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28 Apr 2017

Ecumenical Matters - The Father Ted Podcast review: Part 2

I called the first part of this look back a review. In hindsight, I probably should have called it a retrospective, but hopefully review has more SEO benefits!

I find it a bit odd that I haven't actually had much negative feedback about the podcast,
Ecumenical Matters The Father Ted Podcast with 5 Star reviews on iTunes
constructive or other wise. It's currently sitting on a healthy five full stars on iTunes (the holy grail of podcast hosting - incidentally I've recently switched to Android and no podcast app holds a candle to the simple user-friendly efficiency of the iPhone's default app. Why is there so many options, Podcast Addict?), and comments on the Facebook page have been overwhelmingly supportive.

This is probably due to the face that we didn't hit a critical mass of listeners during the run of the podcast rather than a reflection of the quality. Don't get me wrong, I'm hugely proud of the content and output, but with cold-blooded, dead-eyed objectivity, it doesn't hit the heights required for broadcast, for example. Obviously podcasting is specifically NOT broadcasting (as in, it's a self-hosted platform, rather than hosted on a regulated broadcast platform), so there is a bit more leeway for such things as swearing (thank fuck). However, the key to hitting that critical mass, is to get featured on iTunes' New and Noteworthy section, and they do have a high quality standard, simply due to the fact that there is so many podcasts being released they can afford to be elitist.

In the first pod I was still finding my feet with the whole process. We were recording in a sitting room, with bare walls, so there was a lot of 'reverb' as the audiophiles call it (echo to the rest of us). I had prepared a running order, but forgot such basic details as introducing myself fully, and while recording with Vince Kettle (who streams games on beam.pro to his 153 followers, and counting)
I was sticking to the format too rigidly, not letting the conversation flow naturally. It was probably this shaky start that contributed to the 60% listener drop-off rate between pods 1 and 2, despite them being released together.
James McAnespy with Flimosh (Vince) clinging onto his bike with a skateboard
James McAnespy and the erstwhile Vince, hosts of Ecumenical Matters The Father Ted Podcast
I am taking a selfie on a moving bike, with Vince clinging on on a skateboard. On our way to record the Live episode.


So for the second pod, I ditched that and experimented with the format by watching the show with the guest, and putting the mic on directly afterwards. As I said on the mic, if you don't experiment in the early episodes, you pass up on the opportunity to do so in the future when a format is bedded down. So in a room full of Colin Hassard, 'Tech' Ash and their girlfriends, Katri Helkelä and Leanne, and Vince (a big group, but a good conversation). If anything, this was too freeform, in that there was no line of thought, and it meant that we were just trying to remember the bits we liked, and almost forgot some of the best bits, like Father Stone going to the toilet while Ted is having a bath.
Tech Ash (left), Colin Hassard and James McAnespy recording Ecumenical Matters The Father Ted Podcast
This is from the pod for A Christmassy Ted, Leanne and Katri weren't there for that one, and I hadn't thought to take photos in the early recordings.
And then there was the editing [groan emoji!]. As I mentioned last time, I was using an open source software, Audacity, which has a lot of great features, but is hard to get to grips with for a complete noob like myself. So there's chopped words, and unfinished thoughts that I thought made it better, but undoubtedly made it worse, just because I can't handle the fact that I "ehhh" a LOT. My scumbag brain decides it doesn't want to prioritise the thought that I have already started expressing, and just decides to dedicate the RAM to something completely unrelated, leaving surface me in a stasis mode that could be interpreted as a odourless burp.




However, we did manage to get through the two episodes and even though we largely criticised Entertaining Father Stone, an episode that had long been considered one of the best - in fact creators Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews call it their favourite, no one mentioned it. Even when we collated the nominees for the Top 5 Episodes at the end of the run, nobody lamented that the Father Stone episode was missing. In fact, the biggest complaint that the podcast series got (and continues to get) was that the nominations didn't include A Christmassy Ted, and the main reason it wasn't included is because we hadn't recorded a pod for it by the time we announced the nominations (I wanted to record it close to Christmas, for obvious reasons, but there would have been a two month gap without any pod releases, which I wanted to avoid).

By pod three I had found my stride, and the recording went brilliantly, but I'll cover that in more detail in another retrospective - I'm going to draw this out for months yet!