Too much of the time, "podcast" is a euphemism for "comics talking to other comics about their troubled childhoods." But when it comes to a long road trip, the right podcast can yield hours of listening enjoyment.
We're Alive, a live-action serial drama, follows a trio of army reservists as they navigate modern-day Los Angeles during a zombie apocalypse.
Part action, part drama and with some humor mixed in, "it's not a horror piece," the show's writer-director and co-creator Kc Wayland insists. "It's a character piece." And despite the similarity to TV show The Walking Dead, Wayland's podcast isn't a rip-off: He has intentionally avoided watching a single episode of AMC's zombie megahit.
But We're Alive does feel like the audio track of a television show. That's likely because, as an army vet himself, Wayland is also a film school grad.
After working on several film projects, however, he found the challenge of storytelling via soundscape more appealing.
"I just loved the control and freedom that you have in a recording studio versus being on set," Wayland said during a recent interview with Nerdy Minds radio. "I could do really horrific things that aren't nearly as bad if you hear it rather than see it. There's no gore, if that makes sense."
Instead, borrowing a phrase from iconic 20th century broadcaster Steve Allen, Wayland called it "theater of the mind." And that's an apt description. With sound effects and voice talents rivaling Hollywood blockbusters, Wayland and company spend 30-60 hours editing every episode.
It has been a serious five-year commitment from a guy who works on the show only after he completes his 40-hour-a-week job as a digital applications specialist at California's Chapman University. The crew, meanwhile, is comprised mostly of volunteers.
We're Alive is currently wrapping its fourth and final season, with the last six installments being released between now and mid-July. Every season contains 12 episodes, broken into three segments that run about 20 minutes each. By the time it ends, We're Alive will span more than 48 hours of story--10 hours longer than Google says it takes to drive nonstop from Boise to New York City.
More is in the future for Wayland, but he has some big decisions to make first.
"I have a lot of stories to tell, and I'm just looking to be able to find a way to do that full-time," he said. "The thing is, I have a great story that's lined up next. Does it work perfectly for audio drama? I've debated it back and forth, whether I should do that or book form. The ideas are there. ... What medium to tell them in is the next deciding factor."