As a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, I am one to frequent the Appalachian Trail, either for hiking and scenery, or for my persistent passion of trail running. Quick and easy access to trails is part of the appeal of living in a town like Asheville, and it’s certainly one of the things I love about this region.
With this in mind, there are a few times that I have toyed with the idea of podcasting outdoors, and allowing the sounds of nature to serve as a backdrop for a show (and I think that, with the right kind of show or subject, this idea would actually work quite well). However, a similar idea has served as the basis for a group of podcasts which may well have formed their very own sub-genre: thru-trail podcasting.
These are podcasts which, in some cases, are literally recorded from the trail. Many began as projects intended for keeping the friends and families of long-term hikers up to speed about happenings on the trail, but as more and more of them appear, it seems that the shows have come to represent a lot more.
An Uproxx article on the subject described a number of these shows, including Trailside Radio, whose host, Ratatouille, describes his experiences as a podcaster on the trail:
“Then I had the idea that an easier way to do a blog would be to do an audio blog. Instead of having to type out my thoughts and my experiences on my cellphone at the end of each day, I could actually dictate my thoughts and experiences as I hiked,” he says, before adding: “Then it occurred to me that if I brought a high quality audio recorder out onto the trail, knowing I would meet all kinds of amazing people, I could interview them and collect their stories… Add a theme song, make it as professional as possible, and put it out as a podcast.”
“By then,” he realized, “I was taking on something more ambitious than your average trail blog, but I was inspired by the idea and just ran with it.”
Part of what makes this so interesting is that, whereas many podcasts go about finding guests in a more focused, intentional manner, Ratatouille’s approach fostered a unique environment in which his guests would end up being completely random people, with just one thing in common: their experiences on the trail.
You can listen to episodes of Trailside Radio at the show’s website.
This kind of approach brings to mind a number of similar experimental things podcasters might try, including situational interviews with random individuals in a number of other situations, such as an urban setting. Or here’s another: I’ve always found that I meet the most interesting people during layovers in airports; interviews with travelers on their way to different destinations around the world might be an interesting concept just as well.
It just goes to show that the possibilities are endless as far as podcasting goes, and for concepts like those addressed here, mobile podcasting is actually preferred, despite maybe not always offering what are optimal conditions for recording. In The Complete Guide to Maverick Podcasting, I feature an entire chapter about podcasting while “on the road,” with this sort of thing in mind: I initially approached the idea of mobile podcasting as a necessity for getting shows done while I’m traveling, but more and more, I’m beginning to see it as its own promising genre, which captures the spirit and adventure of the places it features.