Some thoughts as the Fringe ends for another year

And that’s that. The Edinburgh Fringe Podcast, one of the most high profile, enjoyable podcasts that I do in the year can be put away till about March next year – that’s when people start to email me asking if I’ll be doing it again.

How about some numbers to put this year’s run in perspective:

  • 31 podcasts, made up of..
  • 22 regular shows
  • 5 preview shows
  • 3 Sunday specials
  • and 1 “Top Ten” clip show (which only has two clips actually repeated from other podcasts)
  • The podcasts featured 19 musical acts
  • 1 poetry recital
  • 1 rap
  • 58 ‘studio’ interviews
  • 18 hours 34 minutes 52 second of edited audio
  • …which clocks in at comfortably over a gigabyte of downloadable MP3’s.

My Fringe experience is very much like the X-15 rocket plane. Heading out to the press launches at the start of the preview week lifts me up from the clichéd “I live here, get out my city” to “brilliant, the Fringe is back!” to the point where the curtain goes up on the five minute come and see our show spots, which lights up the rocket engines behind the podcast and thrusts it (and my adrenaline) to over 300,00 feet in the sky.

And then, from early in week three, I start to glide home. Most people want to be interviewed early in the run, thinking this will get them on air straight away. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that, and I’m pretty good at editing out any references to “I’ve only done two shows so far”.

That’s just one of the things I need to keep in mind while interviewing. The one that has surprised people when I tell them is that I regard all the interviews as one big game of Just a Minute. Not completely you understand – listeners will know I love a bit of deviation in the podcast – but in terms of no hesitation and no repetition.

No hesitation because when there’s an opportunity to grab an interview or do something special, then I just go for it; such as approaching Arnold Brown for a ten minute interview between shows, dragging Rachael Sage into a shop for her first taste of Bourneville chocolate or taking up Phil Nichol on his offer to do a stand-up set at Old Rope.

And no repetition because asking the very same questions in different interviews is asking for trouble, because it’ll be as clear as day to the listeners of the podcast that I’ve had to do the same thing twice, when it’s far more entertaining to keep asking about new things and finding out different angles to people and their time at the Fringe.

Sometimes I think it would be far easier with the sort of production teams doing video that I see around Edinburgh, but to be honest I look at these large teams grabbing 30 second vox pops, then listen to a in-depth twenty minute interview with a small theatre group and realise that I much prefer the intimacy and depth that audio allows me to explore. I’m not surprised that so many people jumped on video podcasting as soon as it was feasible. While I do dabble with it, I still prefer working in pure audio. To be honest i think you can do a lot more in the pure audio medium than any other that’s available online.

But it’s over now, for another year. And give it a few days and I’ll be working out what worked, what didn;t and what I need to change for next year’s shows.