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Noises In The Middle Of The Night

Taking a short break from writing an episode of FREAKANGELS.

You know what I miss doing? My occasional music podcast, The 4am. (If you’re reading this on the main site, you can find and play the archive of that podcast in the right-hand menu.) This was the text that headed every 4am broadcast:

The 4am is a selection composed entirely ofmusic sent to me by artists. If you wantyour music (and, hell, I’ll even take field recordings and spoken-word) to be played on The 4am,emailyour 128kbps-plus mp3 filesdirectly Include your website address, please. The 4am is mixed down to 128kbps, is of no set length and is released on no set schedule. If you like the 4am, please tell people. The 4am shits fireworks and baby heads.

(If you’re in iTunes, I think you can still grab them all out of there, too.)

It got incredibly fiddly to do, in the end — I think the track in #18 that just seemed impossibly broken no matter what I did, and the track that I thought was fine but that the band told me was chipmunked (even though, as I later checked, it arrived in that condition), was just the death of it for me. The program I used to make the 4am files, MakeItOne, won’t compile mp3s of less than 128k — and won’t compile anything that isn’t an mp3. I shot the whole file down to 128k in Sound Editor after compiling it in MakeItOne. (A lot of people used to give me shit about using a variable bit rate in earlier podcast series.)

I could just fling each selection of pieces into an Amazon bucket and stream it, I suppose, but that kinda defeats the point of a podcast for me.

I guess each 4am was listened to by between two and three thousand people. I dunno what kind of audience that is, for a music podcast.

But I really liked doing it, for a long while there.

Published in daybook


  1. cichlisuite cichlisuite

    I miss listening to your 4am podcasts!

  2. SaveDave SaveDave


  3. Mandy Mandy

    I found some bands via the 4am that I never would have heard otherwise, so thanks for taking the time to do them. If you end up doing an Amazon bucket I’ll probably stream that too.

  4. Evil Paul Evil Paul

    I’m sure you could find a filthy assistant to do all the horrible bit-wrangling, leaving you to do the curating part.

  5. Brent Wilcox Brent Wilcox

    You singlehandedly brought me out of a 15+ retreat from making music when you included me in The 4am. Now I have new tracks floating all over the Web, sold a tune for a soundtrack, and have more ideas than I have time to pursue. I really have to thank you for being a catalyst.

  6. Audacity is a free, open source audio program that I do believe will handle just about any audio format you can feed into it.

    working with different formats can be a pain in the ass no matter what program you use, at least in my experience.

    ableton live is pretty easy to use but they want money after 30 days. also easy to record voiceover or whatever.

  7. yeah, i miss them too… i might be mistaken, but i think one of our tracks was going to be on that fabled “last” 4am. horsefuck!

  8. Jim Jim

    Maybe you could “curate” the content, getting a minion to put the thing together, do the necessary conversions, and podcast it?

  9. They kept me going while I was in the studio, for awhile. Love a new batch. But hell, I can’t get a third of the things done I want/need to – So I’m not going to ask you to do more than what you’ve got going now.

    Unless, of course, you want to.

  10. I, too, miss the4am! I’m curious as to what features you require/expect in a podcast-making application… MakeItOne seems pretty basic, and it’s surprising it doesn’t work very well. I’m tempted to spend an afternoon or three writing an equivalent application, purely for the programming exercise. I’d be even _more_ enthusiastic if it increased the chances you’d resurrect your podcast.

  11. I’ll happily get on the cutting and pasting duties if you’ll get back in game.

  12. I know what you mean about the podcast, but in the meantime, chucking all that kind of stuff into an S3 bucket and pointing at it would be bloody nice for the rest of us…

  13. Warren Ellis Warren Ellis

    I used to use Audacity to boost sub-128k mp3 files up over 128k so MakeItOne could use them. I HATED Audacity. Horrible overcomplicated pain in my nuts.

    (I don’t put voice inserts into The 4am. Hate the sound of my own voice, and the buzzing laptop means I couldn’t get a clean piece now in any case.)

  14. apheks apheks

    mr. ellis,

    longtime reader, first-time poster. my good friend does a monthly podcast called ‘visions of the unexcused’ (

    check it out…


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