This time on Podcast Stars, we talk to Tristan Riddell, co-host of Nerd Nuptial and publisher of The Nerd Party podcast network.
So what’s the format of Nerd Nuptial?
Nerd Nuptial is all based on my wife and I’s love of pop culture. We do a lot of film reviews because we watch everything together but it’s mainly about our married life through the lens of being nerdy – hence the name of the show. We’ll do top lists, stories from our past, what it’s like being married and now parents while also trying to consume media that’s growing at an exponential pace. Every episode is live-to-tape so it’s a lot of fun to see what happens when we turn on the mics. We have these types of conversations constantly in our marriage together, the only difference is that once a week we hit record.
This isn’t your first podcast, how did you get started?
I got started in podcasting out of pure audacity and arrogance. In 2010, Chris Jones (the publisher of Trek.fm) started a short video news show called “Hyperchannel”. I reached out to him on Twitter and told him that I could host the show and take some of the weight off his back. He agreed and I recorded myself doing video intros for each episode and then did voice over for the segments while Chris did the editing. He really only knew me from posting once and awhile on Twitter so I was surprised he agreed but it worked out because then I started guesting on some of his shows like The Ready Room. Shows that are still going on today, I might add. Chris Jones was podcasting Trek before anyone else and he is still going strong.
Once I got hooked, I went to Chris and said I wanted my own discussion-based podcast. What spurred it really was guest hosting with Charlynn Schmiedt on Ready Room. She was so witty, energetic, and insightful that I went to Chris and said “Whatever my new show is about, I want it to be with Char.” He told me that Char was looking to start something too so he got us together, along with Lorrie Sears, and we decided on Voyager because not many were talking about Voyager at the time. We called it “To the Journey” which is a reference to the last episode of the series. This was all in early 2013. Char and I went for three years, 190 episodes, and became one of the most popular shows on Trek.fm. So those two shows are really how I got started and it’s all thanks to Chris and the people at Trek.fm.
And then how was Nerd Nuptial born?
At the time, I was still doing “To the Journey” and even had another show called “The Nerd Party” which was independent from Trek.fm that I hosted with Matt Hansen. Matt was either sick or busy one week and so I begged and pleaded for my wife (known online as “The Girl”) to join me for an episode. The X-Files revival was on the horizon and she is a huge fan so I thought this would be the time to get her in front of the mic. My wife is an actress and theater director so I knew she was a great performer and had the chops to do it. It was really just making her comfortable enough and giving her a topic that would interest her. She agreed and that episode of “The Nerd Party” got us the most positive fan mail the show ever received. Email after email saying that she needed to be a regular guest and that our chemistry was amazing. That kind of positive reaction as well as her getting the bug started Nerd Nuptial.
Did you have any apprehension about hosting with your partner? Some people like to keep hobbies to themselves.
I had zero apprehension about hosting with my wife. We share everything and it was fantastic to bring her into the podcasting world. It has been a big part of my life for a long time and it was great having her come into the fold. My wife and I don’t get sick of each other and a dream of ours is to actually work together fulltime someday so this was a natural progression. Free time is always at a premium, especially now that we’re parents, but like I said before, we’d be talking about this anyway with or without the mic.
You’re not just a podcast host but you have a whole network. How did that happen?
The Nerd Party network grew out of having really talented and creative friends. “The Nerd Party” was just a geeky show that I hosted with Matt Hansen that was born out of the need to talk about more than just Star Trek. I actually pitched the idea to a network and they said no. I had no idea at the time but that was the best answer they could have given me. I went independent because of it and had a blast.
Nerd Nuptial came along so we had two shows under the same banner but that’s not really a network. Then in early 2016, John Mills and Matthew Rushing started Aggressive Negotiations. I was always a huge fan of their work on Trek.fm as well as their writings online and I saw it as an opportunity. They were doing something separate from Trek.fm just like I was and I approached both of them and said “Lets support each other and fly under one banner.” We all decided that “The Nerd Party” was the branding to go under and it would be the name of our network. Aggressive Negotiations’ Facebook and website was later absorbed into The Nerd Party’s and we wrote a press release about how “The Nerd Party” was turning into a network with three shows: Aggressive Negotiations, Nerd Nuptial, and The Senate Floor (we changed the name to avoid branding confusion).
While I was the publisher of the network, the five of us (Me, my wife, John Mills, Matthew Rushing, and Matt Hansen) made all the major decisions together. Soon after, Nerd Nuptial broke the top 100 in TV & Film on iTunes for six weeks in a row. That got the attention of BlogTalkRadio (Now Spreaker) and they came to me proposing a partnership. They would host our content as well as promote our shows and that’s why you hear ads at the top of our episodes. Due to that partnership, we were able to grow and expand like crazy. I acquired other shows that were already established and I reached out to talented individuals and asked them if they had a show idea they wanted to pitch.
We now have 11 active podcasts, two archived podcasts, and one video show on the network. We cover television, film, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Harry Potter and a whole lot more. I’m very proud of that kind of growth and the collection of extremely talented people that call “The Nerd Party” home.
Does that help keep you motivated? Sometimes it can be hard to keep going with creative endeavors without financial return.
Thankfully, The Nerd Party does have financial return but the main reason I do it is to provide creative people the tools they need to be creative at no cost to them. Audience numbers are not even second or third on the list of importance, what is important is that these people enjoy their hobby and have a creative outlet. We don’t want them to worry about paying for a website or paying for podcast hosting. We want them to just podcast and let our senior members worry about the rest.
The group we have cultivated is really what motivates me. We have 14 amazing people who fly our banner and we all communicate on Slack every single day. Most of the time it has nothing to do with the network, we just share links and talk about the media we like (or don’t).
Back to Nerd Nuptial, do you have similar tastes in pop culture?
My wife and I share similar interests as well as tastes in pop culture. I really hit the jackpot when I met her. We watch everything together and sometimes even read the same thing together. There’s never a time where she’s in the living room watching something and I’m off in the bedroom watching something else. If we are in the same house and something is being watched, then it’s together. Before we were married, I spent a semester in Hollywood and we would queue up our respective Arrested Development DVDs and hit play at the same time while we were on the phone so we could watch them together thousands of miles away. Also, no one ever has to sacrifice enjoyment when we watch something together. She doesn’t force me to watch reality TV and I don’t force her to watch sports (thankfully because those things don’t interest us) we’d rather watch a Nolan or Fincher film together. You don’t need to have the same tastes to have a happy marriage but boy does it help.
What makes for a good discussion?
Disagreement can make for great discussion. We actually love it when we have differing views on a film because that means that it will make for a much livelier conversation on the show. Sure, we have a lot of the same tastes but that doesn’t mean we agree all the time. She has no problem telling me and our audience when she thinks I’m being foolish on what I perceive as a film’s issues.
What one episode would you recommend to draw in new listeners?
We reviewed David Fincher’s show on Netflix “Mindhunter” and that was our most popular episode on iTunes. I think it was popular because we are gigantic David Fincher fans and are huge Netflix supporters and our enthusiasm shown through. Plus, we try to binge as fast as possible so people can hear our take just a weekend after a season drops.
If I could cheat and recommend one more it would be our first “Listener Questions” episode. The episode before we opened up the floor to our audience to ask us whatever questions they wanted. Whether it was thoughts on pop culture, stories from our past, or even advice for fellow married nerds. It was a lot of fun and we’ve done a few more since. This episode gives a great view into our personalities and chemistry for other episodes.
What’s the editing process like?
Editing for Nerd Nuptial is the simplest in my podcasting career. All my other shows have been remote recording via skype or something like that. But since we live together it’s easy to record in the same room. We do live-to-tape so no real editing takes place unless the baby wakes up or something. So, I put the file in the editor, make sure the volume is consistent, slap on the opening and closing music and export. That’s it.
How long is each episode?
Our average episode length is 45 minutes. We’ve done shorter of course but if we really get going on a topic we easily can go over an hour.
How often do you release episodes?
We are a weekly show and we try are hardest to stick to that. But sometimes we’ll have to skip a week here and there.
What other podcasts are you listening to at the moment?
I try to listen to everything on The Nerd Party as much as I can to be fair to my other hosts and keep up with what they’re doing. But with 11 active shows it’s tough so I don’t really have time to listen to anything else. Thankfully, (but not really) I have a long commute so that helps.
Where can people listen to Nerd Nuptial?
You can listen to Nerd Nuptial practically everywhere! iTunes, Spotify, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, Spreaker, Blubrry, TuneIn, Google Play, and of course using our RSS Feed. You can get all these links and all our episodes at The Nerd Party.