I talk a lot about podcasts. But, after perusing  my scant archive I realized I talk a lot about the SAME podcasts. I’ve become acquainted with my regular shows over the years; I know their ticks, their MO. Well, it’s time to get out of my comfort zone. There’s an entire world of DIYers out there, cranking out quality audio content.261579_195800407133750_3310644_n

Music podcasting is new to me. I like music as much as the next guy, but I didn’t realize there were shows that went beyond the ephemeral, picking up where terrestrial radio left off.

I wanted to not only listen to some of these shows, I wanted to tap into the minds’ of their creators. So I had a chat with a podcaster a little  further down the proverbial dial.

Mike Matthews of Mike’s Daily Podcast is a 22-year broadcast veteran who found podcasting after the recession hit, and he hasn’t looked back. In his words, “Mike talks, but it’s not pontificating.  It’s…um…observating?  It’s laugh-induciating?  It’s just having fun…ee-ating.”

  • I know you’re a music guy; why podcasts?

Partly I’m a music guy because I sing a new song at the beginning of every show.  I spent 22 years in radio doing formats like rock, top 40, and country.  Then when the recession hit I got let go, and I turned to podcasting.  I realized that I could have unlimited freedom if I did a show all my own, so I resurrected some characters I had created for a country music request show I had done for 11 years called the KHAY Santa Fe Cafe in Ventura County in Southern California.  I did that show like we were broadcasting from an actual restaurant and the characters were people that worked there.

For the podcast, the name of the location is The Last Place on Earth and I mention I’m broadcasting from Castro Valley (or what I call PodCastro Valley), California (near Oakland).  Instead of taking people’s Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, or Tim McGraw requests, the characters now talk about daily under-the-radar news stories and they get into theater-of-the-mind type antics.  I used to interview up-and-coming country singers.  I really enjoyed doing it; so for my podcast I sought out musicians  who wanted to talk about their stuff.  I’ve had some interesting conversations!

  • How do you think the perception of the podcast has changed in the last five years, regarding music reviews and how people find out about new music?

People are finally learning what podcasts are thanks to high profile shows like WTF with Mark Maron.  The mom of a friend of mine who’s in her 60s said to me, “So Mike, tell me what a podcast is.”  You instantly become an ambassador for all the other podcasters out there.  All of a sudden, you’re an Apple employee (and not seeing any money for it) promoting something that exists because of the invention of the iPod.

As for music reviews, the only podcasts I’ve heard that review music tend to be the ones that review all types of culture like movies, TV shows, and books.  I find those types of podcasts interesting, but unfortunately it seems if a show is labeled as a music podcast on iTunes or other podcast directories it’s usually a DJ mixing songs to be played at parties.  I don’t hear a lot of shows interviewing the actual musicians.

I’m more interested in finding out about the story behind the song and what went into producing it.  Plus, musicians are interesting people!  Music fans are finding out about new music, as we saw last year, through You Tube, Twitter, and TV commercials.   Psy, Fun., and Gotye’s songs all went around radio to become big hits then radio tried to catch up.  People have lost patience with radio bringing them the newest music.  All you hear on terrestrial radio is the burned-out stuff.

  • As the medium grows, advertisers are going to obviously become more aware of the podcast’s popularity. How do you think this will affect the content? How about the music industry?

I like podcasts that talk about the sponsor in a way that involves them in the other content of the show.  Podcasters need to get away from, “Okay, Bill, tell us about this week’s sponsor.”  That just begs the finger to find the FF button.  If the product can be integrated into whatever else the hosts are talking about, that’s something that contemporary radio isn’t doing or doing seamlessly.  Commercials on a radio station just pull you out of the radio listening experience with their 60 seconds of sell, sell, sell (and then 6 minutes of commercials).  I think podcasts, with their personable side, can actually do a better and more entertaining job of selling the product.  Advertisers are going to become more aware of this.  As for the music industry, they are already really open to being interviewed by podcasters.  Since terrestrial radio isn’t playing or interviewing these artists, I’m happy to fill that void.

  • What podcasts are you listening to these days?

I like the podcasts that are clean.  I try to listen to shows that are produced from someone’s house and not from a radio station studio, but I find a lot of those homemade shows have two guys dropping F bombs endlessly and sounding like women-bashing idiots.  They podcast so they can do a Howard Stern impression for an hour.  I like the shows that are real but aren’t so real that they have people burping, or saying “uh” a bunch of times, or they don’t listen to how the mic’s are placed and it sounds like tin cans. 

How are you supposed to enjoy the content if you can’t even hear the content?  I like some of Slate’s shows like “The Culture Gabfest.”  I also like “The Jimmy Dore Show”; his cast of contributing comedians are brilliant!  I listen to NPR’s “It’s All Politics” which is made specifically for Internet listeners and never broadcasts over the airwaves.  I do listen to NPR’s “Hourly News Summary” because I can hear it whenever I want and they’re pretty thorough.  I must have a thing for England because I enjoy “The Bugle” plus I listen to a couple podcasts that talk about the BBC TV show “Doctor Who.”  Yes, I’m a bit of a SciFi Nerd.  But I am more so a Podcast Nerd and I will always be a champion for this great audio art form!

Check out Mike’s Daily Podcast when you get a chance.