Congratulations! If you’ve found your way to this guide, chances are your ankles are swollen, your appetite for content has increased three fold, and your baby bump has grown resentful toward you for hijacking its social media presence. However, this is not merely a primer for those expecting a little aural miracle. Regardless of your relationship, whether you’re planning your first baby shower or a euthanasia sponge bath jamboree, every parent should be acquainted with the critical phases in the life of their podcast.
1. Conception – The miracle of birth. Begetting your podcast can be a messy business. Just like a real pregnancy, there are all manner of slimy complications. By this point, the idea of your podcast has been gestating for a solid 20 to 30 minutes. In that time most podcasts reach full maturity in the womb of the mind. Don’t fret, however, if your digital dumpling is not yet ready to come to term. Some may incubate for periods as long as four hours before they are fully cooked, so to speak. You should recognize your podcast is ready to breach by a searing pain in your head, hot flashes, and apoplectic fits of self-loathing. If you feel any of these symptoms you should immediately find a cold dark sound studio in which to relax. Throw down some towels and, if possible, have your partner/co-host with you to act as a doula of sorts. Breath deeply and let your podcast find it’s preferred orifice from which to emerge. In most cases this is the mouth, but the anus is also a fairly common breach point. Once it has chosen it’s exit, you will experience intense pain and milky discharge from that orifice. Do not worry, it will pass once your podcast has emerged. 95% of podcasts will come to term in this fashion without complication. However, in the rare instance of a problem, seek assistance on the internet immediately. You may need a C-section or the help of an experienced audio engineer.
2. Infancy – With the trauma of birth behind you, you now face the most formative period of your podcast’s life. It is crucial that during this stage you provide your progeny with everything it will need to become a high functioning and up standing member of society, that is to say being eminently clickable. Surround your podcast with stimulating influences, such as zany sound effects and gimmick guest stars. Don’t be afraid to be experimental with your impressionable little guy. Musical interlude? Why not! Moment of silence for a trite cause? Hell yeah! A gag where you ask a guest to interpret confusing pop lyrics? I guess so! Try messing with the schedule to find what works best you, whether that’s every Tuesday and Sunday at 4 A.M., or every quarter. Once you know your routine stick to it! A regular schedule is critical to the development of your podcast.
This can be a notoriously tough time for parents. Your podcast will be growing rapidly and it can be hard to adjust to the changes. Your youngster may become temperamental, wanton, and/or incontinent. This is only natural, though. Grin, bear it, and make sure your podcast’s comment section is well supervised. If you’re interested in learning more on this phase of development, look into a book on psychoanalysis (I recommend Civilization and Its Content). Whatever Freud whiffed on with human psychology, he nailed with podcasts. Worst case, you’ll better understand what the critics mean when they say your spawn is “an anally-fixated hysteric with a death driven castration complex.” You should also consider exposing your podcast to a wider audience at this point. Your friends and family have been supportive, but your podcast needs to get out and run. Try going to a meet-up of other parents with young podcasts. Talk to them. Set up a play date or offer to guest star on their show. Socializing your podcast properly is of the utmost importance, especially if you’re aiming to get your offspring into one of the more prestigious academies, such as Earwolf or NPR.
3. Adolescence – By now your ankle-biter should have developed a bit of a sense of self. Maybe it likes eating its own boogers, or uses a catch phrase, or prank calls local minority-owned businesses. You should let your podcast have fun and grow, but don’t leave it directionless. Without your guidance, there are a number of pitfalls to which it might fall prey. As a wise man once said, “Idle microphones are the devil’s platitude.” A hands-off and carefree parent might find their podcast sliding into indolence, or, worse still, taking up with the wrong crowd. If you see your podcast falling in with the likes of any of these plan an intervention immediately: conservative talk radio, politics in general, D-level comedian concept casts, pop culture criticism, Terry Gross, niche niche and niche niche niche nerd topics, sports, inspirational auto fellatio casts, or internet street toughs of any sort. Any of these influences may corrupt your podcast, turning it into a shrill and ungrateful shit. Instead, offer your podcast gently but prodding advice. Don’t be afraid to discipline it if it gets unruly. Just remember, if traditional forms of punishment don’t work, it is totally acceptable to emotionally manipulate your podcast. Say things like “My love IS conditional.” or “I’m not angry, just disappointed…disappointed in the colloquial sense of stomach-churning, boner-killing hatred.”
4. Puberty – Fuck this. Good luck.
5. College – The fortunate among you have survived puberty and the transition to adulthood without your podcast experiencing an unwanted pregnancy or a developing debilitating personality trait. Regardless of how you’ve handled parenting up to this point, you’re going to have to relinquish some control now, whether that means guest hosts, gratuitous ad spots, or fan requested episodes (shudders). Acknowledge your podcast’s independence with a underwhelming and utilitarian gift, like toilet paper or a tire iron. This not only stresses your expectation for them to stand on their own, but also your growing callousness to their misfortune. Many parents feel lonely at this stage, consumed by the emptiness of knowing that the only thing that gave their miserable lives meaning was wiping the ass of their ill conceived rug rat. The more graceful parents will take pride in the growth of their podcast, watching from a distance at it gains followers and perhaps critical acclaim (read scrutiny). No matter where you lie on the spectrum, you should consider finding a hobby for yourself to fill the void. One Gallup poll finds that the parents found extra marital affairs the most fulfilling way to spend their time once their podcast had gone off to college. Test the shame infested waters of adultery and try not to get knocked up with another aural whippersnapper.
6. Adulthood – The most boring phase. Your podcast has become the petty, uptight bastard you had always feared, a stark and horrible reflection of the blackness in your own soul. In all likelihood, it is set in its career path of destruction, unwilling or unable to change despite feedback from friends and listeners. There’s really no hope of changing things now, merely accept what little control you have. If your relationship is friendly, treat it as you would any middle-aged pal. Indulge in a riverboat-themed episode where you talk about car insurance, past foibles, and the bleakness of your respective futures while you both imbibe just a little too much Chardonnay. If, by this point, you’ve disowned your podcast or been disowned (mutual disowning is also not unheard of), have a go at a reconciliation. Lure it into supposedly neutral territory with the promise of new microphones or a live episode at sidewalk art fair, then hit it with everything you’ve got. Remember, guilt, as always, is the primary weapon in your arsenal.
7. Old Age – The old codger. What a life its had. Chances are by now, most of your podcast’s episodes are clips shows or nostalgic drives down memory lane. That’s all well and good, just don’t let your podcast double park. Despite its obdurate insistence to the contrary, it is most definitely time to urge your podcast toward retirement. This can be a tricky business, many are so inveterate and ornery that they won’t listen to you. Try using a megaphone or threaten to move it into a retirement community. If that doesn’t work, bring out the big guns. Buy a tombstone and a shovel. Make casual references to the soil types in your backyard and how you’ve always considered velvet lining a little excessive. Why not just use low thread count sheets? It should get the hint. It is also important to make sure all its affairs are in order. Many podcasts prefer a celebrity to read their living will. Find someone on the cheap or pay a decent impersonator to mollify the old coot. The subjects of funeral and interment can be even more touchy, sending your podcast into a bout of witty banter that is a testament to senility everywhere. Don’t be bullied by pathetic attempts to appeal to your sympathy. Stick to your guns and low-ball.
8. Death – The end of the road. Comfort your podcast in its dying moments. Remind it how it has led a fulfilling life and brought joy to tens of people on the internet or maybe even a lonely guy in a car. As it reaches the end, try turning down the gain to muffle its death rattle. Put slip covers over its microphones and wish your phonic fogie a tormented afterlife eternally fettered in a digital hell devoid of absolution.