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As someone whose media diet leans heavily towards the skateboarding food groups, I tend to consume many skateboarding podcasts because it’s a medium that often fills in the gaps that often larger ad-driven outlets ignore. No shade thrown towards any large skate media at all, in fact, this is more about value the dedicated DIY platforms create for skating, mostly out of pocket.
If you’re digging for more pod, you’ll often find the most common format is the linear interview and that space is owned by The Nine Club but after that, it’s less clear what the podscape looks like and like the zines of the ‘80s and ‘90s, there are many speaking to very specific sects of skating with looser formats and POVs. Skating historically likes to be informed from authoritative sources and I find myself becoming much more interested in an outsider perspective or just true nerd shit. Unlike comic books or anime where the audience is wanting to overly engage with massive conventions and communities, those perspectives are almost taboo in skateboarding but they thrive in the podcast world, so much so that there’s probably someone recording a series as we speak on every outfit Jim Greco has worn.
As skateboarders, we feel like we’re the most interesting people in the world but the world often doesn’t agree, at least in the podcast space and as far skate podcasts go - even with big-name guests with some mainstream appeal - rarely do these resonate outside of the community. Unlike mixed martial arts or whatever, skateboarding doesn’t have the equivalent at scale of a J*e R*gan or Howard Stern. But why? Is it simply because we speak our own language or is skateboarding actually still a subculture? Maybe it doesn’t really matter and you want to create or simply find a new podcast to subscribe to? Hopefully, we can help out on these points.
So, Parade World presents to you four podcasts created by regular folks, not former or current pros or deep industry insiders, just people with a voice who want to start a conversation about their world of skateboarding.
Templeton Elliot is the founder and co-host of The Mostly Skateboarding Podcast, along with Jason Frozen In Carbonite, Patrick Kikongo, and Mike Munzenrider. When I asked him to be a part of our “regular people with podcasts” piece, I immediately realized what a gaffe that was - he’s filmed Mike Carroll and Rick Howard for fuck’s sake. After a short career as a filmer in Los Angeles, California, Templeton moved back east and started the Mostly Skateboarding blog as a distraction from a run of boring office jobs. The blog led to eight years of writing for The Skateboard Mag. Today Templeton lives in Oregon with his wife and two cats where he makes the Mostly Skateboarding Podcast with a few friends from #skatetwitter.
Was your podcast the first official skate podcast and what got you interested in starting one?
I think the John Does Zine podcast was the first skate podcast I heard. Shouts to those guys! My whole deal with Mostly Skateboarding has always been to find a cool thing outside of skateboarding and make a skate version of that thing. I always wanted to do a skate version of the Slate Political Gabfest. Even in the beginning, that was the concept, I've got emails from 2013 with Mike, Jason, and rival podcaster, Kyle Beachy talking about it but at the time I couldn't figure out how to make it work from a technology perspective. I still wanted to make something so I settled on the original one-story concept because I could make it work and I think interviews are mostly boring. I stopped doing the original because it wasn't that fun to make. I hated scheduling and reaching out to people. I was always nervous talking to a new person every episode. In the end, it wasn't the podcast I wanted to make so I stopped. I finally got the new version going again because I was excited about another show with a similar format but it was so infuriatingly bad it motivated me to get the conversation going again with Mike and Jason (by that time, Kyle was working on Vent City) to make that original concept into a reality.
Was there something lacking in skate podcasts that you wanted to amplify in Mostly Skateboarding?
As mentioned, I always liked the Slate Political Gabfest and felt like the panel show concept would really work for skateboarding. There's still a lot that can be done with podcasts in skateboarding. I've got a few other concepts that I'd love to make but don't have the time to do.
How come skate-centric podcasts don’t seem to scale past the skate community?
I think skateboarding is still pretty niche in general. Then the number of people who skate and listen to podcasts is a smaller subset of that already niche group. Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't feel like you have casual fans of skateboarding. You're either obsessed, or you don't know the difference between goofy and regular. Those other shows with millions of viewers are probably doing big numbers based on the charisma of their hosts more than the content of the show.
What’s the hardest part of making your pod?
Making a podcast is pretty damn easy. Editing is the hardest part. I spend 2-3 hours a week editing the show and doing the show notes. It's not fun editing like a video, it's just listening to the recording and chopping out uhs and umms. But that's not hard, it's just work. For aspiring podcasters, don't make an interview show, we've got plenty. Scheduling is a pain in the ass if you don't have a regular crew like we have. It's cool to make stuff. All the tools are easy enough to figure out. The internet makes it easy to connect with people. If you've got an idea that isn't an interview show, go do it. Send me the link when you publish it. I want to listen.
Listen: The Mostly Skateboarding Podcast
Adrian Koenigsberg is the founder and director of Quell Skateboarding. Quell is a media outlet founded by women, for everyone. Their mission is to increase visibility for nontraditional skateboarders. One of the best ways they achieve that goal is through their podcast Quell Party.
What was your inspiration to start the Quell Podcast?
Quell Party was started as a way to deepen the conversations between the non-traditional skate community. There is so much power in being able to hear a story from someone's own experiences. I always loved podcasts and I thought it was a natural way to expand our mission at Quell into that medium.
Was there something lacking in skate podcasts that you wanted to amplify?
I definitely think the skate podcasting space lacked a feminine touch. Joking, but I think there were so many stories and experiences missing by really just featuring and talking to professional level skateboarders only. We wanted to really expand into people adjacent to skateboarding or active in skateboarding but have other careers and interests. At Quell, most things we do also feature or speak on the entry-level experience to skateboarding, and that also was important to touch on throughout our guest bookings.
How come skate podcasts don’t have the crossover that other seemingly niche podcasts achieve?
I think with most things, there's an adapted language (verbal or not) that you kind of pick up with being active in that activity. So while you're not talking about skateboarding, it comes from a similar tone. On a personal note, I constantly am talking to people who have no idea about skateboarding or what Quell is really about and I think I've just tried to show that our mission through skateboarding is a microcosm for diversity and inclusivity on all levels. Developing ways of relating skateboarding to more general subjects or pop culture can kind of broaden that initial entry level. Also, as I mentioned before - talking about more than just professional/sponsorship level experiences is a much more relatable subject to people trying to enter into skateboarding.
What’s the hardest part of producing Quell Party?
Honestly I am trying so hard to be better about all of the things surrounding the Quell Party. I wear all the hats at Quell so not only do I host, but I edit, level, do all promotional artwork, post to all mediums, link to our guests Spotify playlists, book the guests, everything. On one hand, I am a perfectionist so it makes for added issues. On the other hand, you can literally record a zoom call with pretty decent quality audio and make some album art and (not sponsored) use a free platform like anchor.fm and you're good to go.
It's all about making sure what stories or themes you want to stick with and keep it interesting.
Listen: Quell Skateboarding
Adam Burns is the host of Skating Is Hard. Now 26 years old and born in Brooklyn, New York, he started skating at age ten when he and a friend randomly decided to take a board he owned to a local playground. He instantly got “the bug.” He makes music and works as a mix engineer. Skating Is Hard is unique in that its format is constantly changing and even trolling itself. It’s almost open-source as Burns opens the platform up to anyone who wants to speak about issues in skating such as Sensor Dialogue, who wanted to discuss their personal experiences on the show.
What was the impetus to start Skating Is Hard?
I've been listening to podcasts for a long time - mostly comedy podcasts and stuff. I’ve always been fascinated with the medium and always wanted to try it. I just knew I wanted to do something different but it wasn’t really planned too hard. There aren’t a lot of skate podcasts that are outside of the industry, you know? They’re done by pro’s or something and they get validated, but what about regular people? We can all talk.
Also, my friend started a podcast - she just did it and it was random, it was kind of out of nowhere and I fucked with it and I was on an episode and I was like, shit, ’she is doing it and I've always been thinking about it. I have all the equipment and shit because you know, I make music and stuff. So I’ll fucking just do it, you know. Especially now with quarantine there’s a lot of time and then with a lot of shit going on and even though I love all the podcasts on skateboarding, no one gets down with the nitty-gritty or the specific things that I think about.
What were some things you felt weren’t being discussed enough that you wanted to explore on Skating Is Hard?
People barely talk about racism in skateboarding. You’ll hear that a team has a diverse roster or that there are so many black skaters now but no conversations about people doing racist shit or how certain team’s entire identities are just being all white. I realize it all the time but many people don’t. We always hear the stories about racism in skating, of course, everyone knows about Jason Jesse but how many fucking other Jason Jesses are there? And how many are there still? I talked about Chad Muska in one episode because of how he turned down his induction to the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and wanted to put Kareem Campbell in his place but also, he was on TMZ dropping the n-word and shit. How come everyone forgot about that? I know Corey Duffel has “apologized” but then everyone is like, “OK, that’s over and he’s cool now.” Also, some black skaters don’t want to stir things up too much, you know, you don't want to be the angry black guy or the dude talking about racism all the time, you know, because especially it's like a white-dominated sport, like you don't want to make anyone not, you know, a little nervous to sponsor you or something like that so I can understand that but I feel like all these situations are always passed over. People just come out and say ‘he's a good guy’ and enough white people forgive them, then it’s suddenly forgotten. A lot of people perpetuate racism without being implicitly hateful, you know?
You really reach outside of the standard topics and even guests but why do you think podcasts in the skate category tend to only appeal to die hard skaters?
That's something I'm always concerned about too, like especially because I have so many friends who don't skate. Most of my friends don't skate and I've had friends tell me they listen to the podcast and they don't really know the specifics but they kind of understand what I'm talking about and I just think that's kind of cool. Part of it is like wanting to bring skateboarding forward progressively with these conversations, but also, to share skateboarding. A few episodes ago I just talked to a bunch of my friends who don't skate and ask questions. I don’t really have a format and that lets me experiment. I think people have this idea of skateboarding, ‘Oh it's just a fucking extreme sport with these fucking crazy guys doing it!
I wanted to make skateboarding three-dimensional for people.
Any tips or things people need to be aware of if they want to start a podcast?
I pretty much have a mini home studio setup because I’m an audio engineer. I bought a nice live mic so it sounds more like a podcast. I use Ableton for editing everything and I mean, you know, there are so many different ways of doing it. I've been having guests on with Zoom because you're able to record individual tracks on different channels. Having prior knowledge about audio helps me out and everyone needs to know that having a podcast, in terms of editing, is a lot of work. I think everyone wants to do a podcast and not the actual work to make it sound right. It’s basically double the time of the actual audio to edit and add effects, so be prepared—it’s very boring. Even if you’re talking off the cuff, it really helps to have some talking points written down and just an overall strategy. Early on I think I just sort of hit play and let it go but now I think about how much time I want to talk on each point and do some research before I record as well.
Listen: Skating Is Hard
Rick Bata is a writer, podcaster, and skateboarder based out of San Jose, California. His skateboarding journey began over 30 years ago right around the time when wheels were getting smaller and pants were getting bigger. He started the No Mongo Podcast as an outlet to speak about the good, bad, and often humorous side of skateboarding.
What inspired you to start a No Mongo?
Before the podcast, I had worked many years as an on-air personality (DJ) in radio and totally missed talking into a microphone. It was all I thought about - in addition to skateboarding, of course. I figured it would be a perfect match for me to combine my two true passions. I started the No Mongo Podcast right around the time the Nine Club was really gaining momentum. A couple of skater friends of mine had recommended it to me and I instantly felt inspired by what they had created and I knew I had to do something similar myself.
Was there something lacking in skate podcasts that you wanted to use No Mongo as a vehicle to explore?
I honestly didn't think too much about anything other than the fact that many of the skateboarding podcasts were strictly interview-style or panel type shows. Many of them also have former pros, filmers, or skaters who had worked in the industry too. I came at it with pretty much zero inside contacts and sources. I just wanted to start a show that I could share my thoughts on skateboarding and maybe give listeners and a different style of show to tune into. Lately, I've done a couple of interviews on my show just to mix it up a bit, but for the most part, it's just me pushing myself to create the best show I possibly can.
All these dudes that talk about martial arts or keto diets get a million views, why don’t skaters have that enthusiasm for podcasts?
Damn. That's a great question. I think part of it is that a lot of skaters aren't on board (no pun intended) with podcasts yet. Plus, if you think about it, skateboarders are just inundated with content these days - especially since the pandemic. There's just so much of it, podcasts included. I don't think I'll ever be able to truly get caught up with what's being released on a daily/weekly basis. It's so much to keep up with. Maybe that's part of the problem too? However, I would much rather have too much content to deal with than not. So it's a tricky balance. I do see skate pods continuing to grow at a slow and steady pace for the next few years/decade though.
What’s the hardest part of producing the pod and doing it so regularly?
The hardest part is staying committed and consistent. And keep in mind this is just as challenging for me doing my show solo! I give huge props to other shows like Mostly Skateboarding, The Bunt, Vent City, Skatosis, Skatefulness, etc. who continue to produce shows on the regular. I can't even imagine trying to balance everyone's schedules AND provide quality content. Huge props to all those shows. So yeah, commitment and consistency are key in regards to podcasting. If you are a weekly show, post weekly.
As for aspiring podcasters, I'd say don't overthink things and just do it. Don't worry about how many downloads you are going to get. Don't worry about if people are going to love or hate your show. Just be you and put out content that in ten or twenty years you will look back on and be proud of. Go into it with a plan though. I had 5 episodes recorded at launch. This gave me some time to get into the swing of things and also give new listeners a chance to experience more than just one sample, but also be open to change. Your show will continue to evolve as you also continue to change along the way. The main thing is to just have fun. Only because, if you don't it will show (or in this case will be heard) and it will be an uphill battle for you and your crew.
Listen: No Mongo Podcast
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