This week the PodUK team sat down to chat about why we love podcasting fandom communities, our fandom backgrounds and why we love being fans ourselves. Have a read below!
Jess: Podcast communities are fantastic. I feel like YouTubers have their own communities, TV shows have their own communities, and now podcast communities are becoming a thing - and they're very good.
Liss: I've found friends in these podcasting communities, even if I had to be dragged into them..!
J: I get it - online communities are made up of a lot of introverts, and that's in no way a bad thing; introverts have some of the most creative energy of anyone, I think, which really shows when you bring a lot of them together into one safe space, where something amazing happens.
L: I feel like out of every other community I've been in, podcast communities are the ones I've felt most at home with. Everyone's got their own interests, their own podcast type they like, like murder mysteries, or D&D, and everyone enjoys podcasting as a medium. It's nice and chilled, which I like.
Chris: One of the best aspects of podcast communities is that there are podcasts about everything, and everyone who's interested in those podcasts is a bit of a nerd about that thing, but also has the connection of liking podcasts. Everyone comes together under one roof.
Bret: Everyone's got base level nerd in common! And then you get nerd specialisations.
C: You get a huge variety of different people, as well; academics, creatives.. it's a really diverse community.
J: Podcasts are a very quiet medium - you're sitting in a room, often alone, with headphones on, listening to someone speaking into your ear. It's a very personal experience. You feel like you make friends with these people that you're listening to - not in a weird way... maybe a weird way, but especially if you're on your own, a bit bored, it's so easy to put on a podcast and feel like you're with friends.
C: I love putting on a podcast while I'm driving; I'm alone in a van for five hours a day, it's nice to have someone talk to me while I'm driving.
J: But... do you end up speaking back to them?
C: Occasionally I've come up with jokes.. they don't respond!
J: On the flipside, though, that personal quietness can lead to something.. loud. It's led to PodUK!
C: Shall we explain where we come from?
J: Well, we're all huge McElroy brother fans - let's just put that out there.
B: We've been skirting around it, we should probably just embrace it.
J: It's the truth, I admit it. They've nurtured a community of very kind, understanding people, and people who are fun to talk to! Because of that community, I've made a bunch of friends, you guys have.. it's been very inspiring.
L: That's the honest answer. I came into the McElroy family of products at a time when I was really low, and they made me laugh so much. From there I fell in with the community. It's really great seeing how many people have been inspired by them. They're inspired me to make friends and talk to people about podcasts. They attract the right sort of people.
J: It's worth mentioning, too, that while we're obviously fans of those particular podcasters, there are so many podcasters that have fostered these amazing communities. In D&D you've got Critical Role, there's Welcome to Night Vale, Bright Sessions, NoSleep.. from my perspective, it felt like there wasn't enough celebration of them going on in the UK. In the real world.
B: There are lots of events about being creators, but there isn't a place in the UK to just sit and be a fan; be around other people who enjoy these very personal mediums., Even if one of you likes murder mysteries and another likes D&D podcasts, you can still get along because you're probably very similar people.
J: That deserves to have its own space. That's essentially the inspiration for PodUK, the people we've met through these communities.
C: We should also mention - Jess set up the first Adventure Zone meet up, of these McElroy fans, just over a year ago, and we realised... it's actually quite cool meeting up with people who have the same interests as you!!
J: Yeah, and this ties into what I was saying earlier, in that that I'm well aware there are a lot of people out there with social anxiety, which makes it difficult for them to go and socialise, to make new friends - I used to have pretty severe social anxiety, so I know how it feels, so I'm really proud of the people who pushed past that and came to the meet! Really! The community that's been built just through that is so wonderful.
I hope that through PodUK we can help people who maybe don't feel as able to go out and meet others, to make that step, to come and make friends - it can be life changing! The reason I got into conventions in the first place is because I was into Supernatural, and through those conventions it started the whole journey. I made so many friends, which lead to me wanting to make my own conventions... but in the end, the people I've met are the reason I've been able to do all this. They're the best bit about it, bar none. I wouldn't be able to do any of this without these guys. It's the truth! Imagine if I'd created the meetup last August and nobody turned up. Things would be very different.
L: Social anxiety made me lurk on the Facebook group, but then I got dragged into socialising, and now here I am! But it's so nice being able to hang out with people and talk to people who are into the same thing as you, and understand references. Nobody else understands my podcast references!
B: That's why everyone in my household had required viewing of every McElroy animatic on Youtube!
L: It makes a world of difference knowing I can crack a joke with anyone in our community and that they'll understand and laugh. It's great, I can't do that anywhere else.
J: By the way, what do you guys think of the D&D and podcasting phenomena?
B: It's normalising D&D - people used to get beat up for playing it because they were nerds, but by this point, it's almost cool! The more 'indie' podcasts are being normalised, which is great.
L: I wouldn't listen to podcasts if it wasn't for tabletop game podcasts, actual play ones - that's what dragged me in, because I love storytelling. Tabletop games are a fantastic space for that. Now I listen to a bunch of different podcasts which I wouldn't have found had I not been recommended this one D&D podcast. It means that more people can get involved in podcasting communities and find things they love. Why wouldn't you want to be consuming more media that suits your interests?
J: Storytelling fosters community, is the thing here. One of the things we want to emphasise at PodUK is that there is a huge fanbase for these things now. Just look at the cosplays for podcasts!
L: They're all so good, I envy them. I wish I could do anything without making it look like I've made it out of tin foil and a colander...!
B: Even podcast cosplays are more personal, because you're making your own interpretation of a character which is only audio and in a lot of cases aren't physically described.
C: At comic cons, if you see a Spiderman cosplay, they're going to look 90% the same, but if you go to a podcast convention - like ours..! ;), there will be people in costume for the same character who look completely different because they all have different interpretations.
J: And every interpretation is valid.
B: I don't think there's a podcast that's come out and said 'no, this character looks like this!'
J: Everyone is open to their own interpretation and everyone's interpretation is valid, and that's another thing that makes these communities so wonderful to be in.
PodUK tickets are available from www.podcastconvention.uk. Early bird tickets are still available! Guests so far include NoSleep, We Fix Space Junk, Podcraft and A Scottish Podcast, with more to come!