Speaker 0 00:00:00 It kind of seems like there's a lot of pressure for companies to keep making great content marketing. Of course that's hard to do. And like with anything else, there's dozens of approaches. So there's probably not a one size fits all strategy that will definitely work for your brand or company. But I do think REI has one of the most unique approaches to this. So we're gonna pull from our archives in an old episode of three clips, another casts, original to learn more about their approach. The episode is called audio as a visual medium, and it explores the creative process behind the show camp monsters. It was published in November of 2021. It was hosted by Jay Akzo, the creator of the series, and was produced by me. You'll be able to hear that episode in its entirety next, real quick. Before we listen in, I wanna let you know about a way to create a private subscription based podcast with Casto. You can easily create a private podcast for your membership site, online course, or a community. The best part you can integrate it with the tools you already used through our direct integrations, learn [email protected]
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Speaker 2 00:01:10 One of the phrases you hear tossed around in the podcasting industry quite a bit is how audio is a visual medium. I don't know who first brought that into the, uh, public eye, but, uh, it's probably IRA glass, both because I've heard him say it. And when you don't know where to attribute a popular quote in podcasting, just attributed it to IRA glass. And no one's gonna ask you for your sources. So, uh, sure. IRA glass made that idea. Popular audio is a visual medium it's theater of the mind. And I think one of the most powerful pieces of developing the stage, the set design, putting good actors, so to speak on that stage. One driver of that theater of the mind is your ability to write, but it's such a, it's a very interesting craft because it's not the same as writing to be read.
Speaker 2 00:02:03 You could write lots of books and articles. You could write a lot of email, you can write to be read and be a great writer. And then as soon as you're writing to be heard, especially heard when you're not physically in front of somebody that is a different game, you might fall flat. And so today we're definitely gonna get into that specific craft really heavily, but I kind of geeked out I'll, I'll just admit in the entire interview because I've long wanted to talk to this host and this writer, this performer who develops a show for a brand, which is one of the best podcasts period for any source at creating theater of the mine.
Speaker 2 00:02:44 Welcome to three clips where podcasters take us inside their process. A few pieces at a time I'm Jay, a Zo. And this is a Casto original series as always. Our goal today is to demystify the creative process behind great podcasts and to inspire greater creativity in your work to help us today. We're gonna learn from west Davis from the show camp monsters camp monsters is actually produced by REI the brand, the apparel company REI, and it's created in the tradition of old radio dramas, mixing together elements of fictional storytelling and sound design to create really gripping narratives that can be finished in about 40 minutes or so. The show's current 36 episodes are spread across three seasons and feature stories of impossible encounters with impossible creatures in the wildest corners of north America. In other words, good old fashioned ghost stories and folk tales told around a virtual campfire their stories of camp monsters.
Speaker 2 00:03:46 Oh, that's where they got the name. Okay. Anyways, uh, this show is part of the REI podcast network. Yes. The show is part of the branded podcast network where the brand itself creates multiple shows. And they're incredible. It's not marketing here. I, if you're like, oh, a brand, Ew, I look that's my world. Okay. First of all, I came out of the content marketing industry. You can do branded content incredibly well. And this show is at the head of that pack. And we wanna dive into why that is each episode of the show involves a, a really a ton of research about the folk tale or the creature about the region it inhabits or supposedly inhabits and the sound design and the music. Oh my goodness. Unbelievable. I mentioned before, but the show is hosted by west Davis. He's the writer and host of camp monsters. And he teams up with producer, Chelsea Davis, his sister, and sound engineer, Nick Patri to create what are essentially mini audio dramas. But before we dissect the show that clearly I love let's first meet west Davis.
Speaker 4 00:04:54 You mentioned before I hit record that you're not really from like a podcasting tradition. It's not historically what you've listened to or created. What was your experience in audio before camp masters?
Speaker 5 00:05:06 Oh, I did some commercial work and, and things like that. Just dabbled in it really. Um, most of my background was in theater and, uh, and yeah, a little bit of film work, but mostly in theater, I was a theater guy, you know, so that's really what my background was in.
Speaker 4 00:05:23 How'd you first? Uh, how'd you get involved in this show?
Speaker 5 00:05:25 Well, yeah, I got roped in through the back door, kind of through theater. Um, I, you know, my full disclosure, my sister <laugh> works for, for REI and she was, she got on this idea of making a, a podcast about monsters, about camp monsters, about crypted. And, uh, the original concept was just something she was trying to pitch internally. And because of my background in theater, um, she approached me about just recording a pilot that she could use as kind of a proof of concept. And then they were in touch with a couple different established podcast talents that they were going to, to use to kind of move this forward. Anyway, she never even ended up playing the pilot for anybody because re I just loved the idea and they got into negotiations with a couple different people to host and things bogged down and it looked was looking like they weren't gonna be able to, um, put it together on the timeframe they were hoping to do, just because of conflicts and, and, you know, people not being able to, to put it together the way they wanted to.
Speaker 5 00:06:25 And so then she pulls out this pilot that we'd recorded as a one off, you know, a year prior, which was the bat squad episode and said, well, hold on, before we scrap the whole thing, you know, we do have this one pilot that, uh, we recorded. How about you give it a listen? And it got a really positive response, um, from within our EI. So that was my, that was my way. And then they called me up and said, Hey, what about you hosting? Which isn't something that we had talked about or explored. It was just supposed to be kind of a, you know, like I said, a one off, a one off thing that was just going to never see the light of day just gonna be internal, but, uh, yeah. Turned into something more. I'm glad it did.
Speaker 4 00:07:01 Uh, I'm glad it did too, because I came out of the marketing industry, specifically content marketing, where, you know, I've tried to push people and organizations and teams towards branded stuff, not feeling like quote unquote branded stuff, just feeling like good stuff. And this show is not showing products. Uh, it's, it's a, an original series or an original show, um, which of course improves affinity to the brand. And Chelsea actually came on three clips in its early days. Um, I heard
Speaker 5 00:07:31 That one talk a little bit. It's a good episode. <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:07:33 She? Well, all credits are her because, you know, she's very strategic. She understands that there's always a balance, always a dance that you're doing between, you know, we have an existing brand, we do have marketing goals, but we, we wanna make something worthy of the audience, investing their serious attention. And I think some people may hear this show. And if you don't know, it's from REI, you know, it's not from a media company, it's not an independent creator who owns the show. It's a brand and, and some people might be surprised by that. Do you, now that you've done it for so long, what do you think it is about a company like REI that puts them in a good position to make an original show like this? Where so many brands, it sort of comes across as hollow?
Speaker 5 00:08:16 Well, I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about their commitment. They're, they're the kind of brand and the kind of company that really has a commitment to quality. And so you can, I think that was where, you know, Chelsea had success and we had success selling them on this idea of, Hey, we have a good thing here that people are interested in, that, you know, is just, is a good thing in its own, right? And you can put, you know, your name on it, and this can be something that you really own and runway, then it it'll be a good representation of you out there in this, you know, very quickly growing marketplace. You're gonna make a name for yourself. You're gonna make a mark by, by producing something good that doesn't necessarily have to, you know, follow, you know, like you said, expectations when it comes to what a branded podcast is going to look like, you know, and they're, they're the kind of organization that's just interested in quality and are willing to, to follow that out and to kind of chase that. And so it, it really opened a lot of doors for us and allowed us to make what we wanted to make. And, and like you said, I think come out with something stronger because of it,
Speaker 4 00:09:20 The show features 40 ish, minutes of storytelling. It's all narrated by you. You're the, the lone voice and is a lot of sound design, a lot of music that makes it really immersive. Can you just paint a picture when someone hears it, they're gonna hear you, obviously, there's more people working on the show. So what's the makeup of the team supporting each episode that makes these things come alive.
Speaker 5 00:09:41 We've got a lot of great people at R I, first of all, that are helping us, um, come up with the monsters and the, the markets, the places we wanna locate those monsters and, you know, are where those monsters are located. And then we, we can kind of build it from there. And as I write the scripts, you know, I'm going back and forth with different people at REI. And, um, and at our sponsor Yeti and things like that to kind of, you know, just see what, see how the story's developing and see what we can do there. So we've got a lot of good input at that level and that's kind of across, across multiple teams. And then of course, you know, our senior producer, Chelsea Davis is, um, is right there with it at every step of the process, just kind of hurting it along and helping it, you know, um, making it happen.
Speaker 5 00:10:25 And then Nick, Patriot's just a one man band. He's our engineer and he is a, he's a wizard with sound. And so once, once I get done recording and he gets a hold of it and, uh, cleans up all my mistakes and adds all the really cool, you know, what really makes it to show, I think, and otherwise just a guy talking, but when you get a lot of, of, um, the world that, that Nick puts onto it, it really adds something. And then once we have the finished product, it goes kind of back to the teams and back to Chelsea and, um, and all our, our producers and people in the marketing structure, uh, at R I and stuff. And then they kind of give it the thumbs up or have a couple changes, that sort of thing. We do a little, few rerecord, and then we turn it loose. So, uh, it's a, it's a team effort for sure. And we've got a lot of good people supporting it.
Speaker 4 00:11:08 So the episode that we're gonna pull, all of our clips from today is the same one. And I understand it's one of your favorites, not my
Speaker 5 00:11:14 Favorite one this season. Yeah.
Speaker 4 00:11:15 I'm so excited. That was a total coincidence. Uh, our producer Stewart selected this episode. So I'm gonna, I wanna ask you after we hear a clip, why is your favorite? But we'll hold on that for a moment it's called colossal Claude, which is about a, a fictitious encounter between a sailor and a mythical sea creature known as, and any guess is my listener friend. Colosal Claude <laugh>, uh, it's the fifth episode of season three, and it was published on October 7th, 20, 21 really quick west. Can you just describe the monster? Like, what is this monster? Just plant the visual for our listeners before we hear the clip.
Speaker 5 00:11:48 Sure. It is your classic sea monster, long neck, large head. I describe it kind of like a evil looking horse, but with a great big gaping jaw on black teeth and all that, uh, all that terrifying stuff that you'd expect from a sea monster, what it looks like below the water, Hey, nobody knows, but you know, you see that big arcing neck coming outta the water and that giant head and, uh, it's terrifying enough.
Speaker 4 00:12:12 <laugh>. So in this first clip, uh, you quote unquote, uh, the sailor, our board, a ship called the Olympus on a stormy night in 1875, because it's a podcast. So you can time travel totally a thing. And then suddenly off the starboard bow of the ship, I think we got the directions, correct. There you go. Uh, the ship slams into an object, or as we discover a creature, so let's hear the clip.
Speaker 7 00:12:39 And then you realize what he must have said and your hands freeze on the knot. You're untying. The word he said was clawed. And you know what that means? It means that the ship will surely sink alls sailers on this coast know clawed, colossal, clawed clawed, the Columbia river creature. Claude is a sea servant, a massive monster, a legend and a harbinger of doom. Sailers say he has a head like a dragon in the old books perched on the end of a long curving neck. That juts from the water, he lurks in the sea, near the Columbia. River's treacherous, mouth devouring, sea lions, and dolphins and sailors, trying to swim away from dying vessels. And he's only ever seen by those aboard ships that are destined for the bottom. Some say he lures ships to wreck other than he merely appears when one is about to, but all agree that once Claude is spotted, no vessel can escape its fate.
Speaker 5 00:14:04 <laugh>, isn't that great?
Speaker 4 00:14:07 Oh man. I
Speaker 5 00:14:07 Love, I love listening to Nick's magic when he get, you know, gets in there and, and really just cuts loose. It's so much fun, man. It's so fun.
Speaker 4 00:14:14 <laugh> oh, wow. So, so yeah. Get, take us into that detail into that production, uh, or piece of the production process rather with Nick, what is his role? What is he doing? How are you working together?
Speaker 5 00:14:24 Well, you know, in the, in the old days, I should say in the pre pandemic days, it was great. We go into, um, a studio that he had on Capitol hill, which is right in downtown Seattle. And, and we'd record these episodes all as a team, you know, multiple people in the room and we're, we're kind of working it live and, uh, and making little adjustments and things and going back. And, uh, so it was a really great group atmosphere that we, that we had initially now with the pandemic, that's all, that's all changed. You know, now I'm recording it in a, in an old route cell in my, in my basement <laugh> and, uh, and then sending the audio file over to Nick and, uh, and he's working on it, but we still, if anything, I think we've gotten better at turning him loose to kind of put all these pieces together.
Speaker 5 00:15:08 You know, the first season, there was a little bit of hesitation about putting in too much sound and too, too much ambiance because it was, it felt like we wanted to stick with just kind of a campfire sound. So you go back to season one and it's, it's heavy on the campfire. It's light on everything else, but Nick really worked on, on us and, uh, and was always showing us different things that he could do. And this season, especially we've really we've really let him, let him go with it. And I think all those great just sounds that he works in, in the background are, are so much fun. So really I, I record the vocals, I turn it over to him and then he'll come back with this orchestra of, of haunting sounds. <laugh> that, uh, that he's, that he's put over the back of it, you know, tinkling, I mean, tinkling chimes, or it'll just be something as simple as one low note, that'll start to grow in the background.
Speaker 5 00:15:57 And, uh, you know, he really has a feel for it. So there's not a whole lot that I have to do or that we really have to do as a team. We'll tell him, you know, a little more of this, a little less of that, you know, he put too many owls into one episode. We said, whoa, <laugh> you gotta go easy on the owls there, but, uh, you know, but yeah, so it's, it is really easy on our part. We just, we just, um, let Nick go and, and he, he makes magic, but it's so great. I always get such a kick outta here in the finished product because
Speaker 4 00:16:22 It's so good.
Speaker 5 00:16:22 Yeah. It's like, it's like having a whole band backing you up, you know, I mean, it's, it's a, it's a blast
Speaker 4 00:16:28 I wanted to, I'm glad we're starting here. Cuz I wanted to start with this sort of non obvious to some people element of the show. I think the obvious part is, you know, the monster, the, the, the selection of that monster, the scripting, of course, it's such a, uh, it's a written show, so we're definitely gonna dive into writing for audio. Cause I love that nuance and that craft, but I did wanna start with the non obvious to some again, which is the, the sound design and the, and the structure of that. Um, Chelsea, who I mentioned before Chelsea Davis, when, when I've seen her talk publicly about the show, one of the things that she's mentioned is that what makes it work, uh, the sound of this, all it is restraint. It, you know, like you said, maybe too many Allens in an episode <laugh> and here and there, you might have to attack someone like Nick back, but for the most part, he seems to strike that right balance between not enough and too much. Why is restraint something that matters to actually convey that feeling? Why does that nail it sort of like a Goldy locks approach?
Speaker 5 00:17:21 Yeah. Well, restraint, I think is the key in, in anything like this, it's having those really, you know, the creativity of the whole thing comes from the parameters that we set, you know, and say, okay, well this is what we're gonna do. And this is all we're gonna do. I think, uh, a podcast like this, especially where you're trying to play on suspense and terror, it has a lot more to do with what you, what you don't describe and what you don't see. Really the challenge for me is always, I always like those episodes. We had one called the Ozark holler early on. And, uh, and I'm always fighting to, to get less details, I guess, of the monster, because you're going to imagine something way more terrifying than I could ever describe really, you know, and that's, that's true of so much that we do on the show, you know, when you're writing something like this and when you're writing for, for sound, it has so much to do with remembering that everybody's seen a sunset, but everyone's also seen some terrible creature, you know, that they remember from their childhood or something, you know?
Speaker 5 00:18:21 So you gotta give them free reign to, to invest this thing that you are loosely describing with all the terrible things they can imagine. <laugh> so, so yeah, there there's a real art to, to less is more here. And I think Nick does a great job with the sound design in terms of keeping it in the background, but really making a huge contribution to the show.
Speaker 4 00:18:43 A phrase I've heard people in production talk about, especially with heavily sound designed episodes, is that occasionally the ear needs a break. Yeah. And so that might come in the form of a moment of pause where there is no sound, there's no speaking, there's no music, there's no sound design. Um, that might come in the form of a tone shift where you move from something somber to something upbeat, or that might come in the form of just, you know, we're gonna continue with just the host speaking and we're gonna drop the music. Um, I think this show kind of brings up another challenge, another need for that break, which is it is ominous. It is something is looming and it's a little, you know, it's scary and there's some, there's low tones being played by the sound. And how do you bring a little levity to that? Uh, you know, do you have to find ways to weave in a joke or just give us a breath? Like how do you think about that, that emotional pacing of it? Oh
Speaker 5 00:19:35 Yeah. Well, we're always trying to have fun and we, uh, you know, we're trying to build a better mouse trap here. We're trying to take, because I found again, just in, in the things I used to listen to and stuff, I found that there, there were really good shows with a lot of variety, but sometimes those are a bit of work to listen to because they were hit or miss and you couldn't really count on 'em, you couldn't keep going back to 'em. And then there were shows that had a degree of the formulaic to 'em where you, you just eat, 'em like popcorn because you kind of know the, the arc, you know, the structure, you know, how it's gonna be introduced and how it's gonna be built up and then something's gonna happen. And then it's gonna let you back out and you can just listen to those over and over again, because there's something about that pattern that just, you know, it it's addictive.
Speaker 5 00:20:23 So what we are, what we're always trying to do is, is find those moments, especially early in episodes where we have little false starts or just funny little things happen, you know, that you can kind of count on so that, you know, like, all right, well, it's truly in the early, in the episode, nothing terrible's gonna happen yet, you know, and, and, uh, it sort of carries you along, hopefully in a, like you said, a way that, that breaks that tension up so that when you get to, you know, a certain point within the episode, you kind of know, okay, this is probably gonna be the real thing because we've had, you know, we've had the, we've had our fun earlier on and the whole premise is so fun anyway, that we're always looking for opportunities to, to keep it light and, and some, some episodes more than others.
Speaker 5 00:21:04 But, um, we try not to hurt too many people in our episodes. We try to have a lot of fun. We try to, you know, try, try to throw some scares in there. Um, and, and I think kind of break the mold too in modern day terror and modern day horror, you know, podcasts and movies and everything. A lot of people are really going for going for broke when it comes to, you know, going violence. And, and we, we, don't not because we refuse to, but just because I feel like there's more, there's more to be mined from, uh, from fear, you know, rather than, you know, rather than just kind of cheap, cheap thrills,
Speaker 4 00:21:47 Let's go to the next clip. So in this clip, the ship has now caught fire. And for the first time, for the first time you get a look at this, this terrifying creature, they call colossal Claude let's
Speaker 5 00:21:58 Play. And I say, I say, hold on. I say, we don't hurt people, but I guess we do wipe out a whole crew of people on this ship. So there you go.
Speaker 4 00:22:07 You're really in a, in a godlike Omni role
Speaker 5 00:22:09 Here,
Speaker 7 00:22:17 The fire on the ship is spread in spite of the rain and by its light, you see a movement in the water beside you that draws your eye. And there's the head of the creature of colossal claw rising slowly from the sea beside you water gushes from between the long fangs of the mouth, as it slowly hinges open, you see the gills on either side of the neck lit red by the light of the burning ship, but you can't see the eyes. The eyes are sunken so far into pits on either side of the head that the shadows hide them completely. You are helpless and your day's brain resigns itself to this horrible site being your last
Speaker 5 00:23:17 <laugh>. That's gotta be the scariest, oh gosh. Use of something named Claude ever. You know, I mean, we were really, we were really fighting the name of that creature, but man, you know, we came through, we came through scary
Speaker 4 00:23:28 <laugh> up next up next on camp monsters, nasty Norman <laugh>
Speaker 5 00:23:32 That's right. That's right, exactly.
Speaker 4 00:23:34 Like it really, it did not lend itself, but you brought it, you brought it my friend. Uh, that's great. When, when you think about writing scripts like that, what I was struck by, in that clip specifically was just establishing a sense of place. And I don't even mean the upfront moments of an episode where you're like putting me physically on the ship and in the water. It's like, there's a, a, like a subsection of that. It's like, we're now moving to this, this part of the stage. So to speak this we're in the water, this has happened. And this is what I see considering it's about a sea monster and it's fictional. How do you like ensure you capture all the key moments? Are you like literally closing your eyes and being like, okay, so if this was gonna happen, then this would happen. Then this would happen then it's cuz it's so you don't leave any details lacking.
Speaker 5 00:24:18 Well, thank you. Uh, I think, yeah. You know, like I it's always that balance between throwing enough details at it, cuz yeah, there's a very clear picture in my mind of what's happening, but I have to also always keep in mind and this is the challenge I think we're always faced with in these scripts and, and we sometimes do a great job with it. And sometimes we struggle where we're trying to, I'm trying to paint that picture, but leave you lots of room to fill in on your own. You know, I mean, I want to say, all right, this is what's happening, but you know, you're seeing what you're seeing, you're experiencing what you're experiencing as this story goes along. And I wanna leave a lot of latitude for that. So it's, it's a balancing act really. But yeah, I, I have a picture in my head of how these things are happening and a lot of times they'll change as a, as it's going along as I'm writing the story and, and telling it to myself in my head, you know, it'll just, something will click and it says, oh, you know, we're in the water, obviously this is what's gonna happen next, you know?
Speaker 5 00:25:10 Or like, oh, not to no spoilers, but when the mast falls and kind of saves you as the, you know, as the person for a, for a while, that just, that's the kind of thing that I wasn't necessarily sure that was gonna happen until we're in the water with the creature. And then you say, oh, wait a minute. That's what, obviously that's what's gonna happen. You know, <laugh> so,
Speaker 4 00:25:29 Um,
Speaker 5 00:25:29 You know, so yeah, it's, it's fun. That's part of the fun of this is, is getting a chance to sit down and, and hammer these things out and take the ride, take the ride with the listener, you know, and say, oh cool. This is, this is gonna be a lot of fun.
Speaker 4 00:25:42 Right? One of the things I noticed about the script or the way it was performed anyway, was the pauses in between details, which, you know, for a show like this does let the sound design carry the, the weight and be effective, I think. But even if there was no sound design in a given show, I find that with audio, like I, I had a friend tell me this about my public speaking once. And she was like, you speak quickly, don't slow down, cuz you'll sound unnatural, add pauses in between the points you're making, because it lets the audience catch up. And I think moving from a stage to radio or podcasting, there's no visual. So you aren't tracking anything but the voice. And so I think it's even more crucial that the host bacon little pauses, because the audience is just slightly behind what you're saying, as they turn words into visuals, into meaning that's a little nuance. I love about scripting and performing a script on audio. What are some of the other things you can tell us about such a heavily written show? Cause I think people listening, even if they don't script, you know, everyone's written stuff in their lives, but I do find that it's a different kind of writing when you write just for audio.
Speaker 5 00:26:51 Yeah. And it's a challenge every week in and week out in terms of the things you put on the page that are so good on the page and then you read it and you say, oh man, we're getting, we're getting bogged down here. You know, that's, that's what tends to happen or, oh man, we're, we're actually not giving this enough. You know, we need to, like you said, linger on this just a little bit longer so that people can kind of really get a feel for it. And, and you, that's part of the kind of rewrite and rerecord process. And we don't have to do a lot of it just because, you know, we've, um, we've done this for a couple seasons now and we're getting better and better at, at identifying those things as we read it and kind of read it in voice in a way and read it in your head so that you're thinking, okay, this is how it's gonna sound.
Speaker 5 00:27:32 But there's still a lot of those moments where something that reads so good on the page, you don't want to get rid of it. And then once you record it, you think, ah, you know, it's just, it's not, it's not working, you know? So there is that disconnect and it's, that's, you know, that's part of the challenge. And part of the fun of coming back to this is saying like, oh yeah, just cuz it, yeah, I'm always struck by how the things that you write in the script that you really love when you get in front of the mic and then you listen back, you think, ah, you know, that, that reads great, you know, but it, uh, it doesn't, it doesn't do the same thing for the imagination that it does on the, on the written page. You can read that and it takes your imagination right there. But when you listen to it, it's, it's just not the same. So that that's part of, you know, my hobby background in, in radio theater and kinda the old time stuff, something that they had a little more experience in and I'm always kinda learning from them in a way about what to leave in, what to leave out, you know, as, as we're making these,
Speaker 4 00:28:26 I find that like, you know, shorter sentences when you're scripting, cuz you, you tend to run out of breath, you know, not, you're not running out of out whatever. What is the breath visuals of what's the breath of your eyeballs visuals <laugh> yeah,
Speaker 5 00:28:38 There you go.
Speaker 4 00:28:38 You're not, you're not running out. Like you can, you can read a long sentence albeit they can drag on and that's dangerous, but there's something about performing a script that I, you know, I find shorter sentences, how are helpful, uh, a plainer way to describe it. Like it's still vivid, but it's not as flowery as when it's written to be read, you know, written to be spoken. You're not gonna say, you know, uh, oh, I don't know what a good example would be. Like there's some English lit or, you know, high scoring words that you probably wouldn't use right. In a script. And you know, what plagues me is when I write my style of writing sort of came up with the early blogger sphere, like a lot of sports writers in particular. Right? Cause I wanted to be a sports journalist who would write very colloquial style as different from print style when they moved online. And, and I kind of grafted that onto my writing. And part of that was, you know, whether it was a columnist like bill Simmons or Rick Riley, there, there was a lot more parenthetical asides. Right. And I find that those really kill momentum if you're trying to like get the listener to carry multiple points in their mind at once, forget about the comprehension is shot.
Speaker 5 00:29:49 Yeah. No. And there is a, there's a pattern and there's a, there's an art to how you have to build these things, like you said, so that you're, you know, you're building the general place and then you're giving 'em something specific in that place that they can focus on and then you're giving them something specific about that thing in that place. You know? So you're, you're, you know, and it's, you know, I liken it to like watching the old, you know, Bob Ross, the old guys that used to paint on, uh, public, you know, public television, where at first you could not quite share what's going on, but it gets more and more detailed as you drill into it. And you have to deliver all that in a certain way that like you said, is digestible by the mind so that somebody can right. Walk into it and say, oh, okay, here's now we're in the desert.
Speaker 5 00:30:30 Right. Got it. I see that little Bush in the desert. Okay. Well, what's weird about that. You know, that little thing out there, you know, and that you're taking them along for the ride and there is, there's a, there's an art to it. And also I'll say at this point in our, in our process, I am not, we're not restrained by grammar anymore. We don't worry about the way that it looks on the page. We have little shorthand that we use for some of those pauses and for the way we're going to do deliver the sentences.
Speaker 4 00:30:58 Oh, like what?
Speaker 5 00:30:59 Well, I mean, just the way we use dashes and sometimes slashes, we use paragraph breaks, we'll use dot, dot, dot, you know, to kind of indicate certain places where we're gonna trail off and then resume. And we all in the production, we all kind of know, you know how those are gonna sound. We didn't really yeah. Sit down and say, okay, this is how we're gonna write this. But I, I started writing it that way because I, we were delivering it that way. And now as we read it, that really helps us with some of our longer sentences because we don't necessarily, you know, as you're describing something, you're don't necessarily stop new subject object action. It's like, well, okay, it's gonna be part of the previous sentence, but there's gonna be this break and here's how we're gonna indicate it. So we don't write it. You know, if you read our scripts and I think we post 'em online, they, you know, they, they have a lot of little dashes and a lot of little dots because we're telling ourselves, okay, we're gonna break this up. We're gonna tell it in a certain way.
Speaker 4 00:31:53 Right. I, I think about even just the way you introduce details, like you said, it's sort of like, we're here in this place stop. Do you see that Bush stop? It's weird. Stop. Like, and so, you know, I might, I might write a sentence like, uh, I don't know, a former radio drama, hobbyist and performer west Davis is now the host and writer behind a show from REI, the, the apparel company called camp monsters. Like I might write that and you'd read it. No problem. It'd be so smooth. Right. But saying that out loud is so convoluted and hearing it is even worse. So yeah, a former, you know, you know, I might say about myself, a former sports journalist J is now X, Y, and Z. But I have to say I'm a former sports pause. And so, but today, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Speaker 5 00:32:43 Yeah. And you get better at it with time. I'm sure you listen back to your old episodes. Like, gosh, I'm really, I'm really running on there. You know, whereas now you understand, you've listened to yourself enough that you say, okay, this is how we're gonna do it. And that's the other part is listening to yourself, cuz there's always that natural reaction when you listen to yourself like, oh man, um, is this, this is work, you know, but <laugh>, you know, we make a, we have to do it, you know, and we make, you know, I make a real effort and say, okay, we're gonna sit down. I'm gonna sit down with every episode that we've done and say, all right, well, this is what works and this is what didn't and let's, you know, try to make it better next time, you know? So you have to kind of get over that reluctance you have about just, well, I just wanna make it and put it out there and forget about it. You have to sit down with it and say, okay, I'm gonna live with this for a second and try to try to get better from
Speaker 4 00:33:27 It. The analogy I'd use just to kind of put a button on these points is when you're writing for someone else to read it, you can kind of hand them the whole meal and they will tuck into it. As they see fit, they might eat it as you expected. They might go back to other things and dance around. But you know, here it is, I've written this have at it. I feel like with, with radio and audio and podcasting, you have to hand them the meal, but then sit down next to them and start spoon, feeding them a little at a time. Or at least the analogy I would use.
Speaker 5 00:33:58 Yeah, exactly. Or at least point out the things that are gonna be really good. You say, oh yeah, the mashed potatoes are nice, but Hey, have you tried the steak cut into that? Look how that good. That looks, you know, I mean, you gotta give 'em a, you got, you gotta give it to 'em exactly. In a certain way.
Speaker 4 00:34:23 Let's go to the third and final clip. So in, uh, as we proceed in the same story, miraculously, yeah. We've survived the ordeal with Claude. It's a miracle you're alive. Somehow.
Speaker 5 00:34:34 How anybody, anything with Claude? I don't know. You know, Claude don't send shivers up my spine. Yeah.
Speaker 4 00:34:40 Nobody, nobody has really, uh, lived to tell a tail, uh, because, and, and that's why we don't really know where Claude is. Right? Obviously all these monsters, what do you call them? Crypted. All these crypted. Yeah, there you go. Crypts. They claim their victims and that's why we can't find them, but it's a podcast. So you can do it however you want. So miraculously you've survived the ordeal with Claude, but somehow you've ended up at a different time together.
Speaker 5 00:35:04 Magic magic of podcasting. You know, we, we can control those things.
Speaker 4 00:35:09 <laugh> well, let's hear the clip.
Speaker 7 00:35:12 You are half carried down. Endless hallways made of metal lit by fixtures. You've never seen the like of
Speaker 7 00:35:21 You're given hot food and drink and a warm bunk and warm clothes. When you awaken you meet the crew, a wide mix of nationalities, which you're used to as a sailor, but most speak some English. And you find that a few of them can understand the bits of Malay. You remember from your voyages and Batavia waters, they're amused by your tentative, wonder the size of their vessel. And they tell you that it's quite small for what they call, uh, container ship. They tell you the date and twice you ask them to repeat it. The fact that it should be October is impossible. Since the Olympus that you were aboard, went down in March and you know, you could never survive so long. But the thing that truly gives you pause is the year 2021, which the crew say is 2021. And you grow quiet at that and cautious something very unexpected is happening here. And you can't quite decide whether the fault is in you or the world around
Speaker 5 00:36:42 <laugh>.
Speaker 4 00:36:44 Uh, why do you love that moment? I love the cackle there. Why do you love it?
Speaker 5 00:36:47 I just, uh, I love it because <laugh>, I love it because we can do anything we want, you know, and, and it's, it was our first experiment within this podcast and this podcast world with, with time travel, but I really wanted to do it. And it's just fun to be working in a, you know, in a medium and on a show where you say, Hey, wait a minute, hop enough. We just travel in time. <laugh>, you know, it's, uh, it's, it's very freeing. It's a lot of fun. And in every season we tried to do an episode. We did the mole episode in season two, which is kind of about the mole people, you know, that live, live underneath New York. And, uh, and then that one, we, you know, really took the listener and said, okay, you're gonna be in this story. You know, you are gonna be a part of this story and we do something similar here. And it's just, that's just so much fun. I mean, I really, I really love listening to it. <laugh> that in Botta waters, you know, that was, uh, that's, that's a shout out to old Joe con uh, Joseph Conrad there, but <laugh>, I just, I just love, I love what the, what we get to do. It's so much fun
Speaker 4 00:37:46 When you head into a script like this, do you have a sense that this is something you're gonna try? Like, is the arc easier, uh, or even planned episode to episode because you know where it's heading or are you discovering it mid-proces
Speaker 5 00:37:59 Oh, definitely discovering it. Mid-proces, especially with something like this, what we were doing, doing something we hadn't done before, you know, in any of the seasons where we're going to carry one character and that character's gonna be a listener and it's going to start, you know, in the, in the dim past, and then suddenly jump right to the present sort of thing, you know? So, uh, but it did make it easier because it was, um, it was so fun and original and it was let the idea carry the idea carried that whole episode, you know, I mean, just wanting to get to the next thing and find out how it was gonna turn out, you know, kind of wrote itself. And it was a lot of fun to write and a lot of fun to, to perform.
Speaker 4 00:38:37 Is there any kind of story structure or sort of like, you know, typical structure to an episode that you break from, or, you know, are you walking in with a blank page every time?
Speaker 5 00:38:46 No, I do try to, like I said, I try to make, I try to follow a formula just because I think that the limits of that are actually beneficial to creativity. And also, because I think that if you have, uh, a story arc that you follow, then people will tend to just let the episodes play. There's something about that familiarity that, that really brings you back. It keeps you coming back for more. I think at least it's always been true of, of myself because it's, uh, you know, you know, you know, what's gonna happen, you know, how it's gonna go it's the mystery is in the substance is in every, you know, every episode doing it a little differently and giving you something a little bit different, taking you some different place. This one was a bit of a break. And like I said, we, you know, we mix it up here and there and we try to try to try to change things up.
Speaker 5 00:39:32 But usually we kind of have that sort of, we introduce our characters where they are, what they're doing, and then things start to get strange. And then usually you'll have a little bit of a false climax, which we used to use for an ad break, but found out people didn't like that. It took 'em outta the story. So we dropped those ad breaks and then we would take it onto a real climax where you have some kind of encounter with the creature or some other very strange occurrence in the, the run out either to escape or oblivion, depending on how we, uh, how we feel that day. Oh,
Speaker 4 00:40:03 Wow. Oh, wow. Well, I guess people are gonna have to listen to this episode to understand cuz we're not gonna play it here. No spoilers with the colossal Claude episode, do you run out you escape or do the head to oblivion, so you you'll have to listen to figure that out. Right. What has been the reaction and what do you hear from listeners or people because you know what, I'm partly, what I'm fascinated by is with the show is that you are taking existing source material and then telling stories. It's almost like fan fiction about these crypted, you know, like in, in a way there's some people that, you know, I could imagine you have the historians and the purists, and you have the people who like telling stories like this, and you have people that just become a fan of the show and then you have REI super fans. Like there's a lot of passion in lots of different ways in the audience that you might be speaking to. So what's the response been?
Speaker 5 00:40:49 You know, it's been overwhelmingly positive. I don't know. Uh, I mean, you know, you always have people that, like you said, say, wait a minute, this creature has never been documented doing this or, or doing that, you know, kind of the purest who say, you know, oh, well, I don't know either that's really legitimate or is that, you know, is that really the way it happened, but uh, most people really just enjoy the ride and they seem to wanna have their, their local creatures. You know, we've gotten some good ideas from listeners, right, again, and saying like, Hey, you should look up, you know, this, this creature in our area, sometimes things you'd never heard of, sometimes things that you can't even really find much mention of online where it's just like, what really? And then we have to do a little bit more digging and, and, uh, and try to find more stories of these, of these local creatures, because it's so interesting when you get down to the, the local folklore, there's a lot of things floating around out there that, you know, I don't know where they come from, but there's a lot of material out there.
Speaker 5 00:41:44 And a lot of, a lot of stories to tell. And so you, you have such a wide variety. You're never gonna please everybody, because some people have their own existing ideas of what this creature was supposed to be like and about, but most of them are willing to go on the ride with you and kind of say, well, let's accept this telling of, of this particular creature or this story this time, you know, and just see where it takes us, but it's been a, been a great, great reaction. We've got a really great fan base that kind of keeps coming back to it. So we appreciate that and try to keep bringing the goods for 'em
Speaker 4 00:42:24 In our last segment, we don't play a clip, but rather look ahead, what's something you'd like, try to reinvent the show, to keep yourself excited to delight the audience. What's something you wanna try on this show that you haven't done yet.
Speaker 5 00:42:37 You know, I want to get more into, and we just started scratching the service on it. But, uh, not just because we're, you know, not because we're running out of crypted, there's still plenty of like crypted to do, but I would like to expand a little bit more into kind of hauntings and things like that, just because there's so much cool material that you can use. And, and so many ways you can challenge yourself in terms of presenting frightening things that aren't necessarily tied to a physical creature, you know, more like more like a phenomena and things like that. And also just from a structural standpoint, I want to keep playing with, you know, we try to change the delivery, change the form to change something about the way we make the show every year. And there's just a couple, a couple, you know, little, little tweaks that I want to try next season and season following in terms of trying to, trying to bring the excitement right to the viewer right away.
Speaker 5 00:43:27 I mean, the viewer, the listener, uh, right away and really, and really, um, find a, I find a really good way in the early in the episode to give 'em a little taste to get 'em queued up on what what's going to happen on the, the action that they're going to, to find out about because we spend time sort of building up to, to the terror in a way. And, and that's great if you've, um, you know, if you give it the time to listen to it, but I think there's, there's some effective ways that we can kinda let everybody know up front, Hey, it's gonna get scary here.
Speaker 4 00:43:54 The show is camp monsters from REI co-op studios. It is incredible. I've been tracking it for probably longer than any show that this is like the longest delay between me admiring a podcast and the podcaster coming on the show. So we're
Speaker 5 00:44:07 Just,
Speaker 4 00:44:10 You're running around chasing monsters and that's right. Thank you. So
Speaker 2 00:44:25 This episode was produced by Stewart barefoot and our music was created by Tyler. Litwin my work, including my narrative podcast, unthinkable stories to inspire creativity can be [email protected]
. Three clips is a Casto original series. Casto is a software company that believes what I believe about podcasting. It's about going deeper. It's about exploring meaningful things to your audience in a way that few other forms can do. And so they provide tools for podcasters to do all the basics like host distribute and measure the success of your podcast. But they've also recently developed a suite of tools to help you create a private podcast. So whether you're a marketer communicating to the team internally, you're an internal comms leader, or perhaps you're a creator. Like I am, who's trying to build a, a career based on your audience and your art and your relationship to that audience. While you can create a private podcast that helps you both drive revenue, or at least build a subscription based audience, you can learn [email protected]
. That's CAS, ts.com. All these links are in your show notes. And now our bonus segment, every episode we ask our guests for a podcast they'd recommend that is not at the top of the charts, a show they wanna show some love to we call this segment, play it forward.
Speaker 5 00:45:45 Well, like I said, I don't really come from a background in podcasting. There's a million excellent podcasts that everyone should listen to. I'm just not, not qualified to really pick and choose, uh, you know, amongst them. So what I would say is go back and listen to some of the, uh, of the old time shows things like the, the black museum, Orson Wells, old show, quiet, please lights out. Some of those kind of shows that, uh, you know, they really put great production quality into back in the old days and great storytelling. You know, I know that's a little bit of a cop out, but by God, that's what I'm gonna really, really push for here, because I think there's a lot of material and a lot of great lessons to be learned from those. And they really, they really did it right. And no one's ever gonna be as good as horse and Wells, all my little pauses and things, you know, I mean, I, I steal that from him, you know, but, but some of these guys were just so good at what they did guys and, and people <laugh>, some of these people, um, men and women both delivered it, delivered it so well back in the old days that it really works to kind of go back and, uh, and take inspiration from that.
Speaker 5 00:46:45 And because, because there's a lot, there there's a lot, there's a lot to be found.
Speaker 2 00:46:54 All right, that's it for this episode, I'm Jay Zo and I believe making meaningful work is not about who arrives it's about who stays. So thanks so much for staying with me and I'll talk to you this coming Monday with a brand new episode of the show until then keep making what matters. See ya.