What Say Ye? Podcast | Buzz Blog

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What Say Ye? Podcast

Chatting with the hosts of the Provo-based interview podcast.

Posted By on September 29, 2016, 1:00 AM

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Interview podcasting in Utah went from being omnipresent just a few years ago to nearly non-existent, after several shows packed it in and others went off the rails. While podcasting in general is difficult to maintain, especially if you're going at it alone with no support or distribution beyond your own website, many learn it's even more of an uphill battle when you're trying to incorporate guests on a regular basis. But the What Say Ye? Podcast has launched with a focus on Utah County, interviewing movers and shakers in the local artistic community. Today we chat with the show's creators and co-hosts, Court Mann and Derrick Clements, about creating the podcast and where they intend to take the show. (All pictures provided courtesy of WSY?P.)

Court Mann & Derrick Clements
click to enlarge Mayor John Curtis episode - STEVEN WAGGONER
  • Steven Waggoner
  • Mayor John Curtis episode

Gavin: Hey guys! First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

I'm a features reporter for the Daily Herald, and have been doing that for three years now. I grew up in Oregon and came out here for college, graduated from BYU in journalism, and started working at the Herald not long after. I'm also bald and make really good mashed potatoes (no correlation).

Derrick: I'm newer to the Daily Herald, and I grew up in California. I had 40 billion majors in college before ultimately arriving at English, and I am also bald.

click to enlarge 24 Hour Albums - SPENSER HEAPS
  • Spenser Heaps
  • 24 Hour Albums

How did each of you become involved with writing and journalism?

I got a basketball magazine in my Christmas stocking when I was 10—a very progressive, very adult (see: cursing and ads with provocatively-dressed black women) basketball magazine that was not appropriate for a 10-year-old (thanks, Santa). The writing and overall layout was so bold, and so creative. I was hooked. From that point on, I was really into magazines and newspapers, and continued that with my high school newspaper. I told myself I'd pursue it in college until it didn't feel like the right thing anymore—and here I am.

Derrick: Journalism was actually my passion in high school (I've been told you should never refer to high school as if it were a legitimate part of your career, but it really did spark something in me), and then in college, it was the first thing I majored in. I ended up picking it up unofficially on my own through podcasting, which is how I first started interviewing creative people.

What eventually led both of you to working for the Daily Herald?

I got an email from one of my college professors about an opening at the Herald, so I applied right away. Glad it worked out.

Derrick: I was actually at Court's house one day (we're friends) and he mentioned that he wanted to start a podcast at the Herald interviewing cool Utah artists. I thought that sounded like a lot of fun, but I was teaching full-time at a treatment center high school, so I didn't think it would be possible. Weeks later, he let me know about an opening at the Herald, and I decided to leave my cushy teaching job and make the sacrifice to do something even more in line with what I've always wanted to do. I applied, and (with Court's good word) I got the job.

click to enlarge Tess Kelly - STEVEN WAGGONER
  • Steven Waggoner
  • Tess Kelly

So you knew each other prior to working at the Herald together?

We'd actually been in the same LDS ward a few years previous. I'd also interviewed Derrick about an awesome recurring storytelling show he organized called The Porch. I had also met him briefly in college when some students were getting together to revive the Student Review. Derrick doesn't remember me from this meeting, but I never forget a face.

How did the idea come about to start up a new podcast?

I had batted around the idea of a podcast for a little while. A few folks—including you, Gavin—had encouraged me to do one. I was hesitant, though. I truly hated the sound of my own voice, and doing a podcast seemed masochistic. The self-loathing is dissipating, gradually. Those familiar with my work at the Herald associate me most with music coverage, but I really didn't want to do a podcast just about Utah music. Most of the interesting factors that impact Utah's independent music scene also impact the other arts scenes—the music scene isn't in a vacuum. As well, I really didn't want to do the podcast by myself. It's more fun and way less stressful to have a co-host that you can riff off of. Derrick was already an established podcaster in his own right, and we had good chemistry, so it seemed like the ideal situation to make it happen.

Derrick: The idea for the show definitely came from Court, in his brilliant mind, but I was excited to come on board because I'm kind of obsessed with Utah in a way some have said might not be healthy. I just really believe in the diversity of perspectives and creative talents that exist here, and I was excited about the prospect of shining a light on some of those projects and people. Audio is also my first love: I enjoy writing for print, and it's easier (and harder) in some ways, but my heart is in a digital audio recorder, and I love the challenge of editing in audio. I had started making podcasts about Pixar (which I still do), and I learned some pro tips as an intern at Radiolab, and it has been fun incorporating some documentary aspects to our podcast as it has made sense to do so.

click to enlarge Justin Hackworth - SPENSER HEAPS
  • Spenser Heaps
  • Justin Hackworth

What made you decide to do it as a project outside of the paper rather than work with them?

Well, it's both part and not part of the Herald. A lot of the people we interview are folks we've made connections with through our work at the paper. The Herald also helps with promotion and hosts What Say Ye? episodes on their site. But Derrick and I self-produce it, and it's sort of independent in that way.

Derrick: It takes a lot of time outside our normal work at the Herald, but the Herald also has been excited to get into more digital spaces in their content, so they're happy we're doing it. In some ways it's an experimental show—we're copying the formats from our favorite shows, and we're open to taking the podcast to new places as Court and I come up with things we want to try.

What was it like gathering all the equipment needed? What do you currently use for your production?

Well, the process for gathering equipment was to say, "What equipment do we already have?" And... that's pretty much it. I had acquired a recorder and a few mics over the years of my own podcasting and freelance radio work. We use a pretty simple shotgun mic, an H4n Zoom recorder, and we edit in Reaper—which, by the way, every human being who podcasts should use. The industry standard is probably Pro Tools, which is a lot more expensive, and many of the bells and whistles of that program are designed for music engineering, so they go to waste on public radio people and podcasters. Team Reaper!!

Court: We'll gladly accept all equipment donations.

click to enlarge Mayor John Curtis - STEVEN WAGGONER
  • Steven Waggoner
  • Mayor John Curtis

Did you do any test episodes, or just dive in immediately?

Nope, we just dove right in. But we wanted it to be really strong from the get-go. Our first two episodes are among my favorites, actually. Derrick and I had talked shop enough times for me to know the right dynamic would exist, as long as we hosted dynamic guests.

What was the response like to your first few episodes?

We've gotten nice feedback from people so far. We're still figuring out how to get it out to a big audience—it was a little slow-going at first, but as we've interviewed a few more high profile people, we've found ourselves in a few more people's ears. We're really excited about the work we've done on the podcast so far, so when our day does come and more people find the show, they'll have a whole archive of stuff we're proud of for them to dig into. We like getting iTunes reviews, because they've been nice, but also because it really helps!

Court: Making each subset of Utah's arts community aware of us takes time. With each episode we've done so far, we've tried to introduce ourselves to those unique individual audiences, with the hope that they'll come on this ride with us.

Derrick: Personally, podcasts are totally ubiquitous in my personal universe, but we're finding it's a new medium for a lot of the paper's readers, so it's fun (and slow-going) to introduce them to that medium.

Court: That being said, a few of our episodes got way more plays/downloads than we had expected, which has been awesome.

click to enlarge 24 Hour Albums - SPENSER HEAPS
  • Spenser Heaps
  • 24 Hour Albums

How do you go about choosing the subjects for each episode?

We started by trading off who got to pick the guest. That's been shuffled as various opportunities arose, and certain people were available for interviews. We both have veto power, though—if only one of us is excited about a guest, then why do it?

Derrick: So far, it's been almost scary how on-the-same-page Court and I have been about who would be great guests and what we should do for the show (again, so far). That's kind of miraculous, because we're actually pretty different people, with some key things in common. It's a relationship like no other.

Court: You're making me blush, Derrick. I think our best episodes achieve a trifecta: (1) They feature a dynamic local person who's (2) doing some noteworthy and timely creative endeavor, and (3) can comment on the cultural dynamics that exist in Utah, and how those dynamics impact the noteworthy thing they're doing. That's our sweet spot.

What would you say separates you from other podcasts who do roughly the same kind of format?

Well, as far as we know we're the only podcast covering Utah County specifically, but from a formatting perspective, we're mostly structured like a regular interview show. That said, we're trying new things. As I mentioned, we've done some documentary stuff and plan to do more of that. We've also started to put out bonus mini-episodes, which we might continue to do, that are totally different.

click to enlarge Justin Hackworth - SPENSER HEAPS
  • Spenser Heaps
  • Justin Hackworth

What have been your favorite episodes so far and why?

My favorites have been episodes 2, 7 and 8—about musicians making entire albums in 24 hours, the girls who run the @ProvoGuysAmIRight, and self-proclaimed "Queen of Provo" C. Jane Kendrick, respectively. The nature of those interviews, the energy that was there, and the post-production we added, really made those episodes pretty dynamic. What say ye, Derrick?

Derrick: Nice, Court. Well, after meeting photographer Justin Hackworth for our first episode, my fiancee and I decided to hire him to photograph our upcoming wedding because we liked what he said so much in that episode (and we loved his photos). So that episode probably changed my life the most so far, with potential photos hanging on my future wall for generations to come.

Where do you hope to take the show down the road?

Honestly, I just want to keep finding interesting people to interview, who can give new insights about what it means to live in Utah, and Utah County specifically. We've got some stuff in the pipeline that'll be really illuminating for listeners.

Derrick: I would love to get to the point where we could give a What Say Ye? bump to artists that we find that are doing really terrific work. It'd be awesome if coming on our show would mean a really big boost for the artists.


Derrick: And also, I hope we will be open to shaping the show into something maybe neither of us can imagine right now. The evolution so far has been really organic, and I'd like that to continue.

Court: Derrick, is this "I hope we will be open" business a passive aggressive jab at me? I will fight you.

Derrick: I am open to fighting you.

Court: I hope you will be.

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