I believe the power of the podcast is to help us put one foot in front of the other when we don’t really feel like it.
The first time I listened to the Bombcast, I was a groundskeeper at a private golf course in 2008. Those days were hot and humid or cold and wet, which meant that I was either putting a fresh edge on the bunkers in 100 degree July, or literally digging ditches in rainy, 40 degree October.
I took my mind off the weather and periodic bouts of monotony with podcasts, infotainment for the blue collar intellectual. Video games were a low priority for me in those days, but I occasionally liked to check in on the industry with the 1 Up Yours podcast and, for the first time, Giant Bomb’s Bombcast.
Initially, Ryan Davis sounded like a helicopter pilot who wore a turtleneck (why do I always imagine podcast hosts as dispatchers wearing turtlenecks?). In my visualization, the Bomb Squad gathered in Ryan’s basement around a repurposed D&D table, the walls adorned with retro games posters, some cult film homages and a beer sign or two. Ryan seemed like the guy who just wanted to make a good show, amidst other knowledgeable but immature gamers who were more likely there (in my delusion) for the free Mountain Dew, or post recording round of Magic the Gathering.
While it turns out the Bombcast was far less homebrew than I immediately judged it to be, it’s now evident that was (and is) part of its continuing appeal; just gamers talking about games and having a whole lot of fun doing it.
It was this fun that got me through what I refer to as my dark ages. If you give your mind an opportunity to wander it will take you down some fairly twisted paths. Those that have sat on a tractor for eight hours a day, five days a week, making wide loops under a baking hot sun, know what I’m talking about. And, when given this time, all you have to think about is a mountain of student loan debt, loneliness, a fixed budget that allows for just $10 a week in “fun” money (which usually just went into the gas tank anyway), and zero prospects, you fall into a quarter life crisis.
But I got through it, like most do. Some infotainment went a long way. Ryan Davis joined a slew of other podcasters in the eclectic march that kept my mind off the darkness. NPR, HowStuffWorks, RadioLab, TWiT and more were also there. But you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in any industry that excels as much in his or her field and can match that expertise with entertainment as Ryan Davis.
When you spend almost a three hours a week, through the good and bad, listening to the same people for five years, you develop a weird relationship. You feel like you know them, even though you don’t. I don’t know Ryan Davis the friend, coworker, or husband. I know Ryan Davis the podcaster and video game personality.
But what a great podcaster… with one hell of a personality.
Ryan Davis, it’s been an honor listening to you. You helped me win some battles and you can be sure as shit that I intend to pay it forward.