Who Is GWC?

When we say we’re the friendliest place in sci-fi, we mean it! We’re a bunch of lay-abouts and rebels, outside of continents and beyond countries, young and old, female and male, teachers and students, writers and readers, philosophers and skeptics, and we have one thing in common: we’re interested.

We’re interested in television shows, movies, comics, novels and music. We’re interested in each other. We like to chat about just about any topic, we’ll listen and give informed feedback, and at the end of the day we think of GWC as a clubhouse for a (very large) group of friends.

You are welcome here. Everyone is.

What Does GWC Do?

We discuss everything. Although the genesis of the GWC podcast and forum were rooted in Battlestar Galactica, we have grown into a community that discusses everything from fire breathing chickens in Japan to the latest Joss Whedon production. Science fiction may have brought us here, but the community keeps us coming back.

Almost every night you can find a group of people together on GWC watching the latest new show, a classic movie, or something interesting. Think of it like having access to the smartest and funniest people you know (like you!) commenting on what you’re watching while you’re watching it. It’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 meets your college film class.

We also share with everyone when we stumble onto something we find cool. The GuildBBC’s Life on MarsClear Skies, andHenry V are just a few examples of what we’ve discovered and shared as a community. We also create new content including songs, funny photoshopped images, and perhaps most notably in honor of our 100th podcast, a video:

What’s A Frak Party?

Don’t let the name fool you! Originally organized by Zack Exley, allowed fans to get together and enjoy the season three opener of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica in a nationwide internet party. As a shout-out to Zack, GWC adopted the name.

Since then, frak parties have expanded from the realms of BSG to include many genres of television and film. GWCers host several frak parties weekly including Trek Tuesdays and Whedon Wednesdays. Every Friday night the feature presentation relates to the current podcast arc.

What Do I Do At A Frak Party?

As custom dictates, frak parties start at :15 past the hour they are scheduled — unless of course it’s a live broadcast — and take place in the Community Frak Parties section of the GWC forum. Watching TV and posting on a forum can be quite a daunting task. As a common practice leave the thread open and use the refresh button on your internet browser. The most fun you’ll find at a frak party is the witty banter between participants. Any good experience is better shared!

If you happen to miss a frak party, they’re archived. You can watch the content on your own, follow along in the the thread, and post your own comments for future readers.

What’s The GWC Community Blog?

The GWC Community Blog serves as the main page of the Galactic Watercooler website. On it, you’ll find updates on what the GWC Crue are watching for their upcoming podcasts, and much, much more.

Initially, blogs were the sole submissions of the GWC Crue, our hosts Chuck, Sean, and Audra. Together, they’ve racked up hundreds and hundreds of entries, on every subject imaginable. Many, of course, have a sci-fi, fantasy, comics, or gaming slant, but some do not. All reflect items or opinions that the Crue have found interesting and want to share with the community. Reader comments are always welcome and encouraged! It’s just one of the ways the GWC Hivemind passes around cool knowledge and news.

How Can I Blog?

Recently, the GWC Crue opened up the blog page to the community members, allowing GWCers to submit their own entries for publication! After contacting Sean for an account and password, as well as a comprehensive list of guidelines, do’s and don’ts, you’re good to go. Not the world’s best writer? Don’t worry. GWC’s editors will help you through the process, and before you can say Millenium Falcon you might find your work up on GWC’s front page, viewed by thousands!

First-timers, do not fear! It’s fun, rewarding, and the editors are friendly and helpful. In fact, they might very possibly be “the friendliest editors in sci-fi.”

I Just Found GWC. How Do I Get Involved?

It’s easy. Start by heading over to the GWC forum and signing up for an account. You can jump right into a topic of your choice, but if you’d like to participate in a frak party, check the calendar, which lists all upcoming scheduled ‘parties. Of course, some frak parties happen spur-of-the-moment, so if you’re looking for some fun right now, check the frak party forum itself to see what’s up.

Something cool happen to you today? Check out the “Cool craaaaaap you’ve acquired/done lately” thread in which GWCers post the happy. If your day’s in the dump, check out our “Life is teh suck today because (a.k.a. the official B_tch & Moan thread” where we, well, b_tch and moan. One rule, though: it’s GWC tradition that you post once in the cool craaaaap thread for every b_tch and moan post.

Many GWCers participate in various social networking groups, like, and Xbox Live. Look for XBL gamertags in forum user’s post headers.

Quite a few GWCers are gamers, too. Besides just XBL, you’ll find GWCers in virtually every major MMO. In Eve Online, join the GWC channel to chat with fellow GWCers.

Who Is Audra?

Audra recently completed the coursework for her PhD in Humanities and teaches English literature and humanities at the college level.

Who Is Chuck?

Chuck is a software developer and freelance writer, working most recently for Wired, Popular Science, and Golf Digest. Chuck was featured contributor in the November 2008 issue of Wired.

Who Is Sean?

Sean is an award-winning commercial artist who works in print media and television.

Is Solai available? He is super sexy!

Sorry ladies, Solai is off the market.

Did Chuck And Sean Build The Viper Simulator I Saw In Popular Science?

Yes. Their custom garage-built Viper sim appeared in the April 2008 issue of Popular Science. A link to a short version of the article (with a picture) is still available via It’s essentially a big game controller: a MIG-welded steel frame with a composite and wood shell and a seat out of a Mazda junkyard queen.

Did Chuck And Sean Build The Real Guitar Hero Controller I Saw On

Yes. (Link) It’s the bastard child of an $89 Fender Squire and a standard Guitar Hero controller. In Chuck’s shop they removed the Squire’s neck, drilled it for buttons and wiring, routed and chiseled out a larger electronics cavity in the body, and adapted the GH controller’s strummer and other controls to the Squire’s face plate. The result is a much larger, heavier, and slightly Yahoo Serious-looking controller. The controller was auctioned in NYC as part of a Childs Play charity event.

Why Don’t You Talk About Battlestar Galactica Anymore?

When Audra, Sean, and Chuck started Galactic(a) Watercooler back in 2006, it grew out of literal watercooler discussions of the re-imagined BSG. Sean introduced Chuck to the show, and he in turn introduced Audra. The early podcasts were simply recordings of these discussions. During the incredibly-long, fandom-patience-testing hiatuses between BSG seasons, GWC continued to podcast, first re-watching all of BSG, then finally turning to other science fiction material.

In doing so, the hosts and community both discovered that we all share one idea that’s more dear to us than our love of the podcast-founding show: we love introducing friends to (and being ourselves introduced to) new sci-fi, fantasy, comic, and gaming material. Where individually we were lucky to have a few local friends who filled that role, as members of the GWC community we now have thousands of friends lining up to turn each of us on to the latest (or oldest) cool new stuff.

Hence with the end of Battlestar Galactica, GWC dropped the “a” and became simply Galactic Watercooler, now focusing on finding, exploring, and sharing new cool material.

Does the GWC crew sit in the same room when they record?

Besides a very few unusual cases where one host was brought in via Skype or phone, the crew does sit in the same room when they record.

What equipment does GWC use to record the podcast?

Chuck offers the following answer:

I record into ProTools via a Digidesign 002R.  I use Sennheiser 835s for myself and Audra and an 825S for Sean.  (I tried my small-diaphragm condensers early on, but didn’t like the results.  While they do pick up more vocal resolution, they also pick up way more of the room noise as they’re so much more sensitive.  In the end I found that I achieve best results with the vocal mics and a good EQ that smoothes things out a bit.)  We record in the same room, but our positioning combined with the mic patterns (and low sensitivity) gives me pretty good separation; we’re all tracked individually.

I then edit and apply effects.  Most of my editing is simply dropping in the intro and plugging a few segments together.  The show is 99% live.  Each of us gets a custom expander (to eliminate the little crossover that’s still in the signals), a de-esser, a custom compressor, and a custom EQ. I apply light limiting to the final output to bring levels up a bit. I mix using a matched set of powered JBL monitors — the LSR4326P set. They accept digital output from the 002, and autocorrect for room reflections and such via a built-in processor and mic, so what I hear from my seating position in front of the audio desk is pretty accurate.

We take live guests via a digital hybrid — essentially the same way radio stations do. The hybrid not only taps the phone line, but it also manipulates the signal to keep (most) of our re-send out of the caller’s line.  There’s enough separation that creative expander application can clear the rest.  When we have a guest, I run us through my Mackie 1604VLZ, then into the 002R (instead of directly into the 002R) so I can create a “mix-minus” analog monitor signal to feed back to the caller. When we bring in guests via Skype, they come in via a Mac Mini dedicated to Skype and they agian get their own mix-minus. We can, in fact, accept guests from both Skype and landline simultaneously with everyone tracked separately and interacting in real time. The Mini can also handle other apps, like Talkshoe, UStream (or even Ventrilo).

When sending audio back to the hybrid, Skype, or Talkshoe (and such) for live ‘casts, I feed each of us through a series of outboard rack hardware to reproduce the expander/gates, compressors, limiters, and de-essers so that we sound as close to “podcast” as possible. Of course, I record the “dry” signal and re-process later digitally during the podcast mixdown.

Calls from our voicemail service are converted to 16/44.1 WAV, then included in the ‘cast on their own individual tracks. Calls generally receive an expander gate and a limiter, but if needed I can add additional effects to bring them up to volume.

I burn the whole multitrack mess to DVD for archiving and output each episode to 44.1 kHz stereo, then compress separately to 64k MP3.  (I did some tests with the first podcast and liked 64k best — even over VBR.  The files aren’t that big, and in a blind listening test, we all liked the format.) I ID3 tag the file and it’s ready to go.

If you have technical questions, you can direct them to Chuck.

How Do I Get The Earlier GWC Podcasts That Aren’t On iTunes?

Due to inherent limits in RSS feed sizes, we can’t force iTunes to show all past GWC podcasts. (Generally you’ll see the latest 50 in the iTunes feed.) All GWC podcasts, however, are still available for download directly from this site.

If you’re looking for a specific podcast, just type “#50” or “#122” or whichever podcast you want into the search box and click search. Or you can click the View All GWC Podcasts link to see all podcasts from the most recent back to #1. Either way, you can right click on the “Download” link on any podcast post and select your browser’s save option to download any specific podcast.  (You can also stream them directly from the post via Flash.)

The Newest Podcast Isn’t On iTunes Yet? Can I Download It Anyway?

Yes! iTunes sometimes takes hours to update our feed and discover new podcasts. You can always download the current podcast directly from this site. Just right click the “Download” link and select your browser’s save function. For convenience, we also provide direct links to the latest episodes in the GWC Podcasts section of the forum.

Special thanks to awesome FAQ contributors: