If you haven’t listened to the audio drama ‘The Town Whispers’, I highly recommend you do so. It’s a horror podcast about a dark and twisted town called The Fort in the Pacific Northwest. Primarily narrated by one man, with high-end production quality and an engaging soundtrack, The Town Whispers has been at the top of my download list on Apple Music where I listen to horror podcasts that you can find on The Simply Scary Podcasts Network.
I thought I’d have a chat with the mind behind the voice, Cole Weavers. If you want to listen, check out their website. It has links to everywhere you listen to podcasts:
1) What was the first Podcast/Audio Drama you created/worked on?
My first podcast was Tales By Cole, which is my weekly True crime podcast. I started that January 2020 right before the world blew up. Silver lining, it kept me busy!
2) What is your background in Audio?
I’ve never worked in any Audio related field if that’s what you’re asking. I originally got interested in the medium of podcasting back when they were the newest and hottest thing on iTunes back in the mid-2000s but I was too young and it wasn’t financially feasible. Last year I started ‘Tales By Cole’, mostly out of impulse to see what would happen, and figured I could fill a need for listeners who didn’t exactly like how procedural crime stories tend to be and would like more of a story approach. ‘The Town Whispers’ on the other hand is more of a passion project built out of my love for storytelling, horror, and the format of podcasting.
3) How did ‘The Town Whispers’ start? Was it always an Audio Drama or did it begin in another medium and evolve?
‘The Town Whispers’ started off as an idea for a series of 31 vignettes I wanted to release on Instagram a few years back when video on the platform first came out, but once again was never financially feasible. A lot of the ideas in ‘The Town Whispers’ are born out of that initial project. The beauty of podcasting is the financial feasibility of it for those of us who don’t have a background in old media. All you need is an internet connection, a willingness to learn off youtube tutorials, a half-decent microphone, and self-awareness. The initial run of the podcast was meant to be 10 episodes but has gotten much larger with 51 episodes currently planned.
4) How long is ‘The Town Whispers’? How many episodes in this season and how many seasons are there? Or is it limited?
‘The Town Whispers’ was initially intended to be 10 full episodes and 4 interludes, or asides whatever you’d like to call them. From there we were going to evaluate how people received it and if we wanted to continue. It’s grown much larger since then. We currently have 51 planned episodes, so weekly releases for a year, which is beyond an insane commitment and definitely something that gave us pause. I was lucky enough to get in contact with the team behind Chilling Tales For Dark Nights, and Jason Hill’s Horror Hill, AND Otis Jiry’s Scary Stories Told In The Dark, and they basically helped us get in contact with a network, which includes distribution, but also a guarantee that there would be 51 episodes, which both frightens me and excites me beyond belief. Now I have the justification to indulge my insane little passion project.
5) Are there any Audio Dramas out there that inspired ‘The Town Whispers’? And if so, what were they and what did you draw from them?
‘The Town Whispers’ clearly makes it’s fair share of nods to Old Gods of Appalachia in its first episode as well as the prologue. That being said, I think it’s done more than its share of ensuring that the two podcasts are completely different listening experiences. Outside of podcasts, my influences range anywhere from Twin Peaks to Goosebumps to a single little nostalgic thought on a night walk that nagged at me.
6) Do you come from a town like The Fort, or rural areas like the Appalachian Mountains? Or were you inspired as an outsider to areas like this?
I sort of come from a town like The Fort. The Fort is in fact based on a real world place, but I won’t say where. I will say it’s in the Canadian Pacific Northwest.
7) Where did ‘The Man in the Cave’ come from? Is this a story that has always been kicking around in your head? This one was the scariest for me!
Some writers plan every character, and each character has a life story and history. Some writers let the story lead itself. The Man In The Cave, was purely a creation of the story. I didn’t plan that character, I just wrote him. Don’t get me wrong I outline my episodes, I have an outline for 51 episodes, but I really value flexibility, and being able to change your plan based on what does or doesn’t feel right. The Man in The Cave felt very right.
8) What is the most challenging aspect of creating an Audio Drama?
The production of a podcast is 20% of the stress. Releasing something creative and born completely out of your mind, brings with it the criticisms that people might have of your baby. When I first released the initial 4 episodes I almost had a stroke the week beforehand. Everything else is all about practice and ensuring you’re doing your best.
9) What is the most useful tool to you as an artist? From collaborators to processes, or equipment, what is the most valuable thing in your arsenal to creating ‘The Town Whispers’?
Google Docs. Most people ask about mics or interfaces, but honestly, before podcasting, I released a series of 200 two-sentence stories on Instagram and amassed nearly 50,000 followers, that isn’t to brag though, I did that with a terrible mic. Realizing it sounded terrible I threw some distortion and an old AM radio preset to disguise it. So the mic doesn’t matter as much as people would have you believe. I use a used and cheap Behringer interface, I record under a blanket, although my mic is better, it’s Google Docs, which is the unsung hero. It has you covered from script to communicating with a sound engineer through comments, and I can continue writing on my iPhone at 5 am in the morning when I don’t want to get out of bed but don’t want to lose an idea as well.
10) If you had to translate ‘The Town Whispers’ into another medium, what can you see it as? Film, painting, song, performance art?
I’d love to see ‘The Town Whispers’ as a comic, or a television show. I wouldn’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I feel like the style of story, and the pulpy and fast paced shouldering in my writing would really shine in either of those formats.
11) Is horror your favorite genre? If so, does that translate to your interests like books, movies, etc.?
Horror is my favourite genre, definitely! I find it relaxing. I hate gore, torture, or anything like that, but I love psychological horror, B-Horror, Lynchian Horror, Lovecraftian Horror, or anything that fully leans in to what it is and accepts it. I think Horror is fascinating. No other genre gets a pass on dark topic matter like horror. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, in the early 2000’s was delving into same sex marriages, the blossoming of womanhood, what it means to be special or ordinary, fate and free will. You never saw anything like that approached with as much empathy in Friends or Seinfeld.
12) How did the wonderful theme song come about? Someone you hired? Family friend? And how much creative input did you have with it?
Charlie PS. She’s going to love hearing about this question. She’s a wonderful singer and songwriter I worked with for a couple of years. My creative input was zero, beyond asking for an acoustic version of a song she had recorded and produced. She’s great because she’s always down for anything, so when I said “Hey I have this weird project, and I need a theme song” she was more than willing to go that extra mile for me. Seriously, anyone reading this, go find her on Spotify NOW!
13) Is there more to come from using social media as a platform for storytelling like your Instagram stories? Are we seeing an evolution in how stories are told over the internet?
Of course we’re seeing an evolution! The internet allows democracy to dictate what rises and what falls. There are still the cogs of industry promoting their children to the front row of the class but every month we see something new, exciting, and independent coming to the forefront. As far as utilizing the platforms themselves to tell stories, I think there is huge potential. I’m surprised every day that IGTV hasn’t had a piece of content to really blow up the platform in the way that lipsyncing, and duets blew up Musical.ly and tik tok, or the way vlogs really took youtube from somewhere to watch funny videos and tutorials into a real destination for daily content.
There you go, you can reach out to Cole about The Town Whispers or whatever else your heart desires. I hope this gave everyone new insights into the creative process and what it takes to create a stellar Audio Drama like ‘The Town Whispers’. Episode 10.5 is out NOW. So do yourself a favor and listen to it. You won’t reg- well, if you scare easily, you might regret it…