|Photo Credit:Jonathan Gibby|
I am a huge fan of talk radio, if you know me you know that I love to listen to Howard Stern. The man can tell a great story and make me feel like we're best friends, even though we have never met. I really enjoy when he talks about his childhood experiences in Roosevelt, Long Island and when he gives his listeners behind the scenes details about his legendary fights with the FCC in the 90s. Howard Stern can take my mind off what I am worrying about and he can make me laugh harder than anyone that I have ever met in person. His unique talent to relate to so many people at the same time is rare.
There is an art to telling a story and to entertaining, especially when you don't have picture to help you relate to the audience. Local stroyteller/podcaster/writer Shannon Cason is another very unique character that does not need pictures to tell a story. He is able to use words and sounds to take you inside of the tale that he is weaving. I turned on one of his podcasts to see what he was all about and found myself starting up three different streams back to back while I was working. I found myself enchanted by his worlds while I laughed along with some of his most interesting childhood experiences. I loved hearing him reference places that I have visited in Detroit and I loved his positive attitude.
Cason was born in Detroit, he spent 9 years in Chicago before recently relocating his family back to the Motor City. He has a very unique perspective of the city, he grew up here and knows what it was like, and then he came back to see what it has become. Read this short interview that we did with this very talented writer and performer and head over to his Soundcloud to take a listen for yourself. I guarantee that you will get sucked in after just one listen!
HID- What is a storyteller?
Shannon Cason- "A storyteller is someone who lived to tell the story, and compelled to share it. I have a motto I say: The storyteller controls the memories. Meaning - if I tell the story about myself, I control the narrative. It's mines. I really big on including entertainment value, humor, and drama in the mix. The storyteller's stories have to be entertaining for someone to be interested in listening."
HID- When did you decide to start podcasting your stories? What inspired you to do it?
Shannon Cason- "I started podcasting in 2010. I started because I was writing short fiction, and I had no one to read it. Podcasts were starting to gain traction so I decided to share my writing through the new medium. Honestly, I heard Marc Maron's WTF Podcast and The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast and thought why not share my stories as well. I have interesting things to talk about too."
HID- Where do you go to record these podcasts? Are you alone when you record them?
Shannon Cason- "My podcast is called "Shannon Cason's Homemade Stories" and that's what they are...homemade. I record at home in my spare bedroom. I used to record in a closet when I lived in Chicago. Wherever I can set up.I do it mostly alone. I sometimes get my wife, Cindy, or my daughter, Zoe, involved - whoever is over the house. I also get help from Joe DeCeault at WBEZ Chicago when needed. Joe is a professional audio producer at the station who adds some finishing touches at their studio."
HID- Are the stories written down or are you telling them off the top of your head?
Shannon Cason- "I prepare my stories most the time. I'm a writer. I love words. I love to put them together to inspire emotions and thoughts in the listener or reader's minds, so I write. I also include commentary at the beginning of most my episodes, where I just speak from my heart about things that are top of mind at the time I'm recording.
I think of it as a journal of what was happening in my life at the time I was recording. I have some commentaries talking about my wife, then girlfriend, spying on my phone messages of me flirting with other women: some with my baby daughter crying in the background, and she's five now. So it's precious memories in the commentary also."
HID- Why do you tell so many stories about growing up in Detroit?
Shannon Cason- "Detroit is my stomping ground. I grew up in and around Detroit.
I was big into the hip hop scene in the '90s as well - The Hip Hop Shop, St. Andrews, The Shelter. Those memories are special to me. The relationships I have as well. I know very interesting people. I believe their stories need to be told. The right way.
Sometimes people have stories of Detroit, and they are all negative. I don't know an all-negative Detroit. I know my friends and family. I share that story. Sure there's some bad, but there's a whole lot of good too. Music. Soul. Heart. That's what my stories have in them. Detroit always shines through everything I do."
HID- You recently moved back to Detroit after spending quite a few years in Chicago, what made you moved back? What did you miss most about Detroit while you were gone?
Shannon Cason- "I lived in Chicago for the past 9 years. The decision to move back to Detroit was mostly family-related. I have a 5 year-old, and I wanted the help of my family for some of her upbringing. Also, what helped the decision was the revitalization that is happening in the city, from a creative and innovative perspective.
The first week I moved back there was an Eastern Market After Dark event and Dlectricity in Midtown. That blew my mind because it was on scale with anything I'd see in any major city. It just encouraged me to get involved and be a part of the positive happenings in Detroit."
HID- Who adds all the sound effects to your storytelling?
Shannon Cason- "I do a lot of the editing and music selection myself from home...hence Homemade Stories. I also get assistance from WBEZ Chicago where needed. Joe DeCeault and the interns at WBEZ are a big help assisting me."
HID- Do you think you will ever write some of your stores down in a book?
Shannon Cason- "Definitely. The podcast was a way to share the stories immediately. However, there are a lot of ways to tell a good story. I have a story about being arrested on my way to my Boy Scout meeting as a 12-year-old that is in development to become a film. I will release a number of stories this year as ebooks and audiobooks. I will also publish my first crime fiction novel. But I also look for non-traditional ways to tell stories using audio or other means. I have a story planned using voice recordings from people around world, combining them all into an entertaining production."
HID- Do you ever perform live? Do you have any plans to perform live anywhere around the Detroit area?
Shannon Cason- "I perform live as much as possible. There is a Homemade Stories Live planned for May 5th in Chicago, However, I will bring it to Detroit shortly afterward. I just gave a TEDx Talk at my alma mater, Michigan State University, earlier this month. I host and curate an audio storytelling show with a group of radio producers in Detroit and Ann Arbor called Radio Campfire. We have an event planned for March 27th at the Matrix Theatre in Southwest Detroit. I will be on a lot more stages around Detroit in the upcoming months. I share all my upcoming dates at shannoncason.com."