Quirky Voices Presents

MADIVA PODCAST 403 - Cocotazo Media - working with kids, Latinx podcasting, creator mentor programs, and Dania Ramos and Michael Aquino

April 19, 2021 Sarah Golding / Dania Ramos / Michael Aquino Season 4 Episode 403
Quirky Voices Presents
MADIVA PODCAST 403 - Cocotazo Media - working with kids, Latinx podcasting, creator mentor programs, and Dania Ramos and Michael Aquino
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers


Here's a more rounded look at, and advice on working with kids in INDIE AUDIOFICTION podcasts, 'n some advice on what 2 do pre recording, and when you have younguns in the recording space....as well as why libraries are important, the lowdown on the Google creator programs, TRAX , and the joys of the MANY MANY MANY talents of:

Dania Ramos AND Michael Aquino of Timestorm podcast and morrrre!

And do check out a sea of resources they have shared below - the legends...
This was a truly fun filled chilled chat where we hear the inspiration 4 Timestorm, the grooviness of collaboration, where 2 find diverse casts, why JONATHAN MITCHELL is a LEGEND...how MICHAEL uses creativity in his transitions &

Jump in and enjoy and HEARTY THANK YOU'S 2 Dania & Michael 4 being AMAZZING GUESTS! Go binge their shows - they're fabulous!

Thank U 4 listening - pls share!


Dania Twitter
Michael Twitter
@Cocotazomedia on insta / Twitter
BIPOC VO Artists Spreadsheet (Founder: Edward Hong)
HOLA Actor Directory
Newark Public Library 2020 Hispanic Celebration: Timestorm Listening Party
Google Podcasts creator program
Ready to Learn Accelerator
NJ Child Labor Laws and Regulations
Timestorm Resource Page
Bonus: The Music of Timestorm Season 1

Celestial Blood/Sangre Celestial (Bilingual/Spanish radionovela)
The Mayan Crystal (Ages 8-12, audio drama)
Anything For Selena (Bilingual/Spanish, non-fiction)
Stoopkid Stories (Early elementary, audio fiction)
Las Raras (Spanish, non-fiction)
Strong Songs (Music, non-fiction)
Center for Puerto Rican Studies Cultural Ambassador Program
Teatro SEA (Latinx/Bilingual Live Theatre for Young Audiences)
Roots and Action (Theatre School in Puerto Rico)
Puerto Rico Resource Page

Links to Sarah's bits n bobs
OZ9 Kickstarter
Sarahs Twitter
Sarah's Quirky Website

Support the show

403_Madiva Podcast - Dania Ramos and Michael Aquino_1


Buenas dias! Ola! Una cerveza por favor… and Welcome to MADIVA podcast with me Sarah Golding, and a mini celebration of one of  the grooviest Latinx loving creative teams - Cocotazo media - with the brilliantly talented Dania Ramos and Michael Aquino! 

In this groovesome episode, find out how to organise yourself to work with young children voice actors in audio fiction, and why libraries are awesome woohooo  


(Also why basketball transitions are cool….)

[00:00:00] Sarah Golding: I'm very excited to welcome today... two of the astoundingly creatively talented people who are a part of, oh now let me get it right. Cocotazo media?

Dania Ramos: Very Good... Sarah! 

Michael Aquino: Nailed it, Sarah! Got it. Nailed it. ... ......nice...

Sarah Golding: Yes, it's Dania Ramos and Michael Aquino! Hello folks! Welcome!

Michael Aquino: Hi Sarahhhhh!

Dania Ramos: Hello...Sarah!. Thank you so much for inviting us. This is....We really enjoy your podcast.

Sarah Golding: Ohhhh Well, you're amazing folks on the landscape and I very much enjoyed, even though it's perhaps I'm not even in the demographic for it in some respects, but very much have been enjoying time storm over the last few years. And there's a few exciting projects as well that you've sort of... done that I feel more folks need to find. So... this is my little, uh, hope at getting some more people into some of the amazing things that you folks are creating. So, !So, so Dania, you are like a series creator, you write, you show run, you basically do.... everything!

Michael Aquino: ...everythinnnng! ...

Sarah Golding: ...Including educational things. I mean, you are author of, of so many amazing things outside the audio space as well, it seems. And, uh, yes, have been in very important in, in pushing out these beautiful series on to the.... The podcast landscape, Michael, it appears you are. A musician, you've done audio engineering and sound designing, composing. I mean, you, you just have the most beautiful lyrical ear as well as...

Michael Aquino: ah thank you!

Sarah Golding:  I find,  to have been listening to some of your groovy albums as well, which folks should hook up and have a listen to you. So, how on earth have you been drawn to the audio fiction podcast space to tell your stories? 

Michael Aquino: Well, I have to say we started in -you touched on some of this, you know, we started in, in theater. Um, we both were, uh, actors in and we went, we'd got our undergraduate degrees in theater as actors, and we did that for awhile and, you know, Dania [00:02:00] went into playwriting and she, she did that for a spell and still does... playwriting, although it's taken a back seat to audio fiction writing, um, I, and I split off into music and we were kind of going on those two paths for, for a while. And then in about 2015, we started listening to. Uh, so audio drama pieces like we had with the Black tapes... 

Sarah Golding: It's a rite of  passage, isn't it? 

Dania Ramos: The Bright  sessions...

Sarah Golding: The Bright Sessions!! Some of my favourites, yes.........Wolf 359....

Dania Ramos: Welcome to Night vale... 

Michael Aquino: Welcome to Night Vale... when I heard it, I was like, what is this? Um, you know, so the... about 2015, that started happening for us. And then we were like, man, this, this is so wonderful. And, and we were just. Talking about how, how much it was, um, invigorating us and making, getting us excited about, about, uh, the, the, the, just the field [00:03:00] of it.

And, um... so one, I, I participate in this thing called February album writing month. And happens every year where musicians around the world create 14 songs in 28 days. 

Sarah Golding: Gosh

Michael Aquino: And, and ... I've been doing it. I had been doing it for a while up until 2015, maybe about five or six years. And I said to Dania, I was like, you know what, why don't  this year... instead of... I write songs. Why don't we just create 14 really short audio drama pieces, just to see what it's like to create it.... 

Sarah Golding: Amazing...

Dania Ramos: So fun. 

Michael Aquino: And we did, it was the craziest February. We had actor, friends coming in. We're like, come and record! We got it. And so we went and we recorded these two, these two pieces. Um, and we did like basically a scene... maybe a scene or a more than a scene at a time. And, um, at the end of the month, we had two fully, uh, recorded, uh, pieces - one that Donna wrote called hot [00:04:00] drinks . And the other that a friend of ours wrote called, uh, called ...

Dania Ramos: ...the last call... 

Michael Aquino: ...the last call by Ernio Hernandez . And those are the two pieces that we started with. And we, it was just us trying to get our bearings on what, what it was like to, to, to produce in the space. And yeah, and we listened to The Audio Drama production podcast....

Sarah Golding:  yay!,

Michael Aquino:  ...and that was, that was a big thing for us. 

Dania Ramos: Well, they, they, I was just going to jump in and say the, the biggest piece of advice that we got from there was start small, don't do that huge...epic.... You know, series....start small..., 

Sarah Golding: I still think that's true, you know, and that's, I'm still doing that -little projects here and there just to, to try and hone my craft as well. And yeah, I mean, what a brilliant way to start, and it is like that thing of, of gathering your talented friends and making something cool.

Michael Aquino: Right

Sarah Golding: Yeah. Brilliant. 

Michael Aquino: Yeah... That was like at the start. So, you know, we, we were doing that small and then we graduated to a little bit bigger where we [00:05:00] started an anthology podcast called Cocotazo audio theater, and that was in 2017. So for about, you know, a little bit, we were just dabbling and then we were like, let's, let's.... let's do this thing! So we, um, we released our first season of Cocotazo  audio theater in 2017. And our thought was because we came from theater was that we were going to follow like a theater season, you know, like theaters have these shows that they put out once every few months. And we, we, we did that just to kind of, again, kind of further our, you know, toe dipping into the audio fiction landscapes.

Sarah Golding: Superb yes... 

Michael Aquino: Yeah. 

Dania Ramos: And then that was like a playground for us ...

Sarah Golding: Love it! 

Dania Ramos: We were trying to like learn as much as we can. Right. And I think, I think it was really important to be able to, you know, work on those smaller pieces before kind of diving into something, um, with ha... that had multiple seasons and... where characters have these long story arcs.

So we're really glad that,.. that things like the audio [00:06:00] drama production podcast and,....you know, so many, there's so many resources in the audio drama community that help, you know, somebody who's just kind of starting out.

Sarah Golding:  I agree. And the episodes are still there. I know it's ceased production, um, for a little while, but, um, yeah, they episodes are still available. So I'll put links on the show notes. So folks can have a little scan. Cause I am certain that, although it's a few years old now, there's still a lot of brilliant advice in there. Yeah. 

Dania Ramos: Yeah. And we actually, it was a place where we took a lot of risks. So it's kind of like there's poetry in there. There's a lot of different stuff that you could find in those. I think it's like eight episodes. 

Sarah Golding: Love it. LOVE IT! And so did Timestorm then develop from, from there? 

Dania Ramos: So Timestorm. Um, and Michael mentioned that... I'm also a playwright. Um, and so, uh, back in 2013, I had actually submitted a proposal for a theater for young audiences, play writing contest, [00:07:00] um, in a, in a professional theater here in New Jersey. Um, and the entire thing was that it was....the, the award was a commissioned. ..piece that would tour to schools about New Jersey history. So the main premise came from that. Um, but it was all about like, you know, it was set in Elizabeth, New Jersey and dealt with, you know, very specific kind of colonial time history.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Dania Ramos: And, you know, and, you know, I was a finalist, I didn't get it. And I put that project away. And then I, I took a workshop years later and they said, Oh, bring them, bring an idea to kind of, you know, throw around. And that was the idea I brought. ..and when I realized, okay, this doesn't have to be about New Jersey history anymore. ..... The kids were always, you know... Puerto Rican from New Jersey. They could still be from New Jersey. But this time we, I started realizing, Oh, the story here is that they're connecting to their [00:08:00] OWN history, their OWN heritage. 

Sarah Golding: Love it, yrp...  

Dania Ramos: And that when I, when I, when. I realized that, um, and this was around the same time that we're like discovering and, you know, kind of trying to go at at audio drama.

Sarah Golding: Let's open the door - the key you found the key!. 

Dania Ramos: Yeah absolutely!, like this is the place to do, you know, of course, like, you know, you're on stage telling a 50 minute piece ... the story you're telling is, you know, going to fit into that 15 minute shape. Um, and then when I realized, well, this is, we can tell a larger story. 

Sarah Golding: Yessss. 

Dania Ramos: And we could do it with sound. ....of course... it felt, it felt like the perfect place. So, um, to, to really explore the storyline...

Sarah Golding:  Superb, and you have mentioned, I mean, there is a beautiful and strong resonance with discovering and sharing and, and preserving and shining light on Latinx [00:09:00] voices and lives. And as you say, in the piece, 'preserving and raising up what's already there', which, you know, I think especially with the current climate, as it is, is SO important for cultures across the world to make sure that these, uh, times and places and moments and historical things and people are ...ARE STILL... , you know, KNOWN!, yeah. So it's, I mean, who is your demographic for this piece who you trying to, to reach and how do you reach them?

Michael Aquino: We'd say our shows is geared towards nine to 13 year olds... now. Um, I'll challenge you and say that while you were ...saying, yeah, I'm not really part of the demographic, but I enjoy it. You know, we know that.... These 9 to 13 year olds will sometimes have their parents listening at the same time. So we know we have to really make it interesting, not only for the nine to 13 year olds, but for the adults that are in the room.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Michael Aquino: So [00:10:00] we always keep that in mind when creating, we know that, you know, we're not just making it for the kids, we're making it for adults as well. So. When we talk about gatekeepers though, we know that, um, the people that kind of... introduce the 9 to 13 year olds to Timestorm will be like parents, of course, their parents, their teachers. And you can say I'm fanatical about this, but yeah, I'm really, really interested in, in librarians because I think they're the ones that really kind of specifically for audio fiction, I think can create an environment for kids  to really, um, enjoy... the medium, you know, because when you're a librarian, you create these opportunities where, you know, like story time, where you sit and you listen, and there's like this almost like intense focus at times.

And I think that librarians can really. [00:11:00] Provide that... in, you know, live. Um, we can talk about this later too, where we have live listening parties and live listening events where, you know, and I think they're, they can be really key to introducing kids to, um, to Timestorm. Yeah. Uh, yeah. And, and then of course there's, uh, the TRAX network who we belong to. And we'll talk about that also later, but they're involved in, you know, creating this network for nine to 13 year olds and a bunch of the content is geared towards that age demographic and, um, you know, being a part of that really has been kind of great. 

Sarah Golding: Superb, I mean,  we can talk about that now, actually. So what, what exactly is TRAX, and how did you... kind of come to be involved with it. 

Dania Ramos: Yeah. So it's, it's, uh, it's a network from PRX and it's specifically geared at bringing content for ages nine to 13 year olds. And that is not just fiction. It's also non-fiction. [00:12:00] Um, and there's some really great stuff. Uh, I know the CBC has a couple of podcasts on that. One is 'Ty asks, why'?.. Which is. It's just a great ... , uh, interview show. Um, and I believe Ty, the host is now 14 years old, and has some amazing interviews. You're like, how are you this good?...

Sarah Golding: Love it!...

Dania Ramos: ...and yeah, and they actually have another, a show called 'Mic drop', where they interview, um, preteens and teens about things, you know, they're going through right now, real stuff... so there's just really great content there available there. Um, and yeah, I mean, this is, is, is fairly new. It's about a year old. Um, we were really excited, um, and honored to be invited to be part of this...and it kind of came about through being part of the Google podcast creator program. 

Sarah Golding: Yesss

Dania Ramos:  ....so, so [00:13:00] we were part of that, which led to this invitation to be part of this.

Sarah Golding: Great. And then how has that been useful in sort of getting your kind of reach perhaps further extended and also just developing you as, as creatives? 

Michael Aquino: Yeah. I, I can say that, um, specifically the Google, I can talk about the, a little bit about the Google podcast creator program, which, you know, really kind of helped train us, provided us with mentors and yeah. ...and resources, uh, to, to us and to other podcasts, creators that are considered underrepresented voices. So...I think it really allowed us to, um, you know, kind of network and talk to and learn from the people that. Uh, were doing it, uh, frequently and often. And you know, one of our mentors was Jonathan Mitchell from the, the truth.

Sarah Golding: No, way....LEGENNNDDD!

Dania Ramos: Yessss! 

[00:14:00] Michael Aquino: We got to, um, you know, really kind of. Learn from him and talk, talk to him about, you know, his process of creating ' The truth' while it's an adult, uh, program. You know, I mean, a lot of the things we were doing were were similar, you know, and, and he, he was just such an open book and he was very kind, very generous with his time.

Sarah Golding: Sure. I can't imagine anything less from him actually in that, that soothing, calming, lovely voice and just. 

Michael Aquino: He is he's awesome. And he, wasn't trying to make us sit on any furniture or anything, but he was totally, really cool with us. You know, he's spent a lot of, uh, enough of his time talking with us and really kind of ...mentoring us. And it was things like that, that this program really provided that helped us get our... just become more comfortable in this space. Um, And to know that, you know, we, we have stuff to learn, and we, we are still learning ...

Sarah Golding: Same! 

Michael Aquino: We'll [00:15:00] continue to learn and we'll continue to grow and we have to, because there's, there's just no other choice. Yeah. Hopefully that answers your question? I'm not quite sure how it veered...

Sarah Golding: No, it does, no, it was super, I mean, yeah. Uh, would you recommend other folks if, if they have a chance to cos i know , you can apply to be on it. And, uh, and, and I think it's a yearly program from what I understand. So, yeah. Would you, would you recommend folks dive in and just have a go if they meet the requirements?

Dania Ramos: So, absolutely. I will say that I believe for this year they've made their selections. I think they changed, uh, you know, we, our program was a little longer, we were training for five months and now I think they've shortened. It. To 12 weeks. I believe something like that. 

Michael Aquino: Um, I think they're trying to get more people in, uh, and in a shorter amount of time, especially with the pandemic, I think it's just easier.

Sarah Golding: Oh, makes things more difficult. Doesn't it? Absolutely. There's these crazy times we're in..., but now it's brilliant to hear. I mean, I think if you, if you don't know of it, I'll put links and again, just have a browse [00:16:00] around and see, see if it's something that might fit you because I think mentorship is.... absolutely one of the best and most brilliant things. And I think reaching out to other creatives who perhaps are more established than you, or even just using forums, like the audio drama hub and asking questions, my goodness, you've got, you know, the, uh, the Spielbergs and, and, uh, the Sophia Coppola's of, of directing and producing in there, right? So I think just ask questions and, and I'm sure...sure folks will try and help....

 I just wanted 

Dania Ramos: to pop in with one more thing. Cause there's actually a new accelerator program that they announced... From PRX and PBS kids that might be really relevant for any listeners who want to specifically create kids content. Um, it's called, ready to learn. Um, and, uh, yeah, so it's, uh, they're looking for new and existing podcast teams who are developing audio that is. ..Education centered, um, for ages four to eight years old. Um, [00:17:00] yeah. And so 

Yezzz... Did see that. 

Yeah. And so definitely, um, we can share that information. I believe there are a couple of information sessions coming up. Um, I didn't, I should've gotten that due date specifically. Sorry about that. But, um, But, but definitely, um, we had, uh, we had a really good strong experience, um, with the, the training and mentoring program there. So we would recommend it ...

Sarah Golding: Superb...And again, I'll put links on the show notes that are relevant re: the deadlines and so on, where you can find out and pop in. And I love that fact, you know, cause there's not enough content for kids I feel... still being made in the fiction space, especially I think there's quite a lot of more non-fiction things, but fiction space for kids to escape... from, you know, what is currently a little bit harder a world to live in.... right? I think we need to have more, more fiction. And so, so you have worked with, with kids, especially in the earliest seasons of Timestorm and they were a [00:18:00] little younger. And, uh, so yeah, just wanted to ask your experience really, of working with, with children and sort of what safeguarding type things that you have in place for these kids. How did you structure their..their character development and recording time and things like that from, from rehearsal to, to getting it on tape or not tape!!!? Um, I'm from the 1980s, it's something you say, right? 

Michael Aquino: I think people still call it tape, so i don't think you're very...I don't think its a ...big thing...

Dania Ramos: Metaphorical tape. Yeah. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. So, so can you talk us through how you got involved with the, the younguns and what you did? 

Dania Ramos: Oh yeah. Sure. So you mentioned that. We had actually worked, um, with quite a few minor actors for the first season. Um, you know, and for us, it was always important that there was, you know, really, we started with communication with the parents, um, you know, making sure that they understood what we were doing, [00:19:00] um, why we were reaching out, um, making sure that, uh, the, their children had plenty of time with the scripts in advance.

Um, so they could really understand the story line and then. So like their, their characters and just literally be able to have those lines to, to practice reading. And then, you know, in terms of like, uh, being here in the, so we have a home recording studio, um, and so we, you know, try to make. Everyone feel as comfortable as possible.

This is pre COVID, I should say...

Sarah Golding:  Right, yeah. Yeah. 

Dania Ramos: Things have changed since then ...but, before COVID we're recording season one, um, parents would, um, would be, it would come into the studio and. We would try to make everybody feel really comfortable. We would either set up or dining room table or in, even in the living room with the scripts. So, you know, the kids could just do a read through really, you know, making everybody feel comfortable. Well, um, [00:20:00] have snacks , what do  you want to drink, you know, just really relaxed. And then, you know, once we got through that, there's a, you know, if they had any questions and a lot of this is very similar to what we would do with adults too.

We usually have a read through before a table read before we get into the studio. And then, you know, we would, we would allow the children to come into the studio if they wanted their parents, or if their parents felt more comfortable, physically being in the studio. That's cool. You know, it's up to them, you know?

Um, And, and then we just, uh, you know, we respect the, the, any actor, whether they're, you know, a minor or an adult, um, show them the same respect. Right. Cause they're, they're helping us to tell the story and just, you know, plenty of time, you know, we would leave a little extra time, um, to make sure that, uh, if you, you know, Getting used to the studio and what's [00:21:00] inside the studio.

If they have any questions about the equipment, um, um, you know, just all these things to make sure that they are comfortable and, and having fun. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. Um, yeah. For, sure.

Michael Aquino:  I think the other, the really funny thing that I've learned is to get...Yourself recording as soon as possible because kids will, will sometimes surprise you with what they can do when a mic, when they think a mic's not on, I mean, not to say like, we're like tricking them. Like they know once they're in the studio, you know, you can be recorded and we'd let them know this. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah.

Michael Aquino: But you know, sometimes when they don't, when they're just like uninhibited, sometimes they just come up with some of the funniest things and some of the most wonderful things. And you're like, yeah, No need to re and then we'd let them know. Obviously 'we got that, it's fine'. You know, 'you don't have to record [00:22:00] that', you know, cause you just did it and we got it and they're like, 'yeah'. And you know, sometimes the look on their faces, they're just like so surprised and excited, but it's like making them feel comfortable and, and not, you know, not really talking down to them. It's really, really important. Just really kind of treating them as an equal and making them feel comfortable. 

Sarah Golding: And was there any one specific person who was sort of the... lead or their go to, did you have a kind of a system of, uh, mentorship if you like for the kids in the space? 

Dania Ramos: Well, the thing is that we actually both have a background in arts education. So, um, we do teaching, we've done teaching artists work, um, in the school systems and in different, um, community, um, places. So we actually felt very comfortable in that aspect. And there were times where, you know, we literally, there was, you know, one parent who was like, But that that was fun, but there was also like ... not that we're like there to be like a school or anything, but there was just like, [00:23:00] she's like there's like some form of underlying educational thing and we're like, Oh, that's the teacher.

Michael Aquino: We can't turn it off. We can't turn it off!

Dania Ramos: Um, but yeah. What we teach, is the arts of course, you know, so, so that was, that's like a natural fit. I, I would say. And I think, you know, our cast is all, um, is, is just so ...welcoming and it feels like a family, you know, when we're here, we usually, when we were...

Michael Aquino:  ... it was pre COVID .. Of course...... 

Dania Ramos: ...pre cOVID. Um, we would usually, you know, be able to eat together or, you know, come, come together, um, between our breaks or afterwards, and really, um, connect ...

Sarah Golding: Brilliant, and were there, any sort of legalities. Uh, because there were children, child, artists, uh, for the area you're working in at all that you had to pursue. 

Dania Ramos: We do have an agreement, a release document that parents [00:24:00] sign, and that covers, um, the details of the recording session.... and it also grants us permission to record and, uh, publish their child's vocal performance.....and it also covers, um, you know, using any photos that might've been taken kind of behind the scenes. Um, sometimes we will post something like that on social media, but of course we always, um, get permission from both the parent and the child in order to do that here.

Michael Aquino: You know, I think, I think we, we just... always advise people to just check the laws in the States about employing minors. So especially if their main, or reoccurring cast members, just making sure that you're within, you know, you're, you're following the, the legal protocol, which is what, what we did here. And, you know, we always include parents every step of the way, so we're not dealing directly [00:25:00] with the, um, with the child. So the child of course will have their say...in, like, you know, 'I want to, you know, form this this way' and all that. But you know, at the same time, we have to make sure that, um, You know, we're going through all of, we were going through the parents at all times when asking questions, you know, just to make sure everything is good and no one feels like, Oh, you know, I really should have been asked this instead of my child.

You know, we make sure that we just talk with the parent first to make sure everything's good. 


Dania Ramos: And I will say that, um, when we got to seasons two and three and we had, um, so we'd formed this LLC. Um, once we, um, were in the program and we decided we're like, we're going to start - we are going to start Cocotazo Media... Um, a small business. Um, once we did that, we did have a shift in our casting. So, um, um, I'll just say that if you, so any. Any minor that we bring [00:26:00] in now will be someone that we are probably going to be only working with for about an hour to an hour and a half.... so our recommendation, you know, like Michael said, definitely check out what... what those laws are in your area, because for casting someone like a main character, who's going to be there, um, and recording a lot more. That might be a consideration to probably cast an actor who's older, but, um, can play younger and both of our main, main actors, um, Laelani who I believe was 17 when we started the first season....but she is, ....She is, I believe she's 19 now. And so, so that's a consideration, especially if you're working with someone for several hours, just to make sure that they can, they can literally be in the space for that long ...to work.... 

Yes. Cause 

Sarah Golding: that's the concern isn't it, s as well. And, and who would people contact for the specific States for, for the U [00:27:00] S kind of information? Where would you go to find out that information, d'you know? 

Dania Ramos: By state, your state government website should have the like employment.....

Michael Aquino: ....Child labor labor laws. Yeah. Yeah. In the U S they're pretty, they're pretty explicitly out there. So if you put in whatever state you're in child labor laws, I'm sure it should come up pretty, pretty easily. I don't know that that translates to other countries around the world ...

Sarah Golding: I think it's definitely the same here. And I know that, you know, unions have got their own stating on all of that employment law as well. And I also think, you know, there are, uh, specific lawyers and other companies that I'm sure will happy to give you advice  for money on what you need to do, but that's grand. And that's just to cover yourself, isn't it? Because you know, this world is crazy and you know, you just don't want to be doing something unknowingly that, that, you know, you, you should have covered. So if you are working with children, you must. Please just look into that and make sure you, you do all the [00:28:00] things by those beautiful laws we have... to keep our countries safe. 

Dania Ramos: Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing is that we do, we did take out insurance. 

Sarah Golding: Yeeahhh

Dania Ramos: Um, so that is, uh, something you would definitely want to consider if you're going that route, you know, um, You know, creating a company and doing several productions that are gonna involve minors FANTASTIC and adults for that matter.

Michael Aquino: Okay. Yeah. Cause I mean, there are even things that come in legality wise when, you know, if somebody steps into your place and trips over a wire and breaks an arm. You know, I mean, we had a lot of friends coming in here, so, you know, probably they wouldn't Sue us, but you just never know what, what can happen if you have somebody coming in that you don't really know and you know, something happens, you want to have yourself. Uh, you know, protected and covered as well because accidents do happen like that, you know... . 

Yeah, SADLY, . And as you 

Sarah Golding: say, friends who have been [00:29:00] friends and they think, Oh, actually I might get compensation for this and it can get all..., rather nasty. So best cover yourself. Thank you... that's super, super advice. Um, so we're going to do sort of a, a beautiful musical lyrical... twist into, away from that nasty horrible legal stuff that we must do into the beauteous soul of music. This is kind of your, your playground, Michael. Um, cause I, I just feel that a lot of the identity of audio fiction comes from the music and I think your shows definitely have this... Too. Um, and I wonder if you can talk a little about how you develop the distinct sound of coolness, you know, that the thrust of, of culture as well is within, um, so, so yeah. Can you fill us in, on what you do and ..your inspirations? 

Michael Aquino: Yeah. You know, it's, it's, it's such a, you know, personal thing for me, and I think that's ..and a very passionate thing for me. So I think [00:30:00] ...that in itself, Creates the tone for it. Um, but I think, you know, really, I think what's important for me is, and I I've done this for other people as well is, is, is listening to the material, you know, really listening to what the material is asking for. Um, listening to your, who, who your audience is, knowing who your audience really is and understanding who, who that, that, um, Ideal listener is to you.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Michael Aquino: Um, and then, and then bringing yourself to it. And bringing whatever makes you excited to create the music that you're creating. Um, because the worst thing is to, you know, create music that you have no passion for, but at the same time, you can have passion for something so fiercely, but. It, it might like, you [00:31:00] know, you're creating, I don't know a metal song for, you know, toddlers, you know, that might not go over very well. (They laugh) 

So, but so then you, you... you try to find that balance, I think is really. Really important. Um, and for me, you know, I had, I was lucky in my upbringing that I listened, my parents listened to a lot of music. I had interest in varied music. You know, I grew up on a, you know, You know, Latin music a lot. And, but then, you know, I love hip hop music and then I loved house music. And then I loved folk music and, and, you know, there was just so many different kinds of music that I really loved. And I always try to find... where. ...that can come in.... musically in, in my creations. 

Sarah Golding:  Love it.... 

Michael Aquino: And then the other big thing, and what I get really excited about are creating these transitions. I don't know.

[00:32:00] Sarah Golding: yESSS!.

Michael Aquino:  I love, like I was just talking about this to somebody else and it said I can't get over how... Unusually excited I get about creating transitions .... for Timestorm... moreso than like sometimes other things, because especially if it's a scene going into, like, I'll use an example, there's a scene where it's like the outdoors and they're outside in there, you know, the family's talking and I didn't have a transition for this- And this was in season one. 

Sarah Golding: Yeah. 

Michael Aquino: And I was just like, Oh, what, what would I hear on the street? I would be like, you know, I grew up in, uh, in the inner city, in a, in a very urban environment. And it just tapped into what I listened, what I heard. I was like, okay. I heard people playing ...with basketballs, walking, talking, you know, so I was like, Oh, basketball's! Basketball's can create a rhythm. Let me create a rhythm with basketballs . And then all of a sudden it was this rhythm with basketballs, along with this really great, like beat. And all of a sudden I had a transition and it was 10 to 15 seconds [00:33:00] long. And I was just like in love with it. And I was like, Oh my God, this is so much fun. And every time I approach a transition, I think of the environment. And I think of what natural sounds would be there. And I always try to include it somehow. 

Yessss.... I love that. 

Sarah Golding: I love that. If there's any way you could get that transitionplayed now, so people can hear it in its glory. I would love that if we're able to... 

Michael Aquino: I'll pass it along to you and it will play ...now.


Sarah Golding: HURRAYYYYY! Wasn't that beautiful?

Michael Aquino: Yeah! That was awesome!! 

Sarah Golding: Love that. And you know, folks do often ask, like 'how do get from this, into this scene' and I think there's that whole episode, which I have recently listened to, actually of yours about season one and how you did the music, which, which talks about that in, in a finer detail, [00:34:00] in different, uh, Uh, different inspirations, different moments, different places to get from, and to which I think for anyone struggling with that, if you listen to that, you'll get a much better idea of what to do and how to play.

Michael Aquino: Yeah, absolutely. I loved making that episode. I loved talking about that process because I think that, I mean, that's not the only process, right? 

Sarah Golding: Sure...sure....

Michael Aquino: This is the process that's been really kind of fun for me for Timestorm and that might not work for other things. And that's. That's AOK, you know, it's, it's just really fine, like .... . And that's what I was speaking to before. It's like letting the material dictate what the music's going to be. And I think for Timestorm, I knew where we were going to all these different places. And I wanted to make sure every time we went to that new scene and was in a new place and it was different that you had the. .. The kind of like... spirit going into it and the music was kind of a preparing you for this environment... 

Sarah Golding: As a side note, you should go on, uh, the, 'how I make music' podcasts with John Bartman, [00:35:00] because...

Michael Aquino: .... can I just tell you... when I was talking about, I was talking to somebody this morning, it was John Bartmann! 

Sarah Golding: Yeahhhh! There ya go! 

Michael Aquino: On. So I think it's going to come out at some point soon, depending on when this released it might have been before. So. Yeah, no,he's fun! 

Sarah Golding: Yeah, he's a good dude. Well actually my next Audio Drama virtual pub is talking about music in audio fiction. So ...brilliant. And actually talking about Tran ...transitions, I think just the duality of your, your characters within the piece and how they move from, you know, as I say this timeline right now, here to all your different spaces and have all those different adventures and.. And they, they navigate, what's actually happening to them in this current timeline to, uh, down to, you know, actual devastating storms and, and things that have impacted the region that this is set in. I think are beautiful and, uh, I think it's important to... [00:36:00] think about how, what can our listeners, what can your listeners do to, to further the reach of this brilliant podcast to share that? And, and what kind of community, um, communication have you had from people who've enjoyed the podcast -are there  any uplifting stories? 

Dania Ramos: Well, thank you. That a lot of kind things that you said, um, about the podcast, but, um, so I'll start with that last thing actually that you said, because, um, I think I've said this before, and I really love, uh, telling this story, um, that, uh, T H Ponders, who is one of the greatS of audio drama.

Sarah Golding: Yes. HUZZAHS!. 

Dania Ramos: Tweeted. I believe it might've been a year ago, maybe, maybe a year and a half ago, um, that they had one of their students, uh, thank them for being the first teacher to bring in ... something that dealt with their home ,...about, you know, that [00:37:00] talked about Puerto Rico. Um, and. And so, you know, the student came up afterwards to Ponders to, to thank them for that. And I thought that was very moving. You know, I, I, it was, um, uh, they used, um, our Timestorm as well as Flyest Fables. Um, and I think that is just. So, so important to be able to bring content that reflects, um, your, your own students into the classroom. And that's something that we're really hoping gets done. Um, more, I think there's just a real power bringing content, audio content into the classroom. 

Sarah Golding: I agree!

Dania Ramos: There's this like thing I'm really happy about..., um, because it really, um, it really helps with the... that that skill of listening... you have to listen and you have to listen in, in, uh, intentionally and in a different way [00:38:00] than I think, um, some other, you know, forms of media, um,... it's different, you know, when there's visual, you're not listening in the same way.

Sarah Golding: Yeah. I think people's, um, you know, uh, what's the word I'm looking for? But th th they can't concentrate on one thing. It seems like there's this and that, and this and this. And whereas the, the listening aspect of life is so important. And also, you know, the amount of key, beautiful texts that can be brought alive, uh, in audio form for people who learn in an aural away, you know, and who... there are... we aren't all learners by visual ways or kinesthetic learning. There are other people who learn by listening. And I just think that more teachers for sure need to bring storytelling and an audio medium into their, into their lessons a hundred percent. 

Dania Ramos: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Um, and then just to go back to, in terms of, you know, um, the two [00:39:00] timelines ....talking about that, um, in, yeah. In in Timestorm, what was interesting? So, so growing up, I, I personally was a very big fan of Quantum leap. 

Sarah Golding: yEAHHHH

Dania Ramos: Um, and of course, you know, so Sam Beckett, of course, he's his name is Sam Beckett. So this is this, this man who's, who's traveling to all these places, but the, he always wants to go home. And I remember like we, when we were developing..  Timestorm was a little closer to that in terms of that we were going to really focus on the past. Um, so we had been developing this starting in the spring of 2016 in terms of like really envisioning, envisioning it as an audio series. And, um, and then, um, when hurricane Maria hit ... in 2017, we realized that, um, we, we had to... make sure that, that that is very, it was, it was a very [00:40:00] intense experience that happened not only of course to the, the Island residents,, but the diaspora. Um, there was a lot of, there are a lot of family members who were stateside and worldwide who were, you know, absolutely trying to, to reach out to the Island residents to help family members.

Um, there was. Weeks where, uh, we were unable to literally make contact, um, because communication was cut off. Um, but once the communication came back and we started learning about, okay, what, what do we need to send? How can we, how can we help, um, we, our own community, um, make sure that the. The.....our family members and our friends, our loved ones on the Island are getting what they need?

So, so all this happened and when we realized, well, this has to be part of the story there... the Ventura's would, we'll be growing through this if we're setting it. Right. Right, right. [00:41:00] Um, in, in that timeframe, if we're setting it..... so we, we actually started, the first episode was happening just the days before hurricane Maria hit.

And so the ......we see... , the listener hears the Ventura's, um, dealing with this and, and we, we hope that we were able to, you know, present. That present day storyline, um, um, in a thoughtful and respectful way, because we felt like we had a response... responsibility to do that. 

Sarah Golding: I think you did it beautifully. And It's such a moving kind of event as well because of, you know, it's an unstoppable natural disaster.... if you like.... um, because of news coverage across the world, we've all seen, you know, the terrible devastation that can wreak, on not just communities, but as you say, whole islands and chains of islands and it's horrific... and some places are still right  this moment, still recovering from various, you know, events and [00:42:00] still not ..righted....

Dania Ramos: Right? 

Michael Aquino: Puerto Rico being one of them... well, it's still in rough shape. So yeah. 

Sarah Golding: So this is it. And I think anything that, uh, you know, in a, in an educational way that can shine a light and say, look, this is still happening. You know, it's not one off it's continually reoccurring, and folks do need to, you know, realize what happens at a, at a very human level, really isn't it? It's not, not, um, a faceless level when you've got to know these characters so well, and I think that's, what's beautiful about it, really. And so you do. You care? I think, uh, very much about how, how to help I think. Um, but yeah, I mean, and, and, and as a sort of, um, as an educational aspect of that as well, I think the resources that you've got upon your sites, are, Brilliant.

I mean, I'm a drama teacher and, you know, there's plenty of material I could utilize to create [00:43:00] various cool and fun and innovative and educational, uh, you know, storytelling, schemes of work there. And I mean, how, how has that come about, um, how have you worked with your local communities to, uh, to raise up sort of the educational nature of the podcast??

Michael Aquino: I just want to give props to Dania,cause she is amazing at doing these. The episodes, episode resource guides and the, and the series resource guides. And she'll talk about that, but she's one, she's had lots of experience doing them.... 

Sarah Golding: I'm raising my hands in the air.... It's, brilliant.  Honestly,we need  more of that in podcasts,

Dania Ramos:  I act well, i, I, first of all, I ... , I believe in it. I, in, in having resources for teachers, I. I actually am like, I haven't put, I haven't put up a season, two ones yet, and I feel like I need to get on top of that. So here I am thinking like, um, that I want to, you know, give even more in [00:44:00] terms of....the resource content, but.... in terms of specifically for the resource guides, um, that's something that I've had experience in creating.... for stage.....pieces.

Um, so I, it was a natural. You know, fit. Um, Michael and I have actually done quite a bit of touring theater as well. And that that's something when you do that type of touring theater, that is something that is, I think really important and essential to provide to the educators, um, in terms of, yeah. Going into the classroom.

Um, but when it comes like to the, the community side of it, we've actually..... are really excited about, um, you know, connecting with libraries, and classrooms, of course, The timing of it, um, has been a little tricky. We were able to start doing some of that. Um, you know , before, before COVID hit.....we we'd done some, some stuff in [00:45:00] person, um, specifically with the New ark public library system, of course, um, Glada the mother character works in public library system.

So we really excited to be in that, that system.....

Michael Aquino: ... and they were excited. To have us in the system as well. So we have a, it's a pretty big system. And there were a bunch of our librarians that were really interested in involving us 

Dania Ramos: ...and then the main branch has.... Hispanic research research....portion to, to their, to their, the library systems.

So it's, it's, they have a lot of. Content there, um, for anybody who is interested...., in, you know, the Puerto Rican, the history of Puerto Rican's and also the greater Hispanic community in, in Newark and also, um, the state as well. Yeah. So, but then yeah, after that, we, we, we had to re think how, uh, when, when the pandemic hit, we had to rethink how we were going [00:46:00] to, um, connect to the community, um, yeah.

And, and so we've been lucky that we've been able to do a few virtual, um, events. We were able to, uh, have a chat with some, uh, audio drama writing students... 

Oh, That was 

Michael Aquino: so much fun was so much fun. 

Dania Ramos: And so there were students in Boston, um, who were learning, you know, they were writing and producing their own content. And so they had a lot of questions for us and, and that was really exciting. Um, To do a visit like that. Um, and then we, for the main branch of the Newark public library, um, we were able to do a virtual listening party for their Hispanic, um, celebration that happened in October. So, um, Yeah. It, it, it's, it's just finding new ways of connecting right now.

Sarah Golding: Yes....it issss! , so if you've got any ideas folks and you know, what Cocotazo could do, then [00:47:00] drop them a line!. 

Yeah, absolutely. 

Dania Ramos: Absolutely. We're very down for, you know, virtual classroom visits, um, anything like that...

Michael Aquino:  Even, you know, even if. If a group of parents want to get together that are home homeschooling their kids, and they would like to, you know, that, that that's an option too, you know, we're, we're just down with, with really kind of the educational aspect and giving the resources, not only about Timestorm, but like creating as well.

Sarah Golding: I think that's superb... Where we should start. Like a world government, basically audio hour is from something to something o'clock where time zones work for the whole world. Everybody must tune in and enjoy (LAUGHS). That sounds rather ...DICTATORIAL doesnt it?! But... . I just think that there should be some. Some kind of conglomerate of things, putting beautiful events together, especially now I'm sure there perhaps are, and I don't even know about them. So if that's happening, let me know and we can sing it, sing [00:48:00] it from the heavens!, 

Michael Aquino: Let us know! 

Sarah Golding: But yeah, in regards to sort of the, the kind of contributors you get, obviously the folks that you have within the show with beautiful sounding names that I.... would really fail probably in ... saying, saying correctly, uh, from community. Cause I have, I have no experience. I've got to say of, uh, the kind of Puerto Rican communities and that hasn't just been in my experience really of life. And so I think perhaps that's also why I'm totally hooked and interested in, in kind of learning through your podcast if you like. And so. I mean, if someone is looking for cast with this kind of background, where would they find these voice actors? Cause you know, we are talking about raising and widening and lengthening and enlarging the, the space for voice actors from diverse backgrounds. So where would we find them?? 

Michael Aquino: Yeah. I mean, w w um, we would say. A,. If any, if any of the actors are here [00:49:00] on our show, if anybody's interested in making connections with them, we have a resource of ...how many the actors did we have in season one and season two? I mean...dozens!, And most of our actors were, uh, uh, of color. So, um, you know, you can reach out to us, Cocotazo media. At gmail.com. We have, we can send actors your way, but also, um, there's a couple other resources. There's a BIPOC, uh, voiceover voice artists spreadsheet that was started by Edward Hong. And it has it by, uh, different communities. So, um, you know, we, we can provide that link for you to share...  

Sarah Golding: That will be superb, thank you

Michael Aquino:  And then there is, um, the Hispanic organization of Latin actors that is specifically just Latin actors. Um, and they have a resource of actors, uh, on their website as well. Um, they're mostly stage and theater and film actors, but as we know a lot of [00:50:00] stage theater and film actors right now are doing voice work...

Sarah Golding: They're doing alright a bit... They're all right at audio, aren't they? I mean,

Michael Aquino: Yeah, they can get by! 

Sarah Golding: yA KNOW, NEARLY AS GOOD AS THESE ESTABLISHED VOICE ACTORS , but yeah,. We can teach him thing too. Yeah. 

Michael Aquino: Yeah, absolutely. And I, you know, I think it's, it's another great resource.

 That's superb... You. I didn't 

Sarah Golding: know those existed, so that's brilliant to know, and hopefully other folks will jump on and hopefully, as I say, widen their, their use of, of. Uh, all voices from everywhere rather than, you know, the pools they know... if you like, I think it's so key. Yeah. So what other podcasts do you recommend folks listen to, have you got any favorites of your own that either reflect...mmm.., you know, culturally, uh, sort of similar vein to Timestorm  and everything else, or just, just float your boat and you enjoy...?

Dania Ramos:  Um, yeah, I have a few.

Um, so I'll start off with an audio drama called Celestial [00:51:00] blood, um, or Sangre Celestial...So it's actually in, there's a version English and a version... in Spanish and it's, um, uh, radio novella about the Lucero family, um, and their secrets and intrigue, and.... It's a lot of fun. Um, so you can listen in any like either language, so that that's really great.

Um, and that's from KCRW. Um, and then for kids, that's, that's an adult... uhhhh... piece. Um, and for the kids, um, the, the  Mayan crystal, which is based in MAYAN CULTURE.... Yeah, yeah. 

Sarah Golding: Yes, yes, i HAVE LISTENED to that one - Fred Greenhalgh..... Yep. 

Dania Ramos: Yesss! His work is amazing. Yeah. And so, um, essentially a Belizian girl is fighting an evil spirit in the rainforest. Um, and so, and that's from out of GEN-Z media, lots of fun. Um, And, um, and then, uh, one, I will recommend that is [00:52:00] bilingual, but it's non-fiction but super, I, I recommend it is Anything for Selena, from Futura media and, uh,  WB U R. It's also bilingual. So they have it both in English or in Spanish, depending on how you want to listen. Um, yeah. And it's, it's really great. Cause it's, you know, it's used, it's exploring aspects of.....Selena who, you know, was tragically killed, um, um, in her early twenties, there's this phenomenon icon of, of, you know, Chicano, um, Mexican American people. Um, but it is really about identity .. . In so many ways. And it's just really brilliantly done. So I would recommend that as well.

Sarah Golding: Thank you super. 

Michael Aquino: And for me, I've got, um, there is a great, uh, podcast called Stoop kid stories and it's created by Melissa Victor [00:53:00] and it's for kids five and up. So this is, um, you know, younger than definitely younger than Timestorm. And Melissa does a great job of, of creating these, these it's it's... almost like an anthology where it's each thing, each episode is its own story and she talks about it and she presents it and she's, she's a lot of fun, super engaging. Um, those are for kids five and up, I have Las Raras, which is, um, a Spanish language podcast. Now this might not be for everybody. If you don't....  Understand Spanish, but it's, uh, Las Raras translates to the weird ones. So it's, it's, it's a podcast about people who live on like the margins of society and it's a non-fiction Spanish language podcast done by a couple of wonderful friends of ours. Um,  that Katalina Mae and Martine Cruz. And they were a part of the Google podcasts with us... and we, we just love their show. And then, uh, And then the one that you might know, uh, [00:54:00] and maybe I'm trying to get brownie points with this one is forest for four Oh four done by BBC radio four, which is, I love it. I loved it as a sound person, just because the setup it's so rich. And then they had the episode where you just had the soundscape.

And then you had the episode where they talked about with the, with the expert. And I were just really...

Sarah Golding:  that's fully immersive, isn't it. If you've got a decent pair of headphones, put 'em on!

Michael Aquino: Oh, it's fantastic. And then the last one, I'll say as a sound, as a musician is Strong songs, which is fantastic. And it's done by Kirk Hamilton and he's an he's, um, either, uh, music theory guide, but he makes it so much fun to listen to him. And he dissects, especially... essentially over an hour, he dissects a song, a popular song and breaks it down, like almost beat by beat, like what's happening in with music theory. [00:55:00] But then he tries to, he really gears it as somebody who doesn't understand music theory. So he does it in agreat, great way that makes it very accessible. 

Sarah Golding: Amazing. I wonder if he'd be able to understand any of my ukulele original songs, huh?

Dania Ramos: Oh, are they, are these recorded on a podcast? 

Sarah Golding: Not yet.... it turns up randomly, but, um, I'm getting excited about maybe just randomly jumping on and seeing what happens....

Michael Aquino: I'd love to hear a few...

Sarah Golding: Oh, you say that....

(LAUGHS) Bleeding ears, anyone? I think that's what I'd call the podcast.... But yeah, I mean, I love, as I say, my life has been, not been enriched by these beautiful European and American, and ...  so many.... different place based languages that, uh, that you folks have got. And so [00:56:00] I think the only thing I can say in Spanish is ' Una cerveza por favor'...which i just  said terribly badly, but essentially I, 

Michael Aquino: no, it was fantastic...!

Sarah Golding:  I, I truly appreciate, you know, the, the, the time and the care that's got into sharing all of the, the story content and especially, you know, at the heart of it is that ... you know, it is, is one world and humanity is important wherever it's from, you know, and the fact that you're being able to, to raise up the voices of folks and, uh, across time that, uh, perhaps otherwise might not be so well-spoken for, I think is beautiful. So I adore what you're doing and I hope your, your next future things, uh, continue to be, to be... exceptionally amazing. So, yeah. So what, what is happening next for you folks? What, what are your plans?

Dania Ramos: Um, so, well, I will say, cause you gracias for... saying all that. [00:57:00] Thank you for saying that, Sarah. Um, so we, um, season three of Timestorm will be coming, uh, to everyone's ears starting at the end, April the second half of April.

Ooooh that's not long!! 

Um, So, yeah, so, so that's kind of, you know, the main thing that's happening right now. And, um, I, we can say not too much, we'll say that we are in the planning stages of a Spanish re-imagining of time storm. And that's all we can say about that... 

That it's 

Sarah Golding: hugely excitingly intriguing! Yeah. Brilliant. Oh, well, I hope your recording and plans and, uh, and release goes smoothly and, and, and folks find it and share it and listen to it and rate it and review it and all the things that we like them to do when we make a podcast so that it can be heard more, really excited to see, see what you do next. And thank you so much for sharing some of your day with me, uh, to talk about what you've done.

Michael Aquino:  I will say gracias, [00:58:00] Sarah as well...! It's been a pleasure. 

Dania Ramos: Yes. Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat with you. This has been fun. 


Sarah Golding: Groovy, Well, listen, keep having fun and share that- it's infectious, right? So yeah, you incite all those wonderful children and adults to, to listen to more and love more audio fiction. Uh, cause it's obviously the best medium there is, right. 

Michael Aquino: Absolutely. Is there any doubt? 

Sarah Golding: NEVER!, INo, well,have a beauteous rest of everything including today and this week. And thank you for, for coming on MADIVA. 

Dania Ramos: Thank you.  

Michael Aquino: Bye,   Sarah

Sarah Golding: You're Welcome. Bye-bye!