“You must do the thing you think you cannot do”

Eleanor Roosevelt surely thought she was doing a great thing by inspiring us mere mortals to push past our comfort zones with her brilliant words of wisdom. But did she ever stop to consider the angst one would feel — one who runs a solo shop writing and editing an online magazine for Michigan alumni, for example — if one really DID do the thing one cannot do?

Because she really should have. Mrs. Roosevelt should have followed up that statement, very quickly, with something along the lines of “but be careful what you wish for.”

Is this thing on?

About 18 months ago, I decided I was a podcaster. Right? Huge fan. I listen to a ton of them.

So I read some things. I bought some mics. I watched some videos on audio editing. I tried multiple editing programs and even used the project as a way to justify getting a larger monitor for my computer. (Totally legit, btw.)

I named the podcast “Listen in, Michigan.” The whiz-bang student intern, Alex, whipped up a graphic, and the rest was up to me. I started with the low-hanging, super-entertaining fruit: Michigan Today writer James Tobin. Resident historian and raconteur. Our conversation netted two episodes jammed with fascinating lore and weird tales from U-M’s past. The whiz-bang intern blazed into post-production with an unblinking fearlessness that kept me from chucking it all every time the unknown got too overwhelming.

Hear more “Listen In, Michigan” podcasts. Subscribe at iTunes and Tunein

All you do is talk, talk

With 12 episodes in the cloud, I can safely give myself a high grade on content. In addition to Jim Tobin, I’ve interviewed alumni about the history of The Michigan Daily, the origins of the Peace Corps, the brilliance of Shakespeare, and the drama of the Bible. I’ve done fun episodes, like the one about the “Let’s Go Blue” song, and serious ones like the one about the Attica Prison Uprising.

That said, the production side of the equation has been a tremendous CHALLENGE to say the least. Every episode has its own calamitous backstory: The recorder starts beeping for no apparent reason. You never even hit record. The leaf-blowing man comes just as your guy starts talking. You lose your unsaved audio in some black hole of a computer vortex and spend hours mining tech chat boards till you retrieve it. You sound like a chipmunk. You talk too fast. You cannot figure out why the music sounds so bad this time. Honestly, it sounded great before…

In other words, Mrs. Roosevelt, I have no business doing this thing I cannot do.

Or do I?

Click on the podcast tab and give an episode a listen. And don’t judge too harshly. It should be noted that an actual professional, wearing headphones and monitoring a small board in the Michigan News studio, recorded episodes 10 and 12 (scroll up), so I think I’m finally on to something.

Maybe I CAN do this.



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