Example The Standard Template Construct: Interview: Jeff Carroll from Podhammer

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Interview: Jeff Carroll from Podhammer

Art by Artgerm

So, I sat down with Jeff a did a small interview for people who are fans of Podhammer. Podhammer is the first Warhammer themed podcast on the net, and the inspiration for 40k radio. I listen to it often, and it has been my 'music' through many a long night of painting sessions. While it does have a focus on the competative side of Warhammer, there is plenty there for any type of Warhammer player.

So enjoy the interview.

Q1). Your podcast is often referred to as the premier wargaming podcast, predating 40k radio and the d6 generation, if I remember correctly. What was your motivation to begin podcasting in the first place, and why about Warhammer?

It wasn’t the first Wargaming podcast, there were a few others floating around. I am a big fan of the Podcast medium and I was playing World of Warcraft at the time and  hadfound a lot of WOW related podcasts that I listened to and enjoyed. I searched for “Warhammer” in iTunes and didn’t find anything that matched the quality of what was being done for WOW. The seed was planted in my mind and it all took off from there. The show exceeded expectations and started a whole genre of podcasts. It’s great to have been at the forefront of Wargamings entry in the world of WEB 2.0

Q2) What sort of equipment did you use in the beginning? And how has your podcasting equipment evolved since? What equipment and software would you recommend to an aspiring podcaster looking to start?

Well It started with a headset USB mic and a laptop in my garage. It was very lame sitting there by myself. I was nervous about how it would sound and who would bother to listen to it. Since then I have been slowly upgrading to a more professional level of gear. I was hesistant to spend money at first because I thought I would quit. However as time went on I realised I needed better equipment if I was going to have multiple co-hosts as well as guests on via skype.
For beginners I recommend starting cheap. You can get very good quality sound with a USB mic if you want to do it yourself. Its when you add guests in that things get complicated. Crowding around a single microphone does not produce good results. Behringer and M-Audio do beginner podcast kits these days. But a music store is the place to go for the equipment you need. I will add this piece of advice. Quality is not nearly as important as content. Get comfortable in front of the mic and develop a niche for yourself. Its harder to get off the ground now with so much competition out there – you need to do it very well or come up with a new approach to the medium. Once you have done this – then start spending big $$ on equipment.

(Tell me about it, Jeff! I'm having the same feeling now about my blog, who really carea about my rablings about 40k and Fantasy? That's why I'm namedropping you to get views!)

Q3) You recently have been attempting to do several 'Live' format shows, what are some of the challenges you are finding in this? How have your fans responded to this? I know I certainly enjoy them as an inner circle member!
Live shows were always my goal. I think they add a great interactive element. I have however never had a sufficient internet speed to do this properly. It creates several challenges that a prerecorded show does not. The big one is you can’t edit what you say, and mash it together later. I always wanted the show to be unscripted and recorded “live” anyway so this was not a big issue for us.
The other challenge is sound effects and music clips need to be added on the fly. This requires a second PC to play the audio and feed it directly into the mixer. So volume levels all need to be adjusted as you record. A radio station has a team of producers doing this stuff while the hosts focus on content. A podcaster is watching all this aswell as the live video feed and directing the discussion on the show. Its not perfect yet but we are getting better! Its been well received by fans. However because the bulk of our audience is in the UK or USA it is difficult to get a huge live audience because of the timezone differences.

(Though Jeff does do several USA and UK timed shows these days, so keep an eye out for those, listeners!)

Q4) Do you have anything new planned for the future for the podcast? Do you see yourself still doing it in 2 or 3 years time? Do you want to remain more casual like you are now, or go down the semi-professional route 40k Radio and the D6 Generation seem to be taking?

It’s a little casual at the moment because of the well discussed life changes that I have been through this year. The other challenge I face is that my co-hosts all have their own lives and fitting in time to record as well as play games and tournaments to talk about can be difficult at times. It is still just a hobby however. That being said,  I would like to see it become a more profitable side business for me that can fund my warhammer hobby. One of the things that made Podhammer a success is its informal and humourous banter, this casual format is our signature trait and it will never change. As for new things for the future….well you will just have to keep listening I guess

(That we will! If you can get podhammer dice out again jeff, I'm sure many of us would buy a few sets for leadership tests!)

Now lets talk Warhammer a little bit.

Q5) What army are you currently collecting and how far along is it? What's its theme and what plans do you have for it in the future? (If I recall correctly you were last working on your Persian Empire themed army)
I am working on my Persian empire themed Empire. Howevever I have recently been given a Mantic Games Elven army and it has inspired me to start a High Elf force. I will probably drift between the two. My motivation for painting has dwindled of late but I am starting to get the bug again.

Art by LuinOhtar
(Jeff's next army?)

Q6) There are excited rumors about the next edition of Warhammer. What changes do you expect to see? What changes to do you want to see?

Well I don’t think we need a new edition, the core rules are very solid. It’s the army books that are unhinging the game. I hope they don’t make change for changes sake. I do expect to see more scenario based gaming in 8th ed.

Q7) Given how thrilled games workshop seem to be with the success of Warhammer 40,000 5th editions new mission setup, it seems inevitable that we will be getting a similar system in Warhammer Fantasy in the next edition. Do you think there would be much resistance to 'missions' in the Eastern Australian tournament scene? Or would people roll with it because that’s what would be in the rulebook? What are your thoughts about missions in Warhammer Fantasy?

I should read the questions before I started answering them. I think there will be some resistance to missions, but the Aus tourney scene has proven that it is flexible and able to change as new ideas and concerns come about.

Q8) What other games do you play besides Warhammer. Do you play any other Games Workshop Games? Such as 40k or Bloodbowl? Do you play any non-GW games, like Warmachines or Hordes? Do you have any interest in playing anything else if you don't currently?
Do you enjoy playing board games, videogames, do you roleplay (such as in D&D) and if you do, what systems are you currently playing in?

I don’t play much else. I have dabbled in BloodBowl, and I am currently enjoying Space Hulk as a change from Warhammer. I have played all the GW games (my interest in tabletop gaming started with 40k) I used to be a big RTS gamer and I did spend about a year playing WOW ,but computer games don’t grab me like they used to. Podhammer is my hobby and I spend many an evening working on it. Add in a game or two of Warhammer a week I don’t have a lot of time for anything else.

Q9) What have you been reading recently? Do you have a few good novel recommendations for people? They don't just have to be Warhammer related either.

I finished the Times Eye series by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter. I like Sci-fi that is near future or in the extreme far off future. Anything that is based strongly in current theoretical physics and other advanced science. I don’t really understand it but the basic concepts are fascinating. I also enjoy alternate history – Harry Turtledove is top of that list.

Q10) I know you're a huge fan of the West Wing and so am I! So I must ask you. Who is the better writer, Sam or Toby? And also, what's your favourite episode?

Hmm well the better question is who is the better writer between Aaron Sorkin (series 1-4) and John Wells (series 5-7) But I like to think Toby is the better writer, that bitter “I have been crushed by the world” attitude reminds of Dave Palmer.
As for favourite episode….tough choice. “King Corn”, “Crackpots and these women” “In the Shadow of Two Gunmen”, soo many good episodes… I have seen every one many times it’s the most well written TV series ever made.


Have to agree there, Jeff.

Well, there we have it, my very first interview! It certainly was an experience. Writing questions was much harder than I thought it would be! I'll be doing my next interview as soon as I can, have I'll hopefully catch up with jeff again in a few months, and ask him some hobby related questions next time!

My next planned interview is with the crew of Worlds End Radio, if I can track them down while I'm in perth in December!

Stay safe, and happy gaming everybody!


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