Jeremy Collins donned headphones in his apartment closet and set his cellphone on a stand behind the microphone. He tapped the keys of a notebook computer on the floor to connect with his interviewees through an audio Skype call.
The independent podcaster greeted and chatted with the hosts of the paranormal story podcast “Hillbilly Horror Stories” from Kentucky.
“All right, here we go,” Collins said into his microphone, his tiny chihuahua nestled in a bed near his feet. “Three, two, one — record.”
Collins stood at his microphone Saturday evening to record an upcoming episode of “Podcasts We Listen To” — a podcast about, well, podcasts and the people who host them. The show is less about the stories the hosts tell on their own shows and more about the people behind the mics, he said.
“You start to become friends with a podcaster, or you feel like you have, when you’ve listened to a hundred episodes or even 20 episodes,” Collins said. “You start to feel like you know the people, so it’s more like you’re listening in on a conversation with your friends.”
When not working as a full-time UPS delivery driver, he records from his closet because it’s the best place in his home to isolate sound. From between his shirts and homemade soundproofing, he interviews podcast hosts around the country.
“Jerry and Tracy, how are you tonight?” he said, smiling, as he started the interview. “I’ve had a few people tell me I should have you on, so I guess it’s about time, right?”
“Podcasts We Listen To” draws an audience from all over the world and has received about 26,000 downloads since Collins began five months ago, he said. His show grew out of a Facebook group, Podcasts We Listen To, which he started more than a year ago as a place for fans to talk about shows they enjoy and to learn about podcasts they haven’t heard about, he said. Almost 14,000 people are now in that Facebook group, which is by his count the largest general podcast community on social media, he said.
Collins’ love for the medium began when he became hooked on podcasts for the convenience. They can be downloaded onto any computer or mobile device, and they don’t run out of radio or wireless range. You can even listen on a plane or at a remote camping spot, he said. Best of all, the wide variety of topics — from history to nature to crochet to stories about the LGBT community — almost guarantees that a listener can find something that they’ll like.
“If you have an interest,” he said, “there’s a podcast about it, guaranteed.”
Making it happen
Collins had never interviewed anybody until he started his podcast. But he’s heard countless interviews and prepares for each recording by listening to several of his featured hosts’ shows. The Facebook group members also can write in questions for him to ask.
One reviewer commented that Collins’ style feels “more like listening to two friends than an interview.”
After he records an interview, which generally last between two and three hours, he spends eight to 10 more editing the dialogue into a one-hour format and removing any outside sounds on either end.
Since the Facebook group and podcast have been successful, Collins is organizing a Podcasts We Listen To convention next August in New Orleans. Like the Facebook group and his podcast, the PodernLove conference will feature various genres along with include workshops, panel talks, live shows and chances to meet hosts, he said.
He doesn’t earn money through his podcast, though the ultimate goal of of any serious podcaster is to make a living at it, he said.
“For now, I’m really just enjoying the fact that my show gives me a good excuse to talk to the hosts of the shows that I like to listen to,” he said.
“I do it because I love doing it. I love the medium,” he said. “I always wanted to be in radio, but you know, radio is the magical thing that people don’t know how to get started in. And podcasting is something that literally anyone can do from anywhere.”
Connecting podcast community
Collins has been listening to podcasts for years and is a longtime fan of comedians Joe Rogan and Bill Burr, who have been podcasting for about a decade.
Many podcasts have their own social media pages, some with huge followings. But he and other podcast fans he knows couldn’t find a place online to connect about podcasts in general, and especially independent shows, he said. The Facebook group gives listeners space to discuss their thoughts about all kinds of podcasts, find recommendations for specific interests and even interact with hosts, Collins said.
He found that many members also wanted to know more about their favorite hosts.
Since starting his podcast in March, he’s interviewed two dozen hosts, including ghost storyteller Mike Brown of the show “Pleasing Terrors.”
Like most podcast hosts, Brown doesn’t talk about himself on his own show, Collins said. Through Collin’s podcast, however, fans were able to learn things about Brown, like that he originally didn’t believe in the paranormal before becoming a ghost tour guide.
His show isn’t just for those immersed in the podcast world but can also introduce people to the medium, he said. His show’s audience spans the U.S., with large numbers also from Australia and the U.K., he said. A map on his computer also shows listeners from as far away as Korea and many other countries.
“The beauty of podcasts is that you don’t have to get a job at a radio station to be able to get your word out to anybody in the world,” Collins said.
The friends he’s made and people connected are what he enjoys most about his show and Facebook group, he said.
“I look at myself as being in this apartment in small-town Wyoming,” he said. “But I’ve managed to connect with people all over the world, both my listeners and hosts that create podcasts.”