Damn You Hardwick!Written by Scott Brown
Diary Of A Podcast Junkie
"It's called Radiolab and it's hosted by these two guys who aren't scientists or anything, they're just curious about things, so every episode uses regular language to explain complex things. It's really great." I say this to my sister who's sitting opposite me in a sandwich shop as I try in vain to get someone at least half as excited in these things as I am. These things called podcasts.
Radiolab is only the most recent in my ever-growing menagerie of audio obsession. Not only does it offer up hour-long episodes but there's also a wider variety of twenty minutes "shorts". I've got a lot of catching up to do. Cramming for a test I'm never going to be asked to take.
The addiction began innocently enough with one man, Chris Hardwick. A comedian who up until a few years ago I only knew him from hosting "Singled Out", an obnoxious MTV dating show (perhaps I should be more specific) co-hosted by Jenny McCarthy (oh, that one!) where 50 girls and 50 guys would be put into categories like "sleep in the buff" or "sleep in jammies" and would eventually be whittled down to be a match for a member of the opposite sex. The show came and went and I never would have thought I would be swept up by anything this snarky TV host had to offer.
Then a few years ago, Hardwick made me laugh, and I take that very seriously. He was co-hosting an episode of G4's Attack of the Show, a hodgepodge of tech and video game news and quirky comedy geared towards 12 year old boys. I was much older than that.
During the show he made a dig at band Blink-182 and after someone off camera made a sympathetic "aww" noise Hardwick riffed, "I'm sorry, it's just that every Blink-182 song sounds like they're tattling on me." He then began to mimmick the speech patterns of a Blink song and I began to crack up. I will forever remember that day as being the day I became a fan of Chris Hardwick.
Immediately after that I started following him on Twitter and so was onboard early when he decided to launch his own website, The Nerdist. The site became the central nervous system of my web browsing. I would check it numerous times a day as the content snowballed to more frequent postings. Video games, Star Wars, tech stuff, all filtered through Hardwick's comic sensibilities. A breakthrough was on the horizon.
Then came the Nerdist podcast which was far from being my first podcast. By this time I had become aware of Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, Jimmy Pardo's Never Not Funny, Doug Benson's Doug Loves Movies, and of course, the crown jewel of the podcast world, This American Life. But the Nerdist was the first one where I had a simple, yet revelatory experience.
I was visiting some friends down in Las Cruces for a wedding. and the morning after said wedding I woke up earlier than my friend whom I was staying with and had nothing much to do except listen to the couple of Nerdist episodes I had banked on my iPod. Lying in bed, I would listen to the first Jim Gaffigan episode and it all seemed to click for me. "These are fantastic. They're hour plus long interviews with interesting people and they just get to talk and geek out on something that they love," I thought. And I remember realizing how rare that was.
I used to listen to music, a lot. As far as I was concerned that was my "thing". I would feverishly search for something new and keep up with bands I had heard of and seek out more of the same. Now I hardly get a moment of listening time that isn't taken up by the latest You Made It Weird or WTF with Marc Maron.
My first few weeks of going to the gym had me "getting pumped up" to whatever music could make me forget I was killing myself on a treadmill. It wasn't long before I figured out, "hey, I could use that hour to listen to my podcasts." Now I'm sweating to awkward stories of being an adolescent girl on The JV Club. I find their pain is my pain too.
Over the span of a few years my collection of weekly podcasts has grown from about 3 to thirteen. Unfortunately I think I'm at a point of diminishing returns. Most of the podcasts are interviews with people talking about what great creative thing they're doing or how they got their start and the result, I imagine, is you're supposed to have a feeling of inspiration to go off and do your own creative, wonderful thing. But sadly I'm too stuck on a listening schedule to get anything substantial off the ground. I bet the great irony of it all is that the subjects of these podcasts DON'T LISTEN TO PODCASTS.
I'm writing this on a Sunday and am completely caught up. In a few hours though the new This American Life will be available and my weekly grind will start again. I've contemplated cutting back. A lot of guests get recycled as they "do the circuit" so to speak, so do I really need to listen to them tell their rise to fame again? An over two hour interview with a comedian I've never heard of, really Pete Holmes? I'm kidding no one, however. I'll happily download and listen to them all and the reward center will kick in making me feel like I've accomplished something.