How would you describe your podcast?
For WhatCulture Gaming, we do three shows a week. There's the Wind-Up on Monday, which is just a two-person thing where we hash out talking points in the industry or argue about a game that we're both playing. There's the main WhatCulture Gaming podcast on Wednesday. And there's the Untitled Banter Podcast, on Friday – a Q&A community podcast where we just put questions out on Twitter and go over literally anything. It's usually gaming focused, but it might be about fajitas or something!
Why did you start your podcast?
I always wanted to have a gaming podcast. I grew up listening to The Hotspot – it was GameSpot’s old podcast – but then those dudes formed Giant Bomb and the Giant Bombcast. There was a golden era of the Bombcast, which was just the best banter between people who were a bunch of passionate nerds, knew their stuff inside out, they were really funny. And it was just following those guys week-to-week or day-to-day, in some cases, and video content.
I just love the approach of a podcast. I love the familiarity of it. I like the idea of just chucking it on on a day off and just being able to have that parasocial relationship with someone. If something's breaking in the industry, I like knowing that there’s a 45-minute to an hour discussion on that thing. So it was very much inspired by the Bombcast, and now the overarching approach in terms of just getting people who know their stuff and talk about it with focus.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started?
Steer into the stuff that you know you'd want to listen to yourself, which is the overriding ethos anyway. But in terms of the length of stuff… For the longest time, we were doing 20-minute ones, because it was like, well, a 20-minute pod, you can put an advert in there, but get out of the studio and go do something else. But if you do a longer podcast, people will stay for it. Some of my favourite podcasts are all lengthier ones. So it's just knowing that you can do the longer ones and people will stick around for it – you are building a community around that. You're building an audience around that.
I guess steering into knowing that things can go a bit off tangent and it's okay; maybe you've lost the news point for a couple of minutes, but as long as it's not too off-kilter or whatever, it's still fine.
How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?
It's just two, really. I mean, unless it's three for the main show. But I'll come up with what the topic is and do the questions, I'll put the tweet out. Although I'm not doing literally everything – sometimes someone else might help with one of the questions, but it's mostly two people.
The Wind Up is just me and Josh and the UBP is me and Jules. The main show is me, Josh and James Dallas, but I would third-person rotate sometimes. But I'm recording it, hosting it, in control of the recording stuff, and then editing it, and then posting it.
Do you monetise your podcast?
We do. We have adverts and ad reads on there as well.
How do you promote your podcast?
That's one thing that we want to do a lot more of, and it's mostly just social media at the minute. We've tried a couple of things, like a banner along the bottom of a video saying “Hey, by the way, we're also talking about this on this week's podcast!” But those things go hand in hand with the wider organisation across the company, which is something that we've not ever been able to have full control over.
I want to do stuff like making sure that there's pop-ups and animations in other videos, saying “Hey, by the way, this podcast exists,” but it's mostly just social media and then community posts on YouTube sometimes. When we do news videos, sometimes we'll mention it. “We talked about this last week on the podcast, go subscribe!” There is the YouTube side of it. We've done direct adverts, which are rare, but we do some stuff through Acast where you'll record a 30-second thing and they'll circulate it across there.
What have you learned about yourself since starting your podcast?
That I think it's okay to steer into the stuff that you would otherwise trim away under an assumption of professionalism. There's a general idea that you're hosting the podcast and it needs to be this focused thing: “We'll talk about exactly this and the next topic is this,” whereas you can just be yourself. Obviously there’s a ‘presenter mode’ people go into and there's a way of speaking. But I think just realising that people are listening to you as much as they're listening to Scott from WhatCulture or whatever it is, and it's okay to just hit record.
It still needs to be professional, but you can talk about your personal tastes a little bit more, rather than just cover the news or just covering the exact topic. People that subscribe will follow the personality of the people as much as they are getting up-to-date with this latest talking point. I think that's interesting. People that have reached out over social media and said, “Oh, you got me into this game!” or “I gave this a shout, you were right about this,” or whatever. I always find that to be really rewarding. It's not why I'm doing it, but it's nice, that kind of feedback.
Who listens to your podcast?
I don't drill down that much on the analytics side of it, mostly because for the longest time, I didn't have access to it - but I do occasionally. When I brought up a heat map of who listens globally, we have one fan in South Korea. We gave that one guy a shout out in the episode after I realised he was there!
I would just say it’s knowledgeable, passionate nerds who love video games and are very much the same as me. There's a certain type of person who is living and breathing the industry. It's not that we don't work for a wider casual audience, but I think if you know your stuff, if you know your Hideo Kojimas or your Masahiro Sakurais or whatever, you'll get our podcast. You'll want those conversations and I like providing those conversations. I'm really gonna care that the latest Sonic Frontiers is an absolute mixed bag. It's providing the conversations that I loved listening to when I was listening to the podcast when I was younger.
What was the last podcast that you listened to?
It would be the Nextlanderpodcast, which is the same guys that left Giant Bomb. They split and formed another podcast. So Jeff Gerstmann went off to do his own thing and then you've got Vinny Caravella, Brad Shoemaker and Alex Navarro, who went across to form Nextlander. So they now have two gaming feeds, I guess, but they're not related to each other. So yeah, it would be the Nextlander podcast and followed right next to The Jeff Gerstmann Show, which is his most recent one.