CROSS.CULTURE.CRITIC. Podcast Reboots With New Co-host Joe Yerke

Chris williams and joe yerke (1)

Podcasts are funny things.

Unlike writing an article, I don’t start a podcast because there’s a particular point I want to make or because I have an agenda. For me, it’s a way to talk more about the things I love, and doing interviews scratches that journalistic itch I’ve had since leaving the newspaper world. It’s a way for me to wrestle with concepts that might be too sprawling to write about and, in the best instances, talk about those things with someone else. They evolve over time as you find your strengths and discover the rabbit holes you like to disappear into.

CROSS.CULTURE.CRITIC. is shaping up to be a much different podcast than I originally set out to do — and I’m so happy about it.

A few months back, I had the idea to do a podcast where I interviewed people who were big in the Christian music scene in the 1990s and 2000s. As someone who grew up listening to only Christian music, it was both a nostalgic exercise and a desire to get to questions that I’ve often wrestled with in my writing and exploration of faith and culture: how do the two work together, what tensions exist, how does faith change over time and what happens when your faith shifts while the spotlight is on you. My idea was simply an interview show; “WTF” but with Christian artists.

The more I thought about the idea, it seemed incomplete. First off, while I love music and could probably tick off the names and hits of most big Christian artists, it seemed off-brand for me to do a podcast only focused on music. I’m a movie guy, a pop-culture guy. I don’t know if I’d have the expertise to do a long-form show focused only on music. How long before it was revealed that the podcast host had no clothes? Plus, I was uncomfortable about telling interview subjects that this was based on bands that were big twenty years ago. I felt like it could easily become a joke or, worse, something disrespectful. I have a great deal of admiration for anyone who’s ever gotten up on stage; I didn’t want this to be something laced with irony. I wanted to talk to people who have wrestled with faith, art and commerce, and people who had been influential in my life. But I also wanted to talk to those who were also just starting out or still doing it. And I wanted to explore music, film, writing, podcasting…this whole big idea of how Christians engage with media and the arts.

And so, the show I’d been calling “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Podcasts” changed to CROSS.CULTURE.CRITIC. My plan was to shore up interviews with my own talk about movies and what’s happening on this blog. And it wasn’t a bad idea. I filled out time between interviews with my own monologues. But the truth is, I’m boring to listen to on my own and it’s even more boring to record it on my own.

For episode 2 of the show, I interviewed Joe Yerke, lead singer of the Insyderz. We had a mutual friend and he was local, so we were able to easily meet up at a coffee shop and record an interview in his car. I thought I’d get about 30 minutes; we talked for three times that. Joe’s a talker and a great storyteller; the episode turned out great and got a nice response. In honesty, I kind of thought I’d spoiled myself. Surely no other interview would be that engaging and people wouldn’t want to tune in to just hear me bloviate about movies when they’d just heard an actual, good conversation.

The afternoon the interview went live, Joe texted me. He was throwing it out there to see if I’d be interested in taking on a co-host or doing something more regular. I immediately was on-board. We talked a little bit about what the podcast might be and then met earlier this week to record our first two episodes (they’ll be released biweekly).

I don’t want to take up too much more time; I want you to hear the podcast. So I’ll just say that this was a blast to record, and I think in these two episodes we started to hit on the big things I wanted to get into in this podcast. But we do so in a funnier and more engaging way than I could do on my own. Joe has stories to spare and he gets excited about whatever he’s talking about. We still don’t know 100% what this is going to be. There are still going to be interviews, some of which I’m hoping to schedule really soon. But I think this week’s episode and, in particular, the one coming in two weeks, really set a good start and point us in the right direction. So head to iTunes and subscribe or go to the link below and plug it in your podcatcher. This is going to be fun.

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