it comes to broadcasting, the majority of talk radio... sucks. It's
true. A show that doesn't come with a political agenda, tired old
syndicated bits to fill for time, or wacky hosts and numerous sound
effects are far and few between. Which is why a good portion of people
who would have aspired to get into broadcasting a decade ago have now
started to make their way into the still relatively new medium of
podcasting. One of the longest running podcasts around, The Mediocre
Show has been aiming for the middle of the road since the fall of 2005
and has managed to become a successful staple to the new media.
--- With alpha-dog host Eric Tomorrow at the technical helm, the moped riding ginger co-host Taylor Ramsauer, and his replacement band-aid co-host for the past year Matt Kittensparks, they've gained an audience via only word of mouth and watched it grow into a success over the course of almost three years. And with Salt Lake City recently becoming a hotspot for listeners, the show is proving to be a nationwide success with more to come down the road. Not bad for a fake radio show out of Philadelphia. I got a chance to chat with Eric and Taylor over a couple of days about the show, while Matt was too busy answering listener texts. But hey, would you expect anything less than a mediocre effort from them?
Gavin: Hey Eric. First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Eric: Eric Tomorrow, 30 year old audio engineer/screenprinter/photographer/adventurist from the Philadelphia area.
Taylor: Hey, I’m Taylor. I’m a good listener, and I like long walks on the beach and delicious candy. Anyway, I’m currently guitar teching and touring with band. Right now, I’m with 36CrazyFists, and I’m heading back out with Napalm Death in a few months. I love music, I love photography, and I’m obsessed with traveling and seeing as many places as I can.
Gavin: Originally Eric and Matt, you both met in school. How long have you known each other, and did you do anything entertainment-wise together before the podcast?
I have known Matt since 6th grade, which is all together too long. We
have been in several bands together from out first "band" Elephant
Chain right around 6th grade, all the way to the wildly popular (okay,
maybe that's not true) Wanker.
Taylor: I totally have a boner.
Gavin: How did you guys meet Taylor and what was that like becoming friends with him?
I met Taylor, several years ago, in a car club that he started that
focused on water cooled VW's (Rabbits, GTI's, Sciroccos, that sort of
thing). I think Matt has only met Taylor a handful of times actually.
Taylor: I met Eric originally when he took over the reigns of East Coast President of a car club that I started. Love bloomed, and the rest is history. I didn’t meet Matt until he was a guest on one of our shows.
Gavin: What initially got you interested in starting a podcast?
Truthfully, when podcasts first showed up in iTunes, I was looking
around for a name I knew, I came across a podcast by Kevin Seconds
(from the band 7 Seconds) and it was just him driving around in his car
talking about his coffee shop, and his day to day life. and that got me
thinking "if people like me will listen to something like this, why
wouldn't people listen to me talk?", And then I kept doing it for going
on 3 years now.
Taylor: Eric asked me to be a guest on Episode 3, then our friends said I should stay on as the co-host. I did, and it was one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made. Wait, can I say that?
Gavin: How long did it take you to get everything together for the Mediocre Show, and what were the first few episodes like for you Eric?
Eric: I recorded 2 first episodes by myself, one never left my hard drive, and the second took at least triple the time to edit out all the "umms" these were just me, by myself, talking about god knows what for 30 minutes or so. I still have no idea why people listened again after that. It then took me a couple weeks to figure out how to create an RSS feed. After that first one, I sent Taylor (who was living in Portland) a link to it, and asked him to do it with me, knowing that there was no way I could continue on by myself. the first few were rocky to say the least, but I feel like we have grown into it.
Gavin: What brought the decision to bring Taylor on board?
I needed someone to talk to, it felt really awkward just talking into a
mic by myself. Knowing Taylor was an interesting guy I thought people
might like to hear what he had to say.
Gavin: In those early episodes, did you ever think about giving it up, or were you determined to make it work?
Taylor: In the early ones, I don’t think either Eric or I took it seriously enough to think about quitting. However, we also didn’t care about being on time or being consistent.
Eric: I sure did. In fact I still do. In the early days, there wasn't much listener interaction, so it kinda felt like shouting into an abyss. We knew we were talking, we just didn't know if people cared. Now we have a bunch of interaction with the listeners, via live call in, voice mails, emails, the forums. So we actually feel like there is someone on the other end.
Gavin: What brought about the classic ideas of Cable Dating and Top 5?
Taylor: Cable dating was just because Eric found the classic Computer Backgammon kid while nerding out on his On Demand and it kind of snowballed from there. I honestly can’t remember where the Top 5 came from, but we had some pretty damn amazing ones. Some of them made both of us laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe, as we never told each other what our answers were.
Eric: Top 5 isn't really much of a groundbreaking idea, I am a big movie fan, and in the film "High Fidelity" Cusak and Jack Black are always making Top 5 lists, I think sometimes a Top 5 list can be funny, sometimes it's really not, but we plod through them either way. Cable dating was brought on by my boredom one evening, looking around at the on demand programming, and there was a video dating section, as I started watching some of these i realized they were brilliant unintentional comedy.
Gavin: When and why did you guys finally decide to do a comment line, and how did it work out from setup to the first time you used it?
Eric: I think the comment line was in the episode 15-20 range, and we thought it would be a great way to hear from our listeners, who had started emailing us, if we have learned anything about listeners, it's that they are fairly lazy, give them a super easy way to get in contact with you, and they'll use it, they aren't always sitting by a computer to email you.
Taylor: Actually, it was really easy. We signed up on K7.net, and it was super easy. Getting people to start calling was another animal altogether. It took for-fucking-ever for people to not be such wusses and actually call in, but when they did it was incredible. We really found out how bats#!% insane our listeners were.
Gavin: How did Trucker Buddy come into the picture, and what was your reaction to his messages?
He was just a lonely trucker that decided to call in a poem he had
written, that was insanely vulgar, so of course we loved the guy right
off the bat, even if we were a little bit scared.
Taylor: He called in two calls, one about his hemhorroid, and one crazy ass poem. We were both absolutely shocked at the insanity of them, but impressed at the thought and quality that was put into them.
Gavin: As you progressed, you brought in more listener participation like Love/Hate and Confessions. Did you ever feel like those were gimmicks to eat up time, or were you always confident that they helped the show?
Taylor: We did it mainly to get people to call in more often, and boost listener participation. But mainly, it’s so we had fodder to make fun of our listeners. Actually, that became the whole goal of the show after a while. Berating people is always fun.
Eric: The best part of being independent is we don't have to follow any time guidelines, so if we wanted to do a 20 minute show we could. So there is not any need to fill time, however, it's nice to have the listeners make the content for us sometimes.
Gavin: Down the road Taylor moved back to Oregon, what was it like running the show via Skype with you both on opposite sides of the country?
That was how the show started, me in Philly, Taylor in Portland via
Skype. having a remote host is not an easy task, there is a slight
delay in the audio feeding back to the remote host, so his responses
were always a little late. also, it was kinda hard to slap him from
across the country.
Taylor: I lived in Oregon originally, and moved to Philly somewhere in the 40's, so we already had the Skype situation on lockdown. It wasn’t a big deal to go back to it, but I still feel that the episodes from when we were in the same room eclipse all the Skype shows. Jokes aren’t as funny when your voice cuts out halfway through them.
Gavin: Eventually you brought Matt into the picture, first as a guest and then as a host. What was the audience reaction to him being on the show?
On April Fools Day 2007 we played a joke where Taylor quit on the air,
and I called Matt to ask him to co-host the show. and we kept that joke
up for three weeks before we let back on that Taylor didn't actually
quit. Then in October when Taylor actually did quit, everyone thought
it was a joke again. So it took them several weeks to accept the fact
that Matt really was the new co-host. We still get angry calls about
Matt taking over for Taylor.
Taylor: We had him as a guest a couple times because he’s a funny motherfucker, but the decision to make him the cohost came about because I was taking a job that didn’t present many opportunities to be on Skype for 2 hours straight.
Gavin: What brought about the decision for Taylor to leave, and what was the reaction to his departure from both Eric and Matt, as well as the audience?
Taylor started a new career as a guitar tech for some metal bands,
putting him on the road 11 months out of the year. myself, I am proud
of him and what he is doing, I miss him on the show, but he is doing
what he loves, and how could I hold that against him? I think mostly
the listeners feel the same way, but I could be wrong. Matt is a bit
more brash than Taylor has ever been, so I think it took everyone a bit
of time to get used to his sarcasm.
Taylor: I took a job as a Guitar Tech for a band called In This Moment, on their Megadeth and Ozzy Osbourne tours. I never had time to be on the show, so I had to quit. I’m still pretty bummed out that I can’t be a full part of the show any more, but I wouldn’t trade my job for anything at this point. Now that I work for Napalm Death and 36CF, life is pretty peachy. I’m actually writing this in Knoxville, TN in the living room of our good friends Straight Line Stitch, while they’re all watching Grandma’s Boy next to me.
think it's fair to say that Matt is more abusive to the callers. Do you
think that scares people off, or encourages people to call in more?
Taylor: All I know is that when Eric and I got mean, people called in more.
Eric: As far as I can tell, it scares people off, our calls have decreased a bit since Matt got here. But it kinda prunes out the weak callers.
Gavin: What was it like for you both when Matt revealed he got engaged on the show?
Eric: I'm still kinda pissed off. I'm happy for him and all, but damn, that was a brutal way to tell me.
Taylor: I found out through a text message. I’m super stoked for him.
Gavin: What brought about the idea of the Six Pack music shows, and what does the audience think of them?
Matt and I have always been into the music scene, and music is a big
part of both of our lives, so we thought we'd share some indie music
with the listeners. So far the reaction has been totally positive.
Taylor: All I know is I enjoyed creating mine greatly, and when I have time I’ll be doing more.
Gavin: How did the idea of Lightning Round come about for you guys?
I think Matt just mentioned it three minutes before the show one night,
and we figured we would give it a try. It seems to be a runaway hit.
Gavin: Okay, generic questions. What's the media reaction been to the show over the years?
The media reaction has been slow, Maxim Magazine did a piece on us in
Feburary 2006, that has really been the most exposure we have gotten.
Gavin: Has Philadelphia embraced the show as part of it's scene and culture, or are you kind of ignored by the general public?
As a whole, I don't think people in Philadelphia care about us (or
anything in general). But we have caught a local morning show stealing
our bits and exact phrases we use. So it seems they know we are here,
but refuse to admit it.
Taylor: I would say we were (and this is just from me) largely ignored by the public. At least when I was part of the show, we catered to more… how would I put it… computer savvy people? And I’m not saying nerds or anything, just people that know how to use an iPod and all that. Honestly, there’s a large cross-section of people out there that still have no clue what an mp3 is.
Gavin: A little nation-wide, what are your thoughts on the current state of podcasting, both good and bad?
Podcasting is a bit of a double edged sword, anyone with a microphone
and a computer can do a podcast. So while that is cool, it also means
the podcast directories are filled with shows that are completely
unlistenable. So a listener has to wade through 37,000 podcasts with a
dude talking about World Of Warcraft and Harry Potter into an Xbox
headset mic before they find a show that spends time and money trying
to put together a quality program.
Taylor: The “market” (and that is a term I use very loosely) is so oversaturated with complete garbage, it’s hard for anyone that has a legitimately good show to get recognition. They all get lost in the static of people with shitty recording quality and nothing to say. It’s sad, but that’s how the cookie crumbles.
Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?
Taylor: It’s already way too big, and there’s no way to weed out the shit. I mean, if you have a mic and and an internet connection, you can make a podcast. Granted, 9 out of 10 people put out the most revoltingly awful crap out there, but there’s no way to slap them on the wrist and tell them no.
Eric: As far as I call tell, all we can do is keep trying to improve the show and get it in front of as many people as possible.
Gavin: What would you say are you most favorite podcasts out today?
Eric: i can't rank them, but I can tell you the ones I don't miss every week. The Awful Show, Vomitus Prime, FrankWit, The South Philly Paulcast, PuckerTime, and The Geek Show.
Taylor: "Uhh Yeah Dude" is the only podcast I listen to any more.
Gavin: What's been your most favorite segment on the show in it's entire time?
Eric: I really loved Cable Dating. It's been hard to find funny ones recently since Comcast changed the categories.
Taylor: My absolute favorite is still the Top 5, but only during the first few weeks of it’s tenure. When we still cracked eachother up with every answer.
Gavin: What do you think about the idea that terms like Honey-Baked Baby, Seguue and Seatard have become a part of podcast culture, and even earned a place in urban dictionaries?
I like that we have made some sort of impact on pop culture and the
podcasting industry, in some way it pleases me that we have ruined the
minds of America's youth.
Taylor: I’m just happy to say all the ones you mentioned came from me.
Gavin: If you had to pick one, who would you say is your favorite caller of all time from the Mediocre Nation?
Taylor: Trucker Buddy for sure. Not only was he hilarious, but I’ve actually kept up a rapport with him, and he’s an amazing person.
Eric: It's hard to pick one from the three years we have been doing the show. But I must say the Salt Lake City callers have been bringing the heat recently.
Gavin: Would you ever want to take the show on radio now, or are you afraid it would be censored and marketed heavily?
Taylor: I think Eric would share my opinion on this one, and that is “Hell Yes.”
Eric: If I could get paid to do the show every day (instead of hemorrhaging money as it is), I would be willing to be censored a bit. We appeal to a small niche right now, and for a station to pick us up, we'd need to appeal to a broader audience, and I understand that. But, I think we have a formula that works pretty well, and it would just take a bit of fine tuning to get there.
Gavin: You've done the podcast for almost three years now. Where do you think the show is headed, and what do you believe is the ultimate goal of it now?
Eric: The goal has always been to take the show commercial, I have never kept that secret. Getting paid to talk to people every day would be amazing, that doesn't mean we'll give up if that doesn't happen, we still enjoy doing the show, and we'll keep doing it as long as it's fun.
Taylor: I’m just happy it’s still going, to be honest. So many people are batshit insane for the boys, it’s crazy… I’m just happy I was a part of it for what, almost two years? Jesus, what has my life come to?
Gavin: What can we expect from you guys the rest of the year?
Eric: We have some new segments in the works, that we'll be breaking out soon, as well as some more videos.
Taylor: Uhhh.. I’m doing a world tour with 36CF, then another with Napalm Death. Come see me!
Gavin: Anything you'd like to plug or promote while you're here?
Eric: Just MediocreShow.com if anyone needs any custom screenprinting done they can get in touch with me as well.
Taylor: Buy 36Crazyfists’ new album, “The Tide And It’s Takers,” and pick up the new Napalm Death album when it drops. That way the bands can pay me more!