February 2010

We Need Your Help!

Feedback time! We are considering making a slight change to the way the Odyssey Scoop's blog looks. Instead of being able to see the entire blog post as it is now on the home page, an excerpt of the day's post would be posted with a link to the actual permanent link to the blog entry. On the actual blog entry page you would be able to comment on each post without having to click "Comments" and waiting for a popup comments box to appear. Instead, the comments would appear on the page below the post and make it easier for people to post. One negative outcome is that visitors would need to click on each blog entry to see the whole entry and comments. On the other hand, people would enjoy being able to see comments without any effort when viewing a post... and comments would appear in real-time as they do now in the popup box. To see a similar example of what we're talking about, please visit the website of Phil Vischer, mastermind behind the VeggieTales series.

What would you like to see us do? Should we keep the blog as it is or give posts a permanent link? Submit your thoughts below and discuss with others. Your feedback is important!

Repack of Heroes Collection

So much AIO news is happening that it's hard to keep up! Though I didn't specifically talk about it yesterday, we updated some of our Merchandise section's listing of products. The repackaging for albums 1-15 is continuing as planned. The first collection to be released from those albums is album 3, Heroes. Since artist Gary Locke originally illustrated the original Gold Audio Series version, the cover art will remain the same, but updated to the typical rays and arches format. It's all about consistency and offering AIO at one familiar look so fans can recognize the series more easily. Heroes is set for release any day now.

You can see both the front and back covers of this release here. If you're confused about any aspect of the Adventures in Odyssey repack project, I recommend you read about it in our Product FAQ. Also you can see the tentative release schedule for upcoming albums at our Repack Schedule. You'll notice that we've talked more in depth about how to be on the lookout for the new repacks. If you're a collector, you may want to see what we have to say.

As for other things going on, the back cover of album 51, Take It from the Top, is finally available. Be sure to check it out. Speaking of which, time is ticking down and you need to get your entry in as soon as possible for our latest contest! Don't delay!


Audio Preview for Take It from the Top

The news keeps flying in for a landing here at the Odyssey Scoop. If you haven't read yesterday's post, I highly recommend you do that. But today, I'm excited to present a 60-second audio preview for Take It from the Top. Have a listen:

This audio preview, along with a couple video previews, are now available prominently at the product page.

Also, AIO Wiki has posted an exclusive preview of what's coming up in the season premiere. Listen here:

We're just 10 days away from the new season, and these short mini-episodes, podcasts, and audio previews are just making the wait harder. As you wait, head over to our ScoopYourself Contest to win a free copy of Take It from the Top! We're accepting entries until 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, March 3rd! It's time to get going on your entry!

Update: Audio promos for other upcoming episodes are now available on our 2010 episodes page.


Welcome to Welcome to Whit's End

In our post on February 19th, I talked about the new sampler Welcome to Whit's End. Well, it looks like more info has been made available regarding the release. Best of all, you can even listen to it before the new season airs! The latest Official Podcast is giving away this episode early so you can hear it free!

Join host Chris Anthony in "Welcome to Whit's End," a new 11 minute tour of Odyssey. Plus, be the first to hear the opening scene of "The Inspiration Station," the first episode in album 51.


I must say that after hearing Andre Stojka in this special mini-episode, I think he's going to fill the shoes of Whit really well. Hats off to Andre!

This is the first time, since the beginning of the podcast, that the theme song has been changed. And after you've heard the first scene of The Inspiration Station, don't forget to enter our ScoopYourself Contest to win a free copy of the latest release from Adventures in Odyssey!


Enter to Win Album 51, Take It from the Top!

Now is your chance to participate in the Odyssey Scoop's first-ever ScoopYourself contest... and win a cool prize in the process!

What is ScoopYourself?
Basically it's just a fancy name, but the concept will be a challenge for you to be the Odyssey Scoop's top winner. In each ScoopYourself challenge, you'll have the opportunity to incorporate yourself into your contest entry and be the most creative to win exciting prizes!

The Challenge
We want to see your Adventures in Odyssey collection. Yes, that's right. We want you to come up with the most creative display of your Odyssey albums, books, videos, DVDs, action figures, T-shirts, and more!

What should I do?
First, it is necessary that you have access to a digital camera and your Odyssey collection. You might also want to have access to some props. Anything you would like to use in making your photo more creative is fine by us. If you don't have a very large AIO collection, you are certainly welcome to use what you have. If you aren't camera-shy, you might consider posing with your Odyssey collection too, though that's not required. You also may find it helpful to take several photos and choose your favorite before submitting. Keep in mind that lighting, location of the camera, and placement of Odyssey items will make a huge difference.

What will I win?
The contestant with the most creative arrangement of his/her Adventures in Odyssey collection will win a free copy of the highly-anticipated new album,
Take It from the Top. Your winning photo will be featured here at the Odyssey Scoop for years to come! Even if you don't win, your photo will be posted along with every other contestant's so fans can see it... and everyone else's. In other words, it's time to show your stuff!

When is the deadline?
You have until 11:59 EST on Wednesday, March 3rd, to enter. Entries will be judged and the winner will be announced on Friday, March 5th - the day before the new season of Adventures in Odyssey begins!

How to Enter

Send us an email with your Name, Age, Location, Mailing address, and photo attached. Be sure you put "ScoopYourself" in the subject line. The higher resolution the photo is, the better.


  • Only one entry per person.
  • You can enter even if you live outside the United States.
  • If you have participated in a similar photo contest in the past, you may participate again. However, we require you to submit a different photo.

You have nothing to lose! Enter now!

Welcome to Whit's End


For most of you, the new season of Adventures in Odyssey can't get here soon enough. And for many of you, you're just getting involved with the series and could care less because you have so many albums to collect you don't know where to start! That's exactly what the new season is about... new beginnings. New characters. New horizons. And a new look and sound for the timeless series. We touched on this in the past, but I figured it'd be a good day to bring it up again.


Focus on the Family is releasing a new AIO sampler, Welcome to Whit's End, in the very near future. Unlike all other samplers of the past, this one comes with a brand-new episode, Welcome to Whit's End. It's considered a mini-episode; that is, it's shorter than the usual 20-24 minute episodes we're used to hearing. I know some of you older listeners are shrieking because we've been down the road of shorter episodes before (a time referred to as split episodes). Don't worry. This is just a special episode to introduce new listeners to the series. And for you old-time listeners who may have just shrieked at the unwanted thought of something resembling a split episode of the past, don't worry. It won't be released in a collection. A special bonus feature in a future album I can see. However, I know many AIO collectors are going to get their hands on this sampler. Where can you get it? Well, click here to learn more about this tie-in release to the new season.


Of course, the highly-anticipated album on everyone's lips is Take It from the Top (collection #51). Episodes from this collection begin airing on March 6th - just 15 days away!


Yet, we're only one day away from a special surprise here at The Odyssey Scoop! What is that surprise? Come back in one day and find out!


Odyssey Blogging


The upcoming season of Adventures in Odyssey is getting closer and closer! In just 16 days, we'll get to hear the first part of the season opener, The Inspiration Station. Until then, it seems that more and more AIO blogs are popping up, one right after the other. I'd just like to highlight two more.


First, we have the Campbell County Connection, brought to us by a blogger and AIO fan. Presenting the latest Odyssey news, this blog also features an "Odyssey Connection" which parallels day-to-day experiences with events in Odyssey. It's got a human side to it that you may find interesting.


Second, Odyssey Way is a relatively new blog, containing Odyssey news as well. So far, this blogger describes his reaction to new AIO artwork and other changes going on in Odyssey.


I must wonder, as the new season is nearly upon us, will there be more blogs or do we have enough already? I've added both blogs to our Links Outward page, respectively.

Would You Like a Muffin?


So would you? It's been a while since we've talked about the Ceiling Fan podcast. In fact, they just released a special show within the show. One of the podcast's listeners decided to create his own parody of the podcast... with hilarious results! In a wacky attempt to poke fun at the podcast "where Odyssey hits the fan," you'll get to hear special appearances with Connie Kendall, Guy Feldstein, Arthur Dent, and more. And it looks like Connie has landed herself in Hillingdale Haven! Apparently, Connie and Arthur are a little loopy these days. Don't miss it!


I would like to mention that I was pleased to hear that the Scoop's Where Odyssey Is Not feature was mentioned in the podcast. Thanks, guys! There's no doubt in my mind that some of you may be craving a muffin by the end of the podcast. Would you like a muffin?


Cover Art for Third Edition of "Arin's Judgment"


Today we've got some news you can use! A preliminary version of the cover art for the second book in the popular Passages book series has been released. Arin's Judgment features an intriguing new cover graphic with wonderful detail.


One minute, Wade Mullins is in Odyssey, attempting to burn his friend's top-secret drawings for the atomic bomb. The next, he is staring at a strange prophet from an alternate world who says Wade is the final sign—an end-times omen of a culture on the verge of annihilation. Can Wade stop the production of a bomb and a madman's reign of terror?


Most likely the only revision to the cover in the days ahead will be an update to the logo featured on the book, as well as a removal of the unrolled scroll behind the book's title. This third edition of the book will also contain six interior color pictures and a new 2-page color map of Marus and outlying areas. I think it would be safe to say that many Adventures in Odyssey fans are looking forward to a future release of an audio dramatization of the book as well. When will that day be? Only time will tell.


Arin's Judgment is scheduled for a May 2010 release. The first book in the series, Darien's Rise, is planned for release in April. Click here to learn more about Arin's Judgment and see the new cover up close. Visit our February 8 post regarding the new edition of Darien's Rise.


Big... No, HUGE, Update!


Surprise! Today I'm excited to officially unveil the brand-new, updated site design for the Odyssey Scoop I've been talking about during the past few weeks. Call it a pre-Valentine's Day special a la Scoop. But what's so exciting about this update? Well, take a look around the website and see. You'll notice we have an updated, but familiar, look. It's more consistent, more modern, and easier to navigate. See people? We were listening to your suggestions after all. Best of all, it looks like the home page and the majority of the site content has been cleaned up, polished, and shined! Here's some of the new site updates you'll experience here at the Scoop:

  • Actor Brandon Gilberstadt shares his adventure in Odyssey
    I'm sure many of you are familiar with Brandon Gilberstadt, voice of Jared DeWhite. Jared became one of Odyssey's biggest mischievous characters... and one of the most loved. In our latest interview, Brandon shares his adventure in Odyssey -- from his perspective! Read on as Brandon shares memories from his time at Adventures in Odyssey, his brief departure from the show, and his surprising return during the fast-paced, plot-driven Novacom Saga. Don't miss our latest interview.

  • Listen to New Audio
    Have you checked our Audio section today? It's definitely getting bigger and better. Today you'll notice that we've added quite a few audio clips. Some you may have heard, while others may be a surprise to you. Some teasers before you actually visit the section: listen to some of Chris's forgotten wrap-arounds, listen to product promos, Professor Snitzelbonker returns, and much more! Give it a go and re-kindle audio from Adventures in Odyssey's past... then submit some of your own if you happen to have it.

  • Articles Galore
    Yes, with a completely new Scoop experience comes an updated look to the Articles section. Written pieces are sorted by date with improved organization. Have you read our latest article? Stay informed and zip over that way. And remember... this site's all about fan contributions. You have an opportunity to submit an article of your own!

  • Episodes Redesign
    It's about time we gave it a new look. All 650+ episodes (but who's counting?) are now complemented with a stylish new look and the section is much easier to navigate. Don't miss out.

  • Merchandise Modernized
    Learn about Adventures in Odyssey releases in style. We've given this section a long-needed makeover. It's certainly going to be a valuable resource in the days ahead.

I think I've covered all the major redesign news. It's probably difficult to digest everything I just told you, but just take it all in piece by piece and love every minute of it. You may notice that the current home page is more fluid and adjusts, depending on the width of your browser window. Let me know if you'd like that option to stay for the home page or go as all the remaining pages of the site have done. The rest of the site is set in width. Feel free to comment.


As with all site redesigns, some things may have gotten lost in translation. If you notice anything that's out of place, missing, or doesn't belong (images or pages), be sure and let us know so we can get the Scoop up to par. Somehow I think it already is... but your contributions are greatly appreciated and I know some things need re-linked, etc. You will also probably see some minor tweaks here and there in the days ahead as a webmaster's job is never done.


And... enjoy the new look of the Odyssey Scoop! Also be watching in the days to come for new and improved site sections. We'll be keeping an eye on AIO as the new season approaches!


Decisions, Decisions


Many decisions have been made regarding the future of Adventures in Odyssey over the past few weeks and months, but those decisions have not all be made yet. In the latest Official Podcast, you'll get to hear, for the first time, the new AIO theme that will appear in album 51 and beyond. Composer John Campbell details his account with the excitement and challenges of creating and improving the Adventures in Odyssey theme for the life of the show. John Campbell has certainly contributed to the success of AIO, with both his creativity and persistence for excellence. But that's not all you'll get to hear. Find out how you can vote for the new theme for the Official Podcast as well. It's a fan-dictated decision to get the best theme song. Also, as I mentioned Tuesday, a short announcement regarding Paul Herlinger's passing has been made available, along with photos and information. A special tribute podcast will follow in the future.


Listen Here:


On the other side of town, others are faced with decisions as well. The relatively recent message board, Campbell County, has created jobs for its users. If you're one who likes to interact with Odyssey fans, this might be a nice hangout for you, and a good place to get involved. The Town of Odyssey is also another fan gathering you may want to try.


Of course, many are discovering that the AIO Blog's brand-new "AIO Blogcast" is a fun attraction, too. Austin Peachey and "sis" are discussing the future of the show in their third edition. It's good to hear what the fans think.


Meanwhile, in my corner I'm getting closer to a launch date for the upcoming redesign for the Odyssey Scoop. As of today, the largest site section was finished (the last on my plate of jobs). What does that mean? All of the site is ready to go, but I'm working with last minute tweaks before it's ready. When will it be released? Well... maybe you'll just have to check back another day soon to find out when the big day is! I'm certainly excited to get it up and running!



Paul Herlinger: Actor & Friend (May 1, 1929 - February 2, 2010)


Certainly by now, many of you have heard the saddening news, but for those of you who don't know yet, I must inform you that we've lost one of the best of us. Paul Herlinger, voice of Adventures in Odyssey's central character from 1996 to 2008, passed away on February 2, 2010. His death is certainly having an impact on many of the online fans - myself included.


Paul Herlinger resigned from his role as Mr. Whittaker after the production of album 50 due to health concerns. I think it would be safe to say that the news of Paul's passing is like that of Walker Edmiston, voice of Tom Riley. Walker passed away in February 2007, and his death was noticed by many fans. Who would have thought that Paul Herlinger would follow shortly two years later. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to his family and friends.


Paul was a very well-received and loved man during his time at Adventures in Odyssey. Having been with the team since 1996, Paul stepped into a very difficult role as Whit and served it faithfully for roughly twelve years. He has appeared in 218 episodes of AIO. Hal Smith, the original voice of Whit, appeared in 260 episodes before his passing in 1994. Truly, Paul Herlinger's days at AIO will be appreciated for years and decades to come, just like that of Hal. His life's impact and lessons taught will live on in our hearts as we connected with Paul through the powerful tool of radio drama.


You can read Paul Herlinger's obituary here. It's interesting to note that in a behind-the-scenes interview for one of AIO's features, Paul revealed that working for Odyssey was one of the most gratifying things he did in his life. Has saw firsthand that God was at work in the lives of the many AIO writers, directors, actors, and the ministry of Focus on the Family. Paul's passing should be a constant reminder to us that life truly is a vapor.


Actor Andre Stojka has agreed to step in as the new voice of Whit, and the show continues. For more information on Whit, you may want to listen - or re-listen - to a special Official Podcast dedicated to the character of John Avery Whittaker. Also you may want to listen to a podcast with Paul Herlinger about his days at Odyssey. I think we'll be hearing more about Paul Herlinger in the very near future (probably very soon) on an upcoming Official Podcast. Keep your eyes and ears tuned.


Farewell, Paul Herlinger. Thank you for everything you did to make AIO great.



Upcoming Cover for "Darien's Rise"


Many of you read the book and listened to the dramatization. Now is your chance to get a first high-res glance at the new cover design for Darien's Rise, the first book in the Passages book series.


Passages, the legendary series from the creators of Adventures in Odyssey, lets kids enter a world where ancient history comes to life . . . and faith in God becomes the adventure of a lifetime!

In book 1, Darien's Rise, Anna and Kyle are transported to the mysterious land of Marus—and caught in the middle of a dangerous conflict between a brave army general and a powerful king. Will their newfound powers be strong enough to save the rightful heir to the throne . . . and return them safely home?


The new cover has a very similar look to the Passages: Darien's Rise audio drama. It features the same cover art, with the new Adventures in Odyssey logo. I'd say it's not going to be hard for readers of the book series to find the radio drama version now or vice versa. If I'm not mistaken, the new book release will also contain six interior color pictures and a new 2-page color map of Marus and outlying areas. It's also interesting to note that this will be the first time AIO has published a third edition of one of its book series. Passages is here to stay!


According to Tyndale, Darien's Rise is scheduled for an April 2010 release. Book 2 is set for release in May 2010.


I would have updated the book's product page today, but frankly, I'm weary from all the work involved with the site redesign. As an update to all of you, I'm working on the final and largest site section here at the site: our Merchandise section. Once it's finished, the release of the new site will be very imminent. Expect the new Passages cover, along with a brand-new section... very soon! How soon? Be watching in the days ahead. For now, click here to see the high-res image of the new cover art.



Focus on the Family in the News


Well, since we've arrived at Super Bowl weekend, I figured it'd be nice to talk about the ministry which brings AIO to life. First of all, you may have noticed that Focus on the Family recently launched their brand-new website. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they incorporated the new AIO logo into the look (yes, it's there - look at the bottom of the page). I must say, with a white border, the logo really pops when placed on darker backgrounds. I almost like it as is, without the container element.


Secondly, plan on watching the commercials early during the Super Bowl game as Focus on the Family will be airing its new "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life" 30-second ad. Apparently, it has caused some controversy in the media already, and it hasn't even aired yet! I guess when you hit a touchy subject, people start talking.


As for me, I'm excited to witness my first Super Bowl game in five years. You bring the pizza and I'll provide the snacks! Meanwhile, visit the new and improved FocusOnTheFamily.com and I'll keep plugging away at the redesign of the Odyssey Scoop!



Spring Season Episode Summaries


Today I'm proud to announce that AIO has officially released the first four episode summaries for all-new episodes, beginning in March 2010!


The Inspiration Station I

Summary: Connie loves spending time in Whit’s newest invention, the Inspiration Station. But when a glitch shuts down the machine, her obsession may go too far. Meanwhile, Eugene traces the source of the malfunction to Matthew Parker, who apparently has been "fixing" everyone’s electronics, with disastrous results.


The Inspiration Station II

Summary: Whit is concerned about the Inspiration Station’s strange effects on Connie, but hopes the invention could be just the thing to inspire young Matthew Parker.


Storing up treasures in heaven

Summary: After nearly being mauled by the junk in his own garage, David Parker declares that his family is going to have a yard sale. Will the entire Parker family survive parting with their treasures?


Game for a Mystery
Putting off important things

Summary: Simon Jones just wants the hedge trimmed, but his son Barrett can’t tear himself away from his portable video game – until it disappears without a trace! Emily, along with trusty sidekick Matthew, takes this as a case for the newly‑formed "Jones & Parker Detective Agency."


I have a feeling things are going to start picking up as we get closer to the long-awaited season of Adventures in Odyssey! I've also added the March 2010 broadcast schedule.



The Intrigue of Adventures in Odyssey


Even those who consider themselves not to be "religious" find themselves coming back for more Odyssey episodes. On January 27, 2005, a blogger named Chris explained his new fascination with the series the best way he knew how:


It's called Adventures in Odyssey, and it has to be heard to be believed . . . It's a Christian show that illustrates lessons from the Bible against the backdrop of a small town (Odyssey), centered on an ice cream shop, and it's exactly as bizarre as it sounds. I'm not what you'd call religious at all, but I swear, I can't stop listening to it. Ever since Tavis Smiley left NPR, it's the most entertaining half hour on the airwaves...

But it actually has pretty tight internal continuity which appeals to me, and, as Warren Ellis would say, it's well-done, of its type. There was an episode where Connie kept bugging Eugene about becoming a Christian, and Whit finally had to sit her down and say: "Look, cool out with that." The message was that heavy-handed and constant pressuring, while done for the right reasons, is the wrong way to help people find Jesus, which is pretty forward-thinking and tolerant compared to most of the stuff on the Bible Broadcast Network. And the fact that they had an agnostic character who was portrayed so positively speaks volumes.

But back to the point, it's pretty goofy most of the time, and the more you listen and the more you find out, the weirder it gets. Whit's End is absolutely crazy. It's a small-town ice cream shop that has insane technological innovations like the Imagination Station--essentially the Christian Holodeck which functions in the stories to let the kids hang out with a computer simulation of Jesus. It's nuts...

Seriously, some of the plots they were coming up with were mind-blowing. I was trying to explain them to Tug, and he said it sounded like they'd found their own version of Geoff Johns to come in and tie all the continuity together in a massive story...

Still, if you get a chance, listen. You might get a story where Connie and Eugene use the Imagination Station to go back in time and help St. Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland. But then again, you might get something crazy.


Before I post the link to his blog, I must first explain that his blog entry contains a couple expletives/inappropriate words. For that reason, if you are offended by such language, I would recommend that you not read the full blog entry or read at your own discretion. I merely posted the highlights above to show you that non-Christians find Odyssey intriguing as well. Just keep in mind that this blogger doesn't come from a Christian background, so it is acceptable (in his eyes) to use it in his speech. With that being said, visit the full blog entry (if your convictions will allow you).



The AIO Fan's Life


Since we've been on the topic of other Odyssey blogs lately, I thought it would be nice to share another blog link with you. This time, you'll get another perspective through the eyes of a blogger and AIO fan who named his dog Odyssey. Be sure and check out The AIO Fan's Life, now prominently displayed at our Links Outward section.


As for this AIO fan, I am beginning to realize just how daunting the Odyssey Scoop redesign project really is. The overall layout is taken care of, and now the arduous journey of updating all the content on well over 1,500 website pages lies before me. Right now, I am aiming to be done and ready to post the site during the month of March, at the earliest. The goal is to be ready for launch before or during the Spring 2010 season of Adventures in Odyssey. But don't quote me. This is a painful process and deserves some time. I guess that's what I get for starting one of the biggest fan sites on the net and keeping it alive for nine years. Then again, when I put my mind to something like this, I tend to get things done sooner than later.


But as I said, don't quote me. Just be watching in the days ahead!


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