The Team at Pod Bible have been looking through the magazine back catalogue with more than a hint of nostalgia. With 12 issues worth of great articles and interviews, we thought it was time to make our archive as accessible as possible by sharing them here on the website. Where better to start than with the Pod Bible award-winning, listener favourite, Adam Buxton. Here’s Adam’s Gospel from Issue #001 of Pod Bible Magazine .
If you could go back to just before you recorded the first episode of your podcast and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Find a good editor. I love the free flowing nature of podcast conversations, but most of them can be improved with some judicial chopping. I get the appeal of a long unedited ramble with someone fascinating, but we can’t all be Joe Rogan or Terry Gross, and most hosts (myself very much included) aren’t good enough to sustain a good conversation/interview over one hour, let alone 2 or 3. Most people don’t have time to actually listen to a show that long anyway. I like something that’s been honed and presented with an appreciation for what can be done with audio.
What makes a great podcast guest?
Someone who is good at talking about themselves, enjoys a conversation and doesn’t care too much how people will respond to what they say. Kathy Burke springs to mind, or Louis Theroux. But I also like the occasional guest who is basically just telling a story or a series of stories and isn’t really interested in talking to me. If their stories are well told, it’s a nice change and I get to relax!
What makes a great podcast host?
I like podcasters who are genuinely interested in their guests and don’t just sit there waiting for the next opportunity to do a joke or talk about themselves. I have certainly been guilty of both those things. Sometimes I think it’s OK, as long as the guest is on board and is happy to go back and forth with you like that, but if you don’t know the person very well, it’s important to make it clear to them that you’re listening to what they have to say and that they can relax. The goal is to get a conversation flowing. If that starts happening then you can start cautiously lobbing in your own bullshit.
What’s been your worst podcast moment?
There have been some disappointments with guests who I thought I would get on well with but turned out to be guarded or just not in the mood for a conversation with me. I went to Los Angeles a couple of years back to do a few podcasts and some shows, but the impetus for the trip was the opportunity to talk to a musical hero of mine. However when I finally sat down with them, they just went off on a series of impenetrably esoteric monologues, then got annoyed when I tried to bring the conversation round to their music or anything more than 5 people might find interesting. That day was frustrating on so many levels, but I was mainly irritated with myself for failing. I’d seen that person do great interviews with other people but I failed to get the best out of them.
Unfortunately there are often times when I’m having an off day and do a lousy job of taking a conversation somewhere interesting or maybe the guest just isn’t in the mood. Often those episodes don’t come out. Now I try to warn guests that not every episode gets released so they don’t take it personally if theirs doesn’t end up appearing. The best podcasters are consistently good with all their guests. I’m not there yet.
What is it about podcasts that appeals to you?
I like hearing a conversation unfold. I like the tangents and the irrelevancies that you couldn’t get away with on TV or radio where everyone and everything tends to be boiled down to its most unambiguous version. The long form podcast conversation offers the possibility of hearing something more nuanced, messy and more true to real life than you’d get anywhere else. It’s a chance to get to know a stranger in quite a meaningful way. There’s something that feels good about that, especially in these strange times.
What is your podcast/podcaster pet peeve?
This is a very superficial peeve that I’m not proud of, but I don’t like the croaky voice some podcasters favour. This is a huge generalisation, but I’ve found it’s often younger people doing more journalistic pieces on American podcasts who tend to do the croaky voice most. It sounds contrived, as though they have, consciously or unconsciously, adopted that way of speaking because they think it somehow signifies intimacy and intelligence, so the listener will feel they’re in bed with an intellectual. There’s enough intellectuals in my bed already, thanks.
Personally I also find very long intros wearying. It’s a fine balance, because many listeners like hearing about the host/hosts and what they’ve been up to, but for someone who’s just downloaded an episode because they’re interested in the guest or the main topic, it can easily come off as offensively indulgent and boring. Sometimes I’ll do a longer intro if there are bits of the conversation I think need setting up with a little background info or if I have a particular story I want to tell that I think people might enjoy, but increasingly I try to put most of the more personal waffling at the end, for the hardcore!
Is there anything you found annoying as a podcast listener… but then understood when you started making your own?
Well, the long intro thing – if you don’t script your intros and you’re just freestyling, it’s VERY easy to talk for 10 or 15 minutes and tell yourself it’s all good stuff, but almost always it would be better if it was at least half as long. You also realise how hard it is to get guests who haven’t been on everybody else’s podcast, but I don’t think most people care about that too much any more.
Which one podcast episode of your own means the most to you?
That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! OK, technically it’s not, because we’re talking about podcasts not children, but it’s still tough. All the episodes are quite different and it really depends what mood you’re in. Well of course the Scroobius Pip episode (EP.07) was particularly good! I really liked the Mae Martin one (EP.50) because I didn’t really know her before we sat down and over the course of the conversation I just liked her more and more, which hopefully comes across to the listener. I’d say the same about Diane Morgan too (EP.65) – a very different kind of personality but so surprising and funny. I mentioned Louis Theroux (EP.01, 29, 49, 81) and Kathy Burke (EP.15, 56) before, they’re always so entertaining and interesting. Zadie Smith (EP.40) was a thrill and I hope our conversation was a little different to most interviews she gives, and the same could be said for Paul Thomas Anderson (EP.63). Hassan Akkad’s story of coming to the UK from Syria as a refugee (EP.57) was fascinating and told brilliantly by him and it was very exciting to talk to David Sedaris (EP.79). And Brian Eno!
Shit… I can’t narrow it down to just one, but three of my favourites, which I’ve listened back to and felt really happy with were Romesh Ranganathan (EP.61) Tash Demetriou (EP. 32 & EP.82) and Tim Key (EP.77). Yes, I know that’s four.
Which one podcast episode not of your own means the most to you?
Some of Bob Mortimer’s ‘Gangs Of The EPL’ playlets on Athletico Mince have REALLY made me laugh and stayed with me. I think Bob likes a lot of the same things as me in comedy – weird accents, stupid songs and talking about mundane routines. When he’s on a roll I can’t think of too many people who are funnier.