Explore Literary & Historical Influences Of Pop Culture Here

Rhonda Watts
Erin O'Loughlin
April 19, 2019 - "An invaluable resource that I've found is the r/podcasting community on Reddit."
Since 2018

►Tell us about you and your podcast

I'm Rhonda Watts, and my co-host is Erin O'Loughlin. We are both pop culture geeks who also love classic literature and history. I have a literature degree and Erin has a liberal arts degree, and we both watch way too much TV and have been known to indulge in movies that are good, bad, and in between. We started the podcast as a creative outlet for all the nerdy feelings we have about our favorite works.

Our podcast is called Pop DNA, and we explore literary and historical influences and connections in works of pop culture, their "DNA" if you will. Our premise is based on the idea that no work exists in a vacuum; every film, every TV show, every book, has been influenced by works that came before it, whether intentionally or not. In our very first episode, for example, we discussed the movie Wonder Woman, so we explored the Greek mythological roots of that story, as well as its ties to fairy tales, and the early 20th century women's rights movement that informed the WWI-era setting of the film.

Our listeners are anyone who loves TV and movies, literature, history, or any combination of the above! We get pretty literary and kind of academic quite a bit, and have frequent geek-out moments, but we also have a lot of fun and humor, and we'll always explain any deep, obscure literary or historical reference to connect it to the pop culture work we're discussing. We try to make the show accessible, but also substantial and intellectually stimulating. We are still a fairly new podcast, so we are really hoping to get some listener feedback that can help inform us of what and where the show should be exploring!


►Why & how did you start this podcast? 

Both Erin and I listen to a lot of podcasts, especially TV and film podcasts, like How Did This Get Made and The Bechdel Cast. Erin loves Comedy Bang! Bang! and I also love a lot of book podcasts, like Overdue and Annotated. I think we thought a podcast would be a great medium for the nature of what we wanted to discuss, because it invites collaboration and co-authorship much more naturally than, say, a longform article or blog. And audio appealed to us because we can just sit in my apartment in our sweats with no makeup and record while eating pizza!

Our goals for the show are first and foremost to just have fun, and to have a creative outlet for all the ideas and thoughts and feelings we have about our favorite works. We also want to share these thoughts and ideas with like-minded listeners, make people laugh, and hopefully give them something to think about, and new ways to explore and think about works that they love.

I first got the idea for the podcast in the late summer of 2017, and I kicked the idea around for about a year before telling Erin about it. She was immediately on board, as she had been thinking about podcasting for awhile but wasn't sure what she wanted to talk about. We also both hadn't wanted to do it alone. So we teamed up, I told her I wanted the first episode to be about Wonder Woman (as it was seeing that movie and thinking about it afterward that initially led me to the idea for the show), and she was on board with that, too. So we researched the technical aspects for a couple months, as well as compiling our script for that first episode, and then recorded our first episode in October of 2018. So it took a little over a year from when I first had that initial kernel of an idea, and then about two months once we decided we were actually going to do it.


►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?

We release an episode once a month. We both have day jobs, and Erin is currently in grad school, as well, plus this is a very content-rich and thoroughly researched show, so it takes us that long to really prepare and write the show script or show notes. We think it's earned, because the episodes are pretty long and very substantial, and I think also invite multiple listens.

We do both have day jobs, so our research and writing of the podcast is done on evenings and weekends, but it never feels like more work, because we love doing it. We are also close friends, so we get together fairly regularly even when we're not recording, and inevitably end up discussing our upcoming episode, which often sparks new ideas and avenues to follow. We feed off each other in that way.

Our show is completely self-funded. We use our laptops, free recording software, and, for now, a hand-me-down USB microphone, though we are looking into upgrading our equipment. So the show cost nothing to start up. We use a hosting service that was free for the first 90 days, though now we're paying $12 a month for that. And we pay about $6 a month for our website and domain. So all in all our costs are still very low. We haven't spent anything on marketing yet, as we've had pretty good word-of-mouth through friends and family and our own social media, though we are looking into the possibility.


►What do you gain from podcasting?        

We are open to sponsorship, but it would have to be the right fit. We are currently not making any revenue, and not necessarily trying to, though if the right opportunity came along, we would be open.

The benefits we've found through podcasting are first and foremost just pure enjoyment and excitement. It's very fulfilling and rewarding to put effort into something that you love and share your ideas with the world. It's also deepened our friendship. We've been good friends for years, but sharing this creative endeavor has only brought us closer together.


►How does your podcasting process look like? 

We use our laptops, the Audacity recording software, which has editing features, and a basic USB microphone (which as I said, we're planning to upgrade). We use Buzzsprout for hosting.

So far we have only had one guest on the show, and she was a friend of mine from college. We have another guest lined up for our next episode who is also a friend of ours. Our first guest we talked to via Skype.

Preparation basically looks like first re-watching whatever work we're discussing (or as much of it as we can if it's a long-running TV series), and then pulling out the themes and story arcs and character traits that we feel are reflective of classic literature works or historical/cultural references in some way. Then we research those ideas, find articles to back up those arguments, much as you would for writing an academic paper, and start to compile our script or show notes; it's kind of half-way between a full-fledged script and a bullet-point outline.


►How do you market your show?

Our hosting service distributes the show to Spotify, iTunes, and Google. The service also shows us referral and device stats, but they're slightly different for each episode. We also post each episode on SoundCloud.

Right now our marketing is just our personal social media accounts and a Facebook page, as well as a WordPress hosted blog where we post links to any articles or books we discuss.


►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?

We really started from scratch, with almost no knowledge or experience with audio recording and editing, so we learned as we went. Really simple things, like making sure you record in a place that doesn't have too many hard surfaces, or your audio will sound echo-y, sitting close to the microphone and and adjusting the settings in your recording software for the best volume and sound quality--that was something we didn't realize we could do for the first couple episodes!

An invaluable resource that I've found is the r/podcasting community on Reddit. You can post questions and a lot of fellow podcasters of varying degrees of expertise will help you out. Almost all articles and blogs I've read on the subject I've found through Reddit.


►Where can we learn more about you & your podcasts?

Our blog can be found at thepopdna.blog, and we post links there to resources we talk about in the show, as well as an embedded SoundCloud player and links to the episodes on other mediums. Facebook search Pop DNA Podcast. I also use my Instagram to post about the show, thebookishmermaid87. Send us email at [email protected].

Updated: 5 months ago