There’s nothing quite like a good Christmas story. Perhaps you have your own memories of being read “The Night Before Christmas” as a kid and swearing you could hear footsteps on the roof. Or maybe your family sat down to watch Charlie Brown choose a scraggly pine to be the center of the Christmas pageant. Personally, I always looked forward to seeing the claymation TV specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In any case, storytelling is a large part of the Christmas mythology in western traditions, blending old and new beliefs to create something a little more magical than our day-to-day experiences.
Back in 2016, Creative Colloquy put out a call for Christmas-themed stories, poems, and essays. I thought it would be a fun challenge to add my own twist to the generations of Yuletide fiction that’s come before. Set in the North Pole in the days before Christmas, “The Evidence for Coal” shows what happens when jolly old St. Nick and Big Data collide. It’s a bit of a satire of our data-driven culture and a bit of a reflection on why the idea of a man in a red suit delivering gifts to children around the world is so strangely compelling in the first place — nothing groundbreaking, just some good old fashioned Christmas fare.
This year, I decided to revisit this story, sprucing it up for my podcast on writing and the creative process, Dispatches with Jonny Eberle. I asked my friend William McDonald to narrate it and I think his acting chops really serve to bring the story to life. I can almost smell the hot cocoa wafting through the corporate halls of Santa’s workshop.
Ready to give it a listen? You can find the episode below or check it out wherever you find your podcasts. I hope you enjoy it and happy holidays!
In the fall of 2020, I was desperate for an escape. Between the bitter election and the threat of the pandemic, the future looked pretty bleak. So, in an effort to tune it all out, I wrote a script for a science fiction adventure set in the distant future. It was a lighthearted, retrofuturistic, utopian story in which a mustache-twirling villain bent on destruction faces off against a space-age knight in shining armor.
Against all odds, that script became a podcast. My collaborator William McDonald helped corral a stellar cast of voice actors, a composer to write music for the show, and a graphic designer to create our show art. It went from concept to reality in less than two years and now we’re up for an award.
The Audio Verse Awards recognize the finest audio dramas of the past year and “The Adventures of Captain Radio” is one of about 150 nominees, all of which are stellar. The competition is stiff — that’s where you come in. We need your help to make it through to the final round. Voting is open through October 30, 2022, and we could really use your vote.
You should know that the ballot isn’t very mobile-friendly, so it’s best to use a desktop or laptop (or you can switch to the desktop view on a mobile device by clicking the “Aa” symbol near the top of the page). On the New Productions category, simply find our show art in the lefthand column and drag it to the right column to rank us as one of your choices. The more shows you rank, the more weight your vote will carry.
Our whole team has poured so much heart into this story and these characters and it would mean a lot to see those efforts rewarded with a 2022 Audio Verse Award. Thank you for your support and for your vote!
A few weeks ago, I got to sit down with the friendly folks at the Grit City Podcast to chat about my work as a writer, podcast creator, and filmmaker. We talk about my podcast “The Adventures of Captain Radio,” my involvement as a member of the Creative Colloquy board and as a contributor to Grit City Magazine, and Tacoma’s amazing arts community. See the post below from Obscure Studios to listen to the episode. Thanks to Scott, Justin, and Jeff for having me on the show!
This week, you can catch Obscure Studios president Jonny Eberle on The Grit City Podcast! The Grit City Podcast has a simple premise—in every episode, the hosts sit down with Tacoma-based creatives and entrepreneurs over a couple of drinks to learn more about them and their projects. In this episode, Jonny joins the crew for […]
Let me start out by saying that I didn’t intend to create a podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always enjoyed podcasts, having been a fervent Radiolab listener for more than 10 years, and I regularly recommend shows like 99 Percent Invisible, Levar Burton Reads, The Moth, and Imaginary Worlds to anyone who will listen. But I never thought I would make one. These shows were highly produced works of art. Coming from a film background, I knew how much time and energy that takes to pull off.
But then, the whole world changed.
A deadly pandemic upended my daily routine. I was out of work, alone at home, for days…and then weeks…and then months. I read a lot, but I also dove headlong into every podcast I could find, sampling from genres and formats I never knew existed. I listened all the time—in the shower, while weeding the garden, out walking the dog—trying to shut out terrifying reality with comforting voices in my ears.
All that listening dredged up an old idea. Back in college, I used to joke with my friend and frequent collaborator Will McDonald that someday we were going to make a black-and-white sci-fi B-movie called Captain Radio and the Mutant Mole People from the Eleventh Dimension. For years and years, it was nothing more than an inside joke. Then, in the fall of 2020, something clicked and I realized that Captain Radio wasn’t a movie at all, but a 1930s radio show.
I started writing. Soon, I had dashed off three scripts bursting with rocket ships, ray guns, robots, mad scientists, rapid-fire dialogue, melodrama, and (of course) a valiant hero. It was silly stuff, popcorn fare of the highest order, but it felt good to write something hopeful in the midst of a global catastrophe. I needed the escape, and I suspected others did, too. So, I pitched the show to Will and asked him to come along as the star and co-producer. For some crazy reason, he agreed. Together, we assembled a talented voice cast from across the country, many of whom we knew from Theatrikos Theatre Company in Flagstaff, AZ.
After a lot of work finalizing the six-episode story, organizing recordings, learning my way around Audacity, creating sound effects with random objects lying around my house (wine glasses, bags of rice, and a wet sponge among many others), the first episode dropped on December 31, 2021. Chapter 4 is out now and as we rocket toward the season finale in a couple of weeks, I’m proud of the work we’ve done and hope listeners have enjoyed coming along for the ride as much as we’ve had fun putting it together.
If you’re interested in checking out the show, you can find The Adventures of Captain Radio in all the usual places you consume podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. If you enjoy the show, please take a moment to leave a rating and review telling others one thing you liked about it — that helps us immensely. You can also buy merchandise featuring artwork and quotes from the show, or you can skip all of that and make a monetary donation on Ko-Fi to help pay the bills. You can learn more on the Obscure Studios website if you’d like to dig deeper.
I didn’t set out to become a podcaster, but here I am. I’m so excited to be sharing this spacefaring journey with you. Thanks for listening.
What a year, am I right? After the dumpster fire that was 2020, 2021 offered new and unexpected challenges, along with a second helping of pandemic life just to keep things interesting. Personally, this past year was a time of incredible change, for which I’m grateful (ongoing global epidemic notwithstanding).
This year, I became a father, and it’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done. Sure, there are exploding diapers, plenty of screaming, and sleepless nights, but there’s also a little person who smiles when she sees me, grabs my fingers tightly, and calms down at the sound of my voice. This year was one of preparation, getting everything set up, and welcoming a new life into this messy world — and the world is a brighter place for her presence.
This was also a year that took my creative life in unforeseen directions. In November, while getting up every few hours at night with an infant, I decided to do NaNoWriMo, as a way to stay awake and much to my surprise, ended up writing 50,000 words of a novel manuscript in 30 days. I’ve kept the momentum up and now I’ve got a solid 80,000 words of a Las Vegas mobster novel and less than 20,000 words to go before I reach the end. It’s a major accomplishment for me, since I have a hard to time finishing any writing project, to be so close to typing “The End.”
My other major creative pursuit was something completely different: a full-cast audio drama. I started writing The Adventures of Captain Radio in 2020 when I was desperate for some escape from grim reality. In 2021, I got back into the project, and the first half of our six-episode season is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and other audio streaming platforms.
And to top it off, I baked some really, really delicious bread this year.
Amazingly, for the second year in a row, I accomplished all of my birthday resolutions. Let’s see if we can keep the winning streak going. Here are my personal and creative resolutions for this coming year:
Be the Best Parent I Can Be
This is a big one. I’m new to this whole parenting thing and want to be a good dad. This means taking the time to be present, leaving work at work, and devoting myself fully to the joy and hardships that come with raising a tiny human. It isn’t easy, but it is rewarding and I’m looking forward to helping my daughter explore the world. I’m thankful I live in one of the few states that offers paid family leave and I’m getting ready to take off two months to spend caring for my daughter when my wife goes back to work.
Finish What I Start
This is a big one. I get excited by new ideas, and I’ve always been more keen to kick off a shiny new thing than to invest the energy to complete an existing project. This year, I’m endeavoring to continue the projects I began last year. That means wrapping up the first draft of my novel and starting revisions, editing and releasing the rest of my podcast, and completing work on the short story collection I began editing in 2020. This year will be a year of getting things done, even if they take a while.
My life is vastly different than it was just a year ago. I’ve embarked on a new journey as a parent, changed jobs in the middle of a historic pandemic, and had most of my plans for the year upended in some way — but the results have been worth it. Change is inevitable. You can either fight it, getting lost in a cycle of anxiety about what might happen, or embrace it, making space to welcome the unknown. I can’t control what happens, but I can control my response to it. I hope to do this better as I begin this next trip around the sun.
I find the practice of setting birthday resolutions to be helpful. In a decade of doing them, I haven’t always accomplished everything I set out to do or be, but that isn’t the point. The point is to try, to strive for something, to set the mark and see how close I can get. I may stumble on the way, but that’s part of the fun. Here’s to 32.
— 30 —
Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA. His new fiction podcast, The Adventures of Captain Radio, is now available to stream on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and elsewhere. His fiction has appeared in Creative Colloquy, Grit City Magazine, and All Worlds Wayfarer. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his newsletter for more thoughts and musings.