Many convention attendees will no doubt come from the podcast’s 35,000 members Facebook community, which Gethard calls “one of the only truly cold, respectful corners of the internet.” Others, however, will come from the podcast’s long list of previously anonymous guests. “We’re going to have this whole convention where you can just walk around and say, ‘There’s the guys who bought a record store in Ohio. There is the 39-year-old grandmother. There’s the guys who really like pickling and yelled at me at that gig in Detroit…’” says Gethard. “Attendees will be able to meet the people whose stories they have heard unfold over the years.”
There are over 360 episodes of Beautiful/Anonymous, and that mountain of content has most certainly contributed to the show’s rabid fan base. Adam Sachs, senior vice president of podcast programming for SiriusXM, says he thinks shows like Gethard’s or Comedy shot! Slam!, which just released its 800th episode, have built their communities in part through the sheer volume of their work. “The longer you listen, the richer the experience,” says Sachs. “You can’t build a canon in 20 episodes. It’s really hard to establish inside jokes in a short time.
Sachs knows experience. He came to SiriusXM when the company acquired Conan O’Brien’s podcast company, Team Coco. Even before O’Brien launched his own podcast, Conan O’Brien needs a friend, Team Coco had gained a fanbase and was able to build on that when they launched the podcast. A big boost came from posting episodes and clips on the YouTube channel which previously only hosted clips of O’Brien’s late-night shows. The podcast’s YouTube audience grew thanks to this, and Sachs says those fans seem to be different — and younger — than those who may have found the podcast through traditional audio methods.
This doesn’t just apply to YouTube. Sachs notes that Podcrushedwhich is co-hosted by You star Penn Badgley, has more than 14 million followers on TikTok consume its clips, and at least some of them are likely to become full episode listeners.
Far from social media You have to remember that animator Karina Longworth is teaming up with American Cinematheque to “Erotic Tuesdays” a series of screenings at a Los Angeles theater, launched March 28, of racy films featured in recent and upcoming episodes of his podcast. And The Sporkful’s Dan Pashman created a signature pasta shape, castleswhich has become so popular that it is now available in over 2,000 stores.
From Scheer’s perspective, building a community is about providing listeners (and potential listeners) with a unique experience. For example, when How was this done? tours, he and his cohort will record those conversations for possible release, but will also cut our parts, meaning only attendees of that actual show will have the full experience.
“I think podcasting is taking over stand-up because there are some amazing stand-up comedians out there, but when you go on the road with a podcast, you’re going to see a different show every night,” says Scheer: “Because of that, we’ll have people following us from town to town. It’s kind of like visiting the dead, in a way.”