As someone who’s recently taken up walking again, I’ve gotten into the habit of downloading and trying out podcasts. These short form pieces of content are a great way of keeping up to date, potentially learn a bit more about subjects you love, and learning more about the content creators that we all watch and listen to on a daily basis.
Given that I’ve been watching MKBHD for years now, I decided to give his “Waveform” podcast a go.
The breakdown of a typical episode
It started off well – the hosts, Andrew Manganelli, and Marques Brownlee, do a pretty good job of vibing off one another – they have knowledge to add to most tech subjects, especially when it comes to Marques talking about the business strategies of big companies, frequently giving ideas and insights into reasons a company has done something that I would never have imagined. But most of the extra knowledge comes from the host’s early access to tech thanks to their press credentials.
Each week typically revolves around the hosts finding a few tech news stories to talk about within an hour episode. When it comes to tech-tober and other tech release weeks, the hosts have a lot to say about a specific manufacturer (for example Apple during iPhone launch week, and google with Pixel launches), but as a whole the hosts are pretty good at finding multiple news stories to talk about, and give their opinions on what is happening.
The show has multiple ad breaks, with the hosts answering trivia questions just before. They’ll proceed to hear the answers to their trivia questions at the end of the show, and have a scoreboard as to who is winning.
For a 60 minute show, it’s pretty tight-knit, and has been a /mostly/ pleasurable thing to listen to on my walks, given the topics discussed, and the casualness by which the hosts present it all.
Having guests on like Jerry Rig Everything, and even the co-host David Imel coming on every now and then definitely mixes things up, with David Imel being a breath of fresh air given his extreme detailed knowledge when it comes to all things android and smart phones as a whole, which can be seen when he manages to get most questions right in the host’s gameshow-esque trivia (To say David is one of the most knowledgable in all of MKBHD’s staff is an understatement).
These one-off’s definitely help to keep the show fresh and entertaining, and help to keep listeners on their feet each week, not knowing whether they’ll get a normal episode, or something completely different.
Why I’ve unsubscribed
MKBHD is a video focused channel. We all know this, and it’s easily one of the biggest reasons Marques has so many subscribers on YouTube. The sheer quality of his videos on YouTube is enough to make any video producer, or cinematographer jealous given how crisp and well executed his b-role is.
The issue is, the team seems to forget that podcasts are traditionally audio only, meaning that they will constantly “show” something to the camera’s in the studio, giving almost no insight on the audio as to what it is that they’re showing.
It’s as if the audio part of the show is a second thought – you’ll constantly have the hosts show something to the camera’s without any thought as to what they’re doing.
This issue isn’t unique to the waveform podcast; I listened to the Giant Bombcast for over 5 years and they had a few instances where they would “show, not tell”, but these were one offs, and the team would instantly know they were wrong for doing so and go back, apologising to the listeners and ensuring they described in as much detail as possible what they wanted to show.
For the team at the Waveform podcast, this never seems to be the case. There’ll be occasional jokes about how “this won’t work well for the audio-only listeners”, but acknowledging the issue doesn’t fix it. It happens easily once or twice every episode, and will take you out of listening completely.
The straw that broke the camels back was the latest episode, released on October 21st. The first 40 minutes of the episode went fine, David Imel and Andrew Manganelli started by talking about SMS/MMS changes to google pixel, and how it would change the landscape when it comes to texting in North America. But around the 40 minute mark, a separate segment starts where Marques is interviewing Austin Evans, and rather than have a traditional interview, they proceed to play a game where they hide phone’s behind their backs, with the camera showing the two phone’s they’ll be guessing.
As you can imagine, this was impossible for myself walking around the park. It was jarring, and kinda insulting at the end of the day that a person who chooses to consume MKBHD’s content in a slightly different way was treated like a mug.
MKBHD did well to get where he is today, and I admire him for getting where he is. But as an audio-only listener of his podcast, I can’t help but constantly feel like a second class citizen, like I’m missing out on things every week, like I should be watching, not listening. For that reason alone, I no longer have any interest in listening to the show, and so as of today, I unfollowed on Spotify, and will just go back to watching his normal content on YouTube.