The Mystery Files Audition Session

Today, it’s the premiere of another episode of our old time radio show, THE MYSTERY FILES. It’s our new annual tradition for Halloween. Each year we’ll be doing an different episode of THE MYSTERY FILES. We provide all the voices, male or female. We even make it sound like it was recorded in 1935. Throw in a campy script, sound effects and a noir-sounding theme song and THE MYSTERY FILES is on-the-air terrifying you right back into the great depression!

Join Inspector Hatch and his wife Evelyn (who he married shortly after the events of “Episode 6: Nightmare At Sleepy Creek“) as they travel by train to a remote jungle resort to attend a fancy party featuring the world’s most exquisite jewels and gems. On the way they meet the resort’s owner and the coordinator of the gala who unveil a mystical jewel said to carry an ancient curse. Anyone in possession of it, is hunted relentlessly by an evil jungle creature.

When a tree blocks the train tracks and one of the crewmen is killed by an unknown beast, the group quickly realizes the legend of the old curse is true! Now they must race to the hotel to call for help with some… ‘thing’ in close pursuit. Will Inspector Hatch and Evelyn escape the ‘jeopardy in the jungle?’ Find out here.

October 27, 2014 Who Asked You?

THE MYSTERY FILES Script

Your name is Sam (man or woman), you’re a fireman on a 1930-something locomotive chugging through a tropical jungle. Something pushed a tree over and it’s fallen across the tracks. The engineer slammed on the breaks and stopped just in time. Everyone aboard climbs off the train to have a look at the tree and possibly what could’ve done this. Whatever knocked the tree over is now watching you. You can clearly hear it moving through the bushes, breathing heavily. It doesn’t sound friendly and is definitely not human.

Now that you know your motivation, enter THE MYSTERY FILES “Talk On” Role Contest. It’s your chance to deliver Sam’s only line of dialogue using your best acting skills. Record yourself saying the line:

“I don’t like the sound of that. Lets get out of here!!!”

Do an accent if you want, be creative. Just make sure there’s no noise in your background and your microphone level is at a good setting. After recording, enter your first and last name and a valid E-Mail address we can reach you at if you win.

Speaking of winning… we’ll choose our favorite submission and the winner not only gets their entry used in our old time radio show on October 24th, but they will also get a signed copy of the episode’s script and a vintage Who Asked You? poster! The contest ends October 16, 2014 so hurry and ENTER HERE.

October 13, 2014 Who Asked You?

360 North AE Project
After about seven years, the 360 North network in Alaska is finally getting a fresh, new look. I’ve been summoned to once again create the on-air look and feel. In the coming months 360 North will be upgrading their video servers and overhauling their website, so this was the perfect opportunity to upgrade the channel branding as well.

The 360 North television service is a 24/7 network featuring programming about and of interest to Alaskans. The network’s signal originates from KTOO-TV in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau. During the state’s legislative session, 360 North becomes Gavel Alaska and provides C-SPAN-style coverage of legislative proceedings. When the channel first launched back in 2007 I was tasked with coming up with its on-air look. Since it was a brand new service everything had to be designed, including the 360 North logo.

360 North station ID

360 North station ID from 2007

It took around a dozen different designs before I crafted the above logo to KTOO’s desired specs. The original graphics package included a dozen or so station IDs featuring different scenery from all around the state, fullscreen backgrounds, promo overlays, lower thirds, menus and more. It was an SD project and is currently still being used.

But that’s all changing soon! I’m excited to be working on a new look and have been thinking about it for quite some time. The new graphics package will be HD and much more streamlined. It’s a clean modern look that will bring 360 North up-to-date while making it easy for staff there to maintain the look and render their own station IDs as needed and create custom program titles for special recordings in the @360 Studio. Gavel Alaska is also getting a graphics makeover and will borrow a good portion of the overall 360 North design to tie the brands more closely together. I’ll be sharing the final design here on my site after it hits the air up there!

October 1, 2014 Gigs, Shop Talk

Ben & Jerry's Candy Bar Pie

If you read my last review of Ben & Jerry’s new ‘core’ flavors, you’d know I wasn’t a fan of them (with the exception of the Peanut Butter Fudge Core). That’s why I was quite happy when I shoveled Candy Bar Pie into my face.

Introduced in their Scoop Shops in 2013, Ben & Jerry’s decided to offer it in pints for a limited time. I wonder if this is a test to see how well it sells before making it a permanent offering? If that’s the case, I hope it sells well because I really enjoyed it and would buy it again!

The peanut butter ice cream has good flavor to it. It’s not too weak or overpowering. The chocolate flakes are not so thin you can barely taste them. They’re thick enough to add just enough crunch to let you know they’re there. And the chocolate flavor is rich and doesn’t overtake the peanut butter ice cream. I do wish they were a little more generous with the sweet and salty pretzel swirls. They were pretty prominent at the top, but barely existed about halfway down. It could’ve been my particular pint. I think sometimes it comes down to the luck of the mix.

For instance, sometimes you get half of a toffee bar in your Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch (Formerly Coffee Heath Bar Crunch). I imagine it’s a similar feeling an archeologist gets when he or she unearths a new dinosaur bone when your spoon dislodges that giant chunk of chocolate covered toffee.

As I said, the peanut butter ice cream in Candy Bar Pie has great flavor to it. That always seems to be the case with Ben & Jerry’s. Again, if you look at the coffee ice cream in Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch it’s really quite good! I was disappointed when I tried Cold Stone Creamery’s coffee ice cream a few months ago. It was almost flavorless and I remember thinking while eating it that it didn’t taste nearly as good as Ben & Jerry’s coffee flavored ice cream and cost twice as much!

As for Candy Bar Pie, I would definitely recommend it. It’s rich and quite satisfying. But remember, it is a limited batch so don’t wait too long to pick some up. I may stockpile a few extra pints myself.

September 14, 2014 In My Opinion

For those who live and breath the YouTube echo system or just need some sort of visual imagery to look at while listening to us, I’m happy and a little apprehensive to announce Who Asked You? DAILY is now available on YouTube.

Who Asked You? DAILY YouTube Channel

This isn’t the first time Who Asked You? appeared on the world’s most popular video sharing website. I used to upload short highlight clips years ago with a rotating screen of our logo and all the apps we were available on at the time. It became a lot of work to render the videos and then upload them every week so I stopped. Plus, the negative comments YouTube is so famous for having weren’t exactly motivating me to continue posting.

So what’s changed? I’m doing these daily highlight clips anyway for promoting the show on various platforms, and I might as well include YouTube. And the process is automated thanks to Spreaker. With the push of a button, their servers render the video with a simple static graphic featuring the episode title, date and logo and they push it to YouTube for me!

As for the nasty comments? Bring ‘em on! Out of all the comments our videos got, about a quarter of them were mean. That got me thinking. A lot of YouTuber’s dedicate entire videos to reading their negative comments to fans; grammatical and spelling errors all intact. Maybe we’ll do the same. If we start getting all these pre-teen losers doing their usual anonymous shit-talking, I’ll turn it into a segment on our show and have some fun with it.

September 3, 2014 Who Asked You?

It got a little crazy there for a few weeks, but now that things have settled down I can talk about what’s been going on with the podcast. On July 11th, after six-and-a-half years, we celebrated our 300th Who Asked You? episode! We did our usual free-for-all. And we did our usual shots at the start and end of the show — the first of which went down the wrong pipe. Nothing like coughing up a lung live on-the-air.

I made a few changes to the show’s website to coincide with the milestone. They were fairly subtle. The social icons in the sidebar got a slightly new look and a new social button got quietly added. Shhh… our Google+ page was a ‘silent launch’ as I continue to populate it with content. Although it’s a cleaner, less buggy and more modern interface than Facebook, my energy level for trying to build a community on yet another social media platform is virtually non-existent. Besides, there’s no correlation between a social following and the size of your show’s audience. With that said, if you’re interested in circling us, or whatever they call it on Google+, click here.

The show’s logo also got a slight update. It now features a black border to help it stand out better on lighter backgrounds and the glassy sheen is not only flipped the other way, it’s more apparent making the logo look shinier. Ooooooo!

Who Asked You? original and updated logos

As part of our 300th show, I released a number of photos taken of us by my good friend Jim of Jim Swinson Photography. The images were taken while we recorded the 299th show. I realized there were hardly any pictures of us actually doing the show and thought it might be nice to finally give folks a little peek behind the scenes. You can find the pictures on our Facebook page or on TwitPic.

Our multi-million dollar studio

We debuted a new theme song and show intro on the 300th as well. We had used the previous theme for over two years and it felt like a good time to refresh our sound. The new music is great as it includes a number of additional cuts and variations making it more versatile with editing. I think it’ll keep a little longer as the melody is not nearly as repetitive as the old theme.

Along with the new music came a new announcer. We’d been using the previous voice over guy since the show started in 2007. Not being a big fan of change, I debated for quite some time finding someone else. After all, he’d always been the voice of Who Asked You?… besides us of course. In the end, I felt it was the right choice to do so. Since our original announcer had a deeper voice and used a snarky tone, I decided this time, the voice track should sound more casual and lighthearted.

The show’s intro is arranged a little differently too. Before, there was a different open each week featuring funny drops from movies, TV shows and viral videos online. As you can imagine, that was very labor intensive. I wanted to cut down on the workload with some parts of the show (like the intro) as it’s increasing with other parts (more on that next). So the open will change once a month now instead of every week.

Who Asked You? DAILY

The additional work is coming from the production of Who Asked You? DAILY, our new daily highlight podcast featuring short two to three minute clips from each week’s episode released in the morning Monday through Friday. DAILY is strictly a promotional tool. There’s a growing interest in short form content. Stitcher Radio has launched a ‘Short Attention Span‘ section under the New & Noteworthy category. The Omny Personal Radio app based out of Australia specializes in running short podcasts and highlights intermixed with your own music collection to create a sort of personal radio station. And iHeartRadio has a section of their site and app called ‘The Daily Pulse‘ which features highlights from late night talk shows, cable news programs and other shows from around the country. In fact, the original intent of doing Who Asked You? DAILY was to get included in iHeart’s Daily Pulse, however plans changed and we’re told expansion of the Daily Pulse section is on hold. But that’s okay, it’s still available on iHeartRadio in the normal Talk section.

Who Asked You? DAILY on Omny

And it’s on plenty of other services too. If you can only handle us in small doses, look for it on Omny for iOS, Spreaker and SoundCloud. You can also check it out on a special Tumblr site I’ve set up as well.

We’ve also got some new segments in the works which we’ll be rolling out on the show over the coming weeks (maybe months), depending on how quickly I can get them organized and produced as I’m also currently trying to write another episode of THE MYSTERY FILES, our old time radio drama we plan to do every year for Halloween. Last year’s seemed to be well received, and we had a blast doing it too. More on that and the new segments another time. Stay tuned!

August 17, 2014 Who Asked You?

Our Who Asked You? show will no longer be heard on the Swell app because the Swell app will no longer be available. According to Re/code Apple is buying the iOS application for $30-million! Or more accurately, they’re buying the recommendation algorithm Swell has created. As part of the deal the app itself is getting axed and will no longer be available a week from now.

Swell Thank You Page

This is what’s left of the Swell.am website.

So that’s one less place you’ll find our show, but I’m sure other apps will come along in the future. It’ll be interesting to see what Apple does with this new technology. Apparently, the Swell team is taking jobs at the company. I wonder if we’ll see a Swell-like revamp to the Apple Podcast app that doesn’t seem to be a big hit compared to other podcatchers.

July 29, 2014 Shop Talk, Who Asked You?

As someone who works out regularly I, like many others, have a cheat day. The cheat day is less a whole day of cheating, and more a cheat meal. I try and eat a well balanced diet. I stay clear of soda pop, foods that have a lot of trans fats and those with a lot of added sugar. I eat whole grain bread, all-natural peanut butter, salads, lots of fruit, blah blah blah…

The cheat meal serves a valuable purpose: to keep me from going insane. It’s nice feeding your body good, wholesome foods, but sometimes you just want to pig out on something unhealthy. My guilty pleasure? Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I down an entire pint in one sitting. Yeah, I know, that’s a ton of sugar and fat. But I don’t care! Don’t judge me! Cheat day remember?

Recently, Vermont’s Finest introduced a series of “Core” combinations. These pints consist of two ice cream flavors separated by a column of fudge, caramel or fruit running down the center. The idea being that each spoonful can be a different flavor combination.

Peanut Butter Fudge Core

IMAGE CREDIT: www.benjerry.com

As a Ben & Jerry’s fan, having tried just about every flavor they currently make, as well as a few they discontinued and some of the limited batches, I was excited to check out all the Core offerings. Not so excited with the results. Here they are in order of best to worst.

Peanut Butter Fudge Core

Peanut Butter Fudge Core

Peanut Butter Fudge Core was my absolute favorite! You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate. Chocolate ice cream on one side and peanut butter ice cream on the other. BOTH with chunks of peanut butter cups in them. And the core center is a peanut butter fudge. Very satisfying and delicious! Both ice creams had rich flavor and the amount of PB cup chunks was just right! The fudge core had a nice balance of peanut butter and chocolate flavoring and it wasn’t too thick.

Karamel Sutra Core

Karamel Sutra Core

Karamel Sutra has been part of the Ben & Jerry’s lineup for quite sometime, but it got the core treatment. The chocolate ice cream half is filled with chunks of fudge chips. The other half is a smooth caramel flavor. The caramel swirls found in the traditional Karamel Sutra pints have been replaced with a soft caramel core. I liked this flavor as well. The caramel wasn’t overly sweet, which was nice. Although, it didn’t seem to satisfy quite like the Peanut Butter Fudge Core.

That's My Jam Core

That’s My Jam Core

My feelings are a bit jammed with That’s My Jam. The chocolate ice cream and raspberry ice cream with fudge chips is nice, but I’m not a big fan of raspberry because raspberry flavorings always have seeds. I hate the seeds! And the raspberry core in this pint was no exception. On top of that, the core had a somewhat odd aftertaste. A phenomenon I’d find in the next two flavors as well. For the most part, That’s My Jam was fine. But I don’t see myself ever buying it again. Maybe if it were strawberry?

Salted Caramel Core

Salted Caramel Core

In fourth place is Salted Caramel Core. I liked Karamel Sutra, so I liked this one too right? Nope, I didn’t like this one. The salted caramel core was waaaaay too salty. It was so salty it burned my throat. Plus, it also had a similar weird aftertaste I mentioned before. The blonde brownie pieces were too small. They were more like bits, barely big enough to even taste. Unlike the other flavors, Salted Caramel Core only has one flavor of ice cream all the way around, sweet cream. I don’t really like sweet cream ice cream either. So this pint failed to impress.

Hazed & Confused Core

Hazed & Confused Core

And in last place is Hazed & Confused. I was INCREDIBLY disappointed with this one. I had such high hopes for the “Chocolate & Hazelnut Ice Creams with Fudge Chips & a Hazelnut Fudge Core”. I’d seen one website describe the core as tasting like Nutella… I don’t know what Nutella they’re eating, but this tasted NOTHING like Nutella. It was a bizarre chemical taste and an even worse aftertaste. Could it be a bad batch? Perhaps, but that’s highly unlikely. And I know Ben & Jerry’s pride themselves on using real ingredients and nothing artificial, but that’s exactly how this tasted. The core’s gross flavor completely overpowered everything ruining the entire experience. I think the hazelnut ice cream would would work better if it had pieces of hazelnut in it too. Nothing is going to save the core though, except maybe a contract deal with Nutella to use it instead.

So in the end, I would only buy one of these flavors again, and that’s the Peanut Butter Fudge Core. The cores in both that one and the Karamel Sutra tasted pretty good. The other three did not. Lets get rid of them and bring back the recently canceled — and still my favorite — Dublin Mudslide!

April 24, 2014 In My Opinion

December of 2013 the Internet radio station I’d been broadcasting Who Asked You? live on closed up shop. While our live stream was still available on Rocking Comedy Radio, the timing was just right as Spreaker had begun to pick up steam. Along with being able to broadcast live, we could embed the player on our site which had a built-in chat room and it allowed us to get into the catalog of select shows on Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio. It was a no-brainer! Another thing that attracted me to Spreaker was being able to stream on our own time. We weren’t necessarily locked into a time slot anymore. Although we still stream at the same time each week for consistency and because we’re still on Rocking Comedy Radio. But the option to do other streams is there.

Now that we’ve been using Spreaker for a few months, I’ve been able to familiarize myself with all the features and functions. I have to say, it is an incredibly useful service. They’ve thought of just about everything someone could use for producing their own show.

  • You can sync an existing RSS feed which will automatically upload your recorded shows to your Spreaker profile page.
  • You can schedule post times for episodes you manually upload to the site.
  • You can set recurring schedule reminders that go out to your followers so they know when you’re about to go live.
  • They have an easy-to-use mixer console that loads right in your browser.
  • They give you the option and settings to broadcast from stand-alone software like Edcast.
  • And on the mobile side, you can use their apps to broadcast right from your smartphone.
  • On the iPad they offer their mixing console in a special app to broadcast from your tablet.
  • They’re also working on a service that, for $99/year will give your show its own branded app built on their infrastructure.

They also have some pretty nice listening stats that are presented in clean, easy-to-read graphs and pie charts. They tell you how many people listened live, how many downloaded the recorded show and if your show is available on iHeartRadio, you get some statistics of listens on their in comparison to who’s listening on Spreaker.com.

With all that said, there are a few features I’d like to see added. The two main ideas I have involve the embeddable player. I don’t know much about how streaming audio works on the back-end. More specifically the Icecast infrastructure that Spreaker’s streaming is built around, so this may not even be possible, but I’d like to have a player I can embed ahead of time that automatically kicks into “live” mode when we start streaming. Currently, you have to start streaming and then grab the embed code for that live player and paste it into your site.

Spreaker player

Example of the embeddable Spreaker player

For shows like ours that don’t stream 24/7 and like to keep our listeners on our website during the netcast, it’s a bit of a pain minutes before show time to hit “connect” then grab the code and paste it. Now you’re probably thinking, why not just start streaming ahead of time so the live player can already be displayed on your page? That’s exactly what we’re doing. But what do you do during that time before your show starts? Play music? Stream dead air? Currently, we leave the mics on and just chit chat. Sort of a pre-show, behind-the-scenes conversation. But we can do that as we’re on the professional account which doesn’t have time limits on live broadcasting. If you use the free option, you’re limited to 45-minutes of live streaming. So getting that live player embedded early enough on your site so listeners that trickle in before show time can tune in, would cut into that 45-minutes.

When you’re not streaming, or as soon as you turn your stream off, the player automatically defaults to a recorded episode. If you start streaming again (say your connection got interrupted and you had to reconnect), you have to grab the new player code, update your site and then have your listeners hit refresh. But since they can’t hear you live anymore, how can you tell them to do that? The chat room? No, because it’s not active on the player when you’re not live. It just seems like it’d be easier if there was a specific player meant for live streams that can automatically start playing the live audio when it starts.

Now, about that Spreaker chat room built into the player. It’s far too small. It’s confined to the 644×131 dimensions of the player which shows you about three lines of chat at a time. It also scrolls up. New messages appear above old ones unlike a traditional chat. If you’ve got a number of people talking, this can make it difficult to follow along and you may miss some great comments. What I’d like to see is a button on the player that will pop out a resizable chat window. For us, we have our own chat room, but I like to monitor the Spreaker one as well in case someone shows up there. It’d be nice if I could have our chat and Spreaker’s in their respective windows next to each other on my screen.

NOTE: There is a larger chat window available when you’re listening on Spreaker’s website via the player that sits at the bottom of their site. But this doesn’t apply to the embed player.

Spreaker player's chat

The chat area inside the Spreaker embeddable player

This next wish is a little one, it’s not as important as the first two, but would be nice nonetheless. It’d be great if when you manually upload an episode or when you have the RSS sync turned on, if Spreaker could pick up the ID3 show art embedded in the audio file. Who Asked You? has our show’s logo embedded in every episode file so our artwork displays correctly on iTunes and all the apps and directories with which we’re included. But on Spreaker, I’ve noticed after episodes are added, I have to go into the individual track and add the show art to it. It’s not that big of a deal as Spreaker prominently displays your logo on your profile page but it’d be nice if the individual episodes would add the art automatically to give me one less step to do and to keep my anal retentiveness under control.

And if I could rub the genie lamp one more time, I’d like to add a feature to iHeartRadio. Because Spreaker and iHeartRadio are interconnected (i.e. you control your iHeartRadio show content from Spreaker) it’s not possible to make changes to an episode after it’s already been added to iHeartRadio. Here’s how the inner workings were explained to me by a Spreaker rep. You add a new episode to your Spreaker feed and it pings the servers at iHeartRadio which then downloads your show and caches it on their system for playback through their website and apps.

Who Asked You? on iHeartRadio

Our cleaned up iHeartRadio feed

The problem is, if for some reason you removed an episode from Spreaker, it doesn’t remove it from iHeartRadio. Once it’s been added there, it’s there to stay. I have first hand experience with this issue. In the beginning, we were starting our live stream 15-minutes early so the player was embedded on the site in a timely manner as explained above. Once we were done, I’d remove the recording from Spreaker, cut out all that pre-show nonsense and re-upload it to Spreaker. Unbeknownst to me, those episodes weren’t getting pulled from iHeartRadio, long story short, we had a very messy list of shows on the service that included duplicates, some that were labeled “live” instead of with the episode title which we come up with after the show is over, some were missing descriptions and so forth.

Thankfully the folks at iHeartRadio were VERY helpful and cleaned up our listings for us. To prevent mucking it up again, I created a separate channel on Spreaker that’s not on iHeartRadio just for our live show. So my last wish would be to have some sort of iHeartRadio dashboard to log into so I could manage all this myself. Another problem is our show art isn’t updating (as of this writing) on the iHeartRadio app. Along with the new website, our show’s artwork got a slight update to match. If only there were a control panel I could access where I might change the image myself.

So that’s it. Just a few things I’d like to see happen with these great services. Spreaker is so awesome though, we’ll still use it even if they don’t grant my wishes.

April 3, 2014 Shop Talk

New Who Asked You? Website

This past Saturday we unveiled an all-new website for the Who Asked You? show. Our previous design served us well, to say the least. We stuck with it for over four years. It underwent a slight color scheme facelift for our 5th anniversary show, but even though it worked for our purposes, screens have gotten bigger making it look more narrow and wasting a lot of space, Google has gotten more picky with SEO and it was becoming harder and harder to find banners and widgets that fit in the old-school sidebar width that nobody uses anymore, so it was time for a change.

The new design is much simpler. My goal there was to please the search engines with a fast loading, cleaned up site with fewer images to call up. One of the first things you’ll notice is we’ve returned to a color scheme similar to what we started out with. Our original, hand-coded HTML site was black, gray, blue and red. That was followed by the WordPress site that was black, gray, darker gray and white. I facelifted that one and made it much lighter; bright blues, light grays and whites. Well, as you can see we’re back to our dark origins. I think it suits the feel of the show anyway. We get pretty demented. We’re now down to one sidebar that is much wider and more widget and ad banner-friendly. You’ll also see six icons at the top for the most important links including Amazon and our social media pages.

Who Asked You? Drop-Down Menu

One of the biggest changes you’ll see is in the Show Archive. It’s now divided up by year and you can jump to any of them from a drop-down menu. Before, the Show Archive page was one loooooooooooong page containing every single episode with its blog post. This, will also help cut down on page load time but more importantly, it makes it easier for listeners to browse around the archives and find the oldies they’re looking for.

Who Asked You? Listen Anywhere! Page

If you listen to the show regularly, you know that we have pretty good distribution. We’re on so many apps and streaming services I had to put them all on their own page. The “Listen Anywhere” sidebar box has now become the “Listen Anywhere!” page. Not only can you access our show’s profile pages (where available) by clicking on the logos, but you can also easily access the app stores for ALL the devices these apps are available on using the links listed.

So that’s it… the new Who Asked You? website. I hope you like it, if not, too bad because we’re probably gonna ride this design out for a few years and get some good mileage out of it.

March 4, 2014 Who Asked You?

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