Twelve months is an awfully long time when you think about it. Twelve months ago, I had three grandparents. Twelve months ago, I had one of the best holidays of my life that had only just been booked. Twelve months ago, to the second of this being published, I began a pet project that has changed a lot of things in my life.
It began, as all good things do, with an idea. Inspired by the podcast from the Previously on Survivor Facebook group and the infamous Survivor Historians podcast, Logan came to the group with an idea – Why doesn’t someone create an Amazing Race podcast that represents the truly global nature of The Amazing Race? Like a well-oiled jigsaw, it all came together, and one year ago today, Eamon, Logan, Michelle and I joined forces for the first-ever YATNcast. Of course, in completely typical fashion for me, it was not all plain sailing. Firstly, because of the weird set-up I had to use on the first episode, you couldn’t hear me. Also, we ended up talking for over three hours, which is all well and good, but at least two hours of that was not even Amazing Race related! We finished the show shattered (in the case of my back and Logan, who finished the show at 5.30am his time), our batteries drained (literally in the case of Eamon, who was actually on his phone in the car park of his workplace for the hour he could manage) but knowing the error of our ways having ironed out the problems that befell us.
The first issue that we had to solve was at what time to do the next podcast. After both Logan and I found the concept of accidental racism in The Amazing Race 8 to be the funniest thing we’d ever heard, we knew that it probably wasn’t wise to podcast at a time that meant Logan was staying up for 20 hours straight in preparation. Michelle offered to take a step back, and this freed us up to begin podcasting as a threesome at 3pm UK time on a Wednesday, giving us enough time to watch the episode and make notes. Of course, just because there was no Michelle to keep us in check anymore did not mean that we actually stayed on topic during any podcast of the 24th American season. Our ridiculous tendencies to ramble led us to such diverse topics as The Mole (a lot), pretty much every Survivor season, not having any clooooooothes and everyone’s favourite semi-recurring segment – Malaysian Asks – the gold standard of which is still when Eamon asked whether urine freezes immediately in -40ºC weather.
When the season ended, we took our first little six-week break. This break gave us time to think – how else could we improve? We’d managed to rectify a lot of mistakes that occurred during the test podcast, from aiming not to reference Phil Keoghan being made out to be a racist, to me actually investing in a microphone stand now that it was in use again. Two international seasons, both of which had representation from our gang, were preparing to return, and gave us an opportunity to test out new ideas whilst also giving us a way to cover everything that happened. Into the breach stepped another Australian – Ben Powell. After Eamon was unavailable to cover the Canadian season, we decided that the podcast would split into two teams for the Summer – Logan & I on Team Canada and Ben & Eamon on Team Australia (technically Australia vs New Zealand, but who cares about those bloody Kiwis?). Of course, Michelle is the world’s biggest TARAU fan, so happily rejoined the podcasting team, and Team Australia became a three-person squad.
For the first time ever, Eamon managed to be around for the first podcast of a season – the Cast Preview podcast – where we spend an hour being mean about people we’ve never met just from the network-provided bios and pictures (and in the case of one particular team, adverts where they say the word ‘bloody’ an awful lot), and he even managed to only miss two Australian podcasts in the entire season, after missing three in the 24th American season’s run – an impressive record! Since his very first show, Ben has brought out a distinctly bitchier side to us all – like many Australians, he’s not one for mincing his words, and it’s only natural to compete!
On the Canadian side, we managed to stick to a timeslot for an impressive (for us at least) nine of the first ten episodes, before I decided it’d be more fun to fly thousands of miles and shrink the time difference to only an hour whilst we were in Alberta, and absolutely zero whilst we were in BC. We spotted the potential of possibly the most gloriously dense team in Amazing Race history (at least in recent memory), as Sukhi & Jinder single-handedly provided the comedy of the second Canadian season. From being the first team ever to block the exit to the start line, to unnecessarily charging a car in an attempt to get ahead, to asking (out loud), “Which way is upstream?” whilst sat on a raft and trying to paddle. Their crowning moment of awesome occurred in the ninth leg when they became the first family team in Amazing Race history to complete the infamous “Life Drawing” Fast Forward task and it was all sorts of sibling awkwardness. On a sadder note, we had to move the fourth episode recap of the Canadian season due to my grandmother’s funeral. I’m sure she’s looking down on me, proud that I’ve turned my radio obsession into an outlet to channel the snarkiness that I inherited off her.
Our Canadian recaps saw a bunch of firsts for us. We had our first episode which topped 1,500 views. Our first preview podcast that was accompanied by the promotional pictures of the teams. The first real chance for any of us to embrace a punslinging host, in the same way that Allan Wu loves to throw out a pun, and Logan and I both appreciate them, in Jon Montgomery. In one season, he turned from an alright host into probably the best thing about the entire Canadian franchise. However, most importantly, the Canadian season marked the first time that YATNcast worlds collided, when Logan flew out to Vancouver for the weekend and joined my family and I for the day in September. I’m pleased to say that my family got on famously with him, and everyone involved had an awesome (as Canadians like to say) time, even if he found out we were being bumped from the hotel in Vancouver before we did! He certainly picked the right day to come, as it was the first day in a week that we’d actually seen sunshine!
Coming out of the international seasons, a plan needed to be formed. For the first time in three seasons, I was unable to make an appearance in the preview podcast for the 25th American season, because of glaciers. Thankfully, Ben stepped into the breech and made me look even better by flubbing the intro ten seconds into the podcast. Of course, this being me, I mocked the hell out of him for it the week after. With TAR moving to Fridays, we needed to move, and the best course of action was to move from 3pm Wednesdays to 3pm Sundays. This was great fun for Ben, given that 3pm for me is 2am for Ben. We were back to the problem of everything immature being hysterical and Logan and I learnt very quickly that Ben is a terrible influence on us. From his insistence upon getting me into trouble with Scotland so soon after they tried to abandon us, to finding the new Black Family in a screencap of Bill & Cathi from Season 19 bodybuilding to his already legendary impression of Bethany Hamilton, he has brought out the best and worst in the both of us. For the sake of Ben’s sanity, the podcast moved from 3pm to 11pm my time, which meant I was shattered for a few weeks, before finally moving to the new timeslot of 8pm GMT.
And now to the present. As I write this, we’re gearing up to podcast about Episode 9 in Singapore in two days’ time. We will have produced 49 episodes about five different Amazing Races (and one failed Seven reality programme, which no-one needs to be reminded of). Our shows have stretched for a total of nearly two days non-stop. We’ve had over 35,000 views over all our podcasts. These numbers blow my mind. I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that this could be achieved in such a short amount of time.
The final credit has to go to everyone involved. Without all of you guys, this could never have happened. Just a warning, I’m about to go all Martha Stewart on yo asses.
- Eamon – you bring so much to the podcasts when you’re on them. Malaysian Asks is a thoroughly tongue-in-cheek segment, but your interest in the most random things brings it alive. You have such incredible passion for everything, and it entertains me to no end. For the record, no, piss does not freeze at -40ºC.
- Michelle – I’m so glad that you got to complete a season of the show that you love so much. I felt so bad that you felt you had to step back that I was always waiting for you to get your chance at redemption. If there’s ever an Amazing Race Australia 4 and you are not cast, it’s a crime. You have such passion for the Australian seasons that it makes me immediately envious that the UK’s never tried.
- Ben – For such a late addition to the YATNcast family, you know how to make a big impression! As I said above, you bring out the very best and the very worst in me, and it’s no secret that I’ve enjoyed this American season so thoroughly, and a big part of that is the energy that you bring. Also, we need to hear what Bethany sounds like on laughing gas! Also, Bill & Cathi say Hi.
- Ryan – “Dear Ryan, you have the desire to try new things, and a lot of self-confidence. I think you need more focus, and possibly more education, in business for example. I know you will then be ready for a big challenge.”
- Logan – Where do I start with you? You share so much of the same sense of humour as me that it’s actually kind of scary. The perfect example of this is the mock thread for the unaired episode on Netflix Gold Premium Plus. The fact that you were willing to improvise an entire podcast around the rubbish that Ben, Eamon, Wayne and myself all came up with whilst adding your own flairs was hilarious. You are beyond dedicated to The Amazing Race, and I will have immense pride mocking the hell out of you on TARC3. The fact that you were willing to be so flexible with podcast timings and that you flew for the very first time to come and see some weirdo that you met on the internet says immense things about your character. Also, the Black family, lol.
- My family – especially when it came to our holiday in Canada, you were more than accommodating to the podcast timings, with the exception of not finding me wi-fi in Alaska for the preview podcast. I am disappoint.
- Jess Liese and the TARHAP family – This may sound like a weird one to thank, given that you are kind of our competition, but I thoroughly enjoy how different our spins on the episodes are. If people ever ask me to describe YATNcast, I tend to go with “RHAP, but bitchier”, and I have the utmost respect for everyone involved. I take an awful lot of inspiration from you guys.
To friends old and new, here’s to you. Here’s to another strong year, and here’s to another year where I get to enjoy being mean about people I’m unlikely to ever meet. Here’s to our new family. Here’s to the glorious second year of YATNcast – the snarkiest, wittiest, most entertaining show I’ve ever done.