Hi, we are Niv and Martin. We bumped into each other in the early days of Tumblr and have become fast friends in the (10 years) since. Niv has a background in IT and works for a chocolate company, and Martin is an electrician and light technician who makes sure audiences can actually see the bands they've paid to watch.
Asteroids in Exile is a passion project for us. We've been having fun talking to each other about pop-culture, comics and movies for so long that we decided to invite others in to join us though the podcast. Over time our content has settled on mostly talking about the output of comics based movies; but we're still managing to get the other movies, comics and toys in the mix. The hook is that we talk about all these things coming out of the USA from a more global perspctive.
Niv was born in South Africa and spent parts of his life in Australia and China, while Martin comes from Austria and the furthest he's been in the world is Manchester, England. We both surprise each other with our opinions about the things we share an interest in.
Asteroids in Exile is like hanging out with friends, and everyone is welcome to join in the discussion. Our listeners range from people who are interested in comics, movies and want to keep up with what's going on via our updates, to people new to the world of pop-culture, and even some people who have no specific interest but like to surprise their geeky partners with random info about Marvel movies which they heard on an episode.
After a long time of "we should do a podcast" we started in January 2016. We enjoy talking about pop-culture so much that we thought we'd let others in on our chats. And that is our ultimate goal: create an experience that people feel like being a part of; like listening to a couple of friends talk with each other at a meet up and perhaps you learn something just by listening or get a different perspective on something you thought you knew inside and out.
Podcasts are a very intimate medium, due to the physics of hearing, they omit a layer of perception. Reacting to sound is something that evolution perfected over the years to make sure we survive in different environments, like our sense of smell it feels like it has a faster connection to our unconscious mind than sight does. Keeping this in mind, we put a lot of effort into audio quality. Martin is the technical and aural genius behind this.
When we decided to start, it didn't take us long to release our first episode. The great side effect of making a podcast is that we have to make time to spend in each other's company; because while we like each other, our jobs and the time-zones prevent us from getting too much time with each other.
It's strange but once you start to do a few episodes, time finds you. We either record on a Sunday morning (for Niv)/Sunday afternoon (for Martin) but also record on schooldays after Martin comes home from a nightshift. Our release schedule is once a month, with a runtime between one to two hours per episode. So far we've only missed one.
Recording takes us around double the time of the episode because we discuss our daily lives, politics and cultural trivia (which would make a great second podcast and oftentimes provides us with great outtakes to add to the published audio). Editing takes between a day to a week. With episode 24 it felt like Gremlins had invaded our hardware and made sure we look over the recordings three times.
We fund the whole podcast from our own pocket. Until a few weeks ago we hosted our data and feed with one of the established companies. As we delved deeper into the matter we felt it would be beneficial to both the listener and us to take matters into our own hands. Lucky for us, a spot with a content delivery network opened up and we moved our blog to a web space we have total control over. The move saves us money but costs us time needed to take care of what we build.
Like mentioned earlier, we benefit from the time we spend with each other; and if the listeners gain something from our "public meetings", that's a tremendous gain.
Also, we have to try and be more professional in what we do. Not because we're told to; it oddly becomes a fun exercise. And that planning and thinking about things finds ways into our private lives as well.
Our listener numbers are too small, ~100 per episode, for any possible sponsorships. And because we set out with the romantic notion of trying to spread some geek love we never considered actively looking for funding.
Well, that is not entirely true; there is a support section on the new homepage. But even there we made the conscious decision to place the donate button on the bottom and put donating to our content delivery service first.
We use Skype as our means of communication. Martin records his audio and Niv's call with a software called Reaper which is configured to work especially well for podcasting when modified with a plug-in called Ultraschall (german for Ultrasound). Niv records his audio on his own computer. To sync up his audio with Martin's recording he gives him a jolly loud clap before we start the actual episode recording.
Reaper also gets used for the editing process. Once the episode is in shape a few effects are used to get rid of background noise and to make it seem like we were in the same room (to varying results).
The same recording technique was used with our only guest yet, comic artist and writer Jorge Santiago Jr. But in that case we used a recording software so we could separate the two Skype tracks for editing.
The files get exported to .flac and send to a service that polishes them up called Auphonic.
While they work their magic the episode artwork and shownotes get done. We try to be as thorough as possible with shownotes. It drives Martin nuts when things get mentioned on other podcasts and you have to do the legwork of finding them yourself. Not that it is hard, Google and DuckDuckGo make sure of that, but sometimes there are things that require one to go on a hunt. But when people listen, say on a crowded train, clicking on a link that points them in the right direction is more comfortable than typing in a search query.
When the files are ready everything gets imported in a new file in Reaper, music gets added, metadata and artwork are added and an .mp3 file is exported.
When Martin and Niv agree the episode gets released through the new blog using a Wordpress plug-in called Podlove Podcast Publisher. Not only does it build the feed, it also allows to publish an episode in various formats like .m4a, .ogg, .opus or .flac besides the standard .mp3.
Oh and recently we discovered that a little sound separation between the hosts improves the experience. Usually Niv is placed about five to eight percent on the right channel and Martin on the left.
Since Martin got kicked out of his study by his son he records in his coatroom; which he drapes with molten fabric to improve the sound.
We prepare the topics in a shared note taking app where we add topics and links that we shape into the program before recording.
At this stage we're focusing on publicising our new episodes personally on our social feeds and via the Asteroids In Exile account on Instagram. We have plans for an Asteroids In Exile page on Facebook. We'll also be using Twitter a lot more to let people know about the lead up to a recording session, post-production behind-the-scenes, and maybe even live guests… in time.
Phew, that is a hard question.
Just do it. Perhaps start with a service like Anchor that requires you to have a charged phone with a functioning microphone and an internet connection. It brings the hosts closer to each other and the people around the world.
We were both super nervous when we first started, but that fades as you do it over and over again. So, just do it. And have fun.