I always knew that there would be an end to “From the Edge of the Circle”. I knew that the first day I started with Elfster’s Pirate Radio – the predecessor to the show. I only did three shows for EPR – and realized very quickly I needed to not only work on the show’s format, but also my audio editing skills, and my own presentation skills. I used a lot of different software over the years, but for the last four and a half years, I have worked almost exclusively with Apple’s Garageband software. And honestly, I’m not about to go switching to another audio editing software. I like the way the software helps me with sliding one audio segment into the other…so the styling comes off a bit like a live radio program….even though, as a podcast, it is not technically “live”.
Over the past week, I have been listening to all of my 140 episodes of Edge. There are segments that have always stood out in my mind – such as the moment when Mojo and Sparrow of The Wigglian Way “hijacked” my audio feed to answer a particular question. Just listening to that audio segment always puts a huge smile on my face. Its a definite reminder of how non-competitive the entire Pagan Podcasting community is. We may disagree among one another about a topic, but there’s no need to detract from another show’s opinion. It is a nearly unstated rule – we are there to provide our voices to the Podcasting collective – not to compete for the microphone.
When I started on my podcasting journey, there were only a handful of Pagan podcasts around. The most cited influences from that timeframe were Deo’s Shadow, and the Lance and Graal Podcasts. Both provided marvelous insights into Pagan-related topics. In fact, I clearly remember the very first Pagan podcast topic I ever responded to in Email. Jeva had a small opinion-piece about how children should and should not be included in Pagan rituals. He provided both sides of the issue at hand, and then interjected his own opinion afterwards. I thought it was a very thoughtful piece, and sent him an Email stating just that. When I started Edge, my desire was to be just as thoughtful on particular issues as Jeva had been. How well I succeeded or how well I failed at doing so, that’s really up to each individual listener. I thought I did a fairly decent job. I was good one some points – not so good on others.
In the very beginning, I was absolutely afraid to get behind the microphone. Public speaking is one of those things that I have never been good at. If you listen to the very beginnings of Edge – you will hear a lot of nervousness in my voice. Well perhaps you might. I can hear the changes in my voice inflection, so I am acutely aware of how my voice sounds. But then, I live with me every single day…so catching those sounds is nearly second nature for myself. But after a time, I get comfortable behind the microphone. And you can definitely hear the difference. I am far more comfortable talking – though I still spend a lot of time moving around subjects and trying to find my footing in places. This is generally due to the fact that I only wrote short, bullet statement notes for myself on topics. For a few shows, I tried writing out exactly what I wanted to say – and if you listen through all the episodes, you will be able to pick those shows out with no problem. My natural speaking voice gets replaced by a very stilted tone. I abandoned that style after a short while and went back to a style I call “extemporaneous” speaking. Essentially where I just speak off-the-cuff about a topic I have bulleted on a piece of paper. It is the style I have stuck with through to the end here. And I chose to do that because it kept the podcast in a style of a face-to-face talk – though there was no one there to answer back, except the listener. Not a ton of critical feedback in that, but I am glad that a lot of people liked the style. It is the one comment I have received over and over from listeners to the show.
It sort of strikes me as funny that I am sitting here writing this out. Most podcasts fade away and never provide much of an ending, except where the podcast MIGHT come back later and state that they have run out of personal time to podcast – or that they have lost the zeal to continue with their shows. Mojo called that “podfading”…but over the past few days, I have realized I’m in a very unique situation here. I’m getting the chance to bring the show to an end – to spend time in a single, final episode to reminisce over what’s been doing. In a sense, eulogizing the show…and somewhat lifting the curtain. And there’s not much to show there. Just a single empty chair, a Blue Snowball microphone, and my wonderful 27″ iMac – my gateway to the cyberworld. Of course, that picture is not complete without me in the chair, with a cup of coffee or tea, spilling my thoughts into that microphone or editing pieces of audio into the final mp3 audio file that becomes an episode.
Even a day away from finishing the final episode – just sitting here writing about the span of the podcast, I still shed some tears. Edge has always been a labor of love. There’s holes in the time-frame of the podcast – where I missed long stretches of time between shows. And I’m sure that herky-jerky schedule cost me a few listeners along the way. Just as I am sure some of my more opinionated shows cost me a few listeners along the way as well. But in essence, its never been about the number of downloads I have gotten for the show.
The first two years, I obsessed over those numbers – checking the download numbers on a daily basis. For a while, I even kept a spreadsheet, documenting all those numbers. And then one day, in a conversation with a fellow Pagan podcaster (who shall remain unnamed), she asked me why I was so “into those numbers”? Her point was lost on me during that conversation – but it was a question that nipped at the back of my brain for the longest time. Then shortly after a morning meditation in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch, I realized the point that was being made: if the premise of the show is about providing information and perspectives to the listeners…then the download numbers don’t matter. And the download numbers don’t matter. I stopped checking the numbers on a regular basis – and just focused on the show material instead. A year ago, I checked on the download numbers twice…twice that entire year. And my interest in the numbers lasted all the way through the moment when I logged out of the LibSyn website. As an aside, for the curious, here’s the latest overall number: 395,619 total downloads. Some folks, that will seem like a large number – to other folks it will seem like a small number. For me, its just a number now. I sell the podcast for zero dollars, so the number of units I move means nothing to me. Its what I have to say at the microphone that matters more. It really is as simple as that. And yes, I am aware that there are people who will read that statement and say I am full of schtako. Bully for them.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing has been the people I have met along the way in the timeline of Edge. The fellow podcasters that I have had the pleasure to know – both as podcasters and as people. The Emails that I have received from listeners over the entire time frame of Edge. Some of those listeners have become friends…and I have even had the chance to meet some of them face-to-face and get the warmest hugs I have ever had. Edge will be the longest continuous Pagan podcast through tomorrow evening when I release Episode 141. After that, the distinction passes over to The Pagan Centered Podcast – which started a few scant months after I did. The late Dave Grega and his crew have put on quite a show – and his crew have continued to move their show forward. They remain one of my all-time favorite shows…and I wish them much continued success. I know I will be listening as long as they continue to generate programs.
Fittingly, my music player is playing “Sing Me Away” by Night Ranger…and that will be something that I will do at the end of Episode 141 tomorrow. No, I won’t damage people’s ears by singing something myself…no one wants to hear me sing. My singing is on file at the United Nations as banned Weapon of Mass Destruction. But I do have to thank all the Independent Musicians that have allowed me to play their music on the podcast. I enjoy promoting Independent Musicians…and I will include some of their music in tomorrow’s episode.
It has been a true honor and privilege to have my podcast play their computer speakers, car speakers, earphones and earbuds. From the Edge of the Circle is an experience I will never forget, and one that I am glad to have made – denying my aversion to public speaking. I can only hope that the topics I have brought to your ears has been helpful, informational, and entertaining. The experience has helped me grow, and mature as well. I know damn good and well I am not the same person I was back when I started it – and I know that part of that has been in the joy I have had getting in front of the microphone and talking – and reading your Emails concerning the topics. I said it a lot in the beginnings of the show – I’m no leader, and I know I’m not. I do what is necessary, and sometimes other people come along. (Hat-tip to the fictitious Edgar Friendly in the movie “Demolition Man”). I also expressed over and over that I was no teacher. Damn you people proved me wrong on that count. And I appreciate that – thus the need to bring the circle to a close with this final episode. I only hope I can make it through without crying.
It has truly been my pleasure to be a part of your lives through the podcast. I hope many of you will come along on the next steps of the podcasting journey, when the curtain opens on “Upon a Pagan Path”. Otherwise, all I can do is implore you, as Pagans, to get away from keyboards – and get outside. The Gods are waiting for you, right outside your door.