept audio journals. Add in some actor reenactments for the rest of the characters is this tragic story and for 18 episodes, I was completely mesmerized. In fact, I want more.

Every Wednesday meant a new episode and I couldn’t wait for the day. It never disappointed and was always done with the idea that this really happened and stories just like it are continuing to happen every day.
If only someone had spoken up sooner.

If you’re into the podcast technology, it’s called The Cold Podcast and I highly recommend it. Or, you can listen to all of the episodes via the website they set up, which is the preferred method of my 90-year-old mother. She absolutely loves it. They give you details that are disturbing, but done factually and not for shock value.

It’s heart-breaking to hear the story and you get this overwhelming feeling like you want to help but know you can’t. While I was aware of the news-story side of it, after hearing The Cold Podcast I am very much planning one day to visit the graves of those two young boys, Charlie and Braden, down in Puyallup’s Woodbine Cemetery. I feel it’s the least I could do out of respect for their memory and for those two souls who never had the chance to grow up.

Kudos to the KSL team that put in all the time and effort to make this audio achievement happen. It really is a must-listen–If not now, soon, or on your next road trip. It’s one of the highest forms of a podcast, with each episode inspiring you to hug your loved ones the next time you see them.

Tim Hunter