Someone recently asked me “if you were going to make a podcast, what would it be?” I stared blankly for a minute before admitting that I don’t know. I have talked to and read about and listened to so many podcasts that part of me thinks everything has been covered. I’m wrong, of course, but that doesn’t change that I have no original ideas to offer. But, in 2015, when Annalee Newitz, founder of io9 and Gizmodo, asked her friend Rose Eveleth that same question, Rose had plenty of ideas to offer. After narrowing it down, the duo decided that Flash Forward was the best choice and now the show offers listeners “a new future every week.”
That may sound a bit vague, so I’ll let Rose fill in the gaps on what Flash Forward really is. “Flash Forward is basically a show about the future. Each episode is a different future. Some of them are likely… but we also do things that are far less likely.” From antibiotic failure and invasive facial recognition software to space pirates dragging a new moon to earth and a world where everyone is face-blind, Flash Forward really does range the gamut of what the future could look like. “The show is structured in two parts. The first part is a little audio drama, so the idea is to drop listeners into the world… and then we go back to today and I interview experts from all over the world and in all different disciplines about what that future might be like,” Rose explained. Those experts tell listeners the likelihood of the future being discussed, possible consequences, and what is or isn’t leading us in that direction, letting listeners in on what the top minds in the field are thinking.
Those listeners play a huge role in the show. Rose told me that a lot of the ideas for possible futures are suggested by listeners who write in to the show, with ideas also coming from media and whatever Rose is reading. Once she has the idea, she “records half the episode” and “interviews a couple of people about that future.” The interviews are done first because Rose wants “to get a good sense of what that world may look like” before she writes the fictional first half of the episode. “While I’m finishing the second-half recording I’ll write the introductory theme,” Rose said.
Here comes the really cool part of the process. The introductory part is written exactly like a play, with characters that need to be acted. Rose told me some of those actors are friends of hers, but others are listeners. “If you become a patron of the show, you get the chance to be a voice from the future in these introductory skits.” So, Rose sends out the script to the actors, listeners and friends alike, and waits for them to send back their recorded lines. Those are then stitched together by Rose (the show is very much a one-woman wonder), who says “everything is really highly edited and cut down and… as tight as possible.” Listeners get to be a big part of Flash Forward and have even more to look forward to in coming months.
While Rose mentioned struggling a bit with the “business side” of podcasting, she has no trouble keeping the show exciting and creative. Rather than every other week having an episode that covers a “random future,” Rose is splitting 2019 up into “four mini-seasons of five episodes each structured around a theme.” The first theme is “earth” and each episode will have futures that concern Earth. Even more exciting, Rose said that the plan for the fictional introductions is to turn them into a “five-episode story arch” that all connect and develop characters over time. While the structure will definitely require a bit more work from Rose, she thinks “it’ll be really fun.” I have to agree, so if you want to hear a really unique podcast, see where the world is going, or just follow some cool stories, listen to Flash Forward and leave a rating and review to tell Rose what you think!
Chasing Pods is a Podchaser blog series dedicated to letting our readers know about podcasts they may not have heard of or provide a sneak peek into the making of their favorite podcast. We talk to podcast creators about their journey into podcasting, the creation of their shows, the ups and downs of the work, and what they’re looking forward to for their podcast
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