Creator Mondays: Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark – Part II
Looking for a new way to get inspired and start the week off the right way? Grab a cup of coffee and join us for a brand new series: “Creator Mondays.” Each week, we sit down with one of the incredible hosts from our iHeartRadio community to talk podcasts, hosting life, Monday motivation routines and much more!
This week, we’re excited to have legendary iHeartRadio podcast duo, Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, rejoin us on Creator Mondays! For those who don’t know, these two are the hosts of the acclaimed, educational podcast series: Stuff You Should Know. Since 2008, they’ve recorded Stuff You Should Know twice weekly, and have won numerous awards and built a cult following on the way to becoming the first podcast in history to be downloaded more than one billion times. Starting today, episodes of Stuff You Should Know will be even easier to incorporate into your daily ritual using the brand new iHeartRadio Alexa Routine by Amazon!
Read on to hear insights from Josh on how the pair got started hosting podcasts, what makes Stuff You Should Know so special and how they keep coming up with new ideas after recording nearly 1,300 episodes.
What drew you to podcasting and how did you become hosts?
We were pretty much thrown into podcasting. We started out as writers for HowStuffWorks and Conal Byrne, who is now the president of iHeart’s Podcast Network, suggested that we find a way to take all of the really interesting, well-researched articles that were being published on HSW and turn them into some other form people could digest. Because, of course, not everyone sits around and reads articles on the web all day. At the time podcasting was just really starting to gather the beginnings of some steam, so Conal approached me, Jeri Rowland (our forever producer) and Chuck and asked us to try to make a podcast. And it ended up turning out rather well.
What is it about the medium of podcasts that make them so special and popular?
There are a few things that make podcasting unique and special. One of those things is the maker/DIY ethos that’s always surrounded by it. You’ve never needed a pro studio with pro equipment; it’s always been about the content. Even when we started, although we had corporate sponsorship from day one, we learned what we were doing as we went along and the thing about podcasting is that there is built-in forgiveness among the audience for stuff like that so long as what you’re talking about captures their attention.
The production values have risen dramatically among podcasts since we started in 2008, but that sentiment among the audience remains. Because podcasting started out as it did, kind of no-frills and unpretentious, it’s always made the audience feel like the people they listen to are approachable—kind of like close friends they’ve never met. That’s the other very special thing about podcasting, the relationship between the makers and the listeners (two roles that are often interchangeable in our particular medium). There’s a much greater sense of closeness of feeling like peers, rather than the classic style of fandom where the stars sit happily out of reach on a pedestal. With podcasting, the listeners are fans to be sure but they’re more like pals, the relationship is far more level between us and the listeners.
Can you tell us something we might not know about the podcast(s) you host right now?
We don’t do a lot of editing on Stuff You Should Know. We agree on a topic and a source article to start and then we both go off and do our research and then come back and discuss what we found. There’s not a script or a discussion beforehand about who will cover what part; it’s just a conversation between us about the topic using that original source article as a rough guide for the structure. It’s pretty free-form and I think that comes through generally, but we get asked fairly frequently still about how we script the show and the answer is that we don’t. But we also don’t edit much out.
What you hear is pretty much the one take of the conversation we had. Every once in a while we’ll say something we want taken out so we make a beep sound—like vocally make this high-pitched beep—as a reference point for Jeri when she’s editing the episode. Every once in a blue moon a beep slips past all three of us and makes it into the great wide world in the published episode. Within an hour we hear from listeners who gently point it out, poke fun at it, or both. It’s hilarious and embarrassing at once. It’s hilarrassing, I guess.
What advice do you have for anyone who dreams of hosting a show someday?
Talk about what you care about because there may be long stretches where you’re one of the only ones listening. So long as you’re interested in your topic, you will find the motivation to keep recording through those times. And your interest shows; it comes through on the podcast and catches other people’s interest. Those people come back for more and as you add more and more people whose interest you caught with your own, you find one day you have an audience, and things get much more fulfilling when you have people who want to talk with you about the stuff you’re talking about.
What inspires you both, and do you have any Monday tips to help kick off each week the right way?
I’ve always liked that attitude prescribed by that guy in the interstitial interviews in Jerry Maguire. The guy who says that every morning he sits up, claps his hands together and says, “Today is going to be a great day!” I don’t remember to do that every morning, but when I do it seems to help. It’s definitely more helpful than better than doing the opposite of that.
How do you keep coming up with new topics for Stuff You Should Know? Do you have a favorite episode or show story to share?
We keep coming up with topics for SYSK because we’re on a mission to explain everything in the universe (we have a bunch left). We long ago adopted a motto at SYSK that there is something interesting to absolutely everything in the world. Even the seemingly mundane and boring things that people take for granted have something interesting to them. Like, we did an episode on soap recently and we found that soap was around for a good thousand years before anyone thought to use it to wash ourselves with. We used it to wash just about everything else but our bodies. Who knew?
Whether you’re looking for hosting advice or tips to stay motivated, check back next week for more featured hosts and make “Creator Mondays” a new Monday ritual. And don’t forget to also check out the new iHeartRadio Alexa Routine to automatically add hit podcasts like Stuff You Should to your everyday routine!