Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quo Vadimus

Here’s a thing. I do radio podcast show, it's been very successful for me, getting into the iTunes top 20 of all podcasts in all categories, worldwide. Startling success. But it's been going for a while, I've done over 160 editions now and I have been thinking it's in the endgame.

Especially since we're approaching the show's busiest time. It's a DVD review podcast but November is heavy with a poll of the year. I'm proud of this: I do not now or have I ever given a stuff that Indiana Jones gets X votes or sells Y copies, I publicly distort the chart by how passionate voters have been. The math is rubbish, the statistical analysis isn't worth a damn, but we get ten DVDs that are each raved about by listeners. Ten DVDs that are their Sports Nights, their Battlestars.

And we do this list together, it's has the feel of a conspiracy between me and the listener, with the aim that it comes out early, say December 10. It's in time for us all to hear a top ten where every entry is there by passion and it's in time for us to buy them for Christmas. I especially love DVDs that I didn't like yet others adored. And then I get the most effusive, persuasive listener on to the show to make their case.

Couldn't love that episode any more than I do.

But it's also off the charts harder to produce than any other edition, and the ones that set up this voting aren't picnics either. For lots of reasons I have been looking at whether it's time to end the show and it'd make a tough couple of months easier if I dropped it now rather than later.

Only, this morning I watched the final Sports Night. And watched it again with the commentary, making me very late. And exactly as Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme were ending, I mean on the second of the last word, my iPhone pinged with an email from a listener saying how much they'd enjoyed my most recent edition.

You send these things out into the ether and though you obviously want listeners, it's such a surprise when you learn there are any. I was talking the other night about the abusive emails I've had, we've all had, in journalism and how it feels as if the senders don't realise there's a real person at the other end. (Because oftentimes I've replied and got back nothing short of an embarrassed "um" kind of reply and an about-face on whatever the topic was.) But maybe I'm the same, apparently I'm the same: as much work as you put into something, the conceptual leap that it might actually get the audience you want is beyond me.

It's much easier to end a show if you don't think it's being listened to. Equally, you can't just extend something beyond its natural life because it has an audience. But equally 2, the sequel, you can't go back. There’s a gag on that Sports Night commentary about now doing a movie of it, and for an instant there I wanted that. But I really don't think you can go back: when it’s gone, it’s gone and anything else you try to do has to be its own self, it can’t ever be part of what’s gone.

It’s not like I don’t get quite a bit of email about the podcast. But this one, coming in a precisely that second when I was lamenting how there was no more Sports Night, it gave me a buzz.

So I don't know if I'll wrap up my show but I'm going to think about it more and not so casually throw it away.


1 comment:

Scott @ loveandgarbage said...

I would be sorry to see it go, but would understand given the vast amount of work involved for no remuneration. I'm not an I-Tunes user, but every Sunday wait for the link to turn dark in my RSS feeder and download the latest edition. You've brought various gems to my attention, and your enthusiasm (and those in the end of the year show) have influenced various purchases and gifts (Fortunes of War became a family favourite after the rave reviews on your podcast). And given the manner in which you appreciate the quirky, and not just the latest big budget behemoth trampling all in its path - unlike many reviewers, I'd be disappointed to lose that voice.

I've never submitted anything to the end of year review - my favourites having been promoted by you during the year (eg Beiderbecke!) or somewhat banal. And now I wish that I'd managed to acquire my copy of Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire (a Brechtian musical about snooker starring Phil Daniels and Alun Armstrong as not JImmy White and not Ray Reardon) last year rather than this, in order to warrant a suitably enthusiastic pitch for your end of the year show.

Whatever you choose to do very best wishes, and thanks for the fun