On a recent Episode of Dad Hub Podcast I talked about my daughter picking up on the fact that once or twice a week Daddy does podcasting. She’s four. She sort of knows what it is. She knows that Matt and Tony appear on the Monitors in the studio and that we record the conversation. She’s even insisted we record one for her. I set her up in the studio with headphones and a microphone and we hit record. She was full of it before hand but once we hit record she had nothing to offer. Low energy. Wasn’t a fan. Then she insisted we record her singing Disney songs and Radiohead.
But the ‘problem’ is that she likes to tell people that Daddy does podcasts and generally people don’t know what that means. I don’t actually tell many people in the real world about my podcasting. Mainly it’s because I don’t know what to tell them. What would I say. Should I say that I sit in a shed and record myself talking to the internet then I go on social media and beg people to listen to it? What kind of self-important attention whore would do that?!? Ahem , well. Enough about that.
So what is podcasting?
Well essentially it’s whatever you want it to be. I’ve been listening to podcasts since 2006. I had a six month waiting period to start a new job that year and I needed to fall back on my Truck/Lorry licence to pay the bills. Long days out of Felixstowe docks pulling Class 1 Articulated container lorries. Looking back, it’s a job I really loved. I knew my real career was sorted and I was under contract. My life went on pause as I took control of the big rig. King of the road! When I look back it was a golden and a vital time for me. The only problem was the constant music on the radio. There’s only so much music I could take. I looked for talk radio but there was very slim pickings. Radio 4 was pretty binary. Talksport had its place. Listening to angry folk calling in and yelling at the clouds killed the odd hour here and there. But generally I was struggling to find ways to kill time while deliberately slowing traffic on the A14.
Hearing my complaints my wife bought me an iPod Shuffle. A what? An Mp3 player. She thought I just needed better music. She had to show me iTunes and teach me about the internet. The internet was something I had very much ignored until that point. I didn’t understand the appeal. Now I’d cry for weeks if the internet went away. But on iTunes I discovered podcast. Hours and hours of free talk ‘radio’ content. Some shows were highly polished scripted affairs. Some were lectures and some guys just hit record to see what would come out. It was a medium that appealed to me straight way. I had tried unsuccessfully to enter student radio. You had to make your own demos and I lacked the technical knowledge to pull that together to any standard. I did manage one but the collage didn’t want me and before I knew it I was out of college and entering the services. Thoughts of radio stardom ever present in my heart but the realities of life and my new adventure were all consuming. I was young with beer tokens in my back pocket and I set about wasting the next 8 years in as many fun ways as I could drink of.. I mean think of.
By 2011 I had a baby boy, a girl on the way and a wonderful Wife. But man, Having a baby is hard. My instincts told me I wanted to podcast about it like the guys who had kept me company on all those clutch burning HGV parking bay frustrations. Scott Johnson, Steve Novella, Brian Brushwood, Leo LaPorte. Fortunately the wife is a gigging performer and set me up with a singer’s microphone and a mixing desk plugged into a laptop. We sat opposite each other and talked very honestly about how much we were struggling to adjust to life as parents. Apart from this being the healthiest thing we could possibly have done for our relationship, it also got me completely hooked to podcasting.
We recorded 20 episodes of the Horror of Parenting and then I hooked up with my old Army buddy and blogger, Tony Thunderbeast Barnard to record Skype calls of us whinging about our marriages (in as fun a way as we could). This arrangement would later be known as Dad Hub podcast.
At the same time there was a website called The Judge 13 that was looking for F1 writers. I submitted a blog which the site manager, John, thought was OK to publish. He asked me what name I wanted to sign off as.
Oh. I don’t know. Just use my gamer tag: Spanners Ready.
Really? What does that mean?
I’m an engineer I use Spanners, whatever. It’s just a sign off. By the way I do podcasts….
(Days later). Hey I like your Podcast. Would you like to do an F1 show with us?
Sure. That sounds fun.
And It was. For a while
Podcasting to a decent standard is hard. I was in no way prepared for the challenge that lay ahead. Recording 5 people over varying qualities of internet and audio equipment is a nightmare. You want it to sound good but it also needs to a fun thing for people to do. You need to balance between making them produce good audio for you and constantly nagging them to do the things that good audio requires.
Add to that I was in awe of these people’s F1 knowledge. I’ve been an F1 fan all my life but these guys seemed to be able to pull out facts and stories out of thin air and provide genuinely amazing insight into the sport. I wondered if I’d ever be able to talk as fluently as these guys about F1. Well it’s a couple of years later so I suppose I’ll let you guys decide. So with all that expertise what was I bringing to the table?
Recording: It was my football so even if I was a terrible player the other kids still needed to knock on my door so they’d have a ball to play with. Recording a 5 person recording and producing a quality audio output is very hard. If you listen to all 200 or so shows that I have produced, you will see a steady improvement in audio quality. I’ve upgraded my equipment a few times and built a dedicated, soundproof studio in my garden in a 3M by 3M Shed. The Podcasting Shed
Fun: Everyone was doing this for free. It had to be fun. Why would I or anyone give up free time if it wasn’t? I have a sense of humour but I’m not a comedy writer. I would 100% fail if I needed to write a comedic sketch. I just try to have fun and often the result of that is funny.
Presenting: I tried my best to bookend the shows with a semi scripted and rehearsed bit of MC’ing. My vision was that we had a nice intro, asked how everyone was and then followed a few bullet points to structure a 40 minute chat. I also thought I was running and producing the podcast. We recorded the pilot. It was terrible but also fantastic. I wasn’t sure I could pull it off but I did… We did. We were all on Video Skype and it was genuinely fun.
Remember I said a Podcast can be anything you wanted it to be? Well that’s what I wanted. Start with a tidy opening, warm greeting, and then follow a series of guiding bullet points for around 40 minutes. We hit stop and everyone congratulated themselves and went to bed. The next day I spent 2 hours doing the post production that is required on a fully edited 40 minute show.
On Episode 2 however the tone changed somewhat. A person who I was not previously aware of joined us from a mobile Skype app from his holiday in France. He was on holiday and therefore in the spirit of things. He spoke passionately and articulately but, fueled by the finest wines France could offer, his eloquent offerings took nearly 3 hours to edit into something that could be published. This was not an issue as it’s the first time we had met and he was fun to speak to. It just didn’t make the best recording.
It turned out that this individual was in charge of the site and despite assurances from John that I would still have creative control, after 10 episodes he had fully established himself as being in charge of the podcast.
And why not? It was his site. He had worked to build it up. It turns out he was not consulted about starting the podcast with me hosting and I had trodden on his toes somewhat. He had been planning to start a podcast (and I assume host it) and it had been taken away from him. Had he been a lesser man he would have simply said, Sorry Spanners but this isn’t what I want. Chin off and I’ll do my own. But he didn’t. He left me in place and I got to enjoy podcasting to around 1000-2000 listeners.
Unfortunately as is often the case with creative endeavors we diverted on our vision of what we should create. As I was reminded it wasn’t my podcast and he was “in the big chair”. The problem for me was that he wanted a much tighter affair. He wanted to know in advance what people were going to say and have fully scripted dialogue in places. For my money I didn't see the point of having great panelists but making them simply read 7 or 8 pages of scripts. I simply stopped enjoying it.
I can hand on heart say that I tried to deliver what I was being asked for. I also tried to steer it back towards what I felt a podcast of our resources should be. To his credit he often conceded points but ultimately I was spending many (too many) hours a week on a podcast that wasn’t at all what I wanted to create. Furthermore I lacked the resources time and ability to produce what was being asked for. Often my inability to deliver was seen as a deliberate attempt to impose my vision. You can imagine the frustration especially as the downloads dipped below 1000.
I was getting up at 5am every day to commute for 3 hours a day to a brand new professional role and getting home at 7pm. I was tired without the extra podcast work but add to that I was actually failing to deliver and the thing I was trying to deliver was not what I wanted to produce. The situation was untenable.
I told them I wouldn’t compete for their audience out of respect as it was technically my decision to leave. I set up with Downforce Radio to produce their eRadio show and Tony and I started a new Dad focused podcast. When I told Matt I was leaving the TJ13 podcast he replied. “Fuck that noise” and “Yes I will appear on your new Dad podcast”.
To fast forward to the present day Tony, Matt and I have now recorded over 50 Episodes of Dad Hub Podcast and I have produced a full season of eRadio Show race reviews.
The Judge 13 made a handful of podcasts and then stopped. I don’t know why. Six months later, just before the Start of the 2016 Australian Grand Prix I realised they weren’t producing shows. So they had no audience? I messaged John Myburgh (the site manager) and asked him if there would be any objection to me starting an F1 show given that there was no Podcast to compete against. He said there was none and that TJ13 wasn't the only people entitled to make an F1 Podcast. I have a screen cap of that conversation. But what kind of person would I be if I published a private conversation.
Judge for yourself. This is was the first episode after I left.
And this is my latest episode
And so Missed Apex F1 Podcast was born. After over 100 podcast episodes with Matt Trumpets, he was an obvious person to jump on as a co-host. Matt writes for TJ13 after races but has very much become my podcasting brother. Tony came on board to manage the chatroom comments and we have been lucky to have panellists from Formula Spy, Downforce radio, The Judge13, FormulaEdiary, Motorsport.com, Radiohousehn and F1fanatic.
Then the fun started. (The subject that I have taken 2000 words to get to. sorry).
I started it.
I decided to clear up any confusion that we were produced by the judge13 podcast. The new TJ13 site manager offered to host my new show on the old TJ13 podcast feed as well as my feed. We tried it for 8 weeks (as pre-agreed) but it turned out that the projects were not compatible. We tried. I withdrew the podcast and clarified the situation to anyone who thought we were produced by the Judge 13. The tweet didn't feel aggressive but looking back on it I can see it possibly looked that way.
This upset the Judge and I was accused of a handful of things. I was sent a strange WhatsApp Voice note at 2am and a series of insulting tweets were sent, calling me names and accusing me of stealing ideas and content. Words like Plagiarists and liar were used. I have refrained from making my case on twitter. I’m not great at twittering. But it seems unfair that I don’t get to defend myself against specific accusations. I will include the tweets below and address the points. I don’t feel like I’ve used anything that was not mine to use. I don’t feel like the accusations are nice or fair. But I’ll make my case and let you decide. Hopefully you enjoyed my story as well.
Accusation 1. I promised Never to set up an F1 Podcast.
I don’t recall saying that I would never again in my life set up an F1 podcast. I thought I said that I wouldn’t compete with their audience. I meant that. I didn’t want to steal that show’s audience.
But let’s assume I’m wrong and I did say I wouldn’t set one up ever in any circumstance. Well… I changed my mind. Is there any reason I can’t do that? I never had a contract or pay. Further to that; I emailed Mr Myburgh as stated above. There can be no complaint. There was no TJ13 podcast to compete against.
Accusation 2. I stole the intro from TJ13.
Nope. Absolutely wrong. The intro is from @FallentoFlux . The TJ one was completely different.
This was a strange accusation as it’s so easily proven wrong.
Accusation 3: I stole the concept of the podcasting shed.
Well as pictured I built and own a podcasting shed that I record in. Case closed. But actually I think we first mentioned the podcasting shed in a podcast called The Husbands Union (Pre-TJ13)
Accusation 4: I stole the tagline #WeLiveF1.
Well. It’s my tagline. I invented it. I said it. No other podcast was using it. Is there any reason I shouldn’t use it? It’s worth noting that TJ13 Site Manager not only knew about me using the tagline but actually produced artwork with the #WeLiveF1 for me. So I’d say I’m covered.
Accusation 5: I stole their sounds.
Let’s be clear. I have a huge bank of sounds that I have cut. I think I’ve cut all of them.
The main Bumpers we use:
Comment of the week (My Wife singing and playing piano)
Big Dirty News (Me singing Wife piano)
Oh de-Lally (sung by me)
Oh no you missed the apex (Spoken by Treeface)
Pony award (voiced by my daughter)
Podium Music. (by Bizet) Also TJ used it as a bed. I use a short bumper version
Trumpets Bumper. (by Matt Trumpets) never used on TJ13.
Funny Valentine bed (City Line Trio)
There are some effects like boos and pacman dying that I’ve used across all my podcasts. Was I really supposed to delete all my effects? That’s clearly not reasonable. Some of those effects were on my CPU before I knew what TJ13 was
Accusation 6: The show is made up of TJ13 associates.
As stated above we have panellists from Formula Spy, Downforce radio, The Judge13, FormulaEdiary, Motorsport.com, Radiohousehn and F1fanatic. Some of them have worked for more than one of those. In the last two weeks I’ve Had Ken and Matt who have history with TJ13 but Matt does all my podcasts with me. In Podcasting terms he is fully and Exclusively Spanners Ready crew. I believe Matt is the only current TJ13 contributor to appear on the panel. Correct me if you wish.
Accusation 7: I’ve copied the TJ13 podcast.
This is the worst one. Missed Apex is the Podcast I wanted to make and couldn’t. To suggest I’m copying the Podcast I left because of its structure only to then copy it? That’s a stretch.
Let Me List the TJ13 running order from memory.
Intro (5 Mins)
The Judges question (15 minutes non-F1 Chat)
Scripted News to a sound bed
Topic section 1 (All talking points agreed in advance. Comments must be added in notes)
A monologue from AJ (sometimes)
Another Topic (All talking points agreed in advance. Comments must be added in notes)
Thing we learned this week (Scripted totally)
Chatroom was seen as a distraction and interaction actively limited
Ok Now Missed Apex Podcast (Race Review)
Intro (a few minutes not consistent)
Pre Race Tidbits (Driven by Bullet points)
Qually (Driven by Bullet points)
Major Talking point 1 (Driven by Bullet points)
Major Talking point 2 (Driven by Bullet points)
Chatroom referred to frequently and seen as an extra panel member.
I’ll admit I did use the same host. He’s easy on the eye with skin smoother than Zapp Brannigan’s Uniform
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