Back in the Podcast Saddle, Again (…Again)

Several years ago, I ventured into podcasting as a way of making it easier for me to blog. I figured talking into a mic instead of writing things out saved a bunch of steps, mentally, and would be more efficient. In some ways it was, and in some it wasn’t.

It was about the same amount of work, in the end, just different steps. And my track record for posting episodes of the podcast wasn’t much different from the one I’d made for writing blog posts. I don’t know how people wrap their mind and schedules around doing a podcast on a regular basis, doing a show once every week or two, and I take my hat off to them. Whether it’s my friend Josh Mills (Rarified Heir), marketing inspiration Seth Godin (Akimbo) or comedian Gilbert Gottfried (although I suspect the discipline for his GGACP is more the work of his wife Dara and co-conspirator Frank Santopadre) — I am impressed that doing a podcast regularly around the regular stuff of life and work is so possible.

I’ve had help making my podcast episodes happen. Believe me, without Dr. Kendra Leonard (SFSMA et al) some years back, and currently Kerr Lockhart, there’d be way fewer episodes of The Silent Film Music Podcast to download and listen to.

Although my idea of transforming my blogging to an audio format as a time-saver did not pan out as one, it wound up being more efficient in a way I hadn’t anticipated. Namely, that I was able to reach a lot of people who weren’t reading the blog. Pretty much all the “fan mail” I’ve gotten about the podcast hasn’t come in the form of emails or iTunes reviews or social media comments, but rather in people I’ve chatted with before or after shows. All positive and enthusiastic. So, clearly, people are listening to and enjoying the podcast, regardless of whether I’m posting every month or twice a year.

Prior to the pandemic and again recently I’ve become more diligent about recording my live in-person performances. Not so much for my own reference as for archival purposes. I may not be my own biggest fan, but knowing how little there is of the work of the folks who preceded me, either not extant or just inaccessible, I feel more compelled to record my shows on audio.

In November 2019, I did a presentation on Arthur Kleiner – MoMA’s first film accompanist – as part of a series presented at MoMA in tribute to Iris Barry and organized by Anne Morra. In preparing and doing research, I was struck by how impossible it was to find recordings or written manuscripts of his work. And this was someone who accompanied silent films for over 30 years, after the silent era. And so, perhaps, it may be of some use for recordings of my performances to exist, and for there to be podcast episodes where I share bits of these and discuss my ideas of silent film accompaniment.

Every once in a while someone will ask me if I’m writing a book on silent film accompaniment and my answer is always “no”. But, perhaps, podcasting may be the next best thing. And it’s certainly easier than writing it all out.

I don’t know about you, but 2021 has been a challenging year in terms of being productive and staying focused on projects. It’s the first year I haven’t Kickstarted a DVD project since I began doing these. Between the plates I’ve been spinning and the ones that my podcast co-producer and co-host Kerr Lockhart has had, we’ve only just posted another episode this month. (The last episode we’d pushed out was back in January.)

It’s looking like we’ll be able to get back on track now with new episodes of The Silent Film Music Podcast.

I can tell you that, on my end of things, I’m now looking at the podcast as something more than just reporting about shows I’ve played. That’s what my blog started out as back in 2006, and continued to be as a podcast in 2012. I’m moving toward regarding making the podcast as way of making available a discussion (with some examples) of what I do, how I do it, and why I do it the way I do it. In case someone’s looking for this sort of instruction or insight.


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Denise Clark

This really could become a major part of your legacy, Ben! Not sure how many accompanists there are in the pipeline and it would be a shame to not have your work and your thought processes recorded for posterity.

Craig R. Banks

There are many ways of getting information out to people. If this works for you, then go for it. My knowledge on silent movies is limited. And I have learned from these.
Thanks