written by David Steffen
“Searching for the heart of a nation… in the throat of its people.” Thus is the mission of Extruding America, the brainchild of podcaster Gerard Armbruster. His mission: to deliver a nice slice of Americana straight to your ears with a generous dollop of profundity on top. Such as Stetson Tudd who lives in the state of Washington and has delivered periodic Postcards from Battersea, and… Well, admittedly, Gerard has only one correspondent. But don’t tell Stetson that.
Extruding America is a little tricky to classify. It’s certainly not the short story fare that I usually spend my listening time on. I listened to it on a recommendation, and didn’t really expect to like it since it wasn’t in my preferred format. Since it’s not in short story format I am doing this spotlight in place of the usual Best Of list I do for story podcasts.
But I really liked it. It had me laughing from the beginning with its tag line. And in the end I really felt like I knew the bumbling, well-meaning, lonely Gerard who puts everything into making this podcast and his rambling, philosophical, moody friend Stetson. Gerard’s not great at conducting interviews, but then again Stetson’s not great at being interviewed. Gerard begins most episodes with a target theme, like “Isolation” and a core question in support of that topic that he wants Stetson to answer. But Stetson usually just ends up talking about whatever’s on his mind at the time, which is rarely the chosen topic of the day.
The best way that I could describe the show is heartfelt parody of a show like Prairie Home Companion (or a parody of my mental image of that show since I’ve never listened). It’s heartfelt, but also silly. I especially liked some of the later episodes, after Gerard purchases a recording device which is so sensitive it can even record thoughts and dreams–and it works as advertises, as evidenced by some very hallucinatory recordings. My special favorite of these is Extruding America 36: Ghosts.
Sadly, the episodes of Extruding America started petering out in 2010, and the most recent episode was posted on September 2, 2011. I don’t believe there was ever an official announcement that the podcast was cancelled. Maybe there’s still hope that Gerard and Stetson’s voices will grace our ears once again! Gerard is voiced by Eric Luke, who I have been happy to hear as a voice actor on other podcasts.