Thursday, December 6, 2007

SquireCast Interview: Part 1

My friend Joe of YourDailyJoe recently started a podcast with Rob and Kent, two of his buddies from back in the day when they were all growing up in chilly Erie, Pennsylvania. Their MySpace profile describes the evolution of SquireCast:

In 1996, friends Rob and Kent took to the airwaves of Erie, PA, by way of Energy FM 90 WERG. The show grew and changed over the next four years, adding new people and losing others. By fall of 2000, the show came to an end, and the Squires scattered themselves across the country.
Now, through the power of modern technology, The Squires are reunited.
Today Joe will be answering my questions about the show. Check back soon for Parts 2 and 3 of the SquireCast interview, when Kent and Rob will answer the same 8 questions to give you their own stories.

How did the original Squire show get started?

Rob and Kent were already doing a show -- The X-Centric Squires Show -- before I came on board. I'm not sure how long they were doing it. I think it was less than a year. But it was the mid-90s, and that whole swing music revival was picking up steam. Rob and Kent were really into that, so they asked the management at WERG if they could do a specialty swing show. Management agreed. I had expressed my interest in being on the radio to Rob several times. So as the show switched format from the usual college music to swing music, Rob brought me in to do the entertainment news updates every hour. They were supposed to be short segments, but they'd almost always go on for a full ten minutes or longer.

What was your favorite part of being on the show back then?

I'm just an entertainment kind of guy. I love movies, TV, music. I love taking it all in, and I also love creating it for other people. Erie is a small city, so there's only so much you can do about creating entertainment when you're there. So I did school plays. I co-wrote a comic book series with an artist friend of mine to pass around to my friends at school. And when the opportunity came up to be on the radio, even though it was a college station, this was probably a chance to have the widest audience yet.

Whose idea was it to "get the band back together?"

I sort of want to take the credit for this myself, but I think all three of us were thinking it. I got a nice new computer about a year and a half ago, and an iPod not too long after that. I became a huge podcast fanatic. I probably download 15 hours worth of free podcasts every week. And since I love to make entertainment and put it out there for people, I started thinking about how I might be able to contribute to the podcasting universe. It didn't take long before I thought of the Squires again. Even though we're spread out over the country, the internet can simulate the experience of being together in the radio station. I tossed the idea to Rob. He said he'd been thinking of doing something like that. So Rob and I recorded a test to see how it would come out. We were pretty happy with it, so we got in touch with Kent.

How did you want to new show to resemble and/or differ from the old show?

Needless to say, swing music is done. The classics still survive, but that's really not our focus anymore. We really just want to spread the word on music we think is good, new and old. We try to be diverse in the type of music we play, although rock tends to dominate. The biggest similarity to the old show is our talk breaks. There's just that friendly dynamic. We joke with each other, share what we know about the music and musicians we play. With any luck, we end up being interesting and informative to our audience.

How does podcasting change the nature of what you were doing on the radio?

The internet has its limits in how closely it can simulate the experience of being in the same physical location of the other guys. I think we underestimated how much we rely on visual cues from each other, so that we wouldn't talk over each other, or so that we could take the conversation in a particular direction. But the flip side of that is, without the internet, there's no show at all. So you do what you can.

Obviously, we don't have to deal with FCC regulations. We don't try to exploit that by swearing all the time or anything. But it's a relief to not have to babysit ourselves, and to not edit the songs we play. We're adults, and we're making a show for other adults. We shouldn't have to worry about getting fined by moral extremists.

How do you choose music to play?

You may be asking the wrong person, since I only get one pick per week. I have an idea of the process Rob and Kent go through. They'll e-mail or call each other and start talking about one or two songs they'd each like to play. Then they start thinking of other songs that would go well sonically or thematically with the songs they already picked. They try to create some sense of unity. We're not just playing random songs. We're grouping things together for a reason. And then, of course, our general guideline is just to play stuff we like, that we think other people would like.

What has been your favorite SquireCast so far and why?

Ah, the old "pick your favorite child" question. I really liked 1 and 4. So far, I think those episodes have been the most diverse in their music selection. Rob and Kent picked a lot of songs for those episodes that I had never heard before and, they presented that material in a way that helped me get right into it. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly we did in those episodes that I think worked well, but sometimes that stars are just aligned the right way. Hopefully that will happen many more times.
If I had to pick just one of those two episodes I mentioned, I guess I'd go with 1. Not to sing our own praise, but I really think we knocked it out of the park right from the start. I was impressed with how the show seemed almost fully formed right from the start.

What can listeners expect in the future?

Well, we're constantly making little adjustments here and there, so I feel like the show is in a constant state of improvement. We're planning a holiday music special, if you can believe that. And then I think we're going to try to do a "best music of 2007" episode. Then we just have to hope more great music is on the way in 2008.

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