The Reader‘s archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we’ll dig through and bring up some finds.
There was once a time when a podcast had to be defined for the reading public as Bob Mehr did in the Reader in 2006: “Music podcasts—streaming or downloadable audio files that can be automatically distributed to subscribers—often follow the form of a radio show, and [Frederick] Wells and [Gabe] McDonough’s popular weekly podcast, Market Frenzy, is no exception.”
Mehr’s article profiles Wells and McDonough, a pair of musicians and music fans who, on a whim, decided to start Market Frenzy in 2005.
“It was about the time when the first MP3 blogs were being talked about and ‘podcast’ was just starting to get thrown around as a term,” says McDonough. “So Fred and I were sitting around having a few beers and talking about that. And he had some good equipment at his house—a mixing desk, a computer—and he just went, ‘Duh, why aren’t we doing a podcast? We’re sitting around playing records and talking about music anyway. Let’s do one.'”
Amazingly, though Wells and McDonough played full tracks instead of samples on their podcast, no one came after them for copyright infringement. They told Mehr this was because their playing the songs “amounts to a good-faith promotional effort” and most of the bands they played were so new and obscure, they were happy for any exposure. The charm of the podcast, Mehr wrote, was the hosts’ enthusiasm for all sorts of music.
“The show is tailor-made for a certain kind of music enthusiast,” says Wells. “People who, when they hear a record that completely blows their mind, just need to tell all their friends about it—like, ‘Oh, you gotta hear how the bass drum comes in in the second verse.’ It’s really just an excuse to nerd out about music.”
Although they’d been offered sponsorship opportunities, Wells and McDonough turned them down; they didn’t think it was fair for them to accept money if the musicians weren’t being paid. (A few months later, though, they told Miles Raymer that they saw potential for a paying market for podcasts.)
About six months after they launched Market Frenzy, Bruce Finkelman, owner of the Empty Bottle, where McDonough had previously worked, asked the pair to do a monthly podcast for the Empty Bottle. They agreed to do it so they would get to hang out with the bands who played at the Bottle. Naturally, the Empty Bottle podcast had far more downloads than Market Frenzy.
Market Frenzy no longer exists. The Empty Bottle no longer has a podcast. Hardly anyone needs a podcast explained anymore. And so shift the sands of time. . .