Podcasts on Vinyl? This Podcaster Says It’s A Thing


Phonation: A Chicago Podcast Compilation is a newly-launched crowdfunding project spearheaded by longtime podcaster and broadcaster James VanOsdol. Ten Chicago area podcasts will be pressed to vinyl which is being crowdfunded on Kickstarter through June 25th.

Here are the first seven podcasts VanOsdol says will be part of his project
If the Walls Could Talk – True crime podcast diving into the sordid history of Edgewater Hospital.
● ‘thINK 180’ – Podcast covering tattoo shop INK 180s efforts to provide cover-ups for victims of human trafficking and gang members working to get their lives back on track.
‘Contest of Challengers’ – A business podcast hosted by the owners of Challengers Comics in Bucktown, covering the victories and difficulties in running an independent store.
‘Southside Pod’ – A deep dive into the culture, restaurants and retail experiences specific to Chicago’s south side.
‘Lifers’ – a “LOCAL H podcast with Scott Lucas, Gabe Rodriguez, Ben Reiser and a revolving door of friends, luminaries and beloved ‘lifers.'”
● ‘Friendly Atheist’ – Hosted by Hemant Mehta.
‘Windy City Double Feature Picture Show’ – a “look back at the rich history of the double feature from a very Chicago point of view, exploring not only the history of the films but the stories of the theaters that screened them.”

Why would anyone go old school, pull out the record player (if they have one) purchase a record and listen to a podcast, when they could tap their phone and be listening in better quality sound in under five seconds. We reached out to VanOsdol for some ansmwers

Radio Ink: When and why did you come up with this idea?
James VanOsdol: Two of my strongest passions are podcasting and record-collecting. I’d been wanting to start up an independent label for a while, but realized I didn’t have a perspective that was different from every other indie on the planet. What’s the business rule? Differentiate or Die? That was my motivation, and that’s what planted the seed. Podcasts (to my knowledge) had never been immortalized on vinyl before. I first thought about pressing my own podcast (Car Con Carne) onto vinyl, but realized it was too limiting (if not too vain). I live in a city (Chicago) where dozens of great brilliantly-concepted-and-executed podcasts are cranked out on a weekly basis. I thought this would be a fantastic way to draw attention to them, beyond their typical social media reach. Also, I think curation is a dying art, as so much of it is handled algorithmically these days. I believe there’s value in putting a personal stamp on 10 shows and saying, “These shows really excite me, and you should give them a listen.” By including 10 “best-of” clips, listeners can get a broad, ADD-friendly, taste of what’s out there. To that end, I made a point of sourcing shows that don’t have a lot in common. There’s a true crime podcast. A business podcast. A music podcast. A film podcast. And so on…

On paper, I totally appreciate that the concept of “podcasts on vinyl” sounds backwards… quixotic… unusual. But in the spirit of comedy records and old-school radio morning show record compilations, I think it makes perfect sense.

Radio Ink: Why limit it to just Chicago?
James VanOsdol: I’ve limited it to Chicago because it’s easy to curate in a more thoughtful and focused manner. I’m a huge fan of hyperlocal everything, and I think there’s a real advantage to focusing on a region. I also have fond memories of Chicago-centric music compilations released throughout the years, from the likes of PRAVDA and THICK Records. There’s a lot to be said for local pride and getting turned on to things happening outside your proverbial back door.

Radio Ink: Why do you believe people will listen to podcasts on vinyl when right now it takes them about 7 seconds on their phone?
James VanOsdol: I think the notion of “platform vs. platform” is the wrong way to look at this. The record compilation isn’t a substitute for the digital listening experience. Instead, it offers exposure to 10 shows in a highly-limited (500 pieces), collectible vinyl edition. If anything, this compilation serves as a companion piece to each show’s ongoing full-length efforts. And we know that vinyl continues to ascend in awareness, appeal and sales. Locally, two of the retailers I talked to yesterday said that Record Store Day 2021 was their most successful event to date. People love hunting for, and acquiring, small-batch pressings.

Radio Ink: How will you sell the vinyl once this is done and who is your target?
James VanOsdol: My goal is to sell all the pieces through the Kickstarter campaign. Should there be leftovers from the pressing, I’ll put them on Bandcamp. I already have a revenue share plan in place so each contributor would receive a sales percentage of copies sold outside the crowdfunding campaign.

James VonOsdol

Radio Ink: Give us all the details on the Kickstarter campaign.
James VanOsdol: The Kickstarter campaign runs through 8pm CT on June 25. Because Kickstarter is “all or nothing,” there is no grey area. It’ll either get funded, or it won’t. If funded, records will be pressed at Smashed Plastic in Chicago, the only record pressing facility in the state of Illinois (how’s that for a successful business model?).

Radio Ink: Tell us about your podcast.
James VanOsdol: To make a super long story short, I’ve been hosting Car Con Carne for over seven years and have posted over 600 episodes. The general premise for the first six years was that I’d meet a guest at a local (city/suburban) restaurant, we’d take our food to go, then do an interview over dinner in my parked car. When the pandemic hit, I switched the show to a nightly-from-home model. Now that we’re emerging from lockdown, I’m essentially doing a hybrid of the two interview styles: In-car interviews and from-home interviews.

For context: http://www.carconcarne.com. I also share full interview videos on the Car Con Carne Facebook and YouTube pages. Guests over the past year have included music luminaries like Smashing Pumpkins, Chris Frantz (Talking Heads), Rise Against, Soul Asylum and jazz great Ramsey Lewis. I’ve also interviewed actors like Joel McHale, Michael Shannon and Naomi Grossman for the show. One of the past week’s interview guests was no less than 2-time WWE champion Drew McIntyre!


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