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Des Moines, Iowa

Adventures in Podcasting


Adventures in Podcasting

Geoff Wood

Wrapping up the final PrairieCast

Two big milestones to report last week in podcasting related to my life.


First of all, we ended PrairieCast, the SPN-themed podcast that I co-hosted with my friend Andy Brudtkuhl for more than two years. We put together 80 episodes in that time on four different platforms. I've been a podcast consumer for many years and I was really excited to create one when we started back in February of 2010.

However, as I've moved further to the business and operations side of Silicon Prairie News and away from taking part in content the show became harder and more time-consuming to put together. Additionally, it was taking away from the other things that were higher priority on my plate so it made a lot of sense to end it.

Ben & Ashton on PrairieCastIt just so happens that on the very date we planned to end the show we had the opportunity to break some news and interview a special guest on the show. That news was that Ashton Kutcher had invested in Des Moines-based startup Dwolla and the Hollywood star-turned-investor was going to make that announcement on the show. Awesome.

Friend and colleague, Danny Schreiber did the actual interview with Ben Milne and Ashton. Afterwards, the Dwolla-folks made a quick exit beforing the adoring masses found them (actually, reports were that surprisingly few people noticed that Ashton was Ashton while he was walking around Des Moines).

Huge thanks to Dwolla and Ashton for making the announcement on PrairieCast. It was a record day of traffic for SPN and the podcast got to go out on a high note (like 525 concurrent viewers-style high note). Watch the archive of the interview at


Secondly, I had the chance to catch a live recording of The Nerdist Podcast live at the Engert Theater in Iowa City. Three LA-based comedians (Chris Hardwick, Jonah Ray and Matt Mira) with fairly nerdly-interests make up the podcast that I first found on iTunes a few years ago.

I saw the guys record a live podcast in Austin at SXSW 2010 which featured an unannounced special guest that turned out to be The Daily Show's John Oliver. 

I had planned to take my brother Joe with me to the show in Iowa City, as he's one of the few people I know that would dig The Nerdist's comedy and subject matter the way I do but it didn't work out. Instead, my friend Andy Stoll from Cedar Rapids came down and took the ticket.

The guys typically portray a West Coast-centric view of the world (read: one that doesn't speak highly of the Midwest) so I was a little concerned to see how Iowa would be portrayed. A couple meth-jokes aside, nothing came close to crossing a line. I'm a little hyper-sensitive when people have the opinion that to be successful in something, you'd obviously want to leave here or that you'd need to, and that started to come on when they pulled a UI freshman on stage who said he wants to be a writer.

I really enjoyed the show, again, and one great obseration that Andy had is that it was a shining example of how you can be successful programming for a niche audience, no matter how small. With SPN we're publishing content for the niche that cares about startups and the Silicon Prairie and with The Nerdist its comedy, tech, sci fi, and the like, but the principle is the same. 

There was no spcecial guest this time - unless you count the Severe Weather. The Englert had a projection screen behind the stage showing a twitter feed of a hashtag for the show. It held the crowd's attention pre-show really well (almost too well as several mini-memes developed, including one picking on the bouncer next to the stage) and then the guys used it impromptu to show the famous video of Matt Mira get crushed by a golf cart ("famous" as in they've talked about it on the show several times but I'd never seen it). 

Back to the Severe Weather, this was the day with all the tornadic activity throughout the Midwest and the sirens went off right before the end of the show. The Englert put the radar up on the screen and the guys were fascinated - and honestly concernred - by what they saw.Options

The Nerdist learns about Severe Weather in Iowa