Making a Tech Podcast in 2015

Today, a friend and I launched a tech podcast. “Really? Another tech show in 2015?” Yes, because we were going to talk about technology whether we had a show to record it for or not.

I didn’t understand what good podcasts were for when Steve Jobs introduced them to the iTunes Store at WWDC in 2005 (watch his announcement here on YouTube). Apple didn’t invent podcasts or take credit for them. They were simply adding value to iPods and iTunes.

Then the iPhone took Apple devices in another direction. It was not a 90º turn from their previous goals, but it led to several innovations that meant iPods as we knew them were fading into memory. The iPod was going into retirement soon since the iPhone would handle all of the heavy computing. The phone was a pocket computer, digital communicator, and an iPod wrapped into one device. Apple stressed this. They have always wanted their customers to take full advantage of media along with the apps and services. Movies, TV shows, music, audio books, e-books, and yes, podcasts. Choose the content as it suits your tastes. This was something that Apple liberated. They gave us the means to use all forms of content with ease on our phones.

Then it was in late September of 2010 that Mac Power Users episode #34: ‘Keynote’ got me hooked on listening to podcasts. I was listening to a couple others before I discovered this one, but those were poorly made. I was ready to unsubscribe and permanently close the podcasts app, when David Sparks and Katie Floyd showed me what a good podcast could be. After that, I slowly and surely added other show subscriptions that came up one way or another in the discussions on MPU.

I’ve been a graphic designer for 15 years. My work affords me many circumstances which to listen to as much as I want while I’m pushing pixels around in Photoshop and Illustrator. My appreciation for podcasts grew.

I was never satisfied with the original options. Talk radio has been trashed with nonsensical commercial spots. The talent that goes into most of radio talk shows is weak and aimed at the interests of a select few of the ‘mainstream’ audience. And no matter where you are in the United States, you’ll find that even the best radio shows aren’t necessarily covering your favorite interests.

Podcasts are what worked for me. I downloaded shows based on my personal interests. Before Tim Cook told me otherwise concerning the Apple Watch, I thought that the iPod and the iPhone were the most intimate devices in my life. They delivered the messages from podcasters right into my ears. The connection between listener and podcaster is a bit one-sided, but that side that’s in tact is powerful, because podcasters offer a reprieve from mundane conversation. Once you tune into a show that’s full of interesting content shared in an entertaining way on a regular basis, you’ll feel close to the podcasters. Your worldview starts to align with theirs. You don’t always agree with them, but when you don’t, boy, do you feel like telling them because you care about them. They’ve given you so much — you just want to offer them a little of what they’ve given you. This new type of relationship was born out of talk shows.

My favorite topic in life has been the digital world. I started listening to more tech shows, which introduced me to many creative and insightful people. Time went on, and more tech shows were launched.

Now that there are millions of people that use computers and smartphones, I believe that the listeners and engagement is still increasing. There are people in 2015 that have never heard Back to Work, and they’ll discover it over the holidays. With an audience that’s ever growing that wants to hear about productivity, creativity, technology, culture… who wouldn’t want to create or listen to all of the great tech podcasts?

In mid 2012, I started a movie podcast with TJ Draper. Since then, we’ve reviewed a movie and discussed filmmaking each week. It’s been fun, but my creative itch hasn’t been satisfied. I have wanted more. I thought up five or six other shows that I would like to play a part in. I got to work producing one of the ideas late in 2012, but it didn’t working out because my format for this second show was overly ambitious. I needed to scale back to a manageable scale, so I went back to the drawing board and waited for the right idea to manifest itself.

Late in 2014, my friend and coffee roaster Eric Rauch and I were discussing podcasts. We checked iTunes and there were hardly any shows about coffee culture in production, so we created our own. It has been as fulfilling as the movie podcast. It’s also rewarding to discuss something else that we enjoy every day, like coffee.

Before I knew what was happening, I had shared my enthusiasm for the coffee show with another friend that’s a programmer, and suggested that we create a tech show. I was kinda being ironic, but he liked the idea. We thought about who we’d like on the show, and the programmer thought about Joshua Peiffer, an engineer that’s also into technology. It just made sense, and the show fell into place.

TechTonic had to have a foundation, which we worked on for more than a month.... The programmer needed to focus his time on work and other worthy pursuits, so he couldn’t be a regular cohost. Joshua and I agreed that guest participation was in order.

Episode one with Robert McGinley Myers was released today: We All Want Robots but They’re Going to Kill Us. It’s the third time I’ve created a podcast, but only the third time I’ve been on a tech show. We discussed why we enjoy technology culture so much, and how it’s made a difference in our work and leisure.

Podcasts are just one slice of the culture pie that everyone can take advantage of. As long as I have the energy, I’m going to keep fueling this new pursuit because it’s rewarding. I want to sharpen my focus and help people find creative and enjoyable ways to interact with devices.

You can follow the show on our site, or via the RSS feed for the podcast. We are also on Twitter, where the spirit of TechTonic comes to life and talks about the ‘brand.’ Because I don’t like Facebook that much, I’m not creating a TechTonic Facebook page. That would ruin it. TechTonic is better than that in my opinion.

I’m now going to focus my writing and production almost 100% of the time on Top Brew, which is the coffee podcast, and TechTonic. When you want to catch up with me, find me on Twitter or on the podcasts.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.