I Get Mentioned on My Favorite Podcasts Sometimes. It's Pretty Great
I was walking to work this morning, which essentially means wandering around my neighborhood looking for a place with outlets and wi-fi where I can write, and listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Long Shot.
I am a very active listener to podcasts and unabashed enthusiast of the form and its magnificent practitioners, which means that if I’m listening to We Hate Movies or The Flop House or The Long Shot or The Best Show or Comedy Bang Bang, I will make jokes about the episode I’m listening to in real time on their respective Facebook groups, almost as if I’m having a very one-sided conversation with my favorite podcasters and podcasts.
Sometimes, however, that one-way communication unexpectedly turns reciprocal. That happened during my morning stroll when, about an hour in, the delightful Joe Wagner inexplicably gave me a shout out for backing his assertion that the new, “improved” formula of Butterfinger’s is indeed noticeably superior to the old, shitty recipe, which was so terrible that the only celebrity endorser it could land was a spiky-haired juvenile delinquent whose idea of fine dining involves eating shorts.
Then the sternly hilarious Sean Conroy talked about my David Wohl My World of Flops Case File. The conversation about me concluded with an admonition to check out my Patreon and website. I was, as you might, imagine, deeply flattered. But it was more than that. Every time I hear my name mentioned on a podcast I experience a natural high, a surge of adrenaline and excitement along with a concomitant feeling of self-consciousness and embarrassment.
“Oh my God, that’s ME they’re talking about! Wonderful, wonderful me! How incredibly exciting!” is invariably my first response, followed closely by “Oh no! What if they make fun of me?!?”
That might seem like a weird fear/anxiety. I mean, I only ever really write about podcasts in the context of thinking they’re great and wanting to share the joy I get from them in the world. But you don’t have to criticize a podcast to end up on the receiving end of a host’s mockery. Sometimes it’s enough to praise them in a manner they find annoying or inaccurate or trite.
I’m not too humble to concede that I’ve been mentioned on a fair amount of my all-time favorite podcasts. I’m also not too proud to concede that those mentions fell way the fuck off when I stopped being associated with the A.V Club and Splitsider cancelled Pod-Canon.
I was mentioned fairly often on podcasts not because I’m some famous, beloved dude but rather because even at this stage podcasting remains something of a small, hermetic, insular world. The podcasting press is tiny and I got in at the very beginning at the A,V Club with Podmass (which I fuzzily half-remember playing some role in creating) and Pod-Canon and Bestcasts .
Then I wrote Pod-Canon for Splitsider, something that allowed me to only write about podcasts in a screamingly, exclusively positive fashion. Those two high profile gigs, both faded memories at this point, gave me power in the micro-realm of podcast journalism, albeit not enough power to keep Pod-Canon from getting cancelled when Splitsider was bought by Vulture.
At the A.V Club and Splitsider, I was a relatively big fish in the small pond of podcast criticism. Now I’m a much smaller fish so I appreciate it even more when I’m mentioned because it means that the podcaster mentioning me has followed me into the independent phase of my career and isn’t just referencing a guy who works for a website a lot of people read.
Here’s the thing: pretty much every day I am reminded how perilous my place in the pop culture media pantheon is, and how far it has slipped since the days when I was head writer of The A.V Club and writing books for Scribner and Abrams Image simultaneously. Sometimes this takes the form of emails that are never answered. Other days pop culture media’s increasing indifference to my existence manifests itself in long-running columns getting cancelled for reasons that amount to, “Nobody can really get away doing anything ambitious or unusual or substantive in this climate.” Or I’ll watch on enviously as people I came up with land cushy gigs while I struggle to hold onto everything that I have and continue to make a living as a writer in an environment where that’s becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible.
So when I hear people I respect and admire like Joe and Sean mention me on one of my all-time podcasts, it reminds me that I haven’t been forgotten by creators, or artists, or funny people with a sense of history. And the fact that I’m able to make a living from you beautiful patrons lets me know that readers haven’t forgotten me either.
I feel like an all-powerful God proudly surveying a world of my own creation in the form of Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place here and like a flopsweat addled, perpetually desperate Wily Loman type when I try to get anything going outside of it. So these mentions provide a much-needed reminder that I have not been forgotten. Thank you, Sean and Joe and everyone else who takes time out of your day to acknowledge my existence. It means more to me than you can possibly imagine.
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