The Musical Comedy Podcast Defining A Genre

Tom Rockwell
April 11, 2018 - "Production matters. You don't have to go into a studio, but it needs to sound like you did. Learn to talk on a mic."
Since 2005

►Tell us about you and your podcast

My name is Tom Rockwell. I do comedy-rap under the name Devo Spice. I was inspired to do a show by a couple of friends who had ShoutCast shows in the early 2000s but they never had more than a dozen or so listeners, so it never seemed worth it to me. Then in late 2004 a friend started a podcast and mentioned that he had gotten 10,000 downloads. I decided to look into it and in March of 2005 I launched Manic Mondays.

Manic Mondays is a short, weekly comedy podcast designed to give you something to look forward to on Monday mornings; something to help take the sting off of going back to work. I usually play 3 comedy songs, do a weekly segment called News of the Stupid, and occasionally throw in other segments as time and material permits. I do things like Horrible Movie Reviews where I review some new, terrible movie, Impossible Interviews where I interview a fictional character, or sometimes real interviews with comedy-musicians such as Paul and Storm.


►Why & how did you start this podcast? 

Being a comedian I am always looking for new outlets for comedy. I hosted a comedy show on my college radio station in the late 90s but that ended when I moved to New Jersey. I originally thought doing a show would help me market my own comedy music because I'm not really very good at marketing. However, that backfired, as once the show started I not only had to market my comedy music but also now my podcast.

The first episode was an all-day affair. It took me 12 hours to write, record, edit, and post my first episode. I knew I wouldn't be able to do that every week so I spent some time working on ways to shorten that process. Now it takes me about 2 hours to write and record each show, and I have a friend edit and post it for me each week.


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

This podcast, like pretty much everything I do, is self-funded. I originally had delusions of being able to grow the podcast big enough that I could accept advertising, and while I have a couple thousand listeners, no ad networks have come knocking at my door. It wasn't until Patreon came along that I started making any money with the show. Now, thanks to Patreon, I make enough to treat my family to McDonald's once a month!


►What do you gain from podcasting?        

I have made a lot of new fans and friends through my podcast, including other podcasters, authors, and other generally awesome people. It's become a networking tool for me, which is another thing I'm not really good at.

I do have a sponsorship level on my Patreon but as yet no one has taken me up on it.


►How does your podcasting process look like? 

Throughout the week I keep an eye open for any new comedy songs that come along. If an established comedy artist has a new album out I will sometimes profile the album and play a song. I also keep my eyes open for news stories I can report on News of the Stupid, although many listeners like to send in stories as they find them as well, which makes my job easier. Once all that is compiled I write a script, try to throw in a few jokes or other comedy bits wherever I can, and record it.

These days I record using Amadeus Pro for the Mac in my home studio (aka basement). I just record the segments, gather the songs and whatever promo I want to play that week, and send it off to my editor.

When I have to edit the show myself I have a template set up in Logic Pro with the background music filled in. I just need to put in my segments and the songs, move things around so they align properly, and then post it.

In the beginning I hand-coded my RSS feed. I quickly discovered how much that sucked and found a tool that generated one automatically. However, that was limited, so eventually I wrote my own custom PHP script which generates the RSS feed based on what's in the database. I also wrote a proprietary CMS for this show and a couple others I'm involved in. Because why use off-the-shelf tools when you can reinvent the wheel, amirite?


►How do you market your show?

These days I pretty much don't, which is something I have to change. As I said I suck at marketing. At this point I just rely on word-of-mouth and hope enough people stumble onto it who may like it.


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

Production matters. You don't have to go into a studio, but it needs to sound like you did. Learn to talk on a mic. Background music and bumpers go a long way, but avoid the "morning zoo" wacky sound effects stuff. (Unless that's the point of your show) If a new listener turns on your show, hears a bunch of background noise, you fumbling with the mic, and then mumbling and muttering they are not going to listen for long.

As for content, pick a niche that you are good at and fill it. It's OK if there are other shows out there already working that angle. There's room for everybody. Just try to be unique.


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

Updated: a year ago