Greetings, all! My name is Josh (yes, that Josh), and I have the distinct pleasure of hosting the Overrated/Underrated podcast with my ex, Renata. And I also edit said podcast. And I also edit this blog. And I also- you know what? Let’s just call me a “frequent collaborator” and move on.
Not too long ago, Renata told me that she had written a post about some of the recent “behind the scenes” difficulties we’d encountered with our podcast, and I was pretty excited. Then she said the words that have invariably come to signal more work on my part: “Hey! You know what would be fun?” Long story short, we decided that it would be interesting to have me do a follow-up post wherein I detailed my thoughts on the situation.
First things first, I have wanted to do a podcast for a very long time. Between my unnatural love of audio editing and my tendency to ramble endlessly about my favorite topics, it seemed like a no-brainer. From the start, though, I’d envisioned doing a more discussion based podcast with a co-host and occasional guests. While this is partly a function of worrying that people won’t want to listen to me just talking to myself for 30 minutes, it mostly plays into how I have always felt that the best moments in the geek and gamer community come from the unscripted discourse between people who are passionate about the same subject.
Oh, yeah, I should probably mention that my original intent had been to start a geek-culture podcast with my long-time gaming buddy TeknoMonkey (an effort that came to fruition a little over a week ago with the launch of our Toasted Muffin Geekery podcast). Conflicting schedules and massive workloads caused us to shelve that plan indefinitely, though. I was on the phone with Renata after yet another failed attempt at launching the project, and I lamented that I just really wanted to do a podcast, even if it wasn’t the one I’d initially conceived. Renata, in one of her many moments of wisdom, suggested that we should do a project together.
It was a simple statement, and I’m honestly ashamed I hadn’t thought of it myself. I mean, Renata and I dated for about two years, and even our eventual breakup wasn’t enough to damage the solid relationship we’d formed with each other. We talked (and still do) nearly every day, and we rely on each other for so many things. We’re both passionate and love to over-analyze pointless shit, we both have strong personalities that play well off each other, and we both respect each other as intellectual peers. It was the perfect combination. I was thrilled! I also had absolutely no clue what the format of our show should be.
Given my recent attempts and starting a geek-culture podcast, my mind was still stuck on that idea. Renata and I tossed various concepts around for a couple of weeks, but nothing really clicked. Finally, one night during another of our usual phone calls, we were ribbing each other for our thoughts in favor of/against some random topic that had made its way into the conversation. As our laughter subsided, Renata, once again, came to the rescue.
“Why don’t we just do this on our podcast?” And thus, Overrated/Underrated was born.
The plan was simple: I’d handle the recording/editing/logo design/etc., and Renata would flesh out the idea (“two exes pitch surprise topics to each other and then argue about them”) and pitch it to her friend/business acquaintance, Jess, who was trying to launch a new podcast network and was seeking content for it. Everything fell into place quite easily, and our show launched as one of the Be The Voice Podcast Network’s flagship offerings on November 1st, 2019.
It was a great feeling to be able to work on such a fun project with someone to whom I feel so strongly connected. Our recording sessions continued, and the show was going great. We were both having fun, and, despite a few difficulties on my end adhering to the “surprise topic” aspect (I definitely feel more comfortable researching talking points ahead of time), it felt like nothing could stop us.
While things had started strong, I had begun to notice little things here and there that worried me. I was still having a blast recording and editing, but Renata didn’t seem to be matching that energy. She’d started to prioritize other activities over recording, and she would sometimes seem distant the longer our sessions would go. I would try to ask her if everything was okay, and she assured me that it was. She simply chalked it up to a recent bout of depression (yet another thing that she and I share), and I left it at that.
Shortly after recording our Holiday Traditions two-parter, though, I decided I needed to speak up and press for answers. I told Renata that I was concerned because, while this project was extremely important to me, it seemed like she was not nearly as committed to it. What followed was a long and difficult, but ultimately worthwhile, conversation.
It turns out she wasn’t happy with the way the show was going. The “surprise topic” format was causing a lot of undo stress as improvisation is not her strong-suit. Additionally, she felt that she was underrepresented on the show and that I was interrupting her and cutting her off far too frequently. She was also frustrated by our Sunday recording schedule, as this was putting additional workload on her on a day she preferred to keep light so that she could mentally prepare for the work-week. Worst of all, she felt guilty because, while she knew the project was important to me, she didn’t see a way to resolve the problems that were threatening it.
I was flabbergasted. I’d known something was amiss, but I hadn’t been prepared for all that. I assured her that we would be able to work on things and make them better, and I let her know that her well being and state of mind are even more important to me than the podcast. Then it was finally my turn to have the brilliant yet obvious thought.
“If some aspects of the podcast aren’t working, then let’s change them,” I said.
“Can we do that?”
“Of course we can. It’s our show!”
And, just like that, we went from lamenting the problems to finding solutions. The first thing to go was the “surprise topics” format, which I confessed I’d been struggling with, too. We established a process where we pick the episode’s theme and have a phone call prior to recording (which would now happen on Tuesday nights) where we discuss the possible topics and come up with a shared list we can both pull from. We still don’t know who will pick which topics in which order, but neither of us has to feel blindsided by a topic we’re not familiar with.
On top of that, I acknowledged that I do have a tendency to interrupt people quite frequently, though I will claim a bit of “cultural conditioning” here. Being part of a Portuguese family from New England, interrupting is simply a way of life. My mother, and indeed her entire family, seem blessed with an uncanny ability to talk for hours on end without ever needing to pause for a breath. The only way to get a word in edgewise growing up was to be faster and louder than everyone else. In hindsight, it’s fairly obvious that this is not an effective form of communication, so I assured Renata that I would redouble my efforts to work on this part of myself. For her part, she also agreed to be more present in the moment during recording and to call me out on it if I begin to step on her during the conversation.
I’m happy to report that all of these changes seem to be going well, and we’ve had more fun than ever recording new episodes. I’m sure that, as we progress, new issues will pop up from time to time, but I am now confident that my co-host and have both the commitment and communication skills to handle anything that may come our way.
You can find Renata’s post about cohosting a podcast by clicking here!