Jesus, take the wheel.
That was what I was thinking when I first heard a podcast. Driving down Little Cottonwood Canyon with my friend Phil Nielsen, Erin and I white knuckled as Phil took turns at speed while screwing around with his iPod. He was trying to explain to me that I should be listening to this thing called a podcast and why I would love it.
I was too winded from the hike and was clinging to dear life as we barreled down the mountain.
“It’s called The Bugle,” Phil explained. “Its these two English guys, one living in London, the other in New York, who talk about the news.”
He was talking about Andy Zaltzman and Jon Oliver. I understood that it was a recorded show that you could stream on your iPod. I just couldn’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to listen to them.
Mercifully, we made it down the canyon in one piece. Weeks later, Phil and I went golfing at Nibley where I spent the entire 9-holes looking for my ball(s) and asking about podcasts. Through his tutelage, I figure out what the appeal of this format. It’s not radio-on-demand per se but rather a new way of people expressing themselves. It is a low rent chance for folks to produce some pretty amazing stuff. Like baseball? There is a Dusty Baker’s worth of shows for you. Like to cook? Pass the salt (that’s a free idea for a SLC cooking show) and listen to your heart and stomach’s content. Like porn, movies, porn movies, sports, scrap booking, tech, religion, foreign language instruction or story telling and there are easily 500K shows out there for you.
My podcast addiction started with The Bugle and moved like an octopus tentacle across the iTunes catalog. I would try any show for a moment and quickly shelf it when I grew tired of it. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the Adam Carolla podcast did my thinking on the medium of podcast get cemented.
To say it was a dark period of my life would be an understatement. I was two years into owning The Woodshed when things became so dire at the club that I was forced to take a job at ARUP Laboratories. Working throughout the night bartending and managing the club, I would rush home for a couple hours of sleep before heading up the mountain towards the U of U to process specimen samples in a huge warehouse-like facility. It was mind-numbing work. You’d sit at work station for eight hours, opening boxes filled with blood, stool, semen, tissue and spore samples, enter the routing information into a computer, place a label on the sample and send it along on a automated track to the specific laboratory. Eight hours, Tuesday through Saturday, for what felt like an eternity. To help ease the boredom, you were allowed to listen to your headset. Because podcasts were fresh to me, I started listening to the first Adam Carolla podcast and became hooked. He was talking with friends about losing his radio job in Los Angeles and I was literally killing myself trying to keep a failing bar from closing permanently. There was solace in the show. It was ribald, funny and incendiary. It was my humor even though it wasn’t my politics.
It honestly got me through the entire process of selling the club and starting a new life away from The Woodshed.
I remember a month or so after selling the club that I wanted to do a podcast simply because the point of entry into podcasting is actually quite low. You just really need a computer and a smart phone. I went full bore and started a show that I called The SLC PubCast. It was my foray into babbling into a microphone. It was rough at first simply because I was trying to imitate shows that I liked. It wasn’t until I started having some interesting guests on and just had a conversation did the show sort of take form. I felt like I was onto something but the show got derailed when I started stringing at the Salt Lake Tribune. I was so nervous and unsure of myself when I started at the Trib that I totally put the podcast on hold until it literally just disappeared.
I kind of regret not following through with the show. Be nice to see where it could have gone after three years.
Fortunately, I was given the green light to help with a podcast at the Trib called Trib Prep Radio. Along with Chris Kamrani, Aaron Falk and Kevin Winter Morriss, we did about a dozen episodes last fall tracking high school football. To everyone’s surprise (probably mine the most) the show was a hit. We were getting over a thousand downloads a week and people were honestly listening to the show.
It was this success that Kevin had the foresight to take the show to the next level and that’s what we’re doing today with Trib Sports Radio. It’s an hour show where the boys tell you what is happening in sports in the city and state. Sort of a window into the reporter’s world as we ramble on about sports and pop culture.
Yes, the format has been done a million times—fortunately, it’s with three really funny and smart guys. I just get to sit in the room and enjoy the ride.
So, if you’re still reading this after 922 words, I think you’d enjoy the show. Be a mensch and give it a listen—then be a real mensch and tell a friend.
Here’s the link to iTunes: Trib Sports Radio
Ben Raskin bartends at Keys On Main Wednesday through Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @BennyRaskin. Check out the podcast, Trib Sports Radio. Now, you’ll hear him make excuses for not writing the blog more.