September 2018 marks the first annual International Podcast Month, in which podcasters from the actual play and audio drama/fiction communities have come together to create new episodes, write blog posts, and share their love of podcasting. I sat down with IPM’s founder, Tess Cocchio, to talk about what listeners and readers can expect from IPM.
In full disclosure, Cocchio is a moderator on the Podcast Problem Discord server I run. I have also contributed to IPM’s giveaways.
So to start off, can you explain for my readers what international podcast month is for?
So international podcast month is basically an opportunity for podcasters to cross promote, celebrate each other, and basically share their love of podcasting with the listeners. A collaboration of many podcasting folks across the audio drama and RPG podcasting communities have come together to record one shots and minisodes and write blog posts for the entire month of September. There are going to be episodes released every single day in the month of September and there will be blog posts a released three times a week in September.
What was your inspiration for starting it?
I’ve been pretty active in the RPG podcasting community for a few years now from RPG Casts, which is a RPG podcast directory with a very specific highlight on typically marginalized or underrepresented groups in the RPG community. So women, nonbinary people, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community. My highlight with RPG casts was to really make sure that those underrepresented and marginalized groups were represented kind of front and center in this directory.
I got really active in that community, and the more active I got, the more I was like, “Man, we should really do just a one-time big event where we cross collaborate and a whole bunch of podcasters play games with each other, but not with their regular group of people. And so I had the idea probably about a year ago now and just started some of the work in the background, like writing a pitch and writing out my ideas for it and how I thought it might work. Around February of this year, I started to slowly talk to people and some of these people crossed over into the audio drama community.
Michelle of Serendipity City and Unplaced had linked me to the Podcast Problems Discord, and as soon as I got into [it], which is the happiest place on earth, I made so many new friends and was like, “Oh my gosh, the audio drama community is brilliant and wonderful.” So I actually approached both Michelle, Ely, and Therin from Interference, and I said I would love to make it a bigger event than it is.
I was really surprised by the kind of interest level from the audio drama community as well. This is bigger and better than I ever imagined it could be. It slowly has really just exploded into a much bigger project than I initially imagined because when I first thought up the idea, I was like, oh, maybe like six or eight people will get together and record a couple one shots.
Now you have an episode a day.
And actually more than an episode a day. At current count, if I get all of the episodes in, there will be 37 episodes released on the I Am Hear feed.
Can you tell my readers about your podcast, I Am Hear?
I Am Hear is a podcast that again highlights marginalized and underrepresented groups in the RPG communities. I’ve interviewed podcasters and game designers, and most of them are women, nonbinary people, people of color, and members of the LGBT+ community. I talked to them about what their story is, what inspires them to play, or create, or to listen, or to run RPGs, and why representation in tabletops matters so much to them, and why the community matters to them, or why it’s so important for their voice to be heard.
People often talk about how one of the hurdles of podcasting is how isolating it is and how lonely it feels. Would you say that that’s the case in your experience?
I think everybody starting out feels that way. I think that’s the aim of what you do, what I do, what others I think are trying to do in the community: to really reach out when they see somebody is interested in starting a podcast is bringing them in instead of shutting them out. You know, saying, “Oh, you’re interested. Let me open some doors for you. Let me help lead a little bit of the way.” I think that it can feel so strange. I feel like it’s more isolating in my real life in my day to day than it is online, because my husband, my partner, is wonderful and supportive and he also does podcasting, so there’s that understanding, but I don’t talk about my podcast stuff at work or to too many friends because they just don’t get it. And a lot of them don’t listen to podcasts or if they do, the only thing they watch or listen to are like the really big names that tend to be the front and center in mainstream media.
Do you think that this year’s International Podcast Month and hopefully future years will help bring people together and build more community?
I certainly hope so. That’s one of the many goals of international podcasting month, with having people cross collaborate. It’s less about getting people to necessarily just listen to the episodes of that are being released specifically for IPM and getting people to hear creators, maybe some of their favorite creators, working with others that boost their interest in their work. So maybe you know one of the people who is on one of these episodes and you’re like, oh that other person sounds interesting! I’m going to check them out now because I never heard of them before and now they’re playing with one of my favorite podcasters. I think having those cross collaborations is a way of getting listeners to be exposed to other people. So it’s not just about the podcaster being exposed to people they haven’t worked with, but the listeners being exposed to people who they may not have heard of or may not have normally listened to.
Have submissions so far that you’re especially excited for?
Oh, that’s such a hard question! There’s a lot of them that I’m really excited about, especially when I see the people behind them getting excited about it. I’m really excited for a Powered by the Apocalypse game called Descent Into Midnight that’s designed by Taylor LaBresh, Richard Kreutz-Landry, and Rich Howard. It’s a new game that they’re working on and play testing– it’s got this really cool flavor to it in that it is an aquatic emotional game. It’s all in the ocean, and it really features like the wonder of the ocean, but also the intensity of it, and how corruption can threaten an ecosystem. This episode will be Taylor LaBresh running the game for Morgan Jenkins from Going in Blind, Christine Prevas from The Unexplored Places, Zachary Woodard from Heart Points, and Neil Powell from the Dungeon Masters Block.
And then Nora Blake made her own Legends of Hyrule game, so I’m pretty excited to hear that game, because who doesn’t love the Zelda? Um, I got to play in a hack of Lasers and Feelings called Love and Justice created by Senda Linaugh, which is a magical girl game and is super cute.
Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services is, of course, extremely exciting. I’m really excited about the Interference minisode, which I like to call it an RPG-adjacent show. Station Blue is doing one that I’m pretty excited about because, you know, there’s those shows that you refresh the day that you know they’re supposed to come out and that’s one of them. Ryan Boelter is launching his very first audio drama. He’s never done an audio drama before, and IPM is his first foray into the audio drama world, which is really exciting for him and for everybody to hear his work.
Can you tell us about some of the giveaways you have planned for IPM?
I’m really excited that I ordered a whole bunch of stickers from a bunch of podcasters last week to be able to give away — there’s definitely some Podcast Problems ones in there. Something that I’m not hiding is that the audio drama community and the RPG community are all super queer, so, there are absolutely pride pins and stickers that I’m also including in some of the giveaways, and I’m super excited because Wyrmwood Gaming has donated a dice box to give away. There are also dice, enamel pins, and a few podcaster-specific giveaways that I’ll hint at but not reveal just yet!