An argument can be made that there is a new kind of celebrity: the podcaster.
Every week, a podcaster will drop a new episode, and their loyal listeners get to catch up with them. Often, it is conversational, and more than one person is speaking. Before the main content begins, the podcaster gives a recap of the week prior.
This is a recipe for parasocial relationships: learning and investing in a media persona’s life without their reciprocal feelings. But social media is changing that. In a blog series, I share a few examples of podcasts that allow it to be a little less para and more social.
Example one is Armchair Expert.
Started a few years ago by actor and filmmaker Dax Shepard and his friend, Monica Padman, who share a quick intro two to three times a week explaining who they just interviewed and have a few minutes of banter. Then you get to the interview, and afterward, you have The Fact Check. This is when Monica finds factual evidence of things that came up during the conversation we just heard. The point was to keep her co-host, self-described know-it-all Dax, humble. However, over the years, The Fact Check has become something more of catching up not for the hosts but for their listeners. Monica and Dax are neighbors and friends, even calling each other soulmates (purely platonic, in case you don’t listen and know Dax is the husband of Kristen Bell). They have this banter of the updates in their lives for their loyal listeners. We know of their travel plans, a fun party they went to, and even their bathroom habits (seriously, poop talk comes on regularly on The Armchair Expert).
Their latest weekly segment has been Armchair Anonymous which has become my favorite segment. A question is asked to the listeners, and then people can submit their experiences. For instance: Tell us a time you’ve stolen something, or Tell us a time you had a weird massage, or Tell us a time you got caught mid-coitus.
Have I submitted to it? Yes, multiple times, and never been selected to come on. But you get to hear the podcasters interact with their listeners, affectionately we are called Armcherries.
There is also a couple of fan Instagram and Facebook group accounts where listeners interact together. As an example, I asked in a Facebook group if anyone else submitted to Annyonmous and never get heard back from them. Multiple people did, and while we didn’t get to share with the hosts or be on the podcast, this question allowed us to share with each other.
We bond through the Facebook group, comments on the fan, and official Instagram. Sometimes, Dax and Monica participate in comments which, of course, makes us all happy.
This is just one podcast example of a growing fandom. In future posts, I will share more about how podcasters are becoming a celebrity and how listeners hope to interact with them and can interact with fellow listeners.
*Images from the Armchair Expert website and from the Facebook Group: Armchair Expert Fan Group – Are we Chairies or Cherries?