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The Gilbert Years- Part 1: First... a Fan!

The next few blog posts will be a 3 part series on my involvement and history with Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast.

Gilbert Gottfried at Nutmeg, Studio E

For the past five years, I’ve been recording and handling audio production on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast. If you've listened to this Thursday's (11-14-19) “Colossal Obsessions” show, you know that my time as their audio engineer has come to an end. As the team embarks on the next chapter of their journey, my part becomes redundant.

It’s been quite an effort leading the show from Gilbert’s kitchen table and the Friars Club (among other spaces) to the comfort and quality afforded by the now defunct Nutmeg Post (who generously allowed us to use my room there free of charge). I was turned on to the show by a college friend, and became an instant fan. There is a scale in my mind when it comes to podcasting that weighs content vs. quality. Early on, GGACP was a show that was painful at times to listen to because of how it was recorded and produced- but the content was so compelling, I just had to listen! One day during my train commute, I started playing an episode only to discover that my headphones weren't plugged in... while in the quiet car! When I posted about it on Facebook, a friend commented that she knew Frank Santopdare. I said "Great! Tell him I love the show, but it sounds terrible- and I can help!". Shortly after arriving at the studio, the phone was ringing. It was Dara Gottfried (who I had met days earlier while recording Gilbert for a cartoon) asking how I would help. The rest is history.

Frank Santopadre during the 100th Episode

The initial Nutmeg sessions were sporadic, but it soon became the show's weekly home. Tom Leopold was the first guest I recorded, although that episode didn't run for a while. In the beginning of my involvement, I was simply recording the show and shipping it off to LA for packaging and delivering. At the time, there wasn't a massive effort to mix the show. It was mostly just putting the theme music on, adding commercials, making some edits and delivering. Since Nutmeg's name (and mine) were now in the shows credits, I took it upon myself to pre-mix all of the dialogue to make sure it was as good as it could be before delivering for finishing. This was above and beyond- but necessary. Earlier episodes of the show relied from time to time on guests phoning in. It's not the worst thing in the world- but having Skype available at Nutmeg was a game changer, even though we had some early misfires. When your guests are often octogenarians, it's hard to walk them through Skype recording. Eventually we started sync recording guests in LA at Sideshow's studio. This was a big step forward, as we were able to see and hear our guests- and marry the good audio from LA in post production. This process makes it hard to tell that the guests weren't in the same room with us!

Joe Pantoliano- the first guest I brought to the show

When Sideshow (GGACP's initial podcast company) closed, and the team signed on with Earwolf- full audio responsibility was put in my hands. Recording, editing, cleaning, mixing, and delivering two finished versions in two different audio files types. This was also a chance to format the show and treat it less like "just another interview podcast" and more like a proper radio show. These changes included how the theme music ran during the intro (editing the music so the music tracks natural last chord rang out over the guests name), commercial break transitions (I had Gilbert and Frank pre-record a variety of "Don't go away" and "We now return to" throws), and even involved voice actor John Beach's wonderful acapella contributions! I later introduced clips of movies and shows being discussed with a little flashback transition to bring us in and out.

With the Thursday "MINI" episodes going behind a paywall, I posed the question "How will anyone know they exist?". Part of my "day job" for years has been mixing promos for most of the cable networks, so I decided to apply that to GGACP. I would find a funny clip from each mini episode (usually ending with Gilbert's big laughs) and asked John Beach to give me a series of reads of "On the next Gilbert and Frank's Amazing Colossal Obsessions". He gave this tremendous variety of styles that I could pick from, and I often tried to match the mood of the current episode. I also asked voice actress Whitney Malin to contribute both end credits to the show to thank all the awesome people that continue to help promote it, as well as the VO for the MINI episode teasers. John Beach also gave us an awesome music track for the promo ending with "they now control you... so give up!". Brilliant. All of this really gave the show a more polished feel, and I truly appreciate the many people who have reached out over the years to tell me so ! You may be the only people who noticed- but it's worth the effort.

My room at Nutmeg recording Hal Linden via Skype- an early attempt with Sideshow

My hope is that as the show moves forward, the people handling the audio give it the love it deserves. I also hope that the devoted listeners who recognize the value of the content will consider putting some of their money behind it- perhaps shifting away from subscriptions to participate in the shows re-vamped Patreon page.

Next up I'll discuss some of the amazing episodes that finish out my run with GGACP! And maybe I'll finally reveal the LOST TAPES!!!


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