Sound and Fury

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BostonPeng's picture
Sound and Fury

I saw the new show the other day in my podcast app (Amarok) since I subscribe to the Master Feed and snagged it to check it out. I finally got a chance to listen to it today and I have to say I absolutely love it. Mark, I really like that you've created your new audio blog and I appreciate the reason you've started it. I look forward to hearing it when new episodes come out, mostly just to be able to hear what you have on your mind.

I know what you mean about so many podcasts being junk. I had to stop listening to the Full Circle Linux podcast because it just got way too painful to listen to, although I have to wonder how much of it is because I've been spoiled by the level of quality and professionalism I hear on my local NPR station and they've set such a high bar for audio programming. I've also had to stop listening to the Going Linux podcast because the quality of the show is so uneven, especially with the monthly Computer America episodes. (If Larry Bushy is reading this I'm sorry but it simply got too hard to listen to.) I really like the fact that you care so much about the quality of your podcasts that you are finding that your shows are starting to suffer because the passion is waning (although I may not be noticing that much of the change), and as I've listened to EDL and TPT I've never felt you were "calling it in."

Your new podcast has gotten me thinking about doing something similar to S&F but I know that as a former live and recording audio guy I wouldn't be able to get a podcast sounding good enough for my own standards so I won't even go there.

One note about your not caring about political correctness on S&F: Good on ya! As a fellow quote lover I'm sure you're familiar with George Carlin's thoughts on offensive speech (when you live in a country with free speech you're going to get offended sometimes, deal with it) and I'm glad to hear you're just going to say what you feel. Let us have it with both barrels when you feel the need. If we get offended it's not anything you need to worry about, it's us who need to think about why we're offended, especially in our Free Speech loving country.

I just wanted to say thanks for the new podcast. It's already one of my favorite podcasts and I'll be eagerly anticipating each new episode, no matter how long the wait is each time. Have a great weekend!

Peter Kuykendall
Peter Kuykendall's picture
S&F #1 comments

First off, will you be creating a dedicated forum section for S&F, as you have for the other podcasts?  I think it would be useful.

I just finished listening to it.  Here are my impressions.

Music - Normally I love the music that Mark chooses.  He has turned me on to several artists which has provided me many, many hours of enjoyment.  But I can't stand this music.  It's dark and gloomy.  I can understand that because Mark's mood was clearly that way for this first episode.  But it's a turn-off.  If you want a more upbeat sound that also conveys sound and fury and a tale told by an idiot, how about something like "Merry go round broke down"?  Yeah, that's copyrighted, but something more in that genre would be more appealing IMO.

Burnout - Sure I can see why that's happening.  I owned my own business for many years and there were times when I felt the same way.  In particular this happened when we hit a plateau and just couldn't grow no matter what.  Standing at the base of the mountain.  Eventually I discovered that I really didn't want it to grow more.  As I saw it there were 3 phases.  #1 - Tiny.  Easy to manage but won't pay the bills.  #2 - Awkward.  Bigger than tiny, much more overhead due to needing managers to delegate to, but still not enough net profit to survive on.  #3 - Big.  Finally scaled up, throwing off enough profit to live on.  I realized that I didn't have enough funding to get to #2 and even if I got to #3 that wasn't the work environment that I wanted.  Shortly after (late 1990s) I was offered a consulting gig that netted me north of $200K / year with no risk and no investment, so I shut down the business. 

Now I express my passion via charity work, and sleepwalk through my job for cash to live on.  It works for me but only after figuring out that the survival strategy for me in a big company is to be committed to producing results while at the same time being utterly, completely emotionally disconnected.  To care about work in my company is emotional suicide.  You can't make anything better but you can destroy yourself worrying about stuff that the top managers with millions of shares don't care about.  So I reserve my emotions for life outside of work.  it's very unnatural for me to not care about work, I have to constantly consciously give up caring, but it's the only way to survive.  And it works well as long as I'm diligent about it.  Staying committed to producing great results does come naturally so is not a problem.

Perhaps it's time to revisit your dream of podcasting for a living.  If you treat it as charity work then you lose the frustration & mental burden while still being able to express your passion.  As you said, it's an expensive hobby, like charity work is for me.  I'm totally fine with that as long as I'm not expecting it to be something else, like an income stream.

Crappy podcasts / guilt by association.  The crappiness is totally predictable.  As the price of entry gets lower, more idiots jump in.  It's OK, the difference between CB radio and NPR.  Perhaps the only missing link is a decent ratings system.  I like to listen to pro wrestling podcasts.  I've probably sampled 20, and stuck with 2.  The rest are unbelievably bad.  Either the audio quality is bad (phone call to an online podcast service, for both host and guests) (Skype dropouts), or the content is bad (boring), or the voices are terrible.  It seems to me that fixing #1, at least for the hosts, is trivial, via local recording (not doing it shows a lack of commitment to quality on the part of the hosts, which is a major red flag for erosion of show quality generally).  Fixing boring content is hard, but you do that well via your "must work harder" mantra.  Fixing a bad voice is probably not doable, although I'm sure some techniques can be learned to mitigate that.  HPR comes to mind.

I wouldn't worry at all about guilt by association.  If anything, having the competition be so poor just makes you look that much better.  The trick is to get the word out regarding your quality.  I don't know how to do that.

Opening the kimono.  This is the most important aspect IMO.  The only Element Opie shows I listen to nowadays are TTT and S&F.  I enjoy the content of TTT but I equally enjoy the chat that expresses who you guys are.  Don't underestimate the value of that.  TV news in Canada is totally sterile and boring.  American TV news is garbage, but at least you get some insight into the personality of the news reader, which mitigates the content flaws.

I'm looking forward to hearing more episodes.  As always, thanks for creating all this podcast content and running the whole circus that gets it done.

Mark Cockrell
Mark Cockrell's picture
Thanks for the feedback

As always, thanks for listening, guys.  I always welcome feedback.  However, I want to be totally upfront regarding suggestions about this show- I'm most likely going to ignore every one of them.  Pete, I'm sorry that you don't like the music, but I love it.  It's actually my favorite cut of all the music I've played since I began podcasting.  This is the kind of music you'll find in my playlist.  It's dark, it's heavy, it's balls-out, and that's what I like.  So, feel free to skip over the first 45-seconds of each show, but I don't anticipate it changing any time soon.

I haven't done really any promotion of this show yet- no announcement, no new forum, just slipped it into the feed.  It's not that I don't intend to do any promotion, but that I pretty much thought this first episode sucked.  It was whiny and overly self-centered.  Recording it was part of the process, and it's out there for all to see.  I'm not going to take it down, but I don't consider it representative of my best work either.  So, I just didn't make any effort to draw attention to it.  When I do make a forum for this show, I'll move this thread over to it. 

Pete, regarding the emotional checking out at work:  I don't want to live my life that way.  I find my day job moderately enjoyable (though not as emotionally satisfying or mentally stimulating as my 15 years in education), and it's in my nature to give all I am to what I'm doing.  In time, I want to be a full-time podcaster and public speaker. 

I sat in an audience over a decade ago listening to a "motivational speaker" and told myself two things:  1) That's what I want to do with my life. 2) I can do it better than that guy.  "That guy" was probably paid upwards of 5K for the hour he spent in front of us.  I know I have the skills, the talent and the passion to be a full-time speaker and performer, but like any profession one must first pay his dues.  That's what I'm doing now.  I'm laying the groundwork and putting in the hard work of becoming an expert. The challenge is to find the watermarks along the way.  Podcasting isn't like other professions. There are no performance reviews.  You don't get promotions.  There are no certifications to hang on your wall.  The best measure we have (and it's not a very good one) is "how may people listen to you?"  It's kind of a stupid metric, really.  Shouldn't the impact you have on your audience matter more than the size of your audience?  Maybe I'm just old-fashioned like that  The source of my frustration and early-stage burnout is just that there aren't a whole lot of people who care what I have to say.  So... must work harder.

I didn't intend for my forum post to become a novella, so I'm just going to stop typing now.  Again, thanks for listening and I do appreciate your feedback.

Peter Kuykendall
Peter Kuykendall's picture
Careers in public speaking

I can completely see you as a motivational speaker, as well as a technical instructor, and many similar roles.  Maybe podcasting isn't the appropriate vehicle to take you there, I don't know.  Have you researched how other motivational speakers got into professional speaking and rose up the ladder?

I'm glad that you find podcasting fun, because we both benefit from that.  I hope it leads you to the career that you want, but I have no idea if it will.  Keep us posted.  If podcasting turns out to be a dead end with respect to launching your public speaking career, I hope for my sake that you continue to do it as a hobby.  Obviously it won't be a 40+ hour gig, as that leads to burnout unless it is clearly and unambiguously leading you someplace you want to go.  But even if you just did 1 or 2 podcasts per week it would be great for me, and hopefully for you, as a recreational break from your other careers.

You are on an interesting journey.  I appreciate you offering us a peek as you travel along it.

TheLinuxGhost's picture
Sound & Fury

Hello Mark, 

I just listened to the two shows of Sound and Fury and have a few comments.  I agree with Peter about the intro music.  I dislike it and because of that I cannot recommend S&F to others.  I have a very hard time recommending any podcast in general to people because the #1 thing I hear is "But I don't have an iPod.", I briefly explain that you don't have to have one and tell them the easiest way to listen to it.  They are about as enthused as going to the record store and buying a CD and bringing it home then un-packaging it,  putting it in the CD-Rom then playing it....(already way too much work for most people). 

I understand that it's your podcast and you choose your format.  In 2007 I recommended a podcast of Chris Pirillo's to a work friend and at the time Chris filled his web page with tons of coupon codes for books and adverts for books.  The girl I recommended the podcast to went there and scrolled down a few times and seen the book adverts and said "Ohh, it's about books..." and she exited off the page and I tried to explain that it wasn't, but she was dis-interested in me talking about Chris any further and never seen any of his video's etc.   I emailed Chris and explained this to him in hopes he may improve his web site.  Chris wrote back with two words, "Her loss".   Unfortunately most podcasters share this motto of "It's my podcast and I'll do it my way only, thank you". 

I like the content of S&F and just on that alone rate it at 5/5 stars, but because of the intro music have to give it 3/5 stars.  The intro music doesn't invite people to want to listen to it and has nothing to do with the content.  After that somewhat negative rant, I do have to say that I like many of the podcasts on Element Opie and they are 2nd to none in my opinion. 

I can see you doing an excellent job on being a motivational speaker, you have a great voice that commands attention.

Good job on S&F overall, just change the intro Mark :)

Mark Cockrell
Mark Cockrell's picture
Catching up

Hey, guys.  Just wanted to catch up on my responses to this forum.  I always read forum posts as soon as, or very shortly after, they're posted, but I don't always respond right away.  Usually because I'm reading them on my phone while in the car or (shh, don't tell anyone) at work. 

Pete- With regards to podcasting being the vehicle to a career in public speaking; I have no clue.  Right now, it's something I enjoy doing, and others seem to enjoy it, too.  As long as both of those things are true, I'm in.  Sound and Fury in particular, however, is an exercise in perfecting the long-form monologue.  Over the last dozen years or so I've honed my skills in moderating a discussion in many ways.  I think I'm pretty good at that.  Over the last three years of podcasting I've been able to develop my voice as an interviewer.  I still have some work to do in that area,but I think my tool-set is solid.  What I haven't done much of, though, is the long- form monologue. 

Radio hosts, comedians, preachers and certainly "motivational speakers" (I hate that term, by the way) are required to have a certain amount of skill with the one-man narrative. What I'm finding is that there is both an art and a science to it- mapping intensity, pace, inflection so that the audience neither checks out, nor burns out.  There's a structure which underlies any such speech, and the great public speakers seem to have an inborn ability to build it.  I'm trying to master the lost art of the "stump speech," where you have nothing more than your voice and your wit to keep your audience engaged and interested. Sound and Fury is my foray into that art form.  It's my playground, my laboratory, my test kitchen- where I perfect the recipes which will eventually serve my career.

LinuxGhost- I really don't care whether you, or anyone else can recommend this show to others.  Please don't misunderstand that statement.  It's not arrogance.  It's not a "her loss" mentality.  It's the realities of workshop or lab environment.  Things here aren't finished.  They're not perfected.  They're not for mass consumption.  Yes, I publish the shows, because having an audience is critical to the process of performing, but as I said before, this show isn't for you.  It's for me. I hope you understand where that's coming from.  I value your input, but that input is only one ingredient in a whole buffet of variables.


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