The days when new episodes of these podcasts are posted—they’re good days.
Photo by <a href=https://www.flickr.com/photos/textfiles/6080874589”>Jason Scott.
We are living in a podcast boom era (Thanks, Serial? Come back, Serial!). What a wonderful time to be alive! Let’s meet some local Virginian podcasters who are doing some pretty rad things and who can be heard right now if you have an insatiable lust for immediate podcastage.
Podcast: Coffee with Strangers RVA
Who: Matthew Pochily and Kelli Lemon
What:Coffee with Strangers RVA interviews RVA peeps over coffee to find out how they “Live Richmond.” Simple, right? Wrong! One, this podcast is double the podcast because it’s also a video series–that makes it the opposite of simple because that’s basically double the effort and double the reward! Two, Richmond has a ton of people who “Live Richmond” in totally different ways.
Origin Story: Pochily responded to my question about how Coffee with Strangers came to be by writing that shortly after he and Lemon met in early 2014, “We were talking and I’d known she’d previously hosted RVA Grooves, but the show was no longer being produced. I suggested we work together on something…neither of us knew what at the time. A couple days later we had coffee at Lift on Broad St and came up with Coffee With Strangers…a way for people to learn more about people in Richmond who they probably have heard of, follow on social media but never really knew how they ‘Live Richmond.’
“Back to Lift. While having coffee with Kelli, a girl I follow on social media came in, got coffee and left, and I told Kelli that her social media presence was far different from the way she’d presented herself in the coffee shop and Kelli said, ‘I could just have coffee with her. Like, I’d have coffee with a stranger and people who follow them would get to see how they Live Richmond.’ Bam! A podcast was born!”
Favorite Episode So Far: “The episodes that work out to be favorites for both of us tend to be ones where neither of us really knew that much about the person going in. When that’s the case, Kelli’s very open to where the conversation takes them, and we get a good picture of who that person is and how they live Richmond. For me it’s been the people I’ve followed on social media but never had an excuse to meet. Doug Orleski (who does RVA Coffee Stain) and Beau Cribbs (from RVA Tonight). But also AnnMarie Grohs [from Boho Cycle Studio] was awesome!”
Fantasy Episode: I asked if the show could get anyone on, who it would be. “Kelli says if she could get anyone on the show it’d be Juan Conde or Governor Wilder. I don’t really have a wish list. I want a political candidate to pitch us to be on the show. I imagine the PR person telling the candidate, ‘You gotta do Coffee With Strangers, it’ll make you look more human, really connect with the voters.'”
And RED ALERT, guys. This past episode features our very own Lauren Millard (formerly Lauren Eubank) and we keep listening to it and giggling because she is so adorable. Great work, RVA Fresh Daisy!
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Who: Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh; I connected with Associate Producer Kelly Hardcastle Jones.
What: If you’re thinking, “Hey, I think I’ve heard them on WCVE!” then you’d be correct! BackStory has made it big! And considering the wealth and breadth of education and experience its hosts and staff bring, it’s not at all a surprise. As Jones told me, “We now have almost 8.1 million all-time downloads (299,000 in the last 30 days) and 46,326 regular podcast subscribers, as of today. The program will soon be broadcast in 182 communities in 32 states.” In case you haven’t heard BackStory before, their site explains it best: “BackStory brings historical perspective to daily events, moving from today’s headlines to drill down into U.S. history in an engaging and accessible way. Each week the American History Guys–Brian, Ed, and Peter–plumb the connections between present and past, spanning three centuries of American history. They offer surprising, non-partisan conversation about ideas, events, and their continuing impact on us.”
Favorite Episode: From Jones: “My favorite episode of BackStory is our episode on the history of Islam in America. I love it because it has rich sound texture and because it covers underrepresented, generally unknown history. It was also fun to produce! It was a show that the producers came up with on our own. We had to work to convince the hosts that it was viable, because they weren’t quite sure there was enough Muslim history in America to fill out a whole show. But they trusted us…and I think they believe it paid off!”
Fantasy Episode: When asked what topic she would pick for the show to cover if there were no limitations, she responded, “My dream episode for the show is a history of passing in America–times when people adopted different social categories like race, gender, and class that weren’t usually considered ‘theirs.’ We could tell stories of women passing as male soldiers during the Civil War, African Americans passing as Middle Easterners in the 1930s, and poorer Americans passing as members of the amorphous middle class. I think that show would be a profoundly interesting investigation of how Americans have tried to pass as ‘something else’ as a coping strategy or to to gain social acceptance.”
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Podcast: Front to Back
Who: Sam Davies (oh hey, that guy), Jeff Mueller, and Scott Williams
What: Front to Back is a podcast by three dads raising daughters and is all about the trials and tribulations experienced within that framework.
Origin Story: I asked Sam how he decided to do a podcast about this topic. “I met my cohosts on the still-alive-but-mostly-dead App.net, an alt-Twitter client. We became Internet friends, then discovered we each had two young daughters and similar sentiments of having absolutely no clue what we were doing. We’re all podcast fans and decided to record “Episode 0,” if only an excuse to talk to each other voice-to-voice. It went well, and we’ve kept doing it. And it’s one of my favorite things I do.”
Favorite Episode: From Sam: “It’s hard to choose a favorite episode, but I’d say just listen to the most recent one without worry of going through the backlog. There’s no real continuity to speak of. If you’re looking for a more serious one, I recommend Episode 9 “A More Healthy Broken” where we talk a lot about parenting with anxiety.”
Recording Setup: Front to Back has one RVA host, but the other hosts live very far away. I asked what Podcast Time looked like for them, whether they have a ritual or if they dive right in? Do they have a plan for topics ahead of time? Sam replied, “In preparing for episodes, the hosts hang out in a dedicated Slack channel where we chat about whatever, send in article links, or topic ideas. There’s no formal outline or anything. As I’m in Virginia, Scott’s in Arizona, and Jeff’s in an undisclosed zombie bunker on America’s west coast, we have to record on a somewhat formal schedule to accommodate three disparate time zones. We dive right in, record for about an hour, then Scott edits down to between 30 – 45 minutes. I record into a Blue Yeti USB microphone using Piezo on my MacBook Pro to capture the audio file. We converse over Skype, but do a ‘triple-ender’ where we each record our own ends, put them into a shared Dropbox folder, then Scott edits them together.”
If you can recommend an RVA or Virginia-based podcast, we’d love to know about more.