(james benedict brown) on the road

Off the road, and parked up on the shoulder

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 29 January, 2009

The Ontheroad Podcast is no more. While I keep copies of the original mp3 files, the credit crunch has sunk its teeth into my finances and I can no longer afford to maintain the server space required for the episodes, which have been on hiatus since last summer. The servers I’ve been using were internationally accessible, but based in America, and are no longer affordable to me in US dollars.

Sincere apologies; the podcast may live again when the good time return. Until then, you may continue to access this blog, my Flickr pages or my Twitter feed.

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“Everyone lives on a hill in Sheffield” – Jarvis Cocker

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 5 August, 2008

Jarvis Cocker, the boy from Intake who’s done good (and who now lives in Paris) recently produced a two part radio documentary for the BBC called Jarvis Cocker’s Musical Map of Sheffield. The programmes are being rebroadcast this week, starting yesternight and continuing tonight at midnight on BBC 6 Music. Not only is this a brilliant little trip down an increasingly nostalgic memory lane for me, it’s also a brilliant aural work, very much what I would aspire to one day produce either through the podcast or other means.

Don’t fret if you’ve missed the first episode, because both will be on the iPlayer for a week after broadcast. And don’t fret if you get interupted while listening, because the handy new version of the iPlayer remembers where you were if you accidentally close the window or if your wireless connection burps.

“We’re American…”

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 16 June, 2008

“…we’re more comfortable with violence than sex.”

So joked Rennie Sparks on stage this evening at the Glee Club in Birmingham. More words about America, Americans and Americana from her and husband Brett later this week when episode 8 of the ontheroad podcast makes its way online.

Welcome new readers

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 4 March, 2008


A funny thing happened on this blog yesterday. I wrote a post rubbishing the University of Sheffield’s corporate identity, and the site’s hits went through the roof. Does this mean I’m not the only who hates my institution’s visual identity, or is there something more subtle at work?


Who knows. Who cares. But a big hello to every WordPress blogger clicking through from their dashboard today: this blog briefly became the fourth fastest growing blog on WordPress. If this is your first time, pull up a chair, kick off your shoes, get yourself a drink and maybe leave me a comment on anything that ruffles your feathers. Be sure to check out the podcast pages as well. If you want to subscribe to the podcast, so that you never miss an episode, clicking here will load it in iTunes for you.

Thanks to all my readers, ‘old’ and ‘new’… come again soon!

Rule #1 of indy podcasting: don’t waste time asking

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 3 March, 2008

What’s it like inside the mind and email inbox of an amateur podcaster? Here are some e-mails sent and received in preparation of the production and recording of ontheroad podcast episode 07. Proof, if I ever really needed it, that there’s no point asking when you know that the answer is likely to be no.

From: James Brown
To: Debbie M_____, East Midlands Trains
Date: Wednesday, 13 February, 2008 11:13:11 AM
Re: Podcast recording at Sheffield Station

Dear Ms Mather,

I’ve been passed your contact details by the EMT customer relations team.

I am a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield, and an independent podcaster. I produce about six podcasts a year, which record the places and people I meet on my travels. The podcast currently has a very small audience (three figures max) who access the podcast through my website and iTunes.

For Valentines Day, I want to produce a short episode of the podcast that speaks to the people waiting for their loved ones at Sheffield station. Every year I see countless people waiting with large bouquets of flowers, and each one will have a story that I am interested to hear.

I am therefore seeking your permission to spend a couple of hours towards the end of Valentines Day at Sheffield station, asking those who are obviously waiting for loved ones who they are waiting for, how they met etc. I will only record these conversations with their permission, and will not seek to disrupt the smooth running of the station. No commercial gain will be made from this activity, and East Midlands Trains will naturally be credited in the podcast.

For more details about the ephemeral nature of the show, please see:


You can reach me by email or on 07790 XXXXXX.

Many thanks,

James Brown

A few hours later, I got a reply. Unfortunately…

From: Debbie M_____, East Midlands Trains
To: James Brown
Date: Wednesday, 13 February, 2008 4:02:08 PM
Re: Debbie Mather is out of the office…

I will be out of the office starting 13/02/2008 and will not return until 20/02/2008.

I’ll respond to your message on my return.

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addresses. If you have received this email in error please notify the East Midlands Trains IT Department on 44 (0) 1332 XXXXXX.

So, in the quandry of a tight deadline and no official permission to record, I did what any self respecting podcaster would do. I went ahead and made the show anyway. Good thing that I did, because a week later…

From: Debbie M_____, East Midlands Trains
To:James Brown
Date: Wednesday, 20 February, 2008 8:15:27 AM
Re: Podcast recording at Sheffield Station

Hello James

As I am sure you can imagine we receive quite a number of requests to use our premises as a filming or recording location. For commercial filming we charge upwards for £250 per hour and we simply do not have the resource to make arrangements free of charge, as each request requires certain administrative work and supervision on the day.

I am afraid we cannot give permission to you and I apologise for any disappointment this may cause.


Debbie M_____
Communications Executive
East Midlands Trains

So, retrospective permission for the podcast that was recorded, edited and published a week earlier could not be given. Should I be expecting a bill?