Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tom Yoder Speaks About His Podcast: Lame Town Review

I like when I get to introduce my friends to other friends and I’m especially excited that you all get to meet my friend, Tom Yoder, producer of the radio show and Podcast, Lame Town Review. Let me simply say that Tom rocks.

Tom is a recovering archaeologist currently serving as the Programming and Media Director at KSJD Dry Land Community Radio in Southwest Colorado. He works tirelessly with other audiophiles, news junkies, and community builders to make KSJD the most dynamic, engaged public media outlet in the world. (Yes, he said the world!) Here is what he has to say about podcasts and public radio.

Lame Town Review is a podcast that I started in 2005 with my best friend Jeff as a means to get music out to the world that I was not allowed to play as a DJ on FCC-regulated public radio. It started out as a semi-monthly review of music with interludes of commentary and clips from cult-classic movies, old commercials, and the pop culture world. Think Beavis and Butthead, Wayne’s World, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and South Park mixed with the freshest new music and older favorites. Jeff and I are both big fans of irreverent humor, satire, and all kinds of music. We featured everything from Steely Dan to Mos Def to Prince Far I in musical mixes that ranged far and wide. It was all good fun, and we even got our friends and neighbors involved (whether they liked it or not). Some of those early Lame Town Review tapings are just a blur in my memory, probably due to the buzz and constant laughter that seemed to permeate those late nights.

Podcasting was still fairly new back in 2005, and it was always a struggle to explain what podcasts were and how to listen to them (unfortunately, this is still a challenge), but given our subject matter, Lame Town Review worked quite well in this underground environment. It was all fun and games for a couple years but took a lot of work editing, collecting audio clips, conducting “interviews”, etc., so inevitably we floundered. By 2007 Lame Town Review podcasts started being produced every 3-4 months, then every 6 months by the end of 2009. The gleam was gone; life was busy.

Podcasting for me is all about a passion for music and putting together what amounts to a mixtape for the world that aims to entertain and turn people on to new music. I had been a volunteer DJ at KSJD, our local community radio station, for several years while working as an archaeologist and producing Lame Town Review on the side. My dedication to KSJD had taken me to a seat on the board of directors, engaging the community in new ways around media and public access to media. I was hungry to podcast more often, but time was scarce with work, family, and volunteer duties all competing. Then in 2010 I jumped at the opportunity to join the KSJD staff as the Programming and Media Director. It was a big scary jump from a 17-year career in archaeology, but it has paid off in ways I never expected.

Working at KSJD has brought me closer to a daily relationship with new music and audiophiles like myself who volunteer as DJs. To maintain airtime as a music DJ while also working behind the scenes at KSJD, I brought Lame Town Review to the radio as a traditional broadcast program on Friday afternoons from 1-3pm MDT(steam it live). My plan was to use a recording of the radio program to revive the podcast, simply using the recording to upload as a podcast each week. But it didn’t work. Two hours is much too long for a podcast (20-30 minutes, the length of an average commute, works best), and I was still hungry to get outside the boundaries of the FCC and restrictions of the newly instituted Millennium Digital Copyright Act. The Internet and podcasting still called to me as the beacon of freedom in broadcasting, and I had to take advantage of that freedom while it still existed.

Lame Town Review is now back as a bi-monthly podcast that supplements the weekly radio show. It has grown up a little bit, but still holds true to the irreverent, satirical tone of its origins nearly 7 years ago. Recent episodes have featured new music from Mayer Hawthorne, Katchafire, and Fleet Foxes, old school hip-hop from De La Soul and the Beastie Boys, and spoken word from slam poet Paulie Lipman. All of this is surrounded by sound bites from physicists, failed news and sports commentary, and ridiculous political observations. I think it works pretty well, and it never ceases to amaze how well these audio clips of cultural ineptitude fit so well with the music and its varied messages.

The world is moving fast towards a decentralized, accessible media environment where blogs, social media, and podcasts are the new standard for entertainment and news. Relationships that were impossible 10 years ago are the norm in this new environment, and I feel fortunate that Lame Town Review plays a role in bringing new music and hopefully some honest laughter to people that I will never meet face-to-face (the latest episode, posted on June 11th, has been downloaded 40 times in the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia so far). If you have never checked out a podcast, I encourage you to do so by searching the many podcast distributors out there such as Podomatic, Podcast Alley, or iTunes. The most popular podcasts are simply companions to established shows from major broadcasters in radio and TV, but I would persuade you to go digging into the so-called “amateur” podcasts like Lame Town Review. What you will find may be surprising, unique, and full of individualism and freedom.

I’ve known Renee Podunovich since I was about 11 years old, when she and my big sister would torture me growing up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Some 29 years later, I am fortunate to call Renee a close friend and inspiration through her poetry, dedication to the arts, and terrific sense of humor."

On Twitter at cannonball71
Subscribe to the Lame Town Review podcast in iTunes by searching in the iTunes Store

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