In a past blog post, I share how podcasts are becoming a fandom in their own right. I share an example of Armchair Expert and how fans can get in touch with other fans and even sometimes the hosts and producers of the podcast themselves. 

Another example is the Celebrity Memoir Book Club. New York comedians Claire Parker and Ashley Hamilton read a memoir each week and recap it for the listeners.

Along with the memoir recap, they share what’s going on in their lives. Keeping true to their theme, they ask each other, “If you were a celebrity and were writing a memoir, what would the title of this week’s chapter be?” Then, they would share how their week had been. In one example, Claire shared her frustration waiting for hours for a package to be delivered and how she missed it after getting a copy just across the street and missed the ninja-like delivery guy. Anyone who has to wait for a package, especially in New York City, could definitely relate. In more exciting news, aka chapters of their weeks, they shared when Ashley got a dog, and Claire got engaged. So we get to know their lives pretty intimately.

A screenshot of the Geneva app

Their fan base grew a lot over the years. I met them after their first year at a stand-up show in Brooklyn. Then the next thing I knew, they were touring the country and even going overseas to sold-out shows. Since their listeners are on the younger side, they announced late in 2022 that they are going to use Geneva, an app to let their listeners talk to them and each other, instead of using Facebook Groups since they learned their listeners often don’t have Facebook (oh youths). So now there is Geneva and the Facebook Group. In Geneva, you have different categories/channels to be a part of (see image for an example). So you can talk about a specific episode, ask for recommendations, connect with other listeners/fans that live in the same city, etc. Plus, Claire and Ashley chat with people, commenting and answering questions. The Facebook Group is a little bit different. Any subject, though, questions can be shown on the same wall, and it is not as categorized. Truthfully, I still prefer the Facebook Group as there are so many categories to join and get updates from, etc. 

This podcast and its ways of connecting listeners and with the podcasters themselves is an example of how much media can bring people together. But it also shows how it can still be a bit one-sided. I am waiting to hear how Claire’s wedding goes or if Monica’s bowel movements are improving. I am invested, and I know if they could get to know me and chat one-on-one, we would be great friends! 

This, again, is the definition of parasocial relationships. I have grown to genuinely like these media personas, but they do not know me. However, unlike the para (meaning one-sided) part, I have met Claire and Ashley in person, but they certainly don’t know me as well as I know them.

What’s also interesting to me is that, unlike the built-in fan base Dax Shepard brought with his famous friends and wife (and himself), where it was harder to reach out to Monica and Dax on social media, I was able to speak face-to-face to Claire and Ashley and tweet to them regularly. Now? Not so much. They have a bigger following and have so much going on that they cannot give each tweet and each DM as much attention as they once could. So the para in parasocial continues to grow stronger, making me sad but happy for these podcasters. I enjoy their podcasts, so them being so busy and having more people reaching out to them means more people have discovered them too. 

*Feature Image is from Celebrity Memoir Book Club’s Twitter page