Tupelo man reaches thousands worldwide with sci-fi podcasts

Have a listen
Check out Derek Russell’s podcasts at these Web sites:
Starkville House of El (“Smallville” and Superman) – houseofelpodcast.com
The 10th Wonder (“Heroes”) – thetenthwonder.com
SkyNext (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Terminator” franchise) – skynextpodcast.com
All three podcasts can also be downloaded at

TUPELO – To say Derek Russell lives and works in Tupelo is so 20th century.
Really, the 24-year-old’s life is more digital than it is analog, more online than off, more worldwide than citywide.
He’s got his podcasts to thank for that. Russell’s three podcasts, “Starkville House of El,” “SkyNext” and “10th Wonder,” have turned this mild-mannered everyman into an Internet guru.
And it all started small, as in “Smallville.”
Russell got his start in podcasting in Starkville, while watching The CW show that follows a young Clark Kent on his journey to become Superman.
He and his friends, Russell said, “were sitting around joking and talking about it. At first we thought we’d start a fan site, but then it turned into something more.”
He first hosted the “Smallville” podcast “Starkville House of El” with his friend Tucker Colburn, but now hosts it with pal Steve Glosson, a Georgia resident.
The guys record a podcast after each episode and for any news released on the show.
With “SHoE” well under way, Russell began “The 10th Wonder” podcast for NBC’s superhero show “Heroes” with his friend Graham Hancock.
A year and a half later, he and Glosson started the “SkyNext” podcast to follow FOX’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
All three podcasts have been a success.
“It’s in the thousands,” he said about the number of listeners for all three shows. Somewhere in those thousands are the writers, cast, crew and producers of each series. “That’s humbling, more than anything else,” said Russell, who’s interviewed various cast and crew members of each show for the podcasts. The guys’ work on “SHoE” led to the podcast being featured on the season 6 DVD set of “Smallville.”
While Russell and his co-hosts are fans of the shows they follow, their listeners are their fans, too.
“When people want Steve and Derek T-shirts, that gets a little weird. If people are enjoying (the podcasts), that’s fine. If people start showing up at my door, no thank you. I don’t want a ‘Jon amp& Kate’ complex,” he said, referring to the recent drama surrounding reality stars Jon and Kate Gosselin of “Jon amp& Kate Plus 8.”
Now that “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” has been canceled, Russell said “SkyNext” has been, too.
“It’s sad – we’ve never had to close one before,” he said. The podcast will continue into the summer, as he and Glosson cover the recently released “Terminator Salvation.”
This week, the guys hope to release a “Terminator Salvation” commentary podcast, so a movie-goer can bring the “SkyNext” podcast with them on an mp3 player to the theater and listen to the podcast as they watch the film.
He admits he’ll welcome the free time that comes after “SkyNext” is done.
“From planning to recording to editing, it’s about 12 hours to do each podcast,” he said. That, coupled with his day job, is tiresome, but he still loves what he does. Just don’t ask him to listen to anybody else’s podcast.
“I don’t find myself sitting in one place for very long,” he said. “Give me a three-minute song over a 20-minute podcast.”
Side projects
The podcasts have opened many doors for Russell.
He writes for DC Comics and works for “Smallville” and “Dukes of Hazzard” star John Schneider. He’s written scripts and has a book waiting to be published. He and Colburn have started a comic book, “The Ravenger.”
All of that work keeps Russell on his iPhone, where he’s constantly on the Web, making connections and using sites like Twitter to their advantages.
He insists that all of the podcasting, writing and social networking is all about new media.
“I love that within 10 minutes of an episode going out, people in Australia are talking about it,” Russell said. “It’s not about talking about a show, it’s about talking to people.”
Still, he admits, with a smile, “Even I get sick of my own voice.”

Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal