What is podcasting? The word "podcast" came from the combination of Apple's "iPod" and the word "broadcasting." Similar to RSS, with which one subscribes to feeds from many different sources, in the case of podcasting, instead of reading news or articles, you listen to an audio file in MP3 format. The audio can be listened to online, or downloaded to an iPod or some other device.
On June 15th, popular manga podcasting site MangaCast and MangaBlog announced the launch of MangaBlogCast, a collaboration between Brigid Alverson of MangaBlog and MangaCast Reviewer/Host Jack Tse, hosted by MangaCast. The new podcast will combine the enthusiastic voice of Jack Tse and the informative manga news from MangaBlog to provide fans with a refreshing way to experience their favorite manga news articles.
- Jack Tse will be doing the podcast, which will draw its information from the MangaBlog.
- Brigid will add in new bits and additional details, as well as providing program notes, with links, on MangaBlog.
- MangaCast will host the podcasts.
Behind-the-Scene with Jack Tse
Backstage: Please introduce yourself. Who are you? And what do you do?
Jack Tse: My Name is Jack Tse and I'm 26 years old and live in Brooklyn, New York. I've been working as a graphic designer in Manhattan since I've graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2003.
My original involvement with podcasting was in late 2005 when I volunteered to help the Ninja Consultant podcast revamp their website (coming soon). I asked Ed Chavez about some technical information and we kept in touch. As a graphic designer, I own the necessary software and hardware to produce a podcast, so on a whim one day working on Ninja Consultant logos I decided to take a break and record a review of Love Roma volume 2. Ed saw potential and published it while letting me work out my problems and providing constructive criticism.
Backstage: Please tell us a bit about the MangaBlogCast, what is it and why should people listen to it?
Jack Tse: MangaBlogCast is a collaboration between Brigid's Manga Blog and the MangaCast. The content is culled from the Manga Blog and is performed by a MangaCast team member. In other words, Brigid's outstanding blog is being repurposed in audio to hopefully make an outstanding podcast.
Backstage: How did the MangaBlogCast start? I heard you approached Brigid, where did you come up with the idea to do this?
Jack Tse: Ed Chavez and I chatted online the weekend before and I proposed some ideas of different types of content besides reviews I could do. He approved some new shows I will be doing the week he will be doing Yomi Award related activities and attending the San Diego Comic Con. The following week when I surfed Brigid's site... It just came to me that the MangaBlog can be a new show. I contacted her to see if she was interested and we had a telephone conversation. Four days later, we submitted it to Ed Chavez and was published six days later after that.
Backstage: What is it like working with MangaBlog and MangaCast? Have there been any obstacles along the way?
Jack Tse: I learned a lot working with the laid back Ninja Consultants. I made some recommendations on what they should do, and I eventually came to understand it's not about listener numbers, technical details, production... it's about taking your enthusiasm and doing something constructive with it. I think Ed knows this, that's why he never asks me for anything, I send him my audio when I have it, so being a part of the MangaCast team has been easy.
Working with Brigid has been equally easy, she has so much writing experience and she's so professional that she makes it real easy to do the actual episodes.
Backstage: What did you think of the first podcast? Has there been any response from the readers?
Jack Tse: I thought it was my best podcast performance since I started and that it would be something I would listen to even if I wasn't making it. I said some things that were mildly provocative that sort of just comes out when you're trying to be witty but I would not change a single word. The first episode was just released on Friday, so we have not heard any feedback yet.
Backstage: Was it hard making the podcast? Mind sharing with us the steps in which the podcast is made?
Jack Tse: Making the MangaBlogCast was not hard because I already do reviews for the MangaCast. The special steps I do specifically for the MangaBlogCast are:
- Print and read Brigid's outline and make notes
- Perform the entire episode for practice, making new notes if needed
- Practice sections I had problems with
- Record entire episode
- Make post-production edits and add music and chapters, then export a .m4a file
This whole process is split between several days and takes about 2 hours (I blame the World Cup for distracting me). I use Apple's Garageband and a Logitech desktop mic on a dual 2 Ghz, Powermac.
Backstage: What do you think of MangaBlog in general?
Jack Tse: Brigid's MangaBlog is the google of manga news sites. It does it's job of presenting news with not a lot of interference of graphics or other annoying attributes often found in these types of websites (In other words, no embarrassing pictures of furries). Along with her intelligent insightful opinions, journalistic background, and enthusiasm for manga, her site is a must read. The type of audience she attracts from what I've seen is from a more older/sophisticated manga fan and often from the Manga/Anime industry. For those of us Manga fans on the wrong side of 25, this is refreshing.
Backstage: What are your goals for MangaBlogCast in the future?
Jack Tse: My only goals are to have fun making them, become good friends with Brigid and to entertain my fellow Manga fans.
I think it would be fun if we had multiple "hosts" as well. If anybody out there who likes the show and think they can do what I do, please email us at email@example.com.
Backstage: Please tell us a little bit about MangaBlogCast? What's so special about it?
Brigid: It's a quick look at the news of the week. While Ed's Manga Curry no Maki is more in-depth, this one is in shorter bits. We'll cover what has happened in the industry--new licences, mergers, and bankruptcies, how manga are selling. And if there is an issue everyone is talking about, we'll do a piece on that, too. It's an opportunity for me to sit back and tie things together a bit.
Ed: The MBCast is just that. Quick takes at manga news bits, the stuff manga fans should know about but might not always get.
Backstage: This is the first ever manga podcast that's focused on manga news?
Ed: Possibly. I did one of my own around the start of the MangaCast, but it did not get much of a response. The Maki was developed out of that.
Brigid: On the Maki, you talk about things like the HC/Tpop merger.
Ed: Jarred and I decided to cover specific topics in depth. Using both of our contacts and knowledge to create a full hour show about the stuff
Brigid: Where the Maki is deep, MangaBlogCast is more broad. We'll cover half a dozen topics in 20 minutes, then we'll have notes and links on MangaBlog if people want to know more.
Ed: The Maki is also more of a news magazine in a way. I like to consider it more like 60 Minutes for manga, where we cover news, do a review here and there and talk some culture.
Brigid: Exactly! And MangaBlogCast is more like a daily paper.
Ed: Yup, the Maki will not cover everything in the MBCast, but there will be some crossover.
Backstage: is it like the Sunday Newspaper, where you get all the news from the previous week in a neat little package?
Ed: In many ways yes, and that is where the SideDishes come in, also. Additional items that could bring up conversations but are not really news fall in there. For a while MangaTheory was to be the OpEd part, but that has kinda tailed off a bit :'(
Brigid: Well, everything Jack and I think is important, anyway!
Backstage: Please tell us how this whole project got started, how did you get in contact with each other? Did everything go smoothly? Were there any obstacles along the way?
Brigid: Jack contacted me.
Ed: Same here. :-D I have to say I was shocked when he told me.
Brigid: He's a regular commenter on MangaBlog. About two weeks ago he asked if I wanted to do this. His idea, which is pretty much what we're doing, was that I would supply him a list of headlines and talking points and he would do the actual narration. Ed, why were you shocked?
Ed: I was actually going to ask if you were up to co-hosting the Maki when Jarred was in Hawaii. We both frequent your MangaBlog so I thought it would have been a good idea. But I chickened out, so when Jack told me about your project with him I thought he read my mind in a way.
Brigid: Actually, I'm a big fan of yours and I'd love to do it sometime! I don't have much of a handle on the technology right now. But my husband, who is a high energy physicist and therefore a computer geek, already has the mike and the software.
Ed: Its much easier than you can imagine.
Backstage: By the way, can you give us a brief description of the Maki?
Ed: Well the Maki is a full course meal of manga news and commentary. Basically its a Mix or a Roll of manga, hence the name Maki. Maki means to mix and another kanji can mean roll (like the sushi). Ultimately Jarred decided my curry obsession should be added to the Mix, so we added the Curry recipes from Addicted to Curry at the end of each episode, Manga Curry no Maki.
Brigid: Ed, when you and Jarred do the Maki, are you both physically in the same place?
Ed: Nope, Jarred is in the Northern Office in Seattle.
Brigid: Hmmm… It sounds like you're in the same room.
Ed: I am in the Southern Office, Berkeley California. We really try to get the sound right, and with GarageBand on the Mac it is real simple.
Brigid: Yes, GarageBand is what I have on my Mac. One thing I'd like to explore in the future is doing some interviews. It's good to know it can sound that good. I don't think Boston has many manga-kas.
Ed: Not yet, but the creep is on.
Brigid: By the way I'm not doing any of the sound part of the MangaBlogCast.
Backstage: What was your impression of the very first MangaBlogCast? What kind of response did you receive? What's the plan for the future?
Brigid: I like it. I think Jack brings a lot of energy to it, and it's interesting to have his take on the news. We haven't gotten much response yet, but that's not surprising, I tend to get more hits on weekdays than on the weekend, although my hits have been up the past few days, and maybe that's why. It may take time to build an audience.
Ed: I loved it. Not much response here either but I enjoyed it a lot. What I took was a development of Jack's skill. He has an energy and curiosity that really made the news clips enjoyable. I have heard other anime podcasts covering news before, many are a little stiff or monotone, but Jack read his script and then ad-libed a bit.
Brigid: Yes, I liked that.
Ed: He made the news fresh, definitely had me thinking a bit about the MBCast's take on the goings on in the manga world. One thing I get a lot is that people who hear the MangaCast, especially the Maki, they feel Jarred and I are right there with them.
Brigid: Yes, that's true!
Ed: They feel they are listening to the conversation live, and I have been told the functionality of being able to take it with you on an MP3 player, which makes it easy to take at their pace. Jarred and I hardly edit out anything anymore to reinforce that "personal feel".
Brigid: I listen to the Maki and reviews on my morning walk, and sometimes I'll be chuckling or reacting to something you guys said and realize I must look like a crazy person.
Backstage: Will we ever hear the voice of Brigid or Ed in MBCast?
Ed: I'd be up for it, though as a guest since its Jack and Brigid's show. :-P
Brigid: Me too. It's up to Jack, really. Being a writer, I'm less comfortable with audio than print (and I really hate going on TV), but I think I could warm up to it.
Backstage: Aside from all the excellent podcasts found on Mangacast, is there any other anime/manga related podcasts you listen to regularly?
Ed: I listen to the NinjaConsultants, they in many ways are like the Maki for fandom in general. They cover anime, doujinshi, conventions, manga and fansubs. Erin who also does a show on the MangaCast network is a hoot and she does not shy away from speaking her mind.
Brigid: I just discovered the Ninja Consultant. I haven't found any other manga podcasts. When I run out of MangaCast stuff I listen to NPR shows like On Point.
Ed: The NinjaConsultants are not really news but I love their opinions about fandom, especially since I am a specialized otaku and don't roam out of manga much anymore. As far as manga goes there were a few shows last year, but like many blogs and podcasts they did not last long, sad how that works sometimes.
Backstage: This podcast move seems to be an important step for MangaBlog, should we be expecting more exciting new features in the future?
Brigid: Well, I'm growing it a little at a time. I've started doing more reviews, and I'd like to do a little more original reporting. Unlike most bloggers, I have a background as a reporter. When I can't figure something out, I'm used to picking up the phone and calling the one person who knows, so I may do a little more of that. However, my paid work has been picking up as well, and that sometimes interferes with my blogging.
Ed: Same here.
Brigid: I'm hoping that there will eventually be some overlap, and I can find some paying gigs writing about manga. The audience is pretty limited at the moment, though.
Ed: Hopefully the MangaCreep will fix that.
Backstage: About real life conflict, how does it affect your online website-related works? Do you have any special experiences or thoughts you would like to share with the readers?
Brigid: I'm hoping that as the creep continues, I'll be an interpreter, helping non-readers understand the medium better. I don't have a nine-to-five job at the moment. I divide my day between taking care of my kids and my dad, writing for dollars, blogging, and occasionally temp work, so that leaves lots of little slices of time for blogging. I usually do my first post over breakfast, then I get the kids out to school. It's a full life!
In the past, I edited a magazine for the World Federation of the Deaf. There were four people working on it, one in Geneva, one in Helsinki, one in New York, and me in Boston. During that time I got very comfortable with communicating via the Internet, since that's how we did the magazine.
Ed: Manga and the MangaCast is a regular routine for me, more and more I do reviews during my Lunch Break. I used to get email about the ocean sounds in the background because of where my office is.
Brigid: Hah! If I did a podcast, there would be children arguing in the background.
Ed: The journal posts are done while working on sound and light checks at the event hall I work. I read my manga on train rides to and from work and I type up ideas on my Palm while waiting for the train on the platform. I get home type reviews for AoD and then ready my camera for the final touches before reviews go up.
Brigid: Ed, do people look at you funny when you read manga on the train? Or are they used to it out there? I'm awed at the amount you write.
Ed: Not so much any more in the Bay Area, with a nice Korean, Japanese, Chinese population, and with Viz, DrMaster, Infinity, TOKYOPOP, GoComi and Bandai all in the state. There is plenty of manga in stores. Also with all the comic cons we have here it is hard to avoid comics and manga. Supermarkets carry Shojo Beat and Shonen Jump here.
Brigid: It's much less common here. You can find it in Borders and B&N, of course, but not much anywhere else.
Ed: Our biggest borders has Manga at the main entrance to the first store level, you cannot avoid it, its right behind the cafe, so kids and older kids (some older than me) spend time reading. It is very easy, actually almost too easy
Backstage: Is it difficult to put together a podcast and publish it? Is it something that you would encourage the casual fans to do?
Brigid: I'll let Ed handle that one. I would think that it's probably like blogging--easy to do but hard to do consistently.
Ed: Definitely, the only difficulty is finding time and finding a host server for your audio. The tools are a mic, a digital recording device (iRiver, voice recorder, computer, cell phone), a blog and a feed with RSS 2.0, just record edit and send it off to your host and then post it on the blog.
The tricky part is getting the right enclosures, services like Feedburner or WordPress can convert audio/video files to < enclosures > on the fly, so then the files can be directly dumped into Podcatchers like iTunes. The hard part is finding what to talk about, and once people start listening to make sure the content is available.
Jarred and I learned that bandwidth can be an issue after a while. Especially if something takes off to any degree, so staying on top of bandwidth is important. And thinking up new ideas is just as important, no one wants a stale podcast, you can listen to radio for that ;-)
Backstage: Anything else you would like to say to each other and to jack?
Brigid: Ed, thanks for giving Jack and I the opportunity to do this. MangaCast is a great community. Everything I know about podcasts I learned from listening to them.
Ed: I just want to express my appreciation to Brigid for many things. Sites like the MangaBlog keep me motivated. They encourage me as a fan of manga to continue to talk about the media. I feel we have a great community and with more voices hopefully more people will come to enjoy manga. Jack and Brigid are going to help the MangaCast do that with their MangaBlogCast. And hopefully they will help inspire more fans and readers to want to share their voices with us as well.
Brigid: And MangaCast does the same for me, especially because you are so in touch wit the Japanese scene.