Fully Operational Fandom: Podcasting Across the Galaxy, Part 2

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We recently looked at the wide world of Star Wars podcasting, but we barely scratched the surface. Just searching for the phrase on iTunes brings up over 70 shows. While I can’t feature each and every one of them, I’ll continue highlighting some of my favorites. For this post, I spoke with the fans behind Full of Sith, Star Wars Bookworms, and Coffee with Kenobi about what kind of topics they focus on and why they podcast.

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Full of Sith

Full of Sith has been discussing Star Wars news and the philosophy and influence of the franchise since January 2013. The weekly show is hosted by Mike Pilot, Bryan Young, Bobby Roberts, and I occasionally join as a co-host.

On why they started Full of Sith:

Bryan: Full of Sith began in the wake of the announcement that there would be new Star Wars movies, and we launched our first episode in January 2013. I’ve been covering Star Wars for a long time as a journalist and an even longer time as a fan, and I think I have a slightly different perspective on Star Wars than other people. I wanted to help create a place to have the conversations about Star Wars I loved having and share this with others. As a journalist, it’s also about trying to get accurate information out there to the fans in a way the internet sometimes has a hard time doing. Thankfully, we now have tens of thousands of listeners who seem to agree.

On what they cover on their show:

Bobby: We like to talk about the series itself, and the community surrounding it. We’ll break down the films to their most meaningful component parts, their inspirations and their influences, but we’re just as cool examining and analyzing the fandom’s many facets as well. We like to get beneath the surface of why people keep coming back to Star Wars, and see how many interesting artifacts we can dig up. Basically, Full of Sith is a haven for pop-culture archaeologists, fandom anthropologists, film geeks, and Star Wars aficionados of all stripes.

On the coolest fan moment they’ve had because of the podcast:

Bryan: At the Salt Lake Comic-Con FanX event, Full of Sith did a live taping in front of an audience, and the convention organizers went out of their way to surprise us with Jeremy Bulloch. They brought him in a side door, brought him up onto the stage and here is Boba Fett, sitting next to me, talking about his time on Star Wars, Doctor Who, and James Bond on our podcast. It was just amazing.

Advice on starting your own Star Wars podcast:

Bobby: Don’t jump into this particular pool trying to sound like or be like any other show you’ve heard. Do a Star Wars podcast because you like talking about Star Wars, you feel you have a take you haven’t heard yet, and you want to share that personal take with anyone willing to have that conversation. Podcasting is best when it’s personal. If you feel you have that unique voice, and that you’re willing to share it? The listeners will find you. It might be 10 people, it might be 10,000, but they’ll find you, and those connections are what makes the time and energy worthwhile.

A really memorable name doesn’t hurt, though.

Mike: Talk passionately about how you feel, release shows consistently and strive for the best production levels your budget allows. Anyone can do a show with an internal microphone, not everyone will listen… no matter what you’re saying. Above all, listen to your listeners. Be involved with them. It allows for even more theories, ideas and talk about the movies.

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Star Wars Bookworms

As you might guess from this podcast’s title, Star Wars Bookworms is all about reading. Hosts Aaron Goins and Teresa Delgado review and talk about new Star Wars releases in comics and books and occasionally interview Star Wars authors. The monthly podcast dates back to February 2013.

Teresa and Aaron answered questions together.

On translating their appreciate for Star Wars literature to podcasting:

The podcast was born out of our love for the Star Wars books and comics and the desire to talk about them with friends. We noticed there weren’t many podcasts specifically focused on Star Wars literature and none were reviewing every novel and comic volume as they came out. We thought, “There is a void there that can be filled and it will give us an excuse to talk Star Wars literature with other fans.” Most of our Star Wars friends are spread out all over the country and podcasting gives us a chance to connect with those friends that we don’t see every day. Every episode we try to bring in a guest from another podcast or blog. This gives us varying perspectives from all over fandom.

On what kind of discussions they have on their podcast:

We choose to cover comics and novels at least one month after their release so our listeners have a chance to read them before we review them. When we cover a novel or comic, we do a detailed discussion and review of each story.

For the most part we only review novels and collected comic volumes but occasionally we will find the time for a reference guide or other types of literature. At the beginning of each show we also talk about any literature related news or topics that have surfaced recently. Anything from a Star Wars Reads Day event to the major announcement of the Expanded Universe becoming Legends.

We also like to do author interviews. Some of the writers we have interviewed are Alexander Freed, John Jackson Miller, Justin Aclin, and Zack Giallongo.

On the challenges of keeping content fresh:

The beauty of doing a podcast about Star Wars books and comics is there are always new ones coming out. Sometimes we have a hard time keeping up! With the new movies coming soon, we foresee plenty of content to cover for years to come.

One of the challenges is coordinating with each other and our guests and finding the time to record. With families and jobs it can be a challenge to not only find time to read all the material but also to record the show. But we have so much fun doing the podcast that we always find a way to make it work.

Advice if you want to start your own podcast:

Be unique. There are a lot of Star Wars podcasts out there. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Put your own spin on things and the audience will appreciate that. Engaging with your listeners is also key. Use social media to get to know your listeners and gather feedback about your show. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We still cringe when we listen back to our first couple episodes. You will learn from your mistakes, and your audience will grow with you.

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Coffee with Kenobi

Ever wanted to sit down with a cup of coffee and just talk about Star Wars with your friends? This is the podcast for you. Hosts Dan Zehr and Cory Clubb deliver in depth chats about the Star Wars universe in their biweekly podcast, Coffee with Kenobi.

Dan contributed answers for the interview.

On why they wanted to show their love of Star Wars through podcasting:

The reason we chose this medium is because it is important to us for fans to have a voice in the community. There are so many intelligent, insightful Star Wars fans out there that get lost in the shuffle, and we wanted to provide an outlet for people to share their passions and insights with the Star Wars community. Being a podcast fan, as well as a huge Star Wars fan I thought it would great to help facilitate conversation through a critical lens, much like I do as an educator. The mythology of Star Wars is a natural fit for this.

On the type of subjects they cover:

We wanted our show to have a coffee shop atmosphere that features myriad opinions and perspectives through a critical lens. With my background as an educator, and Cory’s as a writer and graphic designer, we felt that we had a certain way of examining Star Wars that fit this motif, and this channels our topics. We try to match our topics with our guests when possible (James Arnold Taylor talking about Clone Wars & Obi-Wan Kenobi, Steve Sansweet and collecting, Tricia Barr and the role of women in Star Wars, etc.), but we also try to focus on areas that we believe merit further analysis and discussion.

Our sub heading is Star Wars Discussion, Analysis, and Rhetoric, and this drives our programming on each show. We stay away from rumors, spoilers, and speculation, and try to focus on confirmed news, as well as the plethora of Star Wars themes, concepts, and ideas that exist in the saga. We certainly cover the latest news, and love to discuss collectibles and the latest novels, but our true passion lies in sending out a topic at the end of our show, getting feedback from listeners, and then sharing everyone’s feedback on the very next show. This format allows for listeners to have a voice in fandom, and through the power and nature of the Socratic method of discussion, different ways of looking at Star Wars through conversation gleans new and exciting ideas. We all learn and appreciate Star Wars together in a whole new way, and it is very rewarding to see how everyone enjoys and analyzes this amazing world George Lucas created.

On best fan moments:

If I had to pick one moment, it would be when Cory & I got to interview James Arnold Taylor or Steve Sansweet. When JAT (in the voice of Obi-Wan) said, “This is the podcast you’re looking for.” it was electric. Chatting with Steve was amazing too, as he treated us like lifelong friends. We are talking about a Star Wars icon, so that was incredible.

On thoughts for those who are thinking about starting a podcast:

There are so many fantastic Star Wars podcasts out there, so my advice would be to do something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Find a particular niche or style that you feel brings out the best in you, and make it your own. Network tirelessly (but respectfully and professionally) through social media, and include listeners as much as possible. Listeners make the show what it is, not the hosts, so remember to embrace this wonderful community of fandom.

Whether you’re interested in costuming, gaming, or collecting, there’s probably a podcast that matches your tastes. If there isn’t, start your own. Remember that everyone on these shows was once a podcasting Padawan, you only need to put in the time and practice to learn.

Don’t forget to comment and tell me about the Star Wars podcasts on your playlist.

Amy Ratcliffe is addicted to Star Wars, coffee, and writing. You can follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek and keep up with all things geeky at her blog.