800 – Sleep via AMA
For this milestone in lulls I answer some common questions about the creaky dulcet tones.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, and all of my Patreon peeps, thanks for keeping the show going Patreon peeps. Are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep? Well welcome, this is Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do with a bedtime story. All you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights and press play, I'm going to do the rest. What I'm going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you can set aside whatever's keeping you awake, whether it's thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, so things on your mind keeping you up, things with your body or your feelings. It could be something else, you know, a lot of different things. Well whatever it is, I'd like to help. Right? I mean, I have this safe place curved out here, set aside.
If you like I could put a bow on it. If you like it, I better put a bow on it, like Beyonce never sang that, but if I was singing a song for Beyonce, where Beyonce shopped, and I was the assistant to the shop keep, I would say, “If she likes it, you better put a bow on it.” If you like bows, Beyonce. I don't know what your feeling on bows is, because we could also put a shimmer on it. We could mark it with a B if you like. I could put some glitter on it, I could put a sheen on it, I could put some matte on it, if you like it. Oh, you like it as it is. Thank you Beyonce. I never had… Oh boy. Man, I mean I'm almost speechless. My brain was telling me, that was my imagination and not the real Beyonce. Okay glad to clear that up. I'm still feeling a little… I'm blushing, I don't know if you can feel that.
But I was saying, if this safe place, if you were to like it, I could put a bow on it. I could even put a ring on it. On a safe place I would say, “Where would I put a ring?” I'd put a ring on it, I guess yeah. Like I'd say, “Okay it's right over there.” If you need a ring. I could put a ring around it too. I could put a ring… You say, “Well I prefer…” You know, I can get in the fetal position in a ring, I'd say, “Oh boy, that's a good idea.” But I'm going to give you as much space as you need. I'm going to send my voice to cross the deep, dark night. I'm going to use lulling, soothing, creaky dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents, imaginary celebrity appearances.
I guess I didn't think that this is the episode in celebration of around when we got to 800. Since I'm recording this ahead of time, saying, “Well, this is right about 800.” We'd have imaginary celebrity appearances. I mean, we have had I'd say like royalty, is Beyonce and Jay-Z to me. In the US, you'd say, “Okay, yeah, I would agree with that.” And also artistically, both of them are influences on me, or more inspirations. I guess this is a sidetrack, but I guess I could be a little bit indulgent since we're in the presence of her greatness. One day I would like to do some unrelated Sleep With Me completed season of a podcast, a Beyonce drop. Like no one knows I'm working on it. No one knows it's complete. And one day the podcast is just there. This isn't a tease, though. That's not happening right now, but that is just a dream of mine.
And so anyway, what am I going to do though? I'm here to keep you company, is really the thing, if you can't sleep, like I said earlier. So if you're new, I'm glad you're here. This'll be the most mundane celebration you've ever heard, because really I'm just celebrating you, the listener, and the way I celebrate is keep putting you to… Keep up the work, Scoots. Keep up that lulling, soothing tones and pointless meanders. And I would say, “Consider it done.” That's what I'm here to do. Now if you're new, you might say, “What do you do here? Or how does this work?” And I'd say, “Well, slowly it works, eventually.” I mean, ideally, really the podcast, you don't even notice it works. You're just asleep and then you wake up the next day.
But if you're new, let me explain a couple things. It is something that you kind of got to let drift in one ear and drift out the other, or look at it in an out of focus way, and just kind of see how it goes. A lot of listeners, I mean over 90% that are regular listeners say, “Hey, it took two or three tries for me to get into the show, or start falling asleep.” And that's not a sales pitch, it's just kind of see how it goes, and see if it works. You know, if you're skeptical, or you're like, “What is this? I don't understand.” I say, that's totally natural, totally normal. Why wouldn't you be? Especially at least say, “Okay, I thought this was a sleep podcast and you're talking about Beyonce.” And I say, “Okay, well the sleepy side of Beyonce, which is tangents, kind of just…” No, like a moving on from it. You're right. It's… So, okay.
Oh, structurally. So if you're new, try to only barely pay attention. That's actually one of the things like a rule, or one of the principles of the podcast. It's a podcast you don't need to listen to. You can kind of listen. You could barely listen. You could generally listen. You could keep it as background noise. You could listen to it at a muffle. Or you could totally listen. You could follow along. Whatever works for you. And regular listeners use it in all those ways, I think. There's also no pressure to fall asleep. I'm going to be here for about an hour. So you just drift off at your leisure. There's no pressure to listen. There's no pressure to fall asleep. I mean, I make a show to keep you company and to take your mind off stuff as you fall asleep. And then if you can't sleep, or you're waking up or whatever, I'm here to the end. I'm here to keep you company to the very end. So just in case, I'm going to be here.
Now structurally what to expect if you're new, show starts off with a few minutes of business, and that's kind of more applicable to regular listeners, because it's really how we just keep the show free and out on a regular basis. So if you're new, thanks for sticking through that. It's more pointed towards regular listeners. And then there's an intro. Now the intro is kind of a show within a show I say, because it's really part of… It's like 15 minutes long, which is long for an intro, but not totally, because the episodes are about an hour. So it's like 25% of the episode. And what happens during the intro is, I try to explain what the podcast is. And don't successfully necessarily ever, always, never do that. And it's part of like an idea around the podcast of a slow journey towards bedtime, a wind down, a comforting descent to getting comfortable and getting settled in, or being part of your bedtime routine.
If podcast is your cup of tea, you'd say, “Okay. I start brushing my teeth. I brush my hair. Use the FURminator on my pets.” I don't know if you have multiple pets. Do you have multiple FURminators? That's a thing to brush my dog's hair, Koa. I have one of those. And so… Oh, what was I saying? Was I talking about… So that's the intro. It's kind of like a rambling. I wouldn't say incoherent, but I just go on and off topic, a friendly setup to ease you into bedtime. Now you can skip ahead. If you're like, “Well, I'm more of a story person. I don't need the intro,” just go ahead and start the show… Well there's two choices, really. You could start the show around 18 or 20 minutes. Or, if you support the show on Patreon, at $5, you get two story only episodes a week, and at 10, you get usually like three depending on the week. So that's a way to get a lot of story content, because that goes all the way back. So a free option, and a option to support the show. So that's the intro, though. Oh. Also, some people listen to the intro to relax, or during a bath or whatever. So that's another way, or the show. So that's just another use case. So that's the intro.
Then there'll be a story. Tonight will be questions that come up about the show commonly. I don't know if I've ever done that as a podcast episode, but people will say, “Scoots, are your legs crossed when you record?” And I would say, “Well, right at this second they are crossed, but not always.” So kind of that's what the episode will be like. So a little bit different, and just something to do right around the 800th episode to kind of celebrate, I guess in a way, that also still puts people to sleep but answers questions. If you like this episode, believe me, I'll put a bow on it. It's already got a bow. Put a ring on it. Whatever you wish.
I mean, if Beyonce liked this episode, I would just name it The Beyonce Episode, even though it has… just in your honor. You'd probably say, “Well, I prefer…” And I'd say, “Well, I could name it something else that's like…” Jay-Z said don't do that. Okay, no problem. Like I could say, “You're right. I won't name it that.” I mean, I might, now that I thought of it. Would you two be comfortable with me calling Sleep With Me, it's the Beyonce of sleep podcasts? Oh no, you consider another… Okay. Wow. What about the Jay-Z of… What about the H to the izzo of sleep is like… No. Oh, okay. Great. Well I mean, you can see why the two of you are so successful, because you use soft… Like even in our negotiations here, you're using soft power, in a way, to continue to make your…
What about something else? I could think of some… Do you two have any secret pet names you would share with me, that I could just name the episode? Then it would be a code. You'd know, “Oh, it's…” Do you mind if I call you B and J? No. Of course not, because I didn't even see how that went together. That was an… I really didn't. Okay. Maybe I should move on. You're right. Thank you for continuing to use your influence in a way that's so comforting, but also establishing… Yes. Okay. Well, it's just I've never had imaginary… Like I've had imaginary famous people on, but I mean not to butter the two of you up. I mean, you're not even A List celebrities. Like they say, “Well, there's the A List celebrities.” I would say if there's a… Is there such thing as a Platinum List? You'd say, “Well no, there isn't.” I say, “Well there is, because that's where I'd put the two of you.” And if you like that I'll put a bow on… Believe me, I'll put a bow… I'll make that in a ring, and I'll put it on the inside of the ring. Okay, no, no. I didn't mean it that… And then I'll put a bow on it for both of you. I'll make two. Don't worry.
Well, thanks for coming to the 800th episode, or around 800-ish. Sometimes I don't get the highlight episodes out till like… Oh thank you, thanks. Good meeting you both. Oh, maybe I should do Sleep With Me Unplugged. You must have known how many times I listened to that… Oh, that was a… Okay, well that was kind of a funny… Thank you. Anyway, good bye. Or, will we be seeing one another again? Maybe. Well yeah, I guess it's my imagination, you're right. Don't forget to get your hands up. Okay, bye. To say good bye. Thanks. Sorry about that, listeners. I just want to, you know. When you're in the presence of greatness, you got to roll with it. Right? Lean in. And really, I learned a lot there. Did you just notice how they were able to say, “Well, no, we'd prefer you do this and that.” So I really respect that.
What I really respect is that you keep coming back to the show. Or you're new, and you let down your guard. You said, “Let me give this show a try.” And I work very hard at the show, because I've been there. I believe you do deserve a good night's sleep. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. And I'm here to help the only way I can, which is to kind of take your mind off stuff and keep you company. Maybe put something resembling a smile on your face. So I'm glad you're here. I work very hard here, and I strive to help you fall asleep. Thanks for coming by.
And here's a couple ways we keep the show going. All right, hey everybody, so tonight is a little bit different of a show. I don't know why I've never done this show before, and why it took me so long. Or maybe you say, “Scoots, you have. Episode 298.” Because I've done these online, but I figured I'd do like a AMA of common questions that come up around the podcast, as a bit of a bedtime story, and use that to soothe you off to bedtime. So I don't know. I hope you like that. I hope it works for you, and I think it will. And then maybe I could also edit this up and actually put those questions up on the website. So I quizzed the Patreons, the people that support the show, help it keep it going, with some questions. And then I also have a bunch of historical AMAs we've done. Also, just in case, just to answer a question right away, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything, kind of like a Q&A. And more actually, it's like an AMA, because with this one I'm trying to stay focused to just on the podcast.
Before we get to the Patreon questions, I wanted to answer a couple of questions I see pretty often. One is, who's in the credits? So I wanted to go through the credits and just say, okay. So the credit song, or the regular credits. The credit song is done by the Mystery Bard, however you spell Mystery, M-Y-S-T-E-R-Y Bard, B-A-R-D, Jonathan Mann. And the Mystery Bard was kind of a nickname I came up for him… came up with is because he was coming to the show to help us do these lulla-jingles for the sponsors, and I thought we'd do a fun way to introduce him. So that's how we came up with the Mystery Bard. And JonathanMann.net, you could check out his music, commission a song from him.
Kenny, Scotty, and Jennifer are on our honor, on our artwork. Also, I say Karl W's a legend, also edits episodes. That's K-A-R-L-W, Karl, who's also one of our editors. I'm already off topic. Okay. So it goes Chris Posty Posterson from Sounds Like an Earful wrote the theme song, and edits episodes, and he's probably editing this episode. What's up Chris? And that's Chris Postal, from Sounds Like an Earful, SoundsLikeanEarful.com. And you could check out all the amazing work he does with music and podcasts. And Chris was the first person to work on the show editing episodes, and he's still with the show. It's a wonderful thing. And then yeah, Karl W, who's not a public… Karl W's a legend, also edits episodes. So Karl W also edits episodes, so kind of we alternate, just because a lot of work goes into the show, and also it's just a matter of the editing is not enough work to be a full-time job, so it's like they're trying to edit the shows in addition to tons of other projects they're working on.
Okay. Kenny, Scotty, and Jennifer are on our honor, on our artwork. So Kenny is my brother Ken. He does artwork for the show now. Scotty and Jennifer are… Scotty, Scott, is the person who did our original logo, and a lot of our original merch, and a lot of the banners you see with the podcast. So most of our original art. Jennifer was Scotty's wife. Now, this is the first story. So once upon a time, when I was just a baby podcaster, and I didn't know what I was doing, Jennifer was a listener of the show, and she emailed me. She said, “Hey, my husband Scott is a really good designer. Maybe he could help you make a logo for the show.” So generous. And she introduced us, and I said, “Hey, I know this is very early days.” And we talked about it, and she said, “I don't know how much…” They were very generous with their time, and I was of course feeling a little awkward and probably anxious about it. Not needed, though, because they were trying to help the show, and give to the show. And then Scott came up with the smiling sleeping face that is associated with the show, and the purples and stuff. And then my brother Ken's been doing stuff for the show.
And then on our honor, on our, O-N, O-U-R, H-O-N-O-R, on, O-N, O-U-R artwork. And that was just something funny I came up with a long time ago. I think it was from StarCraft, they say… I mean, I don't know, there's like Reporting For Duty, that's one StarCraft character that I used to click a lot. They were saying D-U-T-Y, but you could click it a lot and then laugh, because they were saying D-O-O-D-Y, you know, or I-E, whatever. And I don't think any characters said, “On our honor,” but I think someone said something like that, that I thought was on your honor. And then it rhymed with on our artwork. On your honor, on your artwork, I just like how that sounds, and so I started saying it. So that's Kenny, Scotty, Jennifer, on our honor, on our artwork.
Eric and the team at E-stound are on the website. That's Eric, another listener, generous, who said, from E-stound, E-S-T-O-U-N-D is his company. And another person who reached out to me and said, “Hey, I love the show. I'd love to help you with your website.” Very, very generous. I really appreciate Eric and his team. Then the Mystery Bard, who we covered. Mystery Bard…
I don't know what comes after that, but then it's like the noderators. So there's a listener Facebook group, it's not actually a part of the podcast. It was formed by Alexandra and Laura, and it's 100% volunteer listener Facebook group, for people to talk about the podcast. I believe my memory may be correct, but it's probably incorrect. It's like, they both emailed me separately and said, “Hey, we want to start a forum for the podcast,” or something. And again, I've always kind of been just trying to keep the podcasts coming out. So I said, “Well, I don't really… That's just not something I have time to invest in, unfortunately. And these would be one of the things I would be wondering about.” And then I don't know how they got introduced to one another, if I did that, or Alexandra did that, or Laura did that. But then they started this Facebook group, and we kind of worked on the guiding principles together.
And then they found very quickly that Facebook groups take a lot of work, so then there's noderators, like moderators. Alexandra came up with that term. Probably when you hear this, it'll be like, “Well, the current noderators are Stacy, Sarah, Keith, Julie, and Jennifer.” And there's been a lot of other noderators. Laura, who also formed the group, and Alexandra, have been noderators. Summer. I said, like Stacy and Sarah, Keith, Julie, and Jennifer. Those are… There's another Julie. Lida. And they just volunteer their time to kind of help to create the community they want to see.
Also Julie, who's a noderator and early member of the group, was the one who introduced me to the term… She used friends beyond the binary, and I said, “That is what I've been looking for to open the podcast.” So that everyone feels seen and welcome, because it never sat right with me. I was trying to do this old-fashioned, but fun and welcoming intro, and I was like, “What about friends beyond the binary that are listening?” I want everybody to know that this is a safe place for them. And I was constantly wondering, “Man. What is the right way?” And then Julie just used it on Facebook, I think, and I said, “That's it. That's exactly…” Like ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, that's exactly the opening for the show. So Julie was the one who guided me towards that, or showed me by example. So I greatly appreciate that.
Night Vale Presents is our network, and we're also a member of PRX that helps distribute the show. And that's how we keep the show going behind the scenes, is the support of Night Vale and PRX, and people that support the show on Patreon, and support our sponsors, buy the merch, support of the sponsors, you could do anything. You go to SleepWithMePodcast.com, that's what the Mystery Bard says.
So then I think that's it. Then the other term I use sometimes at the intro that people don't know is creaky dulcet tones. It's C-R-E-E-K-Y or something. Dulcet is D-U-L-C-E-T, tones, T-O-N-E-S. And dulcet tones are like silvery sweet tones, that you might hear on a crooner, you know, singing with a big band. Like crooners, like the Silver Tone was a jazz singer that listens to the podcast. He has dulcet tones, D-U-L-C-E-T tones. I, Scooter, have creaky dulcet tones, which is like, it's a combination of dulcet tones and a creaky door into a voice. That's the tone of the podcast. So that's creaky dulcet tones, pointless meanders, credits the show.
The term… Oh, so Dearest Scooter, where'd that term come from? You know, I first started the podcast, I was a little bit like… I had performance… I had never done this before, and my C-R-I-T-I-C was really thinking about this, and saying, “What are you doing? You're not a podcaster. You're not a radio person. You're doomed.” So I said, “How am I going to get this podcast if I keep… How am I going to…” Just like when I'm trying to take your mind off stuff, I was trying to take my mind off of stuff. And I said, “Well, what if we have a stage name?” My critic said, “Huh.” And he said, “It kind of wouldn't be…” It would just be for fun, but also I was like, “What are people I work with going to think? What if someone goofs on me, and that takes my enthusiasm out of making the show?” So I said, “It would at least cover us from people saying, ‘Oh, you started a podcast?'” Something like that. Or, “Silly podcast to put people to sleep, huh?”
So that's how I said, “Okay, let's use a stage name.” And the name Dearest Scooter was something I had tested out on another project, where I was imagining if, this was a stretch, but Scooter Libby was responding to Dear Abby columns. Because I think she would usually close her things with dearest something, and I thought… He was not as nice, he definitely was not, but I liked that thing, Dearest Scooter, very nice and calming. And so that's where that came from is, just I liked how it sounded. It sounded relaxing to me, and it gave me a little bit of extra space to be present and do the show.
Another question that comes up a lot of times is the voice of the podcast, how it's changed, how it's different. I mean, the podcast is always evolving, because I listen to the show a bunch of times, mixing it and getting it ready for release, and after it comes out, to ensure it's the highest quality. And also we're constantly getting feedback. So it's like, the show always is evolving in a very minuscule way, like over time, over 7-800 episodes, you see, okay, it's evolved much more. Maybe this'll be the 800th episode, I don't know. So yeah, so the show's kind of just evolved a little bit over time, I guess that answers that. Right? But we've also changed the equipment we've used, and I've also gotten more and more relaxed and comfortable when I'm recording, and just been able to work with the microphone in a way. I don't know.
So the show sounds different than when we started, one because I'm calmer, and I have a little bit more microphone technique. I mean, another thing is, we have a little bit better equipment. We're still kind of on the prosumer end of equipment, just because moving to professional equipment would be a real investment, but also, I don't know, with recording in an apartment, that it would necessarily be worth the investment. And then we've also invested in post production things, just to add a compression, and bring up the volume, and bring down the background noise, make sure there's not a lot of sibilance in the tracks, or the least amount without taking anything out of the audio.
So the voice of the show is always kind of changing, and maybe the pacing kind of changes depending on how present I am, or what's going on outside of the podcast. But also the changing of how people consume podcasts, because one thing that has influenced the show is podcast apps, because a lot of podcast apps will have added smart speed, or silence reduction and things, and that changes the pacing of the show, and it's out of my control. So a lot of times I hear from people that say the show's sped up. Sometimes people will change the speed of the show, but a lot of times that is one of those settings in there that cuts out the silences, or just barely changes the speed of the show, and that kind of impacts the pacing of the show. Which some people also are able to slow the show down, if they like… Okay. So that's like, okay, voice of the podcast. But the whole idea of the podcast is it's a mind body thing. I'm here to keep you company, and to respect your space, but to be close enough to make you feel like I'm here to help. And I want the voice of the show to capture that, I guess would be the thing.
Another question I get that I probably can't totally answer is, how much time does it take to make the show? And the total amount of time it takes to both make the show, and put it out as a free podcast, and all of the administration to do that, and keep in touch with all the feedback we get, and questions, is from my end, like 100 hours a week. And that's kind of been a number that's gone between 90 and 100. And then there's other work that PRX and Night Vale do every week to support the show. But that 100 hours just includes my time and the editors' time. And ideally, I don't know, down the road, it'll be a little bit spread out, a little bit better. But when you break that down, I guess right now it's probably like 50/50. So 40-50 hours a week I spend in production of two, to two and a half episodes… or maybe yeah. It usually takes like 20 hours a week to make an episode.
But that doesn't include the stuff that goes out on Patreon, and some of the other new stuff we've done, like transcripts. And transcripts overall, I use a company to do the transcripts, but the CMS part, the uploading and stuff. So all told like 20-25 hours from start to finish to make an episode, but that's spread over… Like every week, there's different… I'm not working on the episodes that come out that week, I might be finalizing the episodes that are coming out. I'm working on the episodes, like mixing and listening to the episodes that are coming out in the next week or two. And then I'm writing and recording and researching episodes that are going to come out in ideally two to three months. So usually in a given week, I'll spend some of my time writing for an episode I'll be recording that week or the next week, some of the time watching a show, and writing stuff about that that's going to be recorded that week or the next week. Some of the time's doing research related to one or two of those things.
Then usually recording. In a perfect world, I would record seven days a week, just because one, it's muscle memory, and two the podcast, it's just a moving… It's on a conveyor belt. So just like I Love Lucy, in that famous chocolate scene or whatever, there's always stuff in different stages of production, and there's always hiccups in those stages. So if I was recording seven days a week, every day a week, we would have tons of content, because stuff's going to happen. If I plan on recording seven days a week, then maybe I'll record five.
So the way a show's recorded is that one day, I record the thank yous and the intros. So for this episode that I'm doing now, yesterday I recorded the thank yous, the intros, and part of a interview for another podcast. Then today, I warmed up doing some ad reads. Sometimes I'll do those in the day after I do the intros, and then I'd record this episode. Because recording the episode portion, usually those are like 45 minutes edited. Just sitting down and recording it with breaks, it's like a hour, to an hour and a half to get 45 minutes of edited material, of recording. And so it just works better… It's pretty focused. Yeah, I'm right here with you, right? That's the whole goal. So it works better. In a perfect week, or a regular week that I shoot for, I would record two full episodes, and then an intro or an episode portion. So 2.5 episodes a week, which means at the end of a regular month, I would have 10 episodes recorded.
Which means if one month I'm traveling to a conference, or I have a C-O-L-D, or… I can explain the vacay stuff, but it gives me a little bit of extra recording stuff, or if I'm just not… I say, “Well, I just got really busy with this other podcast related stuff, so…” What I was going to say is, with vacay, with taking time off, I try to… Because again, the podcast is always coming out, I do on major holidays put out all intro episodes. I think we put out six of those a year, so that's three weeks of material. So that means I can take three weeks of personal time a year. It's kind of hard, because I still have to write, and there's still stuff coming in. The podcast doesn't ever stop getting released, or people don't stop… It's such a constant… It's just like a store, or a restaurant. I think someone used that analogy this weekend at PodX. It's kind of like running a restaurant.
What was I thinking? I don't know, I've learned over the years, it's like having those all intro ones on the holidays… What the main thing about vacation means is that I kind of have working vacations. I don't have to record while I'm on vacation, though I do usually, when I'm on vacation, I record stuff for Patreons, like on location stuff. But then I don't have to worry about recording an episode on vacation, which is the heaviest lifting of the podcast, because it is what you hear. But I also don't have to worry about finding a place that has good sound, that I can record in, that's going to match up like… Oh, what if there's an intro from when I wasn't on vacation, or something like that. But yeah, so to come back, the time budget for a show, right now, is like around 100 hours, plus the help I get from Night Vale and PRX. I think it's probably a little bit more than that, just as the show grows. Then more people are interested, say, “Hey…”
And I think it's an important part of it is, I like interacting with you, the listener, so having the time to do that, and finding ways to do that. And then there's also just the administration of, how do we make sure the podcasts can keep coming out every week? What are all the process parts of that? And then, how do we fund that? Because just because the podcast is free on the consumption end, that's just the way podcasting works, is making sure there's money there to pay for the bandwidth that it costs to distribute a show. We're getting to where it's like, okay, all of these 110 hours is funded. And if we have a nice cushion… So it's like, oh, if we don't have… So if a bump in the road happens… Sleep With Me's different in that sense. It's like I'm doing a little bit more planing, because I can say, “Oh, if a bump in the road happens, I want to know six to eight months ahead of time.” Okay. This bump happened. Okay, in eight months, it's going to impact the show, so I can give you plenty of heads up. Or we could just steer around those bumps in the road. So that's how much time goes into the podcast. That was a question.
Okay. So I'm going to go to these questions now. Cyn. And this is a very popular question. Does the podcast ever put you to sleep? And the answer to that is, it doesn't. When I listen, I'm listening… I don't listen with a hypercritical mind, because I've already listened a few times. Oh, this also brings up how many times do I listen to the show, or how do I listen. Which, if you're a podcaster, this might be interesting or not, but I'll answer the question first. So it doesn't put me to sleep, but sometimes I listen at bedtime, because someone's asked me a question, and I know that's a quiet time, so then I say, “Okay, let me put that episode on and see what they're talking about.” Like they'll say, “Did you say, ‘Kookaburra, kookaburra-choo, Mrs. Robinson?'” And I say, “Well, do you know which episode? Because I don't have no idea.” And then they might say, “Oh yeah, the one, The Houseplant That Learned to Love.” And I'd say, “I really said as an episode? That was in my personal memoirs.” And I'd say, “That wasn't the houseplant named Mrs. Robinson, was it?” And they say, “No, Miss Robinson.” Okay, good. Whew.
But I have fallen asleep to the podcast before, when I've been working on it, because editing shows, or mixing shows, editing shows takes a lot of focus. So when I had a full-time job, I would have to edit shows on my lunch break. And you can't multitask. There is a desire to multitask when you're trying to listen to audio, especially when you have a lot to do. You say, “Well, if I could just respond to these emails and edit this audio.” But it just doesn't work that way. The audio demands your full attention. But then if I just ate lunch and it's warm, sometimes the show's even slower than it is now. So I have fallen asleep before.
And that brings up, so how does the post production of the show work? So after I have finished recording, what I'll do right now is, I'll take out the SD card. I record from a microphone, into a pre amp, into a digital recorder. So I'll take the SD card out of that digital recorder. I'll put it in my computer. I'll look up the file names. And I put that in a spreadsheet that I call Tape Log, which is just a log of the tape. So it'll say, oh, this is the number. This is the date the file was recorded on. This is what's in that recording. And this is where it's going. So then I'll upload it to a cloud drive, and I'll put it in a folder that one of the editors has access to. I'll name the folder, and then I'll put it down in the spreadsheet. Oh, it's on AMA fun time, or whatever this episode is, the working title of it. Or whatever, blankety blank, season two, episode 11. And so then I know where the file is, I know what the file is, because it usually just has a code name. And my code names are sequential, as opposed to date based, because it already has the date on it. So then I just know, okay.
So then the editors… Now, this is far out. Well actually, the editors are kind of caught up. Not totally caught up, but like… So then that file will probably sit there, unless there's a rush on it, for a week or two. Or, if I'm getting pretty far ahead, it could be up to four to six weeks, and as the editor's working through the projects they have for the podcast, they'll get to that folder. They'll open it up, and they'll edit all the stuff for content. So they'll take out any blank spaces, any retakes, which would be… A retake would go like this. Hey, Chris, I'm going to do a retake here, so just cut out that first retake, but don't really cut it out, because I'm just giving a example of a retake. And usually I'd raise my voice more, so it would be a little bit jarring, but because it's an example, I won't raise my voice, or make a noise, or pause, or change my tone. But if I don't like something, or I don't think it works, that would be…
And they'll take out where I clear my throat, or take a lot of breaths, or… I live in a busy area, so a lot of times I have to stop for five minutes while a plane goes by, or if somebody starts mowing, or something else weird like that. For an episode or an intro, because it's a sleep podcast, I can never stop recording and come back to it, though. So I do have to block out times that I know I'm going to be able to have time to record the entire intro, or the entire episode. I mean, I could get interrupted for like 15 minutes, to like 30. But anything more than 30, time of day, my voice is going to change. I'm going to forget. I'm going to be out of the moment. So I can't even think of an example where recently I was in the middle of recording an episode. Like if I was halfway through an intro, I'd just have to delete the intro. And if I was halfway through an episode, it would just be… I mean, I plan things. So I would probably have to delete it, or try to be like, okay, I can give you 20 minutes. What's up? Usually I just plan stuff around it.
I know I was going to talk about listening, but I think I had one more thing about recording that now I forgot. I don't know what it was. So listening. So then the episodes get uploaded to the cloud. The editor will edit it for content, or whatever, like a linear edit. The show's always in a linear format, because a lot of podcast editing can be non linear. I mean, whatever, like changing things around. This is all done in wave format, so uncompressed. Then the editors will upload their finished files to the same folder, just in another smaller folder with the edited files. And then I'm kind of following the schedule. So it might sit there again for a few weeks. And then I'll be getting ready for the Patreon release normally, and I'll say, “Okay, what do we have due on Patreon next week? Okay.” Whatever, The Plant That Kissed the Podcaster, so okay. Who had those files?
Sometimes I get mixed up, and the editor will say, “Hey, there's two thank yous,” or something. And I'll have to go into the tape log and fix it. And usually I know, because usually Karl does the rush jobs, stuff like if I did a episode, and for some reason it's for another podcast, so I want it to come out right away. Karl does those. Andy does the TV show style episodes. And Posty does the Tuesday Sal episodes, and the serialized episodic stories. So normally, that's the first place I would look. I wouldn't even check the tape log, unless I couldn't find it. I go into Chris's folders and I say, “Okay, here it is, The Podcaster That Kissed the Plant.” And I would check that it's done, and then I would download those files. I use Transmit to do that, just because it's a little bit more efficient than downloading from a web browser, same for uploading, I use Transmit for it, just like FTP like thingamajig.
So then I would download those, and then I would load those into my audio editor, which I use Hindenburg Pro. But if you're starting out, you could use Audacity, or Hindenburg Journalist. I just use Hindenburg Pro, because… Actually, I don't know if I use any of the Pro features on regular episodes, but I need it for some of the Patreon leveling. Oh no, I think it auto levels at -16, but whatever. So I pull everything into there as a project, and I put all the files in a side bar, and then I'll save the project, and I'll name it. I'd name it SWMP, which stands for Sleep With Me Podcast, and then the episode number. I'll look on the schedule and say, “Okay.” And sometimes these'll change, so the file names will be incorrect. But I'd say 801, boy The Podcaster that Loved Plants. I might just say Plants, or Podcast Love Plants, or something. And then I'll also add that as a note in Evernote, which is what I use for the show notes and the titles, and stuff like that.
And then I'll start mixing a mix. Mixing means taking the separate files from the editor, which would be the teaser, the ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, which on Patreon you get your own version of that. Then the intro, then the episode, and then the theme music. And I'll pull that into the editor, and I'll listen to the teaser. Then I'll put the music in, and I'll load up some meters, and I'll make sure that it's getting mixed at a proper… that the music and the audio's mixed. And then it'll roll into the intro. Then I'll make sure that the levels on the intro and the teaser match. And then I'll run through the intro and just listen to it. Now the editors do a great job, so I'm kind of just listening. Sometimes I'm taking a couple notes.
Maybe occasionally, I'll say, “Oh, I don't like the way I said that,” and I'll cut it out, or something. I don't know, or be like, “Let me just fix…” Like I don't know, like if I said that 10 times, I'd say, “Well, let's just cut out that last like, sound a little bit better.” Or I don't know, some tangent. I say, “I don't know about that tangent. Let's just cut it out.” Then I'll go into the intro, and I'll make sure that the levels between the intro and the episode are the same, and I might just check across fades, so it's a smooth… it transitions into the episode. And then I'll listen through the episode, and then I'll export that as a ad free, and I'll call it the same as the title, ad free, as an mp3. I just do 96k, mono, -16 LUFS, and I export that to a folder for Patreon stuff.
Then after that, I'll export the story only version to the same folder, the same settings and everything. So once that's done, then ideally I've set aside enough time that then I can start mixing the segments for the public release. So then the next thing I'd probably do is bring in the thank yous, and pull the episode to the right, because I'm going to… and link a cross fade, and attach the thank yous to the episode portion, and make sure those two levels are matched. And when I say levels, I mean the volume. Also, the editors have already done noise reduction and compression and everything, so I don't have to add any effects or anything like that. I don't have to raise the volume, just may have to barely change the gain, but other than that I don't have to do anything. I mean, maybe like an off occasion, my mouth was making a lot of mouth noise, I would run a de clicker, yeah, but that doesn't happen very often.
So then I'll have the episode and the thank yous done. Then I'll take out the Patreon teaser, and I'll dump in the regular teaser, and then I'll mix the rest of the episode. I guess I'm now more aware of time. And then I'll just save that project. As we get close to the public release, I'll do that. Then also, I'm taking the Patreon version, I'm uploading it to my transcript service. So then later, when the transcript's done, in a perfect world, I could listen to the episode, and go through the transcript. I don't really edit the transcripts, but I'm more like, it just helps with my paying attention. I can listen and read, and then make notes of like, okay, before the final release, we have to take that out, because it didn't… I don't know. I just want to take it out for some reason.
Okay. I'm just answering the questions about the podcast on here. So if anybody's question didn't get read, it was just because it wasn't… So Scott asked, do I still record in the tiny closet. Yeah, I'm in here right now, right under the stairs, three quarter width stairs, in the Harry Potter closet. And Scott asks, how does Antonio get in here. He's really easy, he's flexible, physically and mentally, so…
[Pommy 00:54:29] asks, how did I start, yeah, where did I get the idea, how did I get the mixed, creaky dulcet tones. I kind of talked about that. The tangents, well I started the show… I had trouble sleeping as a kid, and I used to listen to the radio. And it never put me to sleep, it just kept me company. And so I never forgot that that just made me feel better, and made me feel less A-L-O-N-E. So when I started listening to podcasts, I said, “Oh, I want to make a podcast like that, what the radio did for me.” And I'd already been telling bedtime stories in my personal life, so I said, “Oh, what about bedtime stories to help people fall asleep?” So that's what I ended up making, I guess, like over time.
It took a long time to get where we are now. And yeah, it was just a matter of audience feedback. A lot of the show didn't become what it is today until today. Right? The first 150 episodes were very experimental, and very discovery based. And then the next 150, between 150 and 300 were kind of like starting to build the foundation of not a house, but like an outdoor gathering area or something. And then 300-600 were like, oh, okay. Let's start to see what we're… Is this going to be a sculpture garden, or… Oh, that'll be over here. Okay. This is going to be the mandala over here. You know? But yeah, it kind of shows, it's a lot of writing and prep to enable those tangents, and now experience. So all the tangents kind of come from either having writing, or having notes or research, or knowing the kind of general stopping points for the story so that there's room for it to go off topic. But yeah. Oh, so the radio never put me to sleep. It just kept me company.
Let's see here. Jane asks, “Will you ever make a episode just talking about whatever crosses your mind for an hour?” I mean, I don't know. Most of the Tuesday episodes are kind of like that, but they're a little bit more structured, just because I feel like I need some sort of structure so I know where it's going and when it's going to end, and to kind of help give the tangent some form. So it's kind of like a balance of talking, and of having some loose control, maybe.
Heidi asks, “Where do you get the ideas from your stories?” I mean, I guess this is like, this is what people say a lot, but it's like I take constant notes. I have pieces of paper everywhere, tons of ideas that I've lost, because I write it down on a scrap of paper and throw it somewhere. But I also carry notebooks and stuff. So it's like constantly trying to keep ideas of things that catch my eye, things that catch my attention, things I can't stop thinking about, things that I'm W-O-O-R-Y-I-N-G-ing about, things that make me laugh, things that make me not laugh, things that make me say, “Why is that?” Or, “What happened there?” Or particularly anything that would make you say what if. Like, “Oh, what if that was with that?” So just a lot of things.
Emily asks, “How did Carol King become my muse?” That was just because she was constantly, like anytime I hit shuffle on this iPod, the shuffle algorithm, it was Carol King heavy, so every fifth song would be a Carol King song, even though there's like 30 Carol King songs in with 30,000 songs. And I thought that was some sort of spiritual message. It ended up Carol King was here on Earth, so then I said, “Well, that's interesting too.” So yeah.
Let's see what else. Who's Diane that Simon talks to on the big farm? I mean, that's kind of Simon, like we don't know, I guess, as a listener. It's like on the show TP, with agent Dale Cooper, he would talk to Diane, who in the show was never revealed. Now in the third season, or the remake, it was revealed that Diane was real, and she was played by Laura Dern. But there was always just this mystery, so Simon's talking to someone named Diane through audio recorder, or something like that.
Can you do a all thank you episode? Probably at some point, I will.
When's the next trip planned with Ray? Hopefully another one coming soon, but it'll be an episode coming out in the next few months, that's already recorded.
[Miraq 01:00:06] says, “If money was no object, where would the podcast go?” It would definitely be translated into other languages, with speakers of those languages, with proper culturally sensitive translations in those languages, and then ideally commissioning of stories, like a producer to do this work because I couldn't, but… And then commissioning stories in those languages. One person I'm particularly inspired by is the team that runs Clarkesworld. So that's somebody I support on Patreon. It's a sci-fi collection of short stories. So that's kind of what I would say.
When you can't sleep, what do you do? I try to read.
Let's see. Who's Bernie the Butterfly? Oh sorry. That question was from Norman. Atypical Geek says, “Who's Bernie the Butterfly?” Just a grouchy butterfly, that was my neighbor.
Why do you spell out words? Well, just to avoid the word, but it's like a word that everybody's probably thinking of. So it's kind of like you're depowering the word by spelling it, but not… Because it's almost like by avoiding the word, it would bring more attention to it, but by spelling out… Like things were A-F-R-A-I-D from… It saps a little bit of the energy, I think. And you say, well, it's kind of fun. We're having fun with you, A-F-R-A… however you spell your name.
Okay. Julie kind of asked about the older episodes. Yeah, the voice is different. There's definitely… It's hard to tell from a listener's standpoint, but we're using much… I was more nervous, and the equipment was much lower quality. So it was actually picking up less of my natural creaky dulcet tones. And I was probably further away from the mic. And there was more of background hiss that you might not hear, but when you take that out, it takes out some of the spectrum. But yeah, they definitely sound different, and some people love the old episodes, some people love the new ones, and it's great that we've come this far.
How many of the characters were invented just for the episodes? Pretty much all of them. I mean, some might have come from other places a little bit, but they changed. Like Big Farm in the Sky PI was from another general idea I had. But yeah, most of them were like… Like when I was making the podcast, I'd be like, “Oh, what if James Cash Penney, and Richard Warren Sears returned to Earth because they weren't happy about the state of their retail empires?” What if a witch decided to become a pirate? Or big farm was like, “What would it be like…”
I was just obsessed with the idea of a really ineffective investigator. And then I said, “Well, that's a little bit too… I don't know how sleepy that is. So how about we change that, and make it… And where do we put them where there's not stakes? You say, well if it was on earth, it would be impacting people. And if it was their job, there'd be this values thing. So how do we make it like, okay, it's not that they're ineffective at their job, it's like their new… Oh, and where would it be where it would be fun to not be good at investigating things, but where you're really trying hard? Oh, some place where you have a new start. Well, how could we make it more dreamy? Oh, what if it wasn't on Earth? Well, how could we ground it, and have some real emotional resonance? Well, what if he needs help? Okay. How could we connect it to… He's a kid. Oh, okay.
Or with nuns in space, it would be like, what would I do if I was on a spaceship with the nuns from my childhood? Oh boy, what if? Well, why would I be? How would I be? Because they're not the same age as me, and most of them are in the big, big farm. So then I say, “Okay. Why don't we just change some rules around?” Yeah. I mean, a lot of the stuff. Oh, that question was from Kay. And the earlier question was from Julie. But yeah, just about saying what if, and then saying, “Hey, can I get to know you, witch pirate woman?” A lot of it about writing it out.
Nora asked, “Do I plan the intros in the same way I plan the stories, or are they made up on the spot?” They're mostly made up on the spot, or I'll have notes with an idea for an intro. And then I usually don't have to use those for a while, because if I have notes of potato peels and pancakes, and I say, “Could I do an intro about that?” And I say, “Well, maybe about this,” or whatever. Then when I sit down and record the intro, some other idea will pop in my head. So then five episodes later, I'll do it about potato peels and pancakes.
Val asks… Oh, this kind of goes with [inaudible 01:05:45]. You love sci-fi and fantasy. Would you ever do any old episodes, recaps of shows that are like… people kind of love to dislike them. That's a common question of, how do I pick the TV shows I pick? The main reason I choose the shows is, because I have to watch each episode five times, and not just one episode. It's like, okay, if I stick with a show, I'm going to watch probably at least 100 episodes of the show over a couple year period. And so one thing is, the show has to be able to stand up without it being uncomfortable, where there's still joy left in me and the show after that fourth or fifth viewing, knowing that tomorrow I have to start watching another episode again. Ideally, there's a big catalog. I mean, I broke that rule with Good Place, just because it was so consumable and so joy filled, and there was such a depth there that…
That's how I pick the shows, is like, “Oh, I've watched an episode of this. How does it feel to watch again?” Okay. How does it feel to watch again, taking notes and pausing every two minutes? Okay. How does it feel to watch it again after that, and either take more notes, or be working out or something and watching it again, and again, then sitting down to record? And I'm always on the lookout for new shows, but it's tough for shows to make the cut because you say, okay, I just can't. I don't want to have any… Would it impact the podcast if I was having… Like Worst Idea of All Time does that, but it's a comedy podcast, so they're able to mine that for what works for their show for comedy, and performance and insight. Where Sleep With Me, it would distract from the sleepiness if I was getting frustrated, I think, or fed up or something with a show I was watching.
Okay. Allie asks, “What happens at a live show?” I mean, some people at a live show, it's a little bit like the podcast, but I'm there. But yeah, some people sleep, some people chill out, and some people pay attention and have fun. But I just usually use things that have really gone well in the show, or I'll test out ideas that I think would work with the audience.
How did Antonio Banderas become a guest? That is a common question. It came from Christine and Justin. I have no idea. I guess one day he just showed up. I was looking for some kind of transition between me and the narrator, because a lot of times, my voice is similar to the narrator's voice. I was looking for some sort of intermediary to make that shift less jarring. And for a short time, we used music between the intros and the stories, but that didn't work. I got a lot of feedback about that, that having a second round of theme music didn't work. So then at some point, we just got Antonio, and it's been a dream ever since.
Let's see. Roberta asked about Frasier, which is a popular… or I Love Lucy. And yeah, that's kind of like… Frasier, maybe for one of the holiday episodes, but I guess maybe, but I haven't got a depth of Frasier yet where I would be guaranteeing that.
Let's see. Joe. Okay. These are all personal, personal. How do I balance the dulcets and lulling? Just experience and feel.
Janet asks, “When you're writing something, does the progression of plot come to mind during the week, or while you're working on it?” I'd say both. Yeah, sometimes when you're walking the dog, or taking a shower, you realize a story problem later on. But it is the work you put in writing in the morning that I think sows the seeds for… Because if you're stuck, you just kind of write, well what would they do? A lot of times that's what I do. Or why isn't this working? Or why would they make that choice? And I say I don't know. And then maybe later or the next day I'll figure it out, or maybe I'll go back to writing and figure it out.
How do I keep a show at a level that doesn't wake people up? Mostly staying calm in the moment, and then post production of leveling, and checking levels and everything like that.
Oh, Cody asks, “Is there a regimen?” Yeah. So I don't have it as much now. I used to do, like I'd have to wait an hour or two after I eat, make sure my teeth were brushed earlier so there's no mouth noises. And then I would have a green apple. I haven't done that lately. And then I'll have a cough drop or two. Then I'll usually have a drink, which lately has either been apple cider, or coconut water with aloe. Both of those are really good for me, to keep my mouth from clicking. And then I'll warm up, either by doing the thank yous, or doing some other recording. That was from Cody.
Diane wants Ray to go on a Disney cruise.
Sheila was wondering if you would do other tales. I mostly do our own tales or TV recaps, or influenced. So maybe if we did another season of whatever that one was with all the… Yeah, something similar to Agatha, where she was teaching, where Agatha was teaching the kids. Let's see.
So pointless meanders, do I contemplate them or do they both spill out, Gregory asks. And I would say both. Sometimes it's more about staying in the moment and having more material than you'll need. Because then if I have more material than I need, then I can kind of go off topic, or know where things are going.
Carrie asks, “Is [Phish 01:12:41] one of the influences the show?” Yeah, like Carrie said, whimsical, lyrical, and yeah, they're kind of fun, and they reinvent themselves. And they make stuff for their audience, and a depth to their audience, and not for everyone.
Lois Anna asks, “Is there a blooper reel?” Not anymore. I mean, most of the stuff makes it on the show. The stuff that doesn't make it on the show is boring. And then if there are any bloopers, they are like sailor blue nowadays. If my mouth's making a lot of noise, or someone's mowing the lawn when I set aside time to record or something, I'll really… But warming up helps eliminate a lot of the bloopers that would be interesting, and those are all on Sound Cloud.
Katie asks, did I take a creative writing or literature class. Has that influenced my style? Yeah, I took classes at Berkeley City College here. It's a community college, and I took a narrative script writing class, and then a workshop version of that class. And then a lot of classmates and I formed a writing group, and all those things. The teacher, Joey Zanders, and then my classmates that influenced me… Like working in that group and being in a writing group, and then writing with people outside of that writing group really helped me find my voice, and just learned about the work of writing, of like, just sit down and write everyday. I share with people and rewrite it.
Yeah, will there be any more Girl Raised by a Theme Park episodes? Probably. I mean, I think so. I'd like to, but I don't… It's not set up for the next thing, but probably in the next 6-12 months for sure, but I'm not 100% positive. So I'm… I would like to, I guess is the right answer.
Patty asks, do I podcast full-time? I mean, yeah. Yeah, in 2018 I started working on the show full-time. Let's see here. We're getting to the end here. Yeah, the show's supported by the people that support the sponsors, and the Patreons. Thank you so much to everybody that does that.
Dan asks, “How do you optimize task switching?” I guess the main way would be reducing that. Dan says, “What if you only have 10-15 minutes to write?” I'd say that's probably pretty good, because if you have 15 minutes, maybe it means it takes you 5 minutes to get into it. And then if you only have 10 minutes, you only have 5 minutes of good writing time. And that's enough if you're doing it every day. You just start to really build up some momentum, and build up those muscles. And if you have 15 minutes, that means you have 5 minutes to warm up, I have 5 minutes to write, and 5 minutes to be distracted. Right?
Let's see. Jenn asks, why do I mention Nietzsche in so many intros? Just because I think philosophy can be one of those things that keeps people's thought pattern going at bedtime, and some of that keeps me up. I say, “Hmm, wherefore art thou, oh goodness? Wherefore art thou? Am I, or am I…” You know, that kind of stuff.
Jenn asks about the live shows. Do I have any other live shows planned for any other places? A lot of people ask about live streaming live shows. That's not a possibility, just because one, I like the crowd to be fresh. I mean, I do record them and release them later, but it's just also like, I'm one person. It's just not… The infrastructure to do live streams of on location performances is really tough. I don't have any other live shows planned, other than a local one where I'm still trying to figure out, honestly, how to get people out for the events. I mean, it's kind of been a thing. I think especially with a live show, it's like, finding a way for the word of mouth to get out about why would I go to a Sleep With Me live show? So if you see a live show by your area, the best way you can best ensure there's more is by going, attending them.
I'm kind of just learning more about the promos, and trying to figure out what would be the best way to do it. Because it's like, right now, it just hasn't gotten to the place where it's like… Other than doing small local shows… I mean, maybe when you're here, it's different. But it's just like, the scale of people that have to just pay the travel costs, and the venue cost. It's slowly getting there. Right when I'm recording, this is a year of doing local live shows. And okay, we're getting there. We're getting there. So yeah, just keep your eyes peeled, SleepWithMePodcast.com/liveshow. And ideally, we'll use the Night Vale model of planning a live show out a year ahead of time. So you say, “Okay, I'm coming to Boston 2021, these dates.” So it'll help us sell tickets, and make sure the listeners know about it.
But that's it. Thank you for… This is a little supersized episode. I hope you enjoyed it. I really appreciate it, and I'm here… couldn't be here without you, without your questions, without your support, without your interest, and without your nods, snoozing off there. I couldn't do it without you, so I really appreciate it. And let me tuck you in there, before these thank yous. Thanks.