Power to the Podcasters Panel - Chicago TARDIS 2014

From Episode #052 - Suburban TARDIS 2014

Panelists (l to r):
Ken Deep, co-host of Doctor Who: An Occasional Podcast and former co-host of Podshock
Lynne Thomas, co-host of the Hugo-nominated Verity! Podcast and the Hugo Award-winning SF Squeecast
Charles Martin, co-host of The Happiness Patrol
David Vox Mullen, co-host of The New Who Cast and CEO of the DVM Podcast Empire
JB Anderton, host of the WHO 37 Podcast

LYNNE: Welcome to the “Power to the Podcasters” panel at Chicago TARDIS.

[Audience applauds and cheers]

JB: Whoa! Hold on! I’ve got to adjust the feedback protection.

DAVID: In true podcast fashion.

JB: Okay, we’re rolling now.

[An audience member shouts, “Remember Illinois law, man.”]

LYNNE: That’s right. In accordance with Illinois law, it is my duty to inform you that you are being recorded, and your presence in this room means you are consenting to being recorded should you choose to speak.

DAVID: Actually that was just shut down by the Illinois Supreme Court, so it’s no longer the law.

CHARLES: Hey!

JB: Alright!

DAVID: Power to the people!

CHARLES: Pretend we never said anything.

LYNNE: So is there anyone in the audience that does not know what a podcast is and who would like it explained?

[No response from audience]

And everyone know where to find their favorite podcasts and where to find more of their favorite podcasts so you have more podcast to listen to than time of the day?

[Question from Steve Manfred (curator of the Doctor Who North America DVD site) - Do podcast actually exist outside of iTunes? ]

JB: Each of us has our own website or blog where you can download or stream. There is also a collective site, the Doctor Who Podcast Alliance, and we’re all on it. There are literally hundreds of Doctor Who podcasts that you can either stream right from the website or hit a link and download.

KEN: As an example of what you’re talking about, I listen to a Pink Floyd podcast that will never be allowed on iTunes because it plays copyrighted music. So you’ll have to add it manually. And if you didn’t hear about it via social media, you would never find it.

CHARLES: Even though we’re all on iTunes, iTunes doesn’t host the podcast. We all have hosting sites. The Happiness Patrol is hosted on the Internet Archive (archive.org), which is a terrific place to host podcasts of all kinds.

LYNNE: That’s where the Squeecast is hosted as well. You can find podcast in the community audio section. And when you host there, the main thing that you have to know as a podcaster is that you have to agree that your podcast is “creator commons”, so you can’t copyright your podcast. You have to license it to be use freely. We host Verity! on Libsyn, a company that will happily take a tiny portion of your money in order to make sure that your website doesn’t go down and your podcast is available on all the major platforms.

KEN: Libsyn is also our host of choice.

DAVID: I like to point out how refreshing it is that you asked if anyone doesn’t know what a podcast is, and no one raised their hand. Because years ago that was everybody. That’s exciting for us.

JB: And we actually have some podcasters in the audience, too.

LYNNE: Funnily enough, we all get together in a single room, huh?

[Question from audience - You mentioned the collective website. What’s the address? Is it “Dr” or the full word “Doctor”?]

JB: It’s doctorwhopodcastalliance.org. I believe it’s all one word. But it’s spelled out as Doctor. You never abbreviate…

LYNNE: You never abbreviate Doctor!

CHARLES: Because he’s not actually a doctor, even though he got a degree in Glasgow in the wrong century?

LYNNE: Yes. Something like that.

KEN: The Doctor Who Podcast Alliance also has a page on Facebook.

CHARLES: Facebook is becoming a increasingly important platform…

JB: and Twitter.

CHARLES: …where you can announce new episodes. In our case we put bonus content on Facebook called “The Patrollers”.

LYNNE: We should probably talk about how we all got started. Ken, you had one of the earliest podcasts.

KEN: I did. Ten years ago I had no clue as to what it was all about, and my podcast partner at the time, Lewis Tripani, was ahead of the curve on such things. He said that technology has moved from where we used to do newsletters and meetings to where we now have websites and podcasts. It really has become the new newsletter. I think you would all agree that you find less fan newsletters or journals printed on paper and more online content, whether it be via voice or via blog.

I had no idea about how this was going to go. As a former radio guy, I thought I would take a chance on it, and it was the right thing at the right time. It led to meeting a lot of amazing people, and I have attained a lot of personal growth from it when you receive feedback from people about what you’ve said or ideas that you have. When you have people challenging you, it’s very healthy…

LYNNE: So people write in and tell you you’re wrong?

KEN: … on the Internet! It’s crazy! [Audience laughs] I was the person that was wrong on the Internet.

LYNNE: That never happens to us. [Laughs] We’re ALWAYS right!

KEN: Not to be gratuitously complimentary, but Verity was one of the podcasts that helped me change my mind on several subjects over the years in Doctor Who fandom.

LYNNE: Oh, that’s really sweet.

KEN: It broadens my horizons as far as how I think about things. Having a predominately female point-of-view makes me see things from a different point-of view. I obviously come from a male-centric point-of-view, and to hear that other things are important to different people makes me think about my own opinions. I think that’s why we’re in the game. It’s to grow, to hear other people’s opinions, and to be part of a community. I think what you do is fantastic.

LYNNE: Thank you.

KEN: On the other hand, I think what Chas does is absolutely terrible. [Panelists laugh]

CHARLES: Well, fair point.

LYNNE: So Chas, how did you get started with The Happiness Patrol?

CHARLES: I was also a radio guy. My old radio shows are available as podcasts. Any ’80s fans in the room might want to look up “Crusty Old Wave” on iTunes and see if you like it. Lewis Bailey contacted me as Dale [former co-host of The Happiness Patrol] needed to devote his time to other things, so there was an opening. Lewis, who started the podcast, likes to have two women and two men - for the perspective.

DAVID: As would Captain Jack.

CHARLES: Yeah. So Lewis said, “You got a mouth on you. Maybe you should be on The Happiness Patrol.” And I had been thinking about starting my own podcast on the subject, but it would just be me talking. So I was happy to join on and be the new guy on The Happiness Patrol. I still am the new guy on The Happiness Patrol.

LYNNE: So David, tell us about the beginnings of the DVM Podcast Empire.

DAVID: Honestly, I came to this convention about six years ago, and I was a big fan of Ken’s work and had no idea he was in Chicago for the convention.

KEN: I remember that panel well. I was the only one on it.

DAVID: Yeah, you were. That’s how far we’ve come, you know? I sat in the front row, because I’m very intense.

KEN: Also he was the only person in the room.

DAVID: No, I wasn’t. [Laughs]

LYNNE: It was at that point you adjourned the panel to the bar.

DAVID: I was blown away. In my mind, Ken was a celebrity. It was fascinating to be able to hear him in person. I’ve been a performer my whole life. I’m an actor, musician and comedian. So when Ken was talking about the process of podcasting and producing, I thought as a producer I probably could do this. I grabbed Ken afterwards and picked his brain. And he told me to just do it. Pick something and go. It’s a decision I think he’s since regretted. [Lynn laughs]

KEN: I won’t be encouraging that kind of behavior again.

DAVID: [Laughs] I started a podcast for a TV show called “Flash Forward.” I don’t know if anyone here ever watched that show. Not enough people did, and it got cancelled. And then I did another show for an NBC show called “The Event”, and that one got cancelled, too.

LYNNE: So what you’re saying is your podcast is the kiss of death of shows.

DAVID: I was the show killer for years! And then I decided to do a Doctor Who podcast, and every begged me not to do that.

[Panel laughs]

LYNNE: We’ve been through it once! Don’t do it to us again!

DAVID: Exactly! But that one broke the mold. I do the New Who Podcast with my teenaged daughter, which is phenomenal. It’s a real short show - about 15 minutes - and we’re usually late because she’s a teenager. It’s an amazing thing to be able to share with the audience the love of the Doctor that she and I have. I am a classic fan and a New Who fan as well, but she only loves the “cute” Doctors. It’s interesting to hear her take on Peter Capaldi.

CHARLES: Yeah, I’ve been enjoying that.

DAVID: I’ve been kind of sticking it to her. “See, it’s not all about how good he looks!”

KEN: #ProtestFez according to your co-host.

DAVID: [Laughs] Right. But the long and short of it was some other very influential people in Hollywood approached me and said, “You know what? You should just do a bunch of shows.” And so I agreed to create this entire network. We have about 34 podcasts about TV shows on our network right now.

LYNNE: What a terrible problem to have.

DAVID: You know, it’s really exciting. It’s a lot of fun. We just had our third millionth subscriber. [Audience applauds]

KEN: When you did the “Flash Forward” podcast, the fact that the creative team behind the show found you and was involved in the podcast. That’s gotta be a great feeling.

DAVID: It was amazing. We’ve since cracked open the secret door on how to reach people in Hollywood, and we’ve had amazing guest. in fact, if you listen to the New Who Podcast, we just had Doug McKinnen who just directed a bunch of episodes of Doctor Who. An amazing guy from one of the islands off the coast of Scotland. Just an obscure guy who happened to direct Doctor Who and a couple of episodes of Sherlock.

KEN: Not obscure anymore.

DAVID: He and I are now friends. It’s just amazing that this world of podcasts, that I absolutely give credit to Ken for pushing me in this direction, has revolutionized my life, and I love it.

LYNNE: JB, how did you get started?

JB: I started around the same time Verity did, but I was a total podcast newbie. I know you had done podcasts before, and Erika [Ensign] and Deb [Stanish] had as well. It was February of last year - the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, and I felt that I needed to be involved in this celebration. This was my way of getting in.

Two years ago at Chicago TARDIS I attended the podcast panel. You were on it with Steven Schapansky [Radio Free Skaro] and Chip Suddeth [Two-Minute Time Lord], and I was playing with the idea of doing a podcast. I was also listening to a lot of Kevin Smith’s podcasts. I really liked the way he opened the mic, opened his mouth, and all this stuff came out and it was really funny. And I had my musical instruments and recording equipment, so I thought, “Let’s give it a shot.”

For me the podcast was a way of getting back into Doctor Who fandom. I felt that I had lived like a hermit for the last few years. I’m the only one on this panel who is a solo podcast host. It can be really difficult sometimes to come up with ideas. I’ll do all my notes and then turn on my mic, but I’ll go through my notes out of order. It’s very stream-of-consciousness. And then I will go back and edit and try to shape the program. There will be chunks that I’ll completely cut out to make myself sound smart. [Charles laughs] And I think I have everyone fooled.

LYNNE: Editing - the dirty secret of the podcaster.

CHARLES, DAVID and KEN: Yes!

JB: Yes, it’s a very useful tool. I wish other podcasters would take advantage of editing.

LYNN: So the Verity podcast started, as many fun projects do, by a discussion on Twitter. I was part of the SF Squeecast for a couple of years - which also came out of a discussion on Twitter, because I have a husband who’s an instigator. So any time these discussions start to happen, suddenly he’ll turn up in a Twitter stream and say, “You guys should do something about that!” And then suddenly I’m on a podcast.

With Verity, there was a discussion between myself, Erika, Deb, Katrina [Griffiths], and Liz [Myles]. We were moaning about how a lot of Doctor Who podcasts featured one woman with a bunch of guys. We thought the numbers were a little off there. We have had very long, intense and shouty conversations in random convention bars. We would yell at each other about being wrong about Doctor Who as all fans do. We decided, with a little instigation from Michael [Damian Thomas, Lynne’s husband], to start a podcast where we would just take that bar conversation. We added Tansy [Rayner Roberts] who was also part of the conversation. Tansy has her own podcast, Galactic Suburbia, a podcast where they talk about all kinds of science fiction literature and media from a feminist perspective. So we had a bunch of experienced podcasters who liked to argue about Doctor Who and who all happened to be women deciding to get together and make magic.

JB: As far as I know, you were the first. And I think you’ve inspired at least one other all-female Doctor Who podcast?

[From the audience, Erika Ensign informs the panel that “Sonic Toolbox” and “The Impossible Girls” are the other all-female Doctor Who podcasts]

JB: Yes, The Impossible Girls.

LYNN: And I think the Sonic Toolbox was before us?

KEN: Yeah, it’s a nice podcast.

DAVID: There’s also The Fangirl Zone on the DVM Podcast Empire if you’d like to check that out.

KEN & LYNNE: Ahh!

CHARLES: Is that where you speak in a really high voice?

DAVID: [in falsetto] I speak very high! [Laughs] No, I produce it but I’m not allowed on it. It has five or six female podcasters. It’s not just Doctor Who. It’s all things geek.

[Question from the audience - My significant other is a person of color. Are there any Doctor Who podcasts featuring people of color?]

LYNNE: That’s a very good question.

CHARLES: We only hear them, so we don’t really know. As we start meeting each other at conventions, we’re starting to get a little more diverse.

LYNN: So, I’m hearing from Erica that someone named Lindsey Meyers, who happens to be a woman of color?

ERIKA [from audience]: No, he. He’s planning on starting a podcast called “Color Separation Overlay”.

JB: Wow!

LYNN: Oooooh!

ERIKA: Listen to Radio Free Skaro toward the end of the year. There may be an announcement.

[NOTE: Lindsey hosted two segments of “Color Separation Overlay” on the Reality Bomb podcast the following year]

LYNNE: So the answer to your question is not yet that we know of but possibly quite soon.

KEN: One of the nice things about being a podcaster is having a niche that you can fill. Here you have an opportunity to have a podcast of color. We have a podcast of females. We have podcasts about just the comics, novels or music. You can have such a podcast to satisfy that audience. One of the beauties of being a Doctor Who fan is that no matter what your interest is, there’s a side of fandom that suits that for you - that fills that void.

JB: There’s a podcast that started this year, which I don’t think is listed yet on the Podcast Alliance site, and they’re called “The Web of Queer”.

LYNNE: Oh, yes.

CHARLES: Love that title!

JB: All of them are LGTBQAA, and they’re giving their unique perspective on Doctor Who. I think it’s great, and I think there should be more of this.

CHARLES: And the two ladies on The Happiness Patrol are Hispanic.

DAVID: People don’t necessarily listen to podcasts for the subject manner as much as they listen to find people who share something with themselves.

KEN: A certain point of view, perhaps?

LYNNE: A certain perspective.

DAVID: Yeah. So we’ve all seen the episodes. We all watch the same Doctor Who episode, but it’s a father and his teenaged daughter’s take on it, or it’s a feminine perspective. I think people gravitate towards what works for themselves.

LYNNE: And when you have these group podcasts, you get multiple perspectives. We were talking about the Verity podcast having a feminine perspective, but really what you have is SIX female perspectives on Doctor Who.

KEN: Six very different perspectives.

LYNNE: Yes. We all disagree a lot!

DAVID: And my wife can count for six herself. [Laughs]

LYNNE: With group podcasts, you have people who will argue among themselves, and you can argue with them - although they can’t hear you.

KEN: And where the cream rises to the top is if you have a good podcast it doesn’t matter what perspective you’re coming from. You’re bringing quality material. You’re bringing a well-reasoned argument.

LYNNE: Of just tell people they’re wrong and shout. You know that works, too. [Laughs]

CHARLES: I do think that people listen to podcast to gain perspective. There are a lot of male listeners of the Verity podcast…

LYNNE: Thank you! We love you guys!

CHARLES: …because it’s a really fresh perspective. The Web of Queer, I think, would be a really interesting podcast.

KEN: On Verity, as an example, one of the things the podcast brought to me, as a white, middle-aged fan, was the idea that the casting of a female Doctor might not be a great idea. You would think that an all-female podcast would be pro-female Doctor, but one of the co-hosts said…

LYNNE: Two co-hosts. [Laughs]

KEN:… that men need this kind of role model. They need a non-action hero. A pacifist. A thinking man to be a role model.

LYNNE: Yeah, and another one of us argued that you had 50 years of that and maybe it’s time to let someone else take the role. [Laughs]

KEN: And it’s okay to be wrong on the Internet! But the question of female casting was something in my mind. I liked the idea of a female Doctor, but it’s really important to me to have someone I look up to, a male, that isn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone or any other tropes that men are expected to be.

DAVID: Can you imagine that, though?

LYNNE: Imagine what?

DAVID: Schwarzenegger as the Doctor?

CHARLES: Oh, god!

[Audience laughs]

LYNNE: “Gallifrey is back!”

DAVID: “Come on, it’s bigger on the inside! Let’s go!” That would be nuts! “Hasta La Vista, Dalek!”

LYNNE: That’s never going to go well.

KEN: I can’t unsee that!

LYNNE: One important thing to talk about among the podcasting community is the way in which it functions as a community. In my experience, all the podcasters are very good at helping each other out in terms of cross-promotion but also in terms of technical expertise. When we started the SF Squeecast, there were a lot of good reasons why you couldn’t hear a damn thing we were saying in our early episodes because we had no clue what we were doing. But it was podcasters specifically from the Doctor Who podcast community who would email me and say, “Hey, have you tried this?” Or “Perhaps you should consider not just putting your speakers up against the microphone.”

CHARLES: Also the Mime Cast, that’s a really bad idea. [Audience laughs]

LYNNE: With the Squeecast, we had a group of people who were perfectly willing to be contributors in terms of on-air talent, but none of us had a lot of technical expertise. It was Chip from Two-Minute Time Lord who was a huge help to making us actually audible on the Internet, especially in our first year.

DAVID: I agree with that one hundred percent. In fact, when I’m doing what I do, there is absolute cut-throat competition. When I first started the DVM Podcast Empire, I was the only one who had what we were doing. There are now two other organizations that I will not name because it’s a cut-throat competition.

LYNNE: That’s because you all are working for actual cash.

DAVID: Argh! Yes! But the Doctor Who podcasting community is the ONLY community that I’ve ever been involved with that actually is exactly like what you describe.

[Suddenly Ken’s iPhone starts speaking]

KEN: Oh, shut up Siri!

[Audience laughs]

LYNNE: Siri, you’re not a panelist!

DAVID: This podcast is sponsored by Apple, by the way.

CHARLES: And Blue Microphones! [indicating JB’s mic and Macbook]

JB: Yes, the Snowball Blue. Actually, I learned about it through various podcasts. I had some equipment malfunction and needed to get a new microphone. I checked it out, and it was reasonably priced.

KEN: The key word we use is “community”. As Doctor Who fans we have a community, and drilling down a little further we have a podcasting community. Hence the nature of our subject matter that makes us this way.

LYNNE: We’re Doctor Who fans. It makes us better than everyone else, right?

DAVID: Yes! [Audience laughs]

CHARLES: And instant friends, which is the best part. But yeah, so far, at least among the top 15 Doctor Who podcasts, there’s a lot of camaraderie. No real competitiveness to speak of. LYNNE: A lot of cross-pollination. We’re all on each others’ podcast with the exception of guys on the Verity Podcast.

CHARLES: We’re constantly dropping names on our podcast. “Oh, you should hear the Two-Minute Time Lord this week,” or “Those Dirty WHOers, man! They gotta go into rehab!”

KEN: Or as Steven [from RFS] says, “podcesting”.

LYNNE: Yes. The inter-relationships between podcasters.

CHARLES: But it’s very nice. And I like that each one of the top 15 or so podcasts really offer something different. Now if I can just event enough time to listen to every single one of them.

LYNNE: Who needs sleep?

KEN: Well, obviously you’ve not spent a lot of time in traffic, Chas. Those of us who have a long commute find plenty of time in their day to listen to podcasts.

LYNNE: My commute is five minutes.

KEN: So you need a Two-Minute Time Lord. I need a Two Hour Time Lord.

JB: I think Steve [Manfred] has a question.

STEVE [from audience]: Aside from the hardware, what is the ballpark financial cost to keeping a podcast going?

JB: For me, I do it on the cheap. The only thing I really pay for is the $15 a month Libsyn fee for the online hosting and storage of the episodes and about $30 every two years for the domain name. I do my blog via Blogger which is a free site. I know that Verity and RFS have set up a virtual tip jar to raise funds.

LYNNE: We have Patreon accounts, yeah.

DAVID: I’m one of those people who likes to keep it all under my thumb. So I have a server that I maintain which has all of our stuff on it. I’m a bad person to ask that question. We sell ad space now. I think we can probably get by with just under $200 to $300 a year, if there was no money coming in, on domain registrations, upkeep, and stuff like that.

LYNNE: The Squeecast was done completely on the cheap. We hosted through Internet Archive, which is free. We recorded over Skype, which is free. We bought the domain, which was $9 for the year or whatever it was. We don’t do hosting on our website. We just link to the Internet Archive. Our current producer, I think, is using GarageBand on his Mac, which is a program you pay for, but there are plenty of podcasters I know who use Audacity, which is a free product, for editing. So there are ways to do this on the cheap. The Snowball mics that we many of us tend to favor are periodically on sale on Amazon for less than $100.

JB: I got mine at the Apple Store for $60.

LYNNE: It doesn’t have to be a huge cash outlay. If you want it to be, there are ways to make it so.

DAVID: And if you want to go to Amazon, I recommend going to the DVM Podcast Empire and clicking on the Amazon link. [Audience laughs] That’d be great!

KEN: I actually left Podshock over this very topic. I do it for love. I do it because I’m a Doctor Who fan and to be part of a community. I wrote for a newsletter, and I wasn’t expecting to get The New York Times salary of a writer. I did it because I liked it. And I do podcast because I like to connect with a community. I don’t do it for profit. If I do it for any kind of money, it’s really just to reimburse costs at this point.

JB: I think most of us came into it with a passion for the program and a passion to speak about it. We weren’t thinking about making any money off of it.

DAVID: I’ve just been turned to the dark side.

CHARLES: As long as we’re hawking Blue, I just recently picked up his mic from Blue which attaches to your iPhone and turns it into a decent mic. Not as good as JB’s, but pretty good.

DAVID: I’m actually anxious to hear how that comes out.

CHARLES: Yeah, me too.

JB: Between both of our recordings we can do a master mix.

CHARLES: There you go.

LYNNE: Yeah. I’m looking forward to the dance mix version. Gonna add some sick beats underneath it. It’ll be awesome. [Panelists laugh]

CHARLES: For most of us it is a community thing. Once you’ve built an empire, obviously that requires an army. And so the human costs become very high. But other than that, it’s mostly a give-back to the community that has given us a lot.

The four of us on The Happiness Patrol live in different places. So we love coming to the conventions where we can get together. We were all just together and were actually in the same room doing an episode for the first time in years at L.I. WHO. We always enjoy the opportunities to see each other so we know when to shut up.

KEN: James Naughton and I have been friends for ten years, and we’ve only physically met in person twice. But I’m very knowledgable about his life, his kids and his work. This is a chance to connect with people outside the folks that we meet in our everyday lives. We’re all gathered here with a common purpose. What I like about the ribbon tradition, as an example, is it’s an icebreaker. On Monday I’ll be back at work - back to my mundane existence - and I will think back to how I met all these amazing people over the weekend. And you’ll see their photos on Facebook or Twitter, and you have this worldliness that helps you to grow. I’m big on personal growth.

JB: Also you have all the recordings that go back years. Thirty years from now, we will still be this young speaking about Doctor Who.

DAVID: It’s a time capsule.

CHARLES: I’ll be dead.

JB: It's another reason why I got into podcasting. It’s sort of like immortality. I want to leave my mark in this world, and this is just the way I do it.

DAVID: I thought I was the mega-maniacal one!

[Steve Manfred from the audience tells JB, “You’ll get the ring and get turned into a statue.”]

JB: Yeah.

LYNNE: With Verity, it’s a chance to get together with friends that I don’t get to see very often. The majority of the Verities were friends already, but we only saw each other once a year at a convention. Deb and I live a thousand miles apart, and we don’t see each other because we go to different conventions. This is a chance for me and Deb to have a glass of wine with Erica, Katrina, Liz or Tansy and just shoot the crap - and just talk and just hang out. And if we get into an argument about Doctor Who, it’s recorded so everybody can hear it.

We all prep by making sure we watch the episode of Doctor Who before we talk about it.

CHARLES: What?!

LYNNE: I know! Right?

DAVID: What a concept!

LYNNE: But other than that, it’s just a group of friends hanging out. And that helps to keep the podcast fresh - the fact that we’re relatively unvarnished and unmediated. Deb tries her best to moderate us and keep us going, but you still get me shouting about River’s shoes because that’s something I would do naturally anyway.

What’s fun to me know is people coming up to us and say, “Oh my god! I love your podcast!” People feel like they’re friends with us because they have gotten to know us through the podcast. And just so you know, when I listen to episodes of Verity that I’m not on, I also yell back at the podcast.

DAVID: Ooh, let’s talk about that! My favorite email to get is when someone says, “I’m driving in my car, and I’m screaming at my iPod right now!” And I love that!

CHARLES: Are they still driving while they wrote that?

[Audience laughs]

DAVID: I hope you aren’t emailing me right now! They’re not like, “Oh, I hate you!” They’re saying, “I’m in such disagreement!” I love that there’s this forum that you can do this. If I’m on stage performing, I can’t have somebody respond to me immediately. That would be heckling. But in podcasting someone can say, “I really didn’t like what you said here,” or “I really like what you said here,” and you can respond back and say, “Thanks so much for that,” and sometimes you’ll want to bring them on the show. It’s this instant communicative thing with the audience, which is why a lot of Hollywood is now trying to get into that. They’re like, “Oh, wow, it’s instant response.”

LYNNE: “Hey, look! A focus group!”

KEN: And you’re hitting 100% of your target audience.

DAVID: Exactly!

LYNNE: I do find it interesting because we do get feedback on the podcast. People do email us, and not all the feedback is positive. And not all of the feedback is … less than positive but specifically about our opinions. We’ve had our fair share of abusive emails. I can literally go through our Gmail account and find the “so and so - insert random Verity here - needs to shut the F up!”, “ This is what’s going on, and they’re wrong about everything”, and “stupid b-word.”

We are women on the Internet. It’s important to acknowledge that the level of response that women who have opinions on the Internet get radically varies in many cases from the responses men on the Internet get.

KEN: As a male I’ve never had that kind of visceral response.

JB: I had my first two hate emails this year, and I thought, “Well, I’ve arrived.”

LYNNE: We have been lucky. I don’t think we have escalated to threats of violence or rape yet.

JB: That says a lot about Doctor Who fans right there.

LYNNE: Yes. For the most part, our fans our awesome. And they will call stuff out. One of the things we’ve been talking about this season is Danny Pink. And we have some very divided opinions about Danny Pink as a character…

KEN: [feigning falling asleep] I’m sorry. I can’t stop yawning about Danny Pink. Oh god!

[Audience laughs]

LYNNE: So as I was saying before I was interrupted by a middle-aged white guy…

[Audience laughs]

… we were having these conversations about Danny, and we were being a little bit sarcastic. I used the term “manpain”.

[JB audibly winces]

Someone wrote in and said, “You should choose your words a little more carefully, and here’s why.” And he talked about his PTSD and how the way that men are socialized and how using terms like “maintain” is harmful because that means that men are not allowed to feel pain or have emotions either. I’m one of those people that believes that feminism should benefit everybody - not just women. The whole point is that we break these barriers of how you’re supposed to act based on your gender. When that email came through, I sat there and took that on board. I’m glad that they wrote in, and I’m glad that I had the moment to think about that. It’s important to choose your words carefully and think about the impact of them.

JB: That happened to me recently. I did a review of the episode “In the Forest of the Night”, and I described the little girl who heard the voices as “spastic”. I got called out by someone for using that word.

DAVID: Was the person from the U.K?

JB: He was, yeah.

DAVID: Because it’s offensive there compared to here.

JB: I thought that may have been the case. I think the same thing happened to Weird Al Yankovic. He used the word “spastic” in one of his songs got called out on it. Anyway, the guy who wrote in was really respectful. I read his letter and apologized on the following episode of the podcast. He wrote back saying it was very gracious of me to do that.

KEN: We can all point out an experience where you have someone making a constructive argument and you learn something out of it. It’s not supposed to be comfortable.

JB: On my last podcast, I just opened the floor to my listeners because I got a lot of emails after my review of “Death in Heaven”. I was very critical of Series 8. I’m kind of a nitpicker. I read the Nitpicker’s Guide to The Next Generation and actually contributed to Volume Two of the book. I think part of the fun of being a fan is nitpicking your favorite shows, but I was very critical of certain plot structures and character developments in Series 8. And I got a lot of mail saying that I was one of the few podcasts out there that are really being that critical. All the other podcasts were really positive and gung-ho about Series 8, and why aren’t they seeing what you’re seeing? I can’t answer for the other podcasters, but I think that it’s important to have the diversity of opinion, especially with a season of television so divisive and polarizing such as Series 8. There are other podcasts like mine who have been critical of this last series, and I believe we’ve all been fair in our criticism.

DAVID: There’s a fine line, though, with how much listener feedback you should take in. I received an email from a listener for a different show that we do. I made a reference to Batman. Somebody on the podcast said that Batman could never be gay, and I said, “Batman can absolutely be gay! He could be Gay Batman!” And it really didn’t go further than that. I got the most visceral hate mail because I used the term “Gay Batman”. I was accused of being insensitive, although I was actually advocating for it. But the letter shook me for a week, and I thought to myself, “Am I coming off as being insensitive and homophobic?” I never said anything to anybody, and it tortured me for a week. The following week I got an email from a gay person who said, “I want to thank you for the material that you do on your show because it’s such an open environment where I feel comfortable. I can listen and feel that I’m not being judged.” And it was the most surreal experience where I had one person - who wasn’t even gay - accusing me of something, and then a person who actually was gay saying, “No, thank you!”

LYNNE: It sounds similar to what Russel T Davies went through during his era of Doctor Who, being accused of promoting “The Gay Agenda” and being told he was homophobic, and he’s like, “What?!”

DAVID: There’s that fine line of saying, “Okay, you’re just talking crap.” And you have to blow that off. If you want to do what we’re doing, you’re going to get a wide range of responses.

LYNNE: It’s the good faith thing. You go into these things with the assumption of good faith on the part of your listeners, and your listeners come in with an assumption of good faith on your part that you’re not going to actively try to hurt each other. Everybody messes up. We are human. When you do hose thing up, do you own it? Do you learn from it? Do you try to make amends in some way that makes sense? But you have to be willing to be yourself. The podcast that succeed are not the ones that are so sanitized that they don’t have opinions. The podcasts that succeed are the ones where it feels there’s a real person behind the mic.

CHARLES: The reason that Lewis started The Happiness Patrol in the first place was not that he sometimes didn’t like episodes of Doctor Who or that he wanted to try to make lemonade out of lemons. It was because he didn’t like the “hater” approach.

LYNNE: That’s also how the SF Squeecast started.

CHARLES: So that’s the cardinal rule. We have one person on our podcast who is not a Moffat fan at all. But the idea is you’ve got to keep it constructive. That makes you think more, which is crucial to coming up with something that people want to hear.

[Another question from Steve Manfred: I subscribe and listen to four or five podcasts. I won’t name names, but the very first one I found on iTunes is a show I have since stopped listening to because one of the hosts seemed to be dedicated to hate-watching Doctor Who. How does one separate the best and the worst podcasts?

LYNNE: The best thing to do is to go to iTunes, and if you find podcasts that you like, rate them. That helps other people like yourself find the podcasts they might like.

[A follow-up from Steve: But the older ones tend to have more ratings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.]

DAVID: You can read the reviews, too.

KEN: By the way, Steve, you have a great voice for radio, so we’ll see you next year on the podcast panel.

JB: We have another question on the other side of the room…

[Question from Andy Hicks, who would later go on to co-host The Coal Hill A.V. Club Podcast and be a regular contributor of the Reality Bomb Podcast: I have two questions. One is for all the panelists, and the other is for Ken. First question is what, individually, is your favorite moment from your show? The second question for Ken is did Lewis ever come around about “Love and Monsters”?]

KEN: Ha! That’s a good question. Actually, James Naughton and I have gone off to do our own show. Things have been a little bit strained between Lewis and me. So, I can’t really tell you if he’s come around on that episode. As to your first question, I had an email from a listener who was in the hospital. He was going through some serious surgery and some health issues, and he asked his wife to bring him his iPod. So in the middle of the night during those dark hours where one is laying in a hospital bed with machines around him beeping, hearing his friends talk about his favorite subject got him through the night. I was in tears when I read that. That changes everything. Similar things have happened with doing a convention, like having someone say that they want to get married at your event.

ANDY: You helped run L.I. Who, right?

KEN: I do.

ANDY: [indicates his girlfriend - now wife - Emma Caywood sitting next to him] I met her at L.I. Who.

[Audience applauds]

KEN: Going from “It would be cool to run a Doctor Who convention” to making something significant…

LYNNE: You’ve changed people’s lives.

KEN: It’s a great feeling. So now the pressures on! [Laughs]

LYNNE: We need to wrap up this panel, so very quickly let’s have our final word be the answer to Andy’s first question. My favorite moment from our podcast was in episode three where Liz Myles and I had a knock-down drag-out fight about “School Reunion”. And listeners actually wrote in and asked, “Are you guys okay?” [Audience laughs] And that was the moment when I realized that what we were doing was something very special and different, because not only did we not agree rather vociferously, but we also still friends at the end. And that’s an important thing to model for lots of people. That was my moment when I realized that people were paying attention to what we’re doing, and that’s awesome. And I’m still right about “School Reunion”. [Audience laughs]

CHARLES: For me it was getting to interview the Troughton companions live in front of a studio audience. It was a big thrill. I am also the inventor of “Stupid Fan Theories That Are Wrong”, which we do on the podcast when we’re about to advance an idea that couldn’t possibly be correct such as Santa Claus being the White Guardian.

DAVID: The most memorable moment for me, as far as Doctor Who is concerned, is being able to get Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Davison and Peter Capaldi to give me liners for our network, which was amazing.

JB: My favorite moment is still back in the early days of WHO 37 where I produced an audio documentary. I was involved in a local Doctor Who theater production last year. I interviewed all of the cast and crew of the show and through hours of editing created a cohesive story about the production. I think it’s still one of my best podcasts, if not THE best podcast.

LYNNE: Excellent! Thank you all for coming!

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of December 2017:

The Happiness Patrol's latest episode on iTunes was released on July 2016. They are currently inactive.

The New Who Podcast was active for Series 10 of Doctor Who. The DVM Podcast Empire currently lists 40 pop-culture podcasts.

An Occasional Podcast does not appear to be active as of September 2015. Ken Deep recently announced that the L.I. Who convention will be taking a hiatus for 2018.

Verity continues to post weekly podcasts. Both Lynne and Erika have won Hugo Awards for their work on The Uncanny fanzine.

WHO 37 is still active and is currently on a one-to-two episodes a month release schedule.

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