The Pod Report Weekly – 8/8/20

Odd installment this week: I’ll make the podcast version in a few days but we’re going purely text today as I need to play some video games and go to bed before work. Yes, I have my priorities straight. 

Episode Spotlight

I want to try out possibly shouting out specific episodes, so for this first installment I’m going to play it safe and try it out on two large podcasts you’re already intimately aware of my listening to, just in case the segment has some unforeseen hurdles I need to overcome before running the risk of making really good indie shows sound meh.

We Hate Movies – Episode 498 – Dante’s Peak with Justin J. Case

A true old-school We Hate Movies disaster movie episode. Sometimes the WHM gang covers movies that almost beg you not to have seen the film beforehand just so you can live in blissful ignorance of what’s coming, and Dante’s Peak feels like a strong contender for best entry. 

Case is a welcome return guest and another small upshot of normally studio-based podcasts being forced to record remotely. The limitations of “we’d love to have X on but they won’t be in Y until later in the year” have been lifted and nobody can use “but it won’t sound the same” as an excuse anymore. Fuck the sound quality, make good episodes in spite of crippling existential threat.

#498 also features the accidental return of one of my favorite all-time WHM bits: Andrew Jupin realizing he accidentally started doing the voice of a completely different celebrity then commits to the bit for the rest of the episode. Now I’m going to feel let down when I don’t hear James Mason’s voice coming out of Pierce Brosnan when I watch Dante’s Peak for the first time in a few days.

Blank Check – Julie and Julia with Romilly Newman

A touching end to the Nora Ephron miniseries and another interesting adventure in listening to a review of a movie I’ve never seen. There’s only really one thing I felt missing in this mega-discussion and that’s outright namign the demon that is parasocial relationships. In discussing a film that’s half about an early blogger forming a larger-than-life interpretation of Julia Child in her head, actually dropping and defining the term “parasocial relationship” could’ve driven the conversation about the film’s ending in some great directions.

That said, the conversation goes in interesting directions anyway with Griffin Newman eventually voicing his morbid fascination in being a bystander watching the harsh light of day be cast on the house of cards that was the Bon Appetit test kitchen crew not paying its POC members fairly. Newman’s comments on BA become almost prophetic without attempting to be as the BA staff shrinks even moreso a week after this episode dropped.

This is also one of the best and worst episodes for a new listener of Blank Check to try out, as it features some beefy tangents following Romilly and Griffin’s memories from childhood. Tangents are the lifeblood of Blank Check, and this episode clocking in at 22 minutes longer than the already-long movie they’re discussing is a perfect do-or-die example of the podcast. Including a not-insubstantial meandering section that can be summarized by “Romilly is only getting to be on because we’re recording episodes remotely and thus aren’t tied to who’s available in New York to record.”

Which begs the question: will podcasts like Blank Check that’ve recorded excellent content during pandemic remain staunchly local-recording-only in a post-COVID world (we’re all pretending we’ll get to go back to someday)?


Newcomers to the podcasting scene might not remember #On22Review, a heartfelt community attempt to get people to write iTunes reviews for podcasts on the 22nd of each month that appears to have fizzled out in late 2019. Fortunately this timing seems to line up with the creation of what’s now known as PodRevDay. 

Today, the eight, is #PodRevDay for August, and I invite you to join me in writing up some quick reviews of independently-produced podcasts you’ve been enjoying for the past few weeks and toss them up on various podcasting platforms. My Favorite Murder and the like have enough pull to fluff their numbers with five-star-bombs in exchange for special episodes, it’ll take actual community engagement to get the numbers up on smaller productions. 

While the official documentation on PodRevDay creator Stephanie Fuccio’s site only mentions posting reviews on Podchaser (a strong contender for The IMDB of Podcasts), the hashtag has grown in popularity beyond the Podchaser affiliation, frequently appearing in tweets with generic calls to action asking folks to simply “post a review” of a podcast. 

This podcast journo personally recommends writing up a 3-5 sentence review with some examples of what really grabbed one and made them care about the show. Writing the review’s the hard part, then comes the fun part: go hog wild copy-pasting it into Apple Podcasts, Podchaser, Obscure Podcast Host With Review Functionality Nobody Uses, whoever will take it. 

If you have the time and headspace, now’s a great time to go out and share the love!

Also, if you’re curious as to how reviews might factor into Apple’s algorithm in placing podcasts on lists (hint: it’s much like how references on a job application frequently don’t matter until after you’re basically hired) I recommend the Chartbreakers episode of Darknet Diaries in which Jack Rhysider does his best to crack open what makes podcasts chart on Apple. 

It’s downloads, obviously, but how he gets to making that educated guess is fascinating and involves a deep dive in New York Times Bestseller List-padding. 

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