Amy Dalton: Back stories: Introducing a JCPL podcast

I used to wonder why anyone would listen to a podcast.

I have a radio, TV, audiobooks and music Why would I want to listen to regular people talking in their living rooms? But then some of my favorite entertainers started podcasting, so I gave them a try. I came to love the informality of podcasts and I have discovered a few gems. Listening to a good storyteller is truly entertaining no matter what the format.

Sharing stories and information is the heart of the library, so starting a podcast of our own was an easy decision. I had been wanting to pitch this to our administration, and while staff was working from home, it became the perfect time to give a show a try.

After a few years of the library’s successful Authors at JCPL program, which brings bestselling authors to Johnson County, we saw that the most asked question to these writers was, “How do you get your ideas?” Well, that question was how I got the idea for Back Stories. My co-worker, Erin Cataldi, and I recorded a test episode and that got the library podcast a green light. That’s now Episode 1, which talks about how Robert Louis Stevenson came up with his ideas (spoiler: in his sleep) and why the creator of James Bond decided to write a kid’s book about a flying car.

Each episode has two of our staff members chatting about creators and what influences their work. We’ve covered the backstories of authors, TV shows, musicians and even a video game. It’s been fascinating to research, and even authors whose works have an obvious influence, like a novel based on a true story, have so many interesting reasons behind why they chose their topic and how they made it their own.

It’s so intriguing to see how the creators’ personal lives and experiences show up in their finished works. Did you know that the hero in the Legend of Zelda games became older and more handsome in some of the titles because the creator’s wife complained that Nintendo didn’t have any hero heartthrobs? These little facts can really add to the experience of reading, listening to or playing a creative work.

We were also surprised at how quick and easy it is to get a podcast up and running. There are services that host and distribute content at no charge. There are free recording and editing programs so that we could cut out mistakes, all the “ums” and awkward pauses. We found copyright free music to use as a theme song and the library’s marketing department made a cool logo. This program is truly a group effort across the entire library. Staff from all of our branches, including Director Lisa Lintner, have made appearances.

For those of you who are new to podcasts, there are many different ways to listen on any internet connected device. Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify distribute most podcast titles, and topics are searchable so you can find episodes you might enjoy.

One of the best things about this kind of content is its specialization. The term “narrowcasting” has been coined to describe all the of niche content being produced. From taking care of chameleons, to watching and analyzing episodes of TV shows, to fictionalized full-cast radio dramas — there is really a podcast for any topic you can think of.

And what if you have a topic you would like to share with the world? The library has you covered if you want to step into the podcasting pool. We circulate a Podcasting Kit with a microphone, headphones and other accessories. You can check it out for two weeks at a time. We also have a great selection of books and e-books on creating a podcast from your idea, recording and editing, and distributing and marketing.

While you may not associate the library with pods and podcasting, this is just another way for us to connect with our community and spread information about the materials the library provides. Recording programs lets people listen on demand so that library programming is available anytime.

Our staff members have such a wide variety of knowledge and interests, and Back Stories gives us a place to talk about the stuff we love and share it with listeners while having a ton of fun. If you have any questions or suggestions for upcoming topics, email [email protected].

Amy Dalton is adult services librarian at the White River Township branch of the Johnson County Public Library. Library staff members share in writing this bi-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].