Extra Secret Podcast’s 99th episode features Nothing in the Rulebook

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Big news, everyone! The team here at NITRB are thrilled to announce we had the honour of making a special guest appearance on the fabulous Extra Secret Podcast.

Always keen to build bridges with fellow creatives around the world, this cross-Atlantic collaboration opportunity was far too good to miss. In the ESP’s 99th episode, NITRB drop some political thoughts on the tumultuous events that have taken place in the UK over the last few weeks.

It was the second time Professor Wu and Billy the Echidna have been on the show, and the timing seemed appropriate, given that the last time the gang got together (check out that ‘After Dark’ episode here) everyone was still reeling from the fallout of the US election.

The 99th ESP episode also features news about meth lab explosions, R Kelly, and the identity of the new Doctor Who.

Without further ado, you can check out the show now through this link, and don’t forget to subscribe to what is – we think – one of the best podcasts going right now.

For further reading, don’t miss our interview with the Extra Secret Podcast team; and if you’re thinking of starting your own podcast, catch up on their tips for podcasters, while you’re at it.

Download the podcast.

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UPDATE

Professor Wu and Billy the Echidna have been at it again, collaborating with the team at Extra Secret Podcast for their special ‘After Dark’ episode.

The episode focuses heavily on the recent UK General Election, and can be listened to via the Extra Secret Podcast website 

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Creatives in profile: Interview with the Extra Secret Podcast

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“A podcast should be for anything you want it do be” Extra Secret Podcast. 

Just over two years ago, two men had an idea. It was a humble idea. It was a bold idea. It was almost as a good an idea as building your very own robot butler to help you run your high school full of teenage clones of famous historical figures (but nothing could be quite as good as that idea).

Their names were Eric and Dan, and for the past two years they have been the masterminds behind a truly awesome, and also beautifully simple, podcast – the Extra Secret Podcast, to be precise.

Now, being a secret, we wouldn’t want to give too much away at this point, except to tell you to check out Eric’s fantastic list of tips for aspiring podcasters.

It’s an honor to introduce this detailed interview.

 

INTERVIEWER

Tell us about yourselves, your background and ethos.

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

DAN: I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and have lived all over the Metro Detroit Area. I also lived in Madison, Wisconsin. Background: Never graduated college, went to a trade school and edited TV commercials for a number of years. I moved to Wisconsin where I became a professional body piercer for six years. Both of those things made me exceptionally unhappy so then I moved back to Michigan where I got a job at a comic book shop. If you listen to the podcast I’m notoriously out of touch with what’s going on in the world, so Eric finds things that get me worked up. Ultimately, I’m not a super angry person about everything but I do get frustrated with the world

ERIC : I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life. I went to elementary (primary) school, high school, and some of college with Dan. Ultimately, I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in English and promptly got an office job that didn’t remotely have anything to do with my degree. I grew up on a steady diet of comics, cartoons, and sci-fi and that’s pretty much stuff that I’m still interested in to this day.

INTERVIEWER

Who inspires you?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

ERIC: I would have to say that a lot of my friends inspire me. I know it seems like an easy answer but I’ve somehow managed to be in close proximity to several musicians, visual artists, other podcasters or performers that do really amazing work. So I kind of feel like the odd man out (laughs). My friend Dot Org composed our theme music and my cousin composed the music for our After Dark episodes. I’m a big fan of British writer Warren Ellis, he’s always doing something interesting. My parents are some of the funniest people I know whether they know it or not.

Oh, and Supreme Leader Trump. All hail Trump! That last one was only half true. I live in constant fear of waking up this November to discover that our portion of the world has gone Mad Max. So there’s a definite drive for me to get as much good stuff produced before the world ends.

DAN: That’s a tough one… I read a lot. So, a lot of stuff that inspire me are things I read in comic books which I know can be seen as childish. I read a lot of stories of hope, lot of stories of not giving up, things of that nature. With my background of having a few problems in my life, it’s good for me to read those sorts of things. And it definitely helps when I get other people interested in the same stuff. Feels good.

INTERVIEWER

Can you tell us a bit about the Extra Secret Podcast – what inspired you to first set the podcast up; and how has it developed from then?

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DAN: A long time ago when I was still in Madison, I had started listening to some of director Kevin Smith’s podcasts. I really enjoyed what they did. It was just them having a conversation. I had come back to Michigan a few times and me and Eric had conversations about starting a podcast and doing it over Skype; but it never really came together until I moved back. I had another co-host lined up back in Madison but the conversation wasn’t there, it wasn’t really working. How has it grown? We’re less nervous now. We have a good rhythm. We’re good at taking seemingly innocuous things and filling an hour long show with our brand of weirdness.

ERIC: Some of my friends were podcasting, I loved what they were doing and I wanted in on the action. That sweet podcast action. As Dan said, we talked about starting our own podcast and it finally came to be when he moved back to Michigan. Since we’ve been doing it the format hasn’t changed much. We used to do four to five episodes a month, but we were both starting to burn out and finding the time became difficult. Twice a month is much more manageable. On occasion I’ll do an Extra Secret Podcast: After Dark episode which is just me and a rotating co-host. Sometimes it could be a friend or mine or someone I want to interview. Those are a nice break from the regular format, but the core show will always be me and Dan.

INTERVIEWER

How do you plan and prepare for each new episode?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

ERIC: Usually, the second we stop recording I’ll think of three other things I wanted to talk about. In the time between recordings I’ll keep my eyes open for funny news stories that I think we’ll be able to squeeze some humor out of. Other times I’ll have something weird or funny happen to me that will make for a good story on the podcast. I know it sounds cliché, but I carry a notebook and pen with me at all times just in case something happens and I have to commit it to paper ASAP. It also helps to structure the upcoming episodes so our conversations have some semblance of direction.

DAN: (laughs) Eric tells me what we may talk about! Basically the first half of the show is news, notes, gripes; the back half of the podcast is a bit more structured with a set topic. Eric is really the producer of the show, he gives me some direction. I’m notoriously forgetful from years of past substance abuse problems so he has to constantly remind me. I usually do some prep right before the show so I’m excited to talk about things. But the bulk of the heavy lifting is done by Eric.

INTERVIEWER

What does the average day look like to you?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

ERIC: I’m usually up around 4 or 5 AM everyday, which is awful. I’ll check my news feeds to see what’s going on in the world while I get ready for work. My work day usually starts around 8 and I get out for the day around 5 PM. My downtime is spent reading, catching up on the handful of TV shows I watch, and listening to music and so on. I’m very much a homebody, which a polite way of saying “hermit.”

DAN: I get up around 8 AM, feed the dogs, eat breakfast, get to my shop around 10:30. It depends on the day. There’s always something new coming into the comic shop so it keeps it fresh, something to look forward to. I’ve never had a day where I don’t want to be there. I love working there. My boss is cool and so are the customers. I don’t watch a ton of TV aside from stuff we discuss on the podcast. Pretty much my days revolve around nerd shit.

INTERVIEWER

What do you think a podcast should be for? Why are they important?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

DAN: I think a podcast should be for anything you want it to be. The great thing about podcasts is it’s a very open-ended thing. These days with people wanting to be “YouTube famous” or “podcast famous”…if you want to try and do it for a living that’s cool. But the problem with that is that you eventually start sounding like everyone else, because you’re trying to broaden your appeal. Podcasts are important because it’s one of the last things you can do that has no censorship. You can do whatever you want, you know? We’ve never been censored. We’ve talked about all sorts of weird stuff on the show and that’s not something you’ll hear on mainstream TV or radio. It’s very important for podcasts to have that freedom.

ERIC: I agree with Dan, it can be anything you want it to be. We generally keep things pretty light but on occasion we do get serious and talk about things that are bothering us. Medical issues, depression, and so on. I think podcasts are important because it’s a creative outlet. For me, I don’t have the time to sit down and write like I used to. I’d love to be able to sit down and write for eight hours each day but it’s not in the cards right now. But I do have time to sit down with my friend for an hour every couple weeks and put on a show. It certainly scratches that creative itch.

INTERVIEWER

Obviously, the rise of the internet has seen a big culture shift in the way we communicate. What role do you see podcasts playing in this new “digital era”?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

ERIC: To me, it’s almost like a resurgence of the Golden Age of Radio. There’s this new medium out there that’s potentially without limits. I really dig that shows like Welcome to Night Vale and Thrilling Adventure Hour are essentially just new radio plays where the listener has to use their imagination to fill in the blanks. And that applies to other podcasts too. There are podcasts for virtually any subject and I think that it makes for a more engaged listener.

DAN: It’s really kind of replacing radio. People are getting bored a little bit with pop music or talk radio. It all bleeds together. With a podcast you can listen to someone on the other end of the globe. We’ve never been closer together than we are now. Sometimes uncomfortably so.

INTERVIEWER

When there are so many podcasts, and so many different voices speaking at once – how do you try to make your voices heard?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

DAN: We’ve never cared about that. We have never decided that we’re going to go out and make people listen to us. We don’t advertise. It’s tough to reach a vast audience without dumping a ton of money into it. Good content will propel the show forward. Ultimately if you’re trying to do a podcast to get famous, have a million listeners…you’re doing it wrong.

ERIC: Yeah, we’re really just doing this for us. Making each other laugh is pretty much the mission and if anyone is listening, that’s really incidental. We have a small (very small) audience and they seem to tolerate what we’re doing so we’re happy with that.

INTERVIEWER

What are some of the main challenges you face?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

ERIC: Finding the time to record is always fun. Keeping a regular schedule for episodes can be difficult as well. When we stopped doing weekly episode we were shooting for the 15th and 30th of the month but even then we had to revise that to a “twice a month” schedule. I always worry that we may repeat ourselves, or that we’re getting complacent, or we’re just straight up boring.

DAN: Time. Getting the energy to do it. We used to do it weekly and that got to be very taxing. We were worried about running out of thing to talk about. We worried about not having enough time to do research for things. Finding quality stuff to talk about that’s not the same as everybody else is nothing thing. We try to focus a bit more on weird news sources and stuff that interests us. Stuff we’re passionate about.

INTERVIEWER

How would you define creativity?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

ERIC: For me, it’s just the art of making anything. Admittedly, It’s a pretty broad definition. But I do think there has to be some kind of intent behind the action of making something. It should evoke larger ideas. For our podcast we’re creating a larger narrative about two assholes forever trapped in each other’s orbit, two grown men barely in control of their own lives.

DAN: I’m not really much of an artist in the traditional sense. When I was younger I was into art and photography so I probably would’ve had a better answer for that then (laughs). Now, to me, whatever you decide to go out and do… I’m very literal in the sense that creativity is just creating. That’s me. I wish I had some mystical answer for you but that’s not how I am.

INTERVIEWER

What’s next for the podcast? Any exciting projects or episodes in the pipeline?

EXTRA SECRET PODCAST

DAN: We always talk about Motor City Comic Con in May. That’s always a good time. Mostly we take it week by week. We don’t tend to do big projects because we don’t have a ton of time on our hands.

ERIC: I’m sure I’ll be doing more After Dark episodes in the future, I’m always looking for interesting people to talk to. In the past I’ve had conversations with the musician Brook Pridemore and artist/storyteller Morgan Pielli both of which are archived at extrasecretpodcast.com!

The podcaster’s guide to the galaxy

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Eric Henson, one half of the Extra Secret Podcast, introduces us to the world of podcasting, and gives his top tips for starting your own podcast.

The fine folks here at Nothing In The Rule Book asked if we were interested in contributing some tips on how one would go about starting their own podcast. Since we’re not ones to shy away from reaching potential new listeners, we (over) enthusiastically agreed. Hello. How are you? You look well.

We’ve been doing the Extra Secret Podcast for just over two years now and I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard of us. So, if you’re reading this expecting some top tips on how to become the next Nerdist, 99% Invisible, or even Serial you’ve come to the wrong place. There are scores of articles out there that deal with the technical side of setting up a podcast. This isn’t one of them. We’re here to give you some pointers on the “whys” of podcasting.

About three years ago, Dan came to me and said, “I want to do a podcast and I want you to co-host it with me.”  To which I responded, “FINALLY.” Then I found out that I wasn’t his first choice, which I was strangely okay with. I then began to ask some of the big questions, which we’ll get to in a moment.

Before we get started I have a confession: The Extra Secret Podcast isn’t my fist podcast. Ten years ago I did one with another friend and it was, to be quite honest, terrible. We recorded off of a tiny stick microphone, there were long awkward pauses during conversation, and it lasted for about 15 minutes. I think we had a grand total of five listeners. After that crushing failure I resolved never to podcast again unless I could do it “right.”

On to the tips!

  • Have a format: I hate to break it to you, but “two or more people droning on and on about something” isn’t a format. For our show we’ve settled on two segments separated by a musical break. Generally we talk about things that have been in the news for the first segment, take a short break, and return to talk about a predetermined topic.
  • Have a schedule: Having a consistent publishing schedule helps keep listeners around. When we started we were on a weekly schedule. I still have no idea how we were able to come up with new things to speak about each week for an entire year and not end up completely burned out. Eventually, we switched to a twice a month format and that seems to keep it fresh. I’ve listened to some podcasts that publish whenever the mood strikes and that’s all well and good. But when months go by with no new podcasts, your listeners may start to wonder if you’ve quit and not bothered to tell them.
  • You do you: There’s no point if doing a show if you’re just going to copy someone else’s style. If you’ve made the decision to inflict yourself on the internet, you had better be doing it in your own voice. Bring something unique to the table.
  • Get some decent equipment: When we started, Dan had purchased a nice mixing board and some XLR microphones. Super professional; but not required to have a halfway decent sounding podcast. There have been a few other podcasts I’ve listened to where it sounds like they use a tin can telephone to capture all their audio. Dreadful. The mixer and microphones were nice but they were tough to transport and time consuming to set up. Eventually we settled on two Blue Snowball USB microphones which are plug-and-play and relatively inexpensive.
  • Keep it brief: We try to keep our recordings limited to about an hour. Most listeners will be digesting your podcast while commuting, endlessly processing data at their desk job, or peddling away on a stationary bike at the gym. Anything longer than an hour and you’re starting to crossover into audiobook territory. If you have a topic that warrants more than an hour’s worth of conversation don’t be afraid to split the episode into two parts. It will give your listeners something to look forward to.
  • It’s not what you say, but how you say it: I know, I know… Swearing is fun. On our podcast we do tend to , but not at the expense of the overall message of what we’re trying to say. If you listen back to a recording and find that you’re using expletives as filler words, you may want to make a concerted effort to avoid that.
  • Be ready to suck: Before we even published our first episode, Dan and I sat down and hashed out what we wanted to talk about. We recorded a pilot episode that we never published (and will NEVER publish) to get comfortable in front of the microphones and get a rhythm down. And even when we did publish our first episode it was still a bit clunky. It’s a work in progress. Still.
  • Is this thing on?: Once you’ve published some episodes, the hosting site (we use Blubrry for ours and it’s great) you use can most likely provide you with some kind of data regarding how many downloads you’ve amassed to date. You may want to sit down when you look at them the first time. And after you subtract yourself and your cohost you may want to lay down. Depending on the level of promotion you’ve put into your podcast you most likely won’t be doing crazy download numbers.
  • Shameless self-promotion: Tell friends, tell family, tell anyone you think may be interested in your podcast. Some of them may actually Start a Twitter account for the podcast. Twitter is good for connecting with listeners and getting new ones. If there’s a particular topic you’re discussing on your new episode, hashtag it. You’d be surprised what people notice. In fact, my skillful use of #CloneHigh got us noticed by this very site! Early on in the show, our musical interludes were often local bands that we’re fans of and retweets from them would never fail to give our numbers a bump.
  • Why bother?: The reason We’ve been doing this for so long is because it’s something we enjoy doing. It’s also cheaper than going to therapy. At the very core of the show it’s really about two friends sitting down and having a conversation and working through some things. It’s not about having tons of listeners and it never was. The best we can hope for is that someone listens to what we’re saying and that it connects with them on some level.

Now, there’s nothing is this rulebook that says you have to abide by anything I just wrote. Go forth and podcast!

About the author of this post

IMG_4166E.A. Henson is one half of the Extra Secret Podcast. When not podcasting he is a mild-mannered worker at a major multinational corporation. He lives in Michigan.

Thanks to chrisandtanner.com. You’re the meaning in our lives, you’re the inspiration.