My name is Andrew Keefe and I am the co-host of The Music Challenge Podcast. A loose, nerdy music commentary podcast (that you can find anywhere) and we’re about 14 episodes deep. And this written series chronicles our first season.
In the last installment, I was just getting done setting up the equipment in my semi-dank garage for the recording of our fourth episode. Or, so I thought. It was March 11, 2020 and America was finally waking up to Covid-19 and the pandemic. Not only were the stores running out of all supplies and wild rumors were afloat about shortages of essentials- one by one professional sports leagues began shutting down on the spot. In the middle of games, tournaments… everything.
We canceled the podcast recording out of “an abundance of caution”. We couldn’t risk spreading the disease to our families to record a Def Leppard podcast. So… my first duty of the pandemic was to woefully put the equipment away and contemplate how life had changed. A concept so big I don’t think any of us could immediately comprehend.
I really wasn’t thinking about the podcast in the immediate future totally. As I said, I was as stunned as everyone. It was unlawful to gather in groups. I had to think about that for a long time.
And the beat goes on… Sort of
We had two podcasts released so far. I had a third recorded. What I did think about was after two weeks I didn’t want to stop. And, in my mind, restart all over again. Realizing now- it might not have mattered with our tiny listenership- if we had one at all. So, I produced the third episode in the first week of the pandemic and released it on our normal release day of Monday. My main fear came true shortly thereafter- I had no content recorded for the next week.
I had begun to use the podcast as my main distraction from the pandemic. I did not want to miss a week as I felt we owed the service of “distraction” to our listeners during the “troubled times” of the pandemic. I figured people were off-kilter and feeling like they are living in a dystopian society. They need something for a car ride (though I realize now there was nowhere to go and workplaces had shut down). I was kind of hell-bent on keeping up the schedule. To hell with the pandemic I thought… I’m going to keep pushing out content.
Episode Four – Week 2 after Quarantine
But, no one felt like analyzing albums or putting the brainpower into preparing for one of our shows which included listening of albums and reading. It took time and mental energy. We also felt like it just wasn’t appropriate to proceed “business as usual”. So, upon the suggestion of my introverted partner, we recorded a 30-minute zoom call (What if there was no zoom?) and just checked in with the listeners. We talked a little about music that fit the emotions we were feeling and just in general how we were doing. I released that conversation as a bonus episode by that Monday for our fourth episode.
Episode Five – Week Three After Quarantine
The next week we still weren’t ready to record because we weren’t ready to prepare. We had other concerns to take care of like our families in “these unprecedented times”. But, I still wanted to keep up releases every Monday. So, Robb willingly decided to jump on a Zoom call and give me some content. We had a long-ish talk about music in general almost as if we were just shootin’ it in his garage.
Robb and I have known each other and been fellow concert veterans for more than two decades. It was easy to have a long conversation relating to different styles of music. I packed it with musical gem droplets of songs. Since we didn’t have a formative album ready- this was going to serve as the content for episode five. Keeping it going despite conditions. I was as proud as the situation allowed me to be- which was greatly fainted.
And then it struck…. fatigued and, frankly, out of time we didn’t get any content recorded for the next Monday. For the first and only Monday during Season 1, we did not post a podcast. While I regret it- I had to realize it’s only a podcast in the face of a pandemic.
Beyond The Immediate Fog
By this point- we had found no recording groove. We were kind of floating in the ether trying to hold on during “trying times”. As far as post-production, editing, and mixing- there was no groove. It was a different setup with different voices in different mics every episode. It was kind of a circus on my post-production end. Luckily, Zoom has excellent call recording capabilities. It keeps the voices separated by file and gives you a lovely file package by which to enter into GarageBand. This took a lot of recording hassle away from me which opened up the remote option of recording.
After 3 weeks of the pandemic- I wanted to record seriously again within our format. I needed to focus on something. I wanted that for all of us. But, of course, the world was different now and so was our podcast as we were taking it to Zoom. I never thought in my wildest dreams we would have to do that, or ever would.
As we got restarted we were in different locations, using a new-to-us technology as we attempted to return to normality. If just ever so slightly. And that’s when I got a few ideas.
We were about to take a huge leap in listenership, though we didn’t know it. Tune in next week to read how we got this podcast on the map and discover our groove.
Be sure to read the entire series of “My Podcast Adventures“.