From ‘Restless Shores’ to Unearthed Black, West Bath podcasters are branching out

Mike Rowe, who voices Dr Carlisle on ‘Restless Shores’ and Wings on ‘Shamus’, is recording lines at New Meadows Media in West Bath.

A West Bath-based media company best known for creating ‘Restless Shores’, a soap opera podcast that has garnered more than 86,000 downloads across the world, launched a new podcast on Friday.

“Shamus,” the latest brainchild of New Meadows Media owner Marsha Hinton, is a fictional noir detective story centered on “gritty and tough” private eye Hunter James, according to Hinton.

Rather than create a script from scratch, Hinton said she pulled detective and crime stories between 1890 and 1950 that are no longer copyrighted and used them as the skeleton of the story. plot with tweaks to bring it into 2022. Hinton said some stories could take up to 16, 15-minute episodes to tell while others can take three.

“Sometimes we drop those old stories and go for the newest and best, but those stories are worth knowing and they’re still valuable,” Hinton said. “They might be a little weird because they’re set in a completely different century, but they’re still worth reading, and not just the hard detective stuff that I pull off. I would recommend people to read these stories and see where our TV shows come from, where their roots are.

The first story “Shamus” tackles is John MacDonald’s 1955 novel “A Bullet for Cinderella,” which follows protagonist Tal Howard as he travels to an upstate New York town. in search of buried treasure after returning from a Korean prisoner. war camp.

Although the podcasts lack the dramatic lighting and smoky scenes that were the epitome of 1940s and 1950s film noir, Patrick Brancato, who plays Captain Wayne on “Shamus,” said he thinks the series still captured the essence of film noir. with his descriptive writing. A robust, cynical voice and well-placed sound effects don’t hurt either.

“The writing is descriptive, interesting and keeps you on your toes. It allows the listener to be in the world of the story – it’s like looking with their ears because it’s so descriptive,” Brancato said.

Brancato, who records his part of the podcast remotely in Manhattan, said “Shamus” reminded him of American radio shows that were popular in the 1940s.

“I think a lot of people get into these audio stories because they bring a sense of nostalgia, whether they were lived in that era or not,” Brancato said. “I love being a person who tells these stories to people.”

Hinton said he found the stories “Shamus” is based on through Project Gutenberg, a free online library of more than 60,000 e-books, all of which are in the public domain. Notable works from Project Gutenberg’s collection include “The Great Gatsby”, “Jane Eyre”, and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”.

Greg Newby, chief executive and director of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, said that everything in the Project Gutenberg library is there for the public to access, share and take ownership of as Hinton has it. do.

“Project Gutenberg encourages reuse,” Newby said. “We want people to send things to their friends or, if you’re in class, pull quotes or pictures. This podcast creates a derived word. They take original ideas from work and create something new, and that’s what we’re here for.

Hinton said she wasn’t sure if listeners would latch on to “Shamus”, but said she hoped the podcast would “surprise me and take off like ‘Restless Shores’ did.”

As of Thursday, Restless Shores had more than 86,500 downloads in 109 countries, according to Hinton.

“We don’t have the millions of downloads and listeners like other really big podcasts, but it was an independent thing from home and look where we are,” Hinton said.

Although “Restless Shores” has attracted fans from all over the world, South Portland’s Tanner Campbell, podcast sound engineer, studio owner, teacher and podcast consultant, says the chances of “Shamus” becoming hugely popular are slim. .

With more than two million podcasts available on Apple’s podcast platform alone, it takes more than compelling material to cut through the noise, Campbell said. Often a mix of marketing, a website, and a social media presence can make the difference, but the best-known podcasts usually feature a famous host or are produced by large news or media organizations. .

“Most people don’t listen to most podcasts; they listen to professionally produced podcasts which make up far less than 1% of total podcasts,” Campbell said. “If (‘Shamus’) goals are to gain exposure, grow viewership and become valuable enough for a production house to be bought out by Spotify or iHeart, they’ll have to do much better than ‘Restless Shores’ They could be a huge hit, but there’s a good chance they won’t.”

“Shamus” and “Restless Shores” have a head start as fictional audio dramas, however, which Campbell says are “an increasingly popular niche” in a time when most podcasts are roundtables and interviews.

Weekly 15-minute episodes of “Restless Shores” follow the escapades of people vying to control a billion-dollar pharmaceutical company in an unnamed coastal town. Although podcasts don’t allow for “15-second pensive glances into the camera,” Hinton said, “Restless Shores” is full of soap opera essentials, including marital affairs, blackmail, clones and the comatose character. occasional.

Regardless of how “Shamus” does, Hinton said she intended to continue producing “Restless Shores” because “This show has developed a life of its own – it has its own identity now.”

“When I started developing the idea for the show in 2018, my plan was to give it six months and reevaluate it and kill it or let it continue,” Hinton said. “It only took me three or four episodes that hadn’t even aired yet and when I listened to them I thought ‘I can’t let this go.'”

About Ethel Nester

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