Greetings adventurers! It's time for another exploration in podcasting. Today we find ourselves in the Twin Cities! Minnesota! The chef's toque on the titanic and terrifying baker that makes the Midwest. Home to Paul Bunyan and Babe, his ox of a different color.
The Twin Cities is also home to Aric McKeown, one half of the men behind the curtain at Noise Picnic, a brand new podcast network. I spoke with Aric about his network, his podcasts, Better Strangers and The Mustache Rangers, and how you – yes, you - can join Noise Picnic.
MEL PAYNE: You have joined the ranks of Chris Hardwick, Jeff Ulrich & Scott Aukerman, Jesse Thorn --
ARIC MCKEOWN: Yeah, I don't know if “ranks” is the right word...
MP: When people start listing podcast network moguls, you will be somewhere on that list.
AM: Yeah, mogul is a great word... I agree! Continue.
MP: So, you've started a new network called Noise Picnic. Was there a particular reason why you wanted to start a network? Why not just do your own thing?
AM: Well, I've been doing my own thing for a few years now with The Mustache Rangers podcast. Then I started the Better Strangers podcast, and then I had a friend who just started up his own podcast and I thought, "Wait a second... This is two people, three podcasts. This could be the start of something." We're in the improv community here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and there's so many talented people in that community that if they were just able to put their stuff online they could reach a much wider audience. And I'm not saying, "I know how to get numbers!" I've, you know...I don't. But! It seems like a group is almost a better way to build a community; taking an improv community and moving it online. And not just improv. There's a lot of independent art up here. And just giving them the tools and the knowledge - again, I've been doing this for...three years? Fours years? Something like that.
AM: Ages! I've gained knowledge on how to make things sound okay, how to, maybe, edit things sharper. Experience to help get people off to the right start, and making my minimal amount of audio equipment here available to people to create their own stuff.
MP: Oh, that's great! So you're opening up and giving people a venue to perform on?
AM: Yeah, a venue and the tools they need, you know, people think podcasting isn't really that hard. You can get a cheap-ass boom-mic which we got from Target. The sound was terrible, so it's like training wheels. You can get going for a minimal amount of effort but just having everything already there available to you just seems so much easier.
MP: Yeah. It would really help nourish a little bud into a beautiful, blossoming flower!
AM: Right. And like, "don't make these mistakes, because we did. So just skip past that part." So, knowledge. Knowledge would be a nice thing to pass on. A lot of friends are just smart, witty, talented, and successful in other parts of performing that spreading it out so the country could understand and hear what's going on here.
MP: With the internet being the tool that it is now, you're not just localized. You don't necessarily have to be a big fish in a little pond.
AM: It's really Jeff Ullrich's fault. From listening to Wolf Den, I think he recommended Tribes by Seth Godin, which is all about being a leader, taking the reins and leading a group of people to success. Being that go-to person. I picked it up and I started reading thinking, "I'm not this guy!" Then I thought, "Can I be this guy?"
AM: The only thing holding me back is me being like, "I don't want to be important or lead anyone, I just want to do my thing." It started to seem like less of a crazy idea.