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148 year-old bird book wins podcast grant

148 year-old bird book wins podcast grant

Press Release ·

This article is at least a year old

Bellingham WA, USA—A bird study podcast, Return of the Birds, won a WDS Foundation ‘Scholarship for Real Life’ grant at the World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, OR, Jun. 30.

Return of the Birds, is the serialized audiobook podcast of Wake-Robin, by John Burroughs, published in 1871. Wake-Robin is 148-year-old nature study of various birds’ spring migrations and summer residencies.

“Burroughs’s attention to detail and playful characterizations turns these birds into little individuals with personalities and emotions,” said Peter Meddick, podcast host and audiobook narrator. ”But it’s the way he describes their songs - I wanted to compare what he wrote with what the bird song really sounded like.”

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Working with the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Meddick wove dozens of field recordings of bird vocalizations into the narration, taking the individual parts and making something bigger as a whole.

“Long before we could interpret our impact on the earth, Burroughs wrote about the critical relationship between people and the land,” said Meddick. “Birds know no borders or boundaries, yet are a key indicator of the health of our environment.”

The podcast is a do-it-yourself labor of love, time and finances. The episodes are produced after school, at night, and on weekends.

After building a sound booth and recording studio, the Meddicks learned the craft of sound engineering and production and dove into the labor-intensive world of online marketing.

“It takes me about an hour for every 1 minute of finished audio,” said Meddick. “A 15 to 20 minute episode takes between 30 - 40 hours to produce. This podcast is a full-time endeavour. And Janet and I both have full-time jobs. Having the resources to hire sound engineers to help will mean I’ll get some sleep again.”

The WDS Foundation grant will help cover the podcast’s bird vocalization licensing costs, sound engineering and marketing.

“The size of the grant turned our hobby into a business. That’s why we’ve been treating it like a business all along,” Meddick said. “Good thing summer vacation is here.”

Meddick says his wife and two teenagers will all be working on the project during their summer break. From initial sound edits, to searching for the best bird vocalizations available from the Macaulay Library, to running new social media initiatives, there is plenty of work to go around the dining room table.

“The original book highlights the give and take between humans and nature,” said Meddick. “Our goal is to help people value what we have, so they’ll work harder not to lose it.”

A podcast is similar to a radio program, like The Rest of the Story with Paul Harvey, Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, or America’s Top 40 with Casey Casem, except it’s available on demand.

Podcasts are usually free and easily listened to using an app on a smartphone.

To learn more about listening to podcasts and how to subscribe for free, visit

New episodes of the Return of the Birds podcast are available every other week. You can listen and subscribe to Return of the Birds for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Breaker, and at

Return of the Birds is produced by 44from26, the Meddick family owned and operated media experiment, creating high quality serial audio entertainment.

World Domination Summit (WDS) is a worldwide gathering of remarkable people. Every summer they meet in Portland, Oregon for a weeklong experience focused on community, adventure, and service. The once “little” community has grown to over 10,000 adventurers representing all 50 states and over 40+ countries.

This is a press release which we link to from Podnews, our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. We may make small edits for editorial reasons.

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