A lot of decisions were made for us when we went into Lockdown – a lot of things just suddenly didn’t seem so important.
I decided, straight away, to put my podcast on hold. I’d been doing it every week for four years and it’s coming up to five years old in total (for the first year I did it around about once a fortnight – then decided I needed the self-imposed weekly deadline or I just wouldn’t deliver, a fortnight would stretch out to a month, etc…)
There are currently about a billion podcasts clogging the virtual airwaves and the world doesn’t need any more white men with opinions.
So the chance to stop podcasting – a ‘choice’ somewhat forced on me, a forced break at the least – has been one I’ve embraced.
But I miss it. I also miss listening to podcasts. They were a huge part of my daily routine – headphones on if cooking or cleaning, always in the car – especially if stuck in any sort of traffic – and when dog-walking of course. A trip to the beach meant a full episode of a podcast could easily be crushed between car-listening there and back and the switch to the Bluetooth headphones for a few up-and-down laps of the beach.
But for most of the last two months I’ve been hanging with my boy – which is great. And so we have been listening to Beastie Boys and Guns n Roses and AC/DC and Led Zeppelin together. We have been watching Regular Show and Adventure Time and movies. And if I’ve snuck in a bit of Bob Dylan or Grateful Dead or anything else it’s usually at a low volume or it’s very quickly busted. And relegated.
Life is different and my only complaint is not podcasts. Or if it is then it’s no complaint at all. But I’m looking forward to dog-walking on my own again to get the listen-count back up. To learn in that way. To relax in that way. To appreciate the craft and discipline of podcasting – to get ideas and spot both the people very good and not so good at it.
Part of doing my podcast has been listening to other examples. I was a podcast fan before I was a podcaster. And that will remain – but it’s certainly a type of research now.
People like Adam Buxton and Conan O’Brien and Marc Maron are all doing Skype and Zoom chats – and Louis Theroux has started his first podcast (it’s excellent – of course, I might not be listening to many podcasts but I had to check out Louis Theroux speaking via Zoom with Jon Ronson and I recommend you do too).
I made the decision to not go down the remote-chat path – my podcast has been about welcoming people into my house, or going to meet them at their house – with occasional ‘field-trips’ and therefore ‘field’ recordings (like the time me and Don McGlashan just stood in a doorway in Wellington while the wind, dutifully, came around… or the time I gushed about being a Suzanne Vega fan to Suzanne Vega in a busier-than-we-wanted hotel restaurant).
I am no tech-wizard anyway, but I just wanted to give the podcast a break for a while and get on with whatever life was going to be under Level 4 and now Level 3.
Under a level 2 and any sense of any type of ‘return’ or ‘normal’ I am hoping to podcast again, I have lost neither hope nor interest. In fact I’m starting to real jones for it.
The day that the lockdown started I was scheduled to talk with local poet Frey Daly Sadgrove. I loved her book – and you might to.
She messaged me the day before the rules came into our lives and said, “well, I guess it’s a no then?” She offered to try recording via Skype or down the phone and I said that I’d rather wait. “See you on the other side”, she replied. And I hope that I do. And I hope that it’s soon.
I’ve just started to message a couple of potential podcast guests – to get the ball rolling again.
I have a couple of recordings in the can.
But that’s one of the reasons I’ve been waiting too – I didn’t want each new episode to be prefaced with a warning; reminder of where we’re at right now – we don’t need the reminders.
At the time of this post the last episode of Sweetman Podcast was my chat with Mike White – within a day of that episode airing Mike had lost his long-running dream-job at North & South magazine. Neither of us could have predicted that demise – though we spent the majority of the podcast circling that eventual truth. I felt awful for Mike – and realised then and there that the podcast could never be a set of video-chats. It had to be face to face.
The next planned episode was with David Cormack –in it he talked about how he’d eventually lose his column at the NZ Herald. Well that’s happened. So if I had posted that directly following the White episode I’d have had a big ramble in the intro about how this was recorded ahead of the pandemic’s lockdown enforcement and blah blah blah.
I know things are not going back to normal. But I want my podcast to return in the same format and with the same motivations it always had. A chat about life and art and what’s on a person’s mind. Sure, we’ll be talking Covid for most of the rest of this year and maybe forever after. But there’ll be no pivot to focus on the Coronavirus. That can be for other podcasts and other forms of entertainment and/or distraction.
I am getting ready to switch the microphones on again. And when school goes back I’ll be back to listening to many new and old favourite shows too.
It’s getting closer. I’m starting to feel it. Starting to get excited. Hopeful. Ready. My fingers are crossed. I’m starting to plan a new list of potential guests…
Who do you want to hear from and learn about?
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