I have conducted a lot of interviews, but as soon as I finished my interview with Paul from the Varmints! podcast I knew it would be one of my favorites thus far. Why? Because Varmints! is unlike any other podcast I have written about and Paul is more excited about that fact than anyone. When he decided to make a podcast about animals for people like himself – people without a zoology degree or any expertise in the field – he was sure someone else was already doing it: “I still find myself looking around on iTunes.. to see if I’ve ripped off someone’s idea.” But all his research has shown that there’s just nothing else like Varmints! out there, so here’s what makes it special.
From the moment Paul described Varmints! I was excited: “We select one animal every week, we talk about that animal in the news, we cover some of that animal’s interesting adaptations, we talk about where it pops up in pop culture and then we give you a little trivia about the animal you may not have known before.” The “we” there includes Paul and his co-host, Donna, both of whom are quick to remind listeners they are not experts in the field. The show is for people like them, people who like animals, humor, education, and entertainment. Already super cool, right?
Initially planning to make the show with a grad student studying biology, Paul was left on his own after the plan fell apart. So he spent around three years researching podcasts, learning what he wanted his show to sound like, and then putting together the format he wanted. At the end of it he “had created [his] own, unique thing. Which is pretty cool.” But making a show that’s original and high-quality isn’t easy, and Paul admitted that some things caught him off guard.
Paul’s show is heavily researched and he explained that he and Donna “are learning right alongside [the listeners].” But Paul knew he was making a podcast without scholarly knowledge, so he was prepared for that bit. What he didn’t see coming was the time commitment. “I totally underestimated the time it would take for me to edit and research and write and then get this podcast into the world on social media, by a lot.” Paul said that prospective Creators should take the amount of time they think it will take to make a podcast and multiply it by three because it’s a lot of work to make great content. Even though making the show has taken over some of his other hobbies, Paul loves making it for a few reasons.
The first is that Paul loves hearing from his listeners, especially the little ones. “I didn’t go into this making a kids’ show. I wanted to make a clean, family-friendly show about animals and I thought for sure kids would get bored with it. But it turns out that kids like it.” Paul told me that hearing from kids who love the show “is the best,” followed closely by hearing from parents whose kids listen all the time and quote animal trivia at school. Hearing his listeners say he’s doing a great job is “the most rewarding thing,” but it isn’t the only thing keeping Paul going.
“I just want to keep making this thing. I’m an artist, I’ve always been an artist… and right now this is my medium.” Paul wants to make the best possible artwork out of his podcast and is looking forward to new guests and topics that move Varmints! in that direction. So, if you love animals, pop culture, humor, trivia, or all of the above, it’s time to listen to Varmints! and leave a rating and review to let Paul know what you think!
Chasing Pods is a Podchaser blog series dedicated to letting our readers know about podcasts they may not have heard of or provide a sneak peek into the making of their favorite podcast. We talk to podcast creators about their journey into podcasting, the creation of their shows, the ups and downs of the work, and what they’re looking forward to for their podcast
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