I have a special treat for you today. I was able to conduct an interview with my favorite podcasters, Rachel and David from the All Bad Things podcast. If you like stories about disasters, both natural and man made, you HAVE to follow ABT. They have new episodes out every Monday and also have a lively Facebook Discussion group full of some really cool people.
So lets get to the interview!
(My comments in italics).
Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your feline co-hosts.
. David is from the fine area of Massena, New York, which is basically Canada. In his adult life, he’s lived primarily in both of the Carolinas, with some additional time spent back in New York in Rochester. He works in amino acid production, which is not particularly easy to explain (I still don’t know exactly what he does). I am Miami-born and (mostly) raised, unconventionally homeschooled (read: I didn’t really “school” between elementary school and college) and own my own tax practice, which I started right around the same time as we started the podcast. We both love music; David’s a drummer and I’m a bass player. Our cats are Jesse Pinkman (the elder statesman) and Demetrius. Jesse is a tuxedo-pattern Maine Coon and Demi is a little ginger tabby. I picked out Jesse just after David and I started dating. I went to a local cat shelter, where they put you in a room of cats roaming free so you can see which one you like. Jesse was the only one who kind of ignored me, which I appreciated, because I wanted an independent cat. It was a complete ruse; he follows me into the bathroom and whines when I don’t pay sufficient attention to him. As for Demitrius, we went on vacation during the summer about four years ago, and when we returned – even though we had hired a pet sitter to come around twice a day – it was clear Jesse had been quite lonely. We decided what he needed was a brother (we did not consult Jesse on this, I’m sure he would want that noted). This one would be David’s choice. We went back to the shelter, and the second David sat down in the Room o’ Cats, Demetrius jumped right into his lap, as if to claim him. He continues to do so to this day. We love them both very much, but they are both total brats we affectionately refer to as the “little shittles”.
(note: Demetrius is Anastasia Colleen Hutchison’s long distance boyfriend)
What made you decide to get into podcasting? And specifically disaster podcasting?
We’re both morbidly interested in disasters, so I pitched the idea of doing a podcast to David. At the time, we couldn’t really find many/any disaster-related podcasts (we’re pretty sure Jennifer started Disaster Area a little before we launched, but we didn’t find her pod doing our initial research in spring 2017). There was one (apologies, I don’t remember the name or the person who did it) that was very technical and well-done, but we were looking to do something more in a comedic vein a la The Dollop (which we’re both fans of) and My Favorite Murder (which I’m a fan of). Turns out there’s a reason people don’t generally do a comedy podcast about disasters: we get a lot of shit for it.
(They do get shit for it, but I love hearing them roast 1 Star Reviewers!)
Given that you both have jobs outside of podcasting, what goes in to preparing and producing an episode? Do you record on certain days of the week? How do you decide about which disasters to cover?
. We pound out a new episode every single Monday (at least! we’ve done some minisodes in between), so our research isn’t weeks-long deep dives, especially since this is 100% a hobby. That being said, we do put several hours into it each week. Some episodes we’re prouder of than others, but we’re also proud of our consistency. The research is really the most work-intensive part of the process, as the recording is – especially after three years – just us reading the research and being ourselves. We don’t really put any time into “production”, to be completely honest. Listeners hear 99% of everything we record in the released episode (the 1% being the dead air at the beginning or end we trim off). It didn’t start that way; we edited the hell out of our first episodes . . . that quickly went by the wayside. As for the topics, I’m basically the one who just decides what topics to cover and when. There is a method to the madness; I try to vary the subjects, locations, types of disasters, etc., to keep things interesting.
What’s the favorite episode you have produced? Have you done an episode or episodes that was/were particularly difficult due to the subject matter?
David’s favorite episode is Action Park! because it was a fun, bonkers diversion from the usual mass-casualty, dark topics we cover. I’m a fan of the episodes I know I worked really hard on, like Hillsborough, Grenfell Tower, and the HIV/AIDS series. Most of our topics are difficult on a psychological level (that’s why we do a comedy podcast; we’d get too depressed otherwise), but Hillsborough and the Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash were the saddest to us personally. We do try to find any possible silver lining or lesson learned, if only for our own psyches.
(My favorite episodes they have done were on the Grenfell Tower Fires)
The podcast has a lively following with an active Facebook group. Did or does it surprise you how many people are interested in listening to stories about bad things?
We’re not so surprised that people are interested in disasters, but we are surprised people are interested in hearing about them from us! Disasters seem true crime-adjacent, and true crime is HUGELY popular, so the topic itself being popular isn’t too terribly surprising. Though, admittedly, disasters probably don’t carry as many interested followers because of how grim they get so fast, and how little vindication, justice, or blame there is to mete out. Sometimes an accident is just an accident. I think our Facebook group is pretty active because we don’t worry about censoring too much. Nothing’s really off topic and our only rule is “don’t be a dick”.
(The ABT Facebook Discussion Group is my favorite Group on Facebook.)
What advice would you give someone wanting to start out in podcasting?
That’s a tough one! We don’t monetize, so we don’t have any advice at all for someone wanting to make money. Just do what you want to do; you can run yourself ragged trying to please people, but why? Make it what you want it to be, be good to the listeners who reach out to you, and fuck the haters.
(As an author, I second this. As long as you are happy with your product, then go for it. There’ll always be naysayers, but they can go make their own podcast or write their own book if they don’t like yours).
Are there any podcasts that you recommend (disaster related or not)?
SO many! David’s more a YouTube follower, but here’s a list of two we both like plus a bunch I like: The Dollop, Last Podcast on the Left, My Favorite Murder, Moms and Murder, Factually! with Adam Conover, Criminal, True Crime Island, Sawbones, Code Switch, Office Ladies, Uncover, They Walk Among Us, Swindled, Pretend, and, of course, Civil Wargasms! And, for good measure, David’s YouTube recommendations (sports and politics): FivePointsVids, Urinating Tree, SB Nation, Jimmy Dore, Secular Talk, the Humanist Report, and the Rational National.
So be sure to check out their podcast, friends! And until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.