Monday, November 14, 2011

Turning a Mouldy Leaf

Like most of the podcast's fans, I was surprised and saddened to learn of the demise of Hauntcast. After three years of monthly, highly entertaining shows g/host Chris Baker decided to close up shop and -- horrors! -- concentrate on getting his personal situation in order.

After hearing of the decision, I decided to delay listening to the last show so that I could enjoy the final helping without distraction. Normally I like to have the podcast playing in the background while I'm building props, working in my shop, or sitting around and doing nothing. That actually resulted in my not catching everything that was discussed, but made re-listening to a show just as enjoyable because I was always catching new tidbits.

I finally listened yesterday and I came away with a better understanding of why the decision was made, though I'm no more happy about it than I was when I first learned of it.

There were some interesting tidbits gleaned from the show, such as the revelation that when the podcast went to the $1-per-download model they expected to lose half their audience, but in fact lost 99% of it! Holy cow! That had to be a disheartening wake up call, that your audience didn't think enough of what you were doing to pay less than a cup of coffee for it.

While I thought maybe there was too much complaining about the lack of support, now I understand why it occurred. It wasn't so much complaining as lamenting that there wasn't broader interest. And while it's easy for us to sit back and say Chris Baker ought to be giving us this quality show for free, the man has to pay his bills too. Throwing stones from the sidelines and saying he should soldier on for our benefit (I thought this myself) is easy; having to put in 80 hours a month or so for no remuneration is a lot harder, particularly in the economy we're in.

So I wish Chris and the Scream Team good luck. While Johnny Thunder mostly has a different sensibility about movies than I do (c'mon, JT, chop socky movies? Really?!) I still found his reviews highly entertaining, even while disagreeing with him most of the time (or feeling like I needed to take a shower, like when after he got all mushy over his review of "Let the Right One In").

The Mistress of Mayhem, Shellhawk, brought a mature, feminine, and dare I say sexy perspective to the show (Shell, baby, you can talk to me anytime with that voice). Of course, Denny's prop segment was just awesome and a welcome addition to the show. He brought prop-making to life.

The new kid on the block, Grimlock, was just getting into his groove on offering a good vibe of what could be found on the web (and not just because I count him a friend). Another new segment that was quickly becoming one of my favorites was Ed Gannon's "Something Wicked" piece, which gave an inside look at the professional world of haunting.

And right up there was Chris Baker's own interviews with haunting gurus. Some of my favorite interviews include Bruce Stanton of Reign of Terror Haunted House (Ep. 18) and the two-part series with Gary Corb of Hallowed Haunting Grounds (Ep. 13 & 14).

Still, I think most people like myself most anxiously awaited Revenant's "Theater of the Mind" segment. That was just good stuff, relating some of the most tangential material to haunting and Halloween. Thoughtful -- cerebral, even -- but always entertaining.

I've since surveyed the landscape out there to see what might be able to take its place. While each of these podcasts has some good points about them, I don't see any being up to the quality, standards, and completeness that Hauntcast set for the home haunting community.

Rotting Flesh Radio: Essentially geared towards the professional haunt, there's a lot of dry recitation of facts and figures, and a repetitive nature to some of the commentary. It could use a good dose of editing, but it does have the benefit of coming out weekly.

Rue Morgue Radio: Music (lots of music), interviews with industry celebrities, and movie reviews seems to take some of the best parts of Hauntcast (though it probably pre-dates it). Also professionally produced, it offers some interesting listening.

Scare House: Another professional-oriented podcast, this one from the folks running the Pittsburgh-area haunted attraction of the same name. It's interesting and sounds professionally produced, though somewhat narrow in focus.

Haunted Radio (Channel 66.6 HM): Probably the closest thing to Hauntcast I've found, it's another weekly podcast dedicated to Halloween and haunt-related themes. Perhaps the one drawback I found was letting some segments go on for longer than need be. A little tighter editing would really improve this show, along with some more animated voice work. It can sound a bit monotone at times. Overall, perhaps the nearest thing home haunting diehards can tune in to.

Halloween Haunt: A short (about 5 minutes or so) podcast on Halloween related topics, poems, and stories.

Musique Macabre: All Halloween and Horror music, all the time.

Horrorphilia: An eclectic assortment of music, reviews, and discussions about horror related topics.

I'm sure there are others out there, but for me none has everything Hauntcast had, which was news, information, humor, professionalism, and yes, even smarts! Having listened to all of the above shows at least once I appreciate all the more what it was that Chris Baker put into Hauntcast. He, the Scream Team, and the show will be sorely missed.


  1. I'm going to miss the show as well Rich. Thanks for the kind words I appreciate them as I am sure the rest of the scream team does as well. It's not going to be the same without the show and I think it will be a little while before haunters really realize what they are missing with Hauntcast being gone. There won't ever be another show like it thats for sure.

  2. Hey, thanks for the list of other podcasts. I knew of RFF and Haunted Radio. One issue with RFF is that the host is having health problems and noone else can apparently carry on while he is sick. So there has been no podcast for many weeks.

  3. Sorry you didn't like my segment Rich. It was still nice meeting you at the NHC last year.

    Take care.

  4. JT, boy I hope that's a joke about me not liking your segment because I loved your segment. We might have different opinions about what makes a good movie, but I swear I didn't fast forward once through your segment!

    And I thought it was quite funny when you got all emotional on "Let the Right One In." And I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you too.


  5. It's a real loss--I've just finished listening to the last broadcast. Like you, I wanted to sit and really listen. Over time, I felt like I really got to know some fellow home-haunters, got some great tips and learned something about haunting while listening to this fun show. I'm proud to say I was one of the ones who signed up straightaway when the call for dollars was made and to this day, I'm surprised that more folks didn't step up to the plate. The Hauntcast crew did a fantastic job and I'm really gonna' miss their entertaining contribution to the Haunt Community.


Related Posts with Thumbnails
/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */