In 2007 the then-editor of the Independent newspaper claimed that “no one listens to podcasts“. Yeesh. Nine short years later the Independent is no longer a newspaper and podcasts are as much a part of our lives as box-set binges and the indignity of paying 5p for a bag at the supermarket. They are our companions during dreary commutes, the things that keep us going while waiting on delayed flights, and the calming voices that help us drift off to sleep.
You might have even fancied doing one yourself. Why not? You’d be great at it. You, Cheeky Dave, Ash the Bash, all of you just letting the banter flow. It would be solid gold, mate. Solid audio gold.
Except it wouldn’t. It would be three boozy up men doing Borat impressions and making mean jokes about Jamie Vardy’s chin. Which is why we went for a Camden beer with the guys from smash hit The Football Ramble to find out what the formula is for a successful podcast. After all, in just a few years they went from no-name obscurity to iTunes-topping, live-touring dominance, raved about by people like clever-clogs media magus Dave Hepworth.
“The truth couldn’t be further away from the almost folksy impression we want to give,” says host Luke Moore (dominant, scathing). “We want it to feel like four mates who turn up, turn the mics on and speak for an hour. I’m pretty sure some of the listeners think we live in a big house together.”
The reality, of course, is that it’s loads of work. Hearing about how something is “loads of work” isn’t that entertaining however, so we won’t go into it.
“It’s such a passive medium,” says co-host Pete Donaldson (effusive, impish). “We’re in the listeners’ heads, talking to them. That’s what makes a podcast special. I’ve done loads of commercial radio but it’s The Football Ramble listeners that stop me in the street at 2am and greet me like an old friend.”
That’s the thing, isn’t it? Men really, really love having mates. But occasionally – and we might not admit it – our mates aren’t quite as funny or as loyal as we’d like them to be. Having a secret audio stash of accepting and reliable podcast buddies to drop in on can be quite the antidote to the topsy-turvy stresses of modern life.
“Podcasts operate as a comfort blanket for a lot of people,” agrees co-host Jim Campbell (wry, passive). “There’s a warmth there. It needs to feel like a conversation between friends – one that you’re invited to.”
“Their real friends can’t love them like we can,” adds Luke. “We love them wholly.”
All the guys also stress the importance of making your podcast “about” something. Something specific. Something you can talk about confidently. Something that’s always, always at the centre of everything.
“That’s why (Richard) Keys and (Andy) Gray went mentally ill,” adds Pete. “They thought they were bigger than football and that people were tuning in for them.”
When we ask about where the appeal to broadcast yourself comes from, Luke gives a surprisingly profound answer: “A lot of kids – I know I did – used to pretend to make radio shows on tape decks. There’s something so important about hearing your own voice played back to you at that age. It gives you a sense of your own self. For the first time you’re outside of yourself, hearing yourself from a distance, and thinking ‘so… that’s actually who I am.'”
We heartily recommend the Football Ramble’s Euro 2016 Preview Show
An international festival of light
Dinner in a decommissioned 1967 underground carriage
Half-price brunch and a HUGE fried chicken burger