Escucha Me: Podcasts as Historical Archives

Podcasts are the great equalizers since anyone can do one – hey, even Joe Rogan who was paid $3M. (He recently interviewed Kanye West.) While not every podcaster will receive a large sum check for their endeavors, they will have access to a platform to build an audience and keep their listeners engaged with weekly content. The variety available online offers selections that will appeal everyone as they go through the motions of their daily lives because multitasking is always better with storytelling. Plus bonus feature, the listener feels like they gain more knowledge about a topic they care about. Let’s not forget how a soothing voice can make you feel less alone during the time of COVID-19.

Joe Rogan Experience #1554 – Interview with Kanye West. Rogan is the highest paid podcaster of all time. While he is a bit “bro-tastic” for my taste, it’s impressive how he built an industry around his podcast.

Here are some facts about podcasts and its history according to the marketing site Brandtastic:

Podcasting began in the 1980s and it was called “audio blogging.”

In the early 2000s with the rise in popularity of portable audio devices such as the iPod, the concept of transferring these ‘audio blogs’ to an audio player as an MP3 file became mainstream.

By 2003 people were able to download audio blogs to their iPod and journalist Ben Hammersley coined the term ‘podcasting,’ hence the word ‘pod’ in podcasting.

In 2005 Apple officially added podcasting to its iTunes Music Library. In 2005 during an onstage interview at D3, Steve Jobs demonstrated how anybody could create a podcast using their Mac and share with the world.

Since 2005, more than 700,000 podcasts have been created, with over 30 million episodes of content, most of them for free.

Incredibly, about a third of those episodes have been created since June of 2018.

The most popular podcast publishers today are iHeartRadio and NPR, both with over 22 million monthly listeners. These networks offer some of the most popular podcasts, including Stuff You Should Know, Planet Money, and TED Radio Hour.

I do listen to podcasts because I enjoy the depth presented by the hosts and the amount of production time it takes for them behind the scenes. For three years, I volunteered at KYRS Thin Air Radio as a news reporter. Every week we selected our stories, wrote about them, recorded and edited them and then uploaded them on the share drive. It was a lot of work For example: my favorite but one that is rewarding when that 15 minutes of airtime is filled with the topics you are passionate about. For example: cryptozoology is an interest of mine because I love to hear people talk about their encounters with bigfoot. My uncle claimed he ran into sasquatch when he was trying to round cows back to the farm after they escaped near Brewster, WA. He claimed the smell overwhelmed him and he hid behind sagebrush shaking in fear. As a kid this left an indelible mark because no one believed him and they accused him of smoking too much reefer. This motivated me to interview a member of the Cascade Association of Sasquatch Trackers. (If I can find the file, I will post it.) But this volunteer experience introduced me to the detail and dedication required to maintain a podcast and I swore I was never going to do one – until now.

This week we were assigned the following three categories and these were the podcasts I selected:

Interview Podcasts. The History Extra Podcast (Links to an external site.)

Here is the story I listened to on Sexing History (Links to an external site.) 

Here is the story I listened to on The Pickup Artist. PRO: What I truly appreciated was the quality of editing with the archived music and ads. The detailed notes and bibliography offered an easy way to reference the historical elements sprinkled throughout the podcast. I will continue to listen. CON: Not enough hours in the day to listen to how dysfunctional humans are when it comes to making whoopie stuff.

Big Budget Podcasts: Bundyville (Links to an external site.) (actually listen to Season 1, Part 2: Nuclear Weapons, Waco And The Radicalization Of Cliven Bundy) PRO: Leah Sottile the former Inlander reporter made this happen and she chronicled this to perfection. CON: Will we ever hear the last of the Bundys?

As I mentioned before, this week I will add to the podcast category – San Juan Island history here.

The Pig War Standoff: Boarish Behavior on San Juan Island

A pig played a role in the political standoff of 1859 over the northwest boundary between Great Britain and the United States. Well, let’s exonerate the pig of some responsibility. Tensions were already taunt due to the “it’s complicated” relationship status between the two countries. Both claimed sovereignty over San Juan Island but which country claimed the navigable channels was not determined and contested; Britain’s Hudson Bay Company established a sheep operation on the island in 1853 in response to the U.S. claiming the islands in the Washington Territory; and Americans settled on the island but were referred to as “Yankee squatters” by the Brits. (Shocker: Americans do not take kindly to their hegemony being questioned.) The island invited lawlessness since residents were not paying taxes or customs duties which attracted elements with little interest in establishing communities with prosperous farms, churches and schools. Indeed on the American side, San Juan Village floated on a sea of bad whiskey and prostitution. (The Pig War, Kindle 3657)

San Juan Island (highlighted in the map above), was of notable significance due to its strategic position at the mouth of the channel.

The pig in question was owned by HBC and was shot and killed by Lyman Cutlar. It should be noted his fence only had three sides and historian Boyd Pratt tried to place this on Cutlar’s Salish wife (Ibid, 1088), he shot the pig after chasing it away from his property into the woods, and threatened to shoot Hudson Bay agent Charles Griffin if he trespassed on his claim when Griffin requested payment for the pig. (Ibid, 1114) Griffin in turn threatened to have all the Americans removed which escalated the incident further. Things went from zero to a hundred real quick – an enormous American flag was raised (they rowed one in from Whatcom!), sheep were hilariously stolen from Griffin and sold by the Americans, the British frigates were posted along the island, U.S. forces brought cannons and back up and a 12-year standoff ensued. But the gossip and and lack of awareness perpetuated by self-important men the real dangers of a near war. The pig just wanted potatoes but the men wanted to remain in powerful positions even if they created them from a much ado about nothing.

Throughout Michael Vouri’s The Pig War: Standoff at Griffin Bay one man exhibited unparalleled swine-like behavior: Captain George E. Pickett. Author Granville Owen Haller proposed Captain Pickett and General William S. Harney schemed to start a war with the darker motive of distracting the North so the South could achieve independence. No records exist to substantiate this theory. (Ibid, 1468) Throughout the bluster and confrontation, Pickett continuously proved deceitful, antagonistic and unwilling to see peace prevail. Pickett’s ignorance of the Treaty of Oregon, Marcy agreement, and his outright wrongness about San Juan Islands’ designation as U.S. territory. Captain Geoffrey Phipps Hornby’s upholding of Britain’s non-confrontational policy held the line against Pickett’s disregard of the situation’s possible implications.


Michael Vouri, The Pig War: Stand Off at Griffin Bay (Ibid, 121)

After reading about The Pig War, there are a few San Juan Island stories that I am interested in adding to a Curatescape for the area.

  1. Kanaka workforce before and after the white settlers
  2. Mrs. Pickett’s story with reference to the Peace Weavers book Dr. Cebula recommended
  3. Salmon salt drying racks | HBC & Coast Salish systems
  4. How the Cowiche Indians built the Military Road
  5. San Juan Island laundress life
  6. Operation Sea Wall from the 1950s
  7. Block houses and their usage