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Exclusive Interview with The Shipping Room Podcast

The Shipping Room Podcast focuses on and discusses past and current ships. I recently had a chance to chat with the podcast’s hosts, Christine and Tamar.  Read on to find out what they had to say about the podcast and ships in general.

What is the Shipping Room Podcast?

Tamar: “There’s a concept in TV fandoms known as ‘shipping.’ You can definitely look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and other dictionaries. (Laughs). The term came about I believe in the 90s as a shorten term for the word ‘relationship.’ Fans use it both as a noun and a verb. As a verb, ‘to ship a couple means to root very strongly for a couple’s success’ and as a noun people refer to that couple as ‘their favorite ship.’ Amongst TV writers and fans, it’s a very common term.

So when Christine and I decided that we wanted to do a podcast that focused on romance and couples on television, we knew that we wanted it to revolve around the concept of shipping. We decided to call the podcast ‘The Shipping Room’ to conjure up the image of us sort of sitting in a room, having these conversations discussing the ships that we love. Christine, did you want to add anything to that?”

Christine: “No, that’s it.” (Laughs).

Was there any other type of podcast you thought about doing before deciding on Shipping Room Podcast?

T: “Not really. This was the first idea that we came up with.”

C: “We both had the idea that we wanted to do something television related. So we tried to think of something everyone could relate to and a lot of people that we know can relate to liking specific television couples. We thought this was a terrific idea to do to reach an audience full of people who are like us. People who tend to focus on the romantic aspects of television. It seemed like a perfect fit for both of us.”

T: “Christine and I both write for different television websites. We noticed that the articles written that are specifically devoted to different ships were the ones that tend to get a lot of fan response so that sort of indicated to us that focusing a podcast around that aspect of television might be a good way to go in terms of appealing to a wide audience.”

What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to start a podcast?

C: “Have a really clear idea of what you’re looking to talk about ahead of time.  As a fan of a lot of podcasts, I’ve listened to some that are very unfocused in the beginning and they tend to fizzle out very quickly because they never quite find their footing. The most successful podcasts that I listen to are the ones that have a niche right away. They know exactly what they’re talking about, they know who their audience is and they do everything they can to appeal to that audience.”

T:  “I think my one piece of advice would be to just do it.  What we’ve discovered is you don’t need to have crazy amounts of technological experience. You don’t need to have very impressive equipment. It’s something that really can be done pretty easily. So my advice would be to encourage anyone who wants to do it to try. It’s kind of amazing how you can reach such a wide audience. I think what Christine is saying is right on, if you have a focused concept of what you want to say, and you have a topic that appeals to people, then go for it.”

What do you feel are some of the qualities needed for anyone who wants to start a podcast?

T: “That is a very hard question, Christine?”

C: “I would say that you shouldn’t be afraid to share your opinion. It’s good to also be knowledgeable about what you’re talking about, but also have enough humility to be able to say, ‘You know what, I don’t know. Listeners, what is it that you think about this?’ I think there’s a certain mix of confidence and humility that go into hosting a podcast.”

T: “I wouldn’t necessarily say having an outgoing personality, but being able to interact with people is key. Certainly our presence and being able to interact pulls in more listeners. Going on social media, listening to what people have to say and using feedback and suggestions to fuel future ideas. So, I think that if you are uncomfortable with people that wouldn’t help being successful.”

What is the most challenging aspect in producing a podcast of this nature?

T: “For Christine and me, I think our biggest challenge, in terms of the specific podcast that we do is, is geographically we’re not in the same place. So, we have to be creative about how we record. We have to record our audio separately then merge it. That adds another layer when you also have guests on the show. The actual technological piece of how we do the recording is probably the most challenging of this podcast.

The other thing I would say, unlike other shows, other podcasts that focus on specific shows like 90210, Gilmore Girls, Friends whatever it is, they have their source material very clearly played out in terms of every week they watch an episode and know that’s what they’re going to talk about. For Christine and me, one of the challenges is constantly coming up with new, interesting material to talk about each week.”

C: “I completely agree one hundred percent with what Tamar said. We try really hard to reach out to our fans and our listeners and ask, ‘What is it that you want to talk about?’ We really take a lot of feedback from our listeners when deciding what we’re going to talk about in future episodes. It’s definitely a huge challenge but also a huge advantage that we have such a great listening base, a group of listeners that communicate with us and really help us to come up with our topics.”

T: “It’s so fluid. We can talk about stuff from twenty-five years ago, we can talk about stuff from today. We’re constantly paying attention to what’s happening on the TV landscape. We can be flexible in a way that’s both challenging and can be a really cool benefit.”

Do you envision expanding the podcast in any way? If so, how?

T: “I think that we could probably give you a short-term answer to that and a long-term answer for that. The short-term answer is probably the more realistic and the long-term answer is probably the dreaming (laughs). So short-term is just to continue to expand our listeners, to continue to bring in more listeners, to grow on social media to continue to interact with more people. That’s our immediate short-term goals for expansion. Christine, do you want to talk our long-term goals?”

C: “Some of the podcasts that we listen to and look up to like Blaze with Lizzy and Kat and Gilmore Guys, they can go out and do live shows and really interact with their audience in person with the great guests that are actually on the shows that they’re discussing.  Long-term, our ultimate dream is to be able to do something like that and to bring together a group of people who love talking about TV romances.  I think that would be so cool to do eventually but again, that’s a long-term dream.”

Have you had any negative response from listeners regarding any ship that you’ve presented?

T:  “Knock on wood (laughs), we haven’t had too much in the way of negative response.  As we’ve discovered the world of fandoms and especially fans of ships can get a little nasty and sometimes can be extremely aggressive.  We’ve mostly avoided that.  We try to take very neutral stands.  Our whole outlook on the concept of shipping and what makes it so great, is the variety of opinions and no opinion or fans of a certain couple are more important or more right than anybody else’s.  We do believe in being respectful to people’s opinions and we try to promote that in the conversations we see happening on Twitter. So, we haven’t had to deal with any negative response directed at us, I don’t think.”

 C: “I think possibly maybe the only negative experience we’ve had was from a specific fandom that didn’t agree with something we said about a specific couple. However, again, it’s all about kindness and accepting that everyone’s opinion is going to be different. One of the wonderful, incredible things about talking about television and talking about couples is that you’re really coming together and sharing all these different opinions and experiences.

No two people are going to see something exactly the same way. I really think we respect those opinions that are different from ours and that comes across in our relationships with our listeners and the way that we interact with then. When something starts out as negative, we really try to turn it around and make it a positive experience.”

Why do you think people should listen to Shipping Room Podcast?

C: “I think television is a medium that everyone has a connection to in some way, shape or form.  For me personally, one of the biggest reasons that I love television is because I love to watch relationships between people.  If I’m sitting in a room watching a show that I have so many things that I want to say and if I don’t have someone to say it to, it drives me crazy!  So, I think it’s awesome to be able to turn on our show and at least have dialogue happening between Tamar and I. Then to have that dialogue continue with our listeners, who listen to what we say  and then decide whether they want to join in on the conversation.  Whether it’s joining in on the conversation in their car or whether it’s sending us a tweet or email or something like that.  We really do want to create a great conversation.  Because I think if you’re watching television by yourself you always have those opinions and it’s so fun to share them.”

T: “I agree with all of that.  I think TV is a medium that is best watched  with company and best experienced with company. Especially since we talk about shows that we watched when we were much younger before the internet existed and before the culture of social media, and live tweeting and chat rooms and group conversations, all of that.  We missed out while watching My So-Called Life, Felicity (etc.) because we didn’t have that experience.  I think listening to the podcast and joining in on the conversation gives us a do-over to enjoy shows that originally aired before social media.”

C: “One of the greatest compliments that we ever received about our show was from a listener who thanked us for normalizing shipping.  I really feel like fandoms tend to get a bad rap when they really like a couple and then they start the shipping process.  When you ship a couple so hard on TV, it’s something that some people get ashamed of and some people get made fun of for it.  

I think what we need to do on our show is really open up the dialogue and not make it a negative experience.  We really do want to talk about couples and analyze couples at a really normal level. We want everybody to be a part of that.  We all love talking about TV couples, we’re all ship girls. That’s the whole purpose of us being here.  That comment has always stuck with me and I have always gone back to it in my head when I talk about what we do here and why we do it.”

Any final words you would like to say to readers about Shipping Room Podcast?

T: “Just that we’re really interested in hearing from people.  We don’t just want people to listen, we want feedback and suggestions.  If there is a show that had a really great relationship that is a hidden gem that people don’t know about, we want to know about it.  We are constantly looking for things to watch and binge and learn about. We really invite everybody to join us.”

C:  “We’ve done 21 episodes now and I hope that we continue to just keep doing them.  I’d love to see us get to 100, I’d love to see us get to 200. I’d love to continue to interact with people to talk about TV, to talk about romances.  I hope people are continuing to listen to our show and that they are enjoying it and telling their friends. I hope we can continue on this road together.”

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