Podcasting Notes: FW Team-Up

Category: FW Team-Up
Last article published: 12 May 2020
This is the 37th post under this label
Still committed to doing one post per "label", "tag" or "category", call them what you will, each week, in order, but there was a question as to what to do with podcasts. I mean, would I have to record and publish an episode of that particular show that week and say it's done? Not really, especially since FW Team-Up comes up this week and I've just recently put the show on summer hiatus.

Instead, I propose to offer a sort of behind the scenes article on each. Show notes on how it began, where it stands, and the direction it might be going. Let's invent a bit of a format for these...

Show: FW Team-Up
Premise: Podcasters team up to talk about comic book team-ups!
Available: Fire and Water Network, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Feedburner
Number of episodes to date: 35
The first was about... Marvel Team-Up Annual #7, starring Spider-Man and Alpha Flight (not coincidentally released on Canada Day 2017, three years ago today), with guest The Irredeemable Shagg.

How it all began
Shagg is definitely partly responsible here. I'd talked about my interest in starting a podcast about all the great (or weird) superhero team-ups, in particular those presented in the Bronze Age team-up books like The Brave and the Bold, Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-in-One, and DC Comics Presents. Shagg had noticed a lot of interest in team-up books across the podosphere, people reacting to an one-off show about a Bob Haney B&B, for example, or podcasters just chatting about those stories on social media, in a "wouldn't it be nice if" kind of way. He told me I should move my plans forward (I think I'd originally envisioned it as a replacement for First Strike: The Invasion Podcast, which was at least a year away from ending) lest someone scoop me out of them.

I'm pretty fast once I set my mind to do something (just wait 'til I talk about Gimme That Star Trek's origin), and I pretty quickly created the structure, made the banner, created a document with a thousand (no joke) eligible stories, and planned out the first "season" with other Network regulars. The reason I called it FW Team-Up is that I imagined it like the FW Presents feed, something ANY Network host could adapt to their own purposes, and that I wouldn't be necessarily piloting the show. It didn't work out that way, and hosts would still do team-up stories on occasion on their own shows (which I carefully removed from my list of possible coverage).

The Process
When I first attack a show idea, it's with the eyes of a producer (which is, after all, part of my training), and I want each show to have its own distinct identity (or else why not just do an all-purpose Siskoid Show with rotating features?). In this case, I decided to lean hard into the team-up idea. Not only would I cover team-ups, but I would make the show a team-up between myself and a guest. That meant sharing hosting duties more than usual, which is how the shared synopsis came up. Each host would do the bits that starred the character they'd chosen to "defend". So that required a script and a shared google doc for the hosts to work on so no detail would be lost and we couldn't step on each other's toes. It DOES mean the show asks the guest to do a bit of homework, and that I have to remind the guest of their duties as we get closer to the recording date. I know I've been a pain in the ass, but FW Team-Up is a tighter show than most. You can't just show up on the day.

Once there was a script, it made sense to add fun little recurring features on the crib sheet. I'd done this with a Kung Fu Fridays mini-series, but really, the inspiration came from Shagg's JLI Podcast, which also used a script that allowed guests to prepare answers to recurring questions and bits of business. The mini-debate (who's story is it, cool moves, stupid moves, and the Friendly Farewell - a term coined by the Comic Treadmill blog, used with permission) was an extension of the aforementioned KKF show, but I added the bonus team-up (hosts imagine a different team-up with the guest character) and the Amalgam Comics promo (where I merge the two characters in the team-up into a single entity, simply because I'm coo-coo for the Amalgam concept).

In execution, the tight script and various bells and whistles made for a fun editing job, rarely running over an hour (the sweet spot is 40 to 80 minutes, in my opinion). The problematic episodes are ones that would cover more modern team-ups, which often run for several issues. Synopses tend to either get bloated or lack detail as a result and of course, there's more to talk about. While I've been pretty strict about what team-ups "count" (Batman showing up in an issue of Hitman, for example, DOESN'T - it needs to be a team-up book or team-up project), these longer stories still need to be considered. And I find a lot of potential guests bring these up as possible episodes, so I have to spread them out. My preference is definitely the four Bronze Age books, though I like to keep some variety in the mix with more modern tales as well.

Reception
Designed as a mini-series to put my foot in the door, it proved a fun exercise and I started doing it more frequently untl it pretty much held a monthly spot. Interest in any given episode really depends on the listener. The Fire and Water Network's most vocal listener base is made up of 40-50somethings and care more about Bronze Age books than more recent efforts. At the same time, as podcasters even of the same age, they keep pitching modern team-up mini-series (often with the Transformers in them, it seems). Similarly, because FW has so many DC-centric shows, pitches and comments tend to those books, and I've actually had a harder time booking Marvel-centric episodes (even if Shagg would almost have signed up for a full run of Marvel Team-Up).

I'm sure I'd attract more flies, overall, if I up and indexed Marvel Team-Up or Brave and the Bold, but damn these eyes, I like variety, for me as much as the product. And I know some of my personal choices tend to the strange team-ups, not popular characters, but in podcasting, you have to please yourself, if not first, then eventually.

The Future
I've recently put the show on hiatus for the summer to make room for Who's Editing, a fun little idea I want to explore for a few months instead. I also admit to some fatigue on my part. Who knows, Team-Up may come back changed. I miss the "seasonal" schedule I'd originally given it, which allowed for more balanced perspectives because it was planned as a unit of 6 episodes. Now it's become about chasing guests, month to month, and sometimes the only people available want to cover your third Superman story in a row. We'll see how it shakes out by October and the inevitable Halloween episode.

Did I cover everything you needed me to? The floor is open to questions.

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