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This week’s Up-and-Comer, Sarah Werner, is a creative podcast producer whose new audio drama caught Apple’s attention.
Name: Sarah Rhea Werner
What brought you to Sioux Falls?
My husband, Tim Krause!
What keeps you in Sioux Falls?
I love the community here — it’s like living in a big city, but everything’s close, the people are friendly, and there’s zero traffic. It’s got amazing independent coffee houses, tons of great restaurants, local shops, the bike trail, affordable housing — Sioux Falls has everything I want in one place. So I hope you like me because I’m never leaving.
Earlier this year, you left a full-time marketing job to become an entrepreneur. What prompted you to make the move?
Oh gosh, it was the culmination of several things happening all at once, including new opportunities arising, as well as a need for new challenges. But I think mostly, I wanted to see what it would be like to invest all of my creative energy into something I owned and see just how far I could take it.
How has it been going so far? What has been the most unexpected part of it?
It’s been lovely and amazing so far. And you know, they say that “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” but I’ve found that you’ll never fully be able to rest, either. It’s been a consuming, “all-in” experience, which is not necessarily what I expected going in. And it’s not a bad thing — I just have to be more intentional about spending time with family and friends. And letting my husband convince me to take a break and watch Netflix every once in awhile.
Tell us about your new podcast. What inspired it? How is it different from other podcasts?
My new podcast is an audio drama called “Girl in Space.” So unlike most podcasts out there, it’s fictional — sort of like an audio book or an old-fashioned radio drama. I’ve always been a huge science fiction nerd, but I didn’t want to tell a traditional epic sci-fi war story like you see in “Star Wars” or “Firefly.” So the story of “Girl in Space” is a small-scale audio diary of a botanist who’s been abandoned on a research facility in outer space, and it features themes of truth, beauty, existential turmoil, loneliness and what it really means to be human. Also, there’s a mysterious light in the distance that seems to be drawing steadily closer. If you’re interested, you can listen to it for free at girlinspacepodcast.com or on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Alexa — anywhere you can find podcasts.
You’ve had some great success gaining publicity for “Girl in Space,” from featured spots on Apple Podcasts to Spotify. How did that happen? And what kind of impact has it had on your listenership?
Ha ha, yeah, it kind of blew up! And I never intended it to. In fact, I started it as an experiment just to see what was possible on a small scale in the audio drama space. I was fully prepared for it to fail miserably. But then my sister texted me the night after it launched and said, “Um, your podcast is on the front page of iTunes.” It was also featured in the new launch of iOS 11’s Apple Podcasts app. Then it hit No. 3 on the performing arts charts. Then my sister texted me again to tell me that the show was being featured on Spotify. Then Apple tweeted about my show, and I just about died. I think a couple different things helped it to get there. First and foremost, I have an existing podcast called “Write Now,” which has a fairly substantial and wonderfully loyal listener base. So they knew “Girl in Space” was coming out well in advance and were able to subscribe right away when it launched. Second, I attended the Podcast Movement conference in Anaheim about two weeks before “Girl in Space” launched. I met a lot of other podcasters and podcast listeners there and might have drummed up a bit of interest in the show there as well. Otherwise, I just like to think that there are a ton of audio drama fans out there searching for new shows to listen to!
What’s next for you? Any thoughts on where you see yourself in five years?
Hmm, I’m not even sure I know where I’m going to be in five days. I’m notoriously bad at planning, but I think I’d like to be doing more of what I’m doing now — writing, podcasting, speaking and teaching people about podcasting. It’s a pretty great life.
This week’s Up -and-Comer, Sarah Werner, is a creative podcast producer whose new audio drama caught Apple’s attention.