The Region long has been filled with recording studios for aspiring musicians, but now there’s also a studio just for podcasters.

Green Door Used Books and Studio in downtown Hobart is producing the growing Green Door Network of podcasts, and rents out its soundproof studio to anyone who wants to record a professional-sounding podcast of their own.

The Green Door bookstore and studio opened at 220 Main St. in downtown Hobart last year, and it’s grown into a cultural hub where local artists gather for monthly zine nights, local college students recite their poetry before an audience and readers browse the shelves of books, all sold for $1.

It’s part of a resurgence of downtown Hobart that includes Librarium Cafe, Montego Bay Grille, Three Monkeys Pub and the renovated Art Theatre, which now hosts live music and comedy. Ivy Tech professor Michael Massengill oversees the bookselling end of things, while podcast enthusiast Sreten Jovanovic handles the recording out of a newly built studio a few storefronts away at 210 Main St.

Jovanovic, who has produced as many as five Green Door Network podcasts at once, hopes to add more and is looking to expand the business' services so people can use the studio to record their family histories by interviewing parents, grandparents or other loved ones.

He grew up as a fan of Steve Dahl and other Chicago radio greats, and has come to see podcasts as the more modern version of the talk radio he's long loved.

“I got into podcasts while I was a BP work contractor on the modernization project,” he said. “I worked on data entry in Excel spreadsheets. It was boring stuff. I put the headphones on and it helped pass the time.”

After hours and hours of listening to podcasts, he went on to produce and co-host several shows, including "Musically Meditated," "Juice Pro Wrestling," and "Stephanie’s Train Travels."

The Green Door Network soon will launch more, including a coast-to-coast-inspired take on supernatural affairs and "Talker, Texas Ranger," about the Chuck Norris show, "Walker, Texas Ranger," with a super-fan who’s seen every roundhouse kick, road house rumble and pool hall brawl in all 500 episodes.

The podcasts' episodes can be downloaded in many ways, including on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

“With 'Musically Meditated,' he’s a known musician, and I’m just dipping my toe,” Jovanovic said. “With 'Juice Pro Wrestling,' he’s obsessed with wrestling, and I’m the straight man he has to explain it to.”

Preponderance of podcasts

Podcasts have been taking off in popularity nationwide. A study by Edison Research found 44 percent of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, as compared to 33 percent in 2015. More than a quarter of the population now listens to podcasts at least once a month.

Locally, podcasters put out a number of shows, including "The Hey My Man Podcast," "This Podcast is Garbage," "Local 219" and The Times' "That's So Region."

On Green Door Network's "Juice Pro Wrestling," host Justin Wallace, Jovanovic and other guests riff on the history of wrestling and old matches that featured greats like Macho Man Randy Savage, Ravishing Rick Rude and Andre the Giant.

"Musically Meditated," the most popular show on the network, centers on host Joe Riley, a longtime local musician, discussing a wide array of new music. He also interviews guests like Grindhouse Cafe owner Gabe Mauch, Northwest Indiana music journalist and impresario Tom Lounges and local bagpiping legend Craig Brooks, who’s played at local St. Patrick’s Day parades and at presidential inaugurations.

"My podcast is a music-discovery podcast that focuses on heavy metal, punk rock and alternative hip hop," Riley said.

"I've long been a tastemaker with friends and family. I've helped them discover new music, and I want to do the same with a wider audience with the music discussion show. I have a very electric musical taste. It's all over the place."

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"Musically Meditated" is geared toward those interested in learning about new acts, especially underground bands outside the mainstream.

"It's for the musically adventurous who want to listen to stuff that's not on the radio," Riley said.

"It's not commercial, it's more independent. There hasn't been independent rock radio locally since Q101 left. It covers many different genres, and I promote a lot of the positives. I don't want to waste time with negativity, though I do sometimes get on my soapbox."

Riley has played bass and drums for a number of local bands, and told himself last year he either wanted to join another band or launch a music-discussion podcast of his own. He shares stories of his experience on stage while reviewing albums and doing long-form interviews on the show.

"Green Door Network is special. It happened organically," he said.

"I've been a Hobart resident my entire life, and it's helped bring like-minded artists and freethinkers downtown. It's a close-knit community. We recorded our first podcast in September and we haven't stopped since. We're already on episode 38."

Podcasts revive art of conversation

While technology enabled podcasts, Riley thinks they've taken off partly because a texting-crazy society misses good old-fashioned talking.

"We want to get back to hearing conversations and that personality behind it," he said. "People in bars or bookstores just sit on their phones. Podcasting's blown up, because people want to have a voice or to hear a conversation. It's a beautiful thing."

Green Door Networks podcasts are released online on several platforms, including at greendoornetwork.com. Some are posted to YouTube, and Jovanovic is looking at adding video cameras in the studio to broadcast video.

“I love local radio, but it’s the same as Netflix,” Jovanovic said. “It’s on demand for when you want to listen. You can build an audience for any podcast on any single interest, no matter how weird. In the podcasting world, you can create content for any specific thing you like.”

As he builds up a bigger and bigger library of recordings, Jovanovic views podcasting as a craft that can always be improved on.

“A poet might write two lines but revise those lines 100 times,” he said. “Creativity is about trying it out.”

He’s filled with ideas for new podcasts, such as having a local lawyer educate the public about immigration issues, recording a nonpartisan educational podcast about civics, or doing a Mystery Science Theater live take on Hong Kong kung fu films.

“I certainly have ideas with this stuff, but we really like to showcase individual voices and have long conversations,” he said.

“We’re trying to bring cool people together and put them in front of microphones. We have a lot of intelligent people, artists and creative types in the Region, and we want to get their voices out to the world.”

For more information, greendoornetwork.com or 219-945-3656.


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.