Fans all across the nation are packing their favorite music venues to listen to…a podcast?
The trend that’s sprouted up in the past couple years has a reach that gives even the more niche productions their time in the spotlight. Northern Virginia’s own “Rockin’ the Suburbs” podcast done by Falls Church’s Patrick Foster and Ashburn resident Jim Lenahan will look to ride that wave by taking their show to Jammin’ Java’s stage as they countdown The Who’s top 10 songs of all time.
Live podcast recordings hold a similar style to late night talk shows — just without the suits, band or commercial breaks. But Foster and Lenahan aim to bring some extra flair outside of the straightforward countdown on Wednesday by mixing in audience giveaways, a quiz and inviting attendees to come up and share their thoughts on the mic.
The show is as much a celebration of the podcast’s success as it is the community the founders have cultivated in their three-ish years and just over 800 episodes they’ve put out.
“There are a lot of people that…hit a certain point where you get married, start a family or get a new job and you suddenly stop finding new music,” Foster said, while adding that their listeners “still go to shows and buy records and still keep up with new music as well as still being passionate about older bands like The Who. That’s the niche that’s been a hit and it seems to be a little underserved.”
Now listeners are as global as they are colorful. Fans hail from Hong Kong to Sweden to the United Kingdom and few match the expressive endurance of Echo Park Jimmy’s marathon voicemails.
Not bad for a project that started out as “Dad Rock” while both worked at USA Today five years ago and has since transformed into a jovial tribe of indie, punk and classic rock lovers.
The two career journalists love for music led them to the recording booth, but when changes at their former employer caused them to seek opportunities elsewhere, they decided to carry on with the project solo. Once learning curves on the production side were smoothed out and the two realized that 30-minute episodes were more digestible than the original hour-plus recordings, their trajectory pointed up.
Lenahan’s idea for the “Perfect Pop” segment about a song considered flawless helped drive engagement early on. The duo then had a bit more weight behind their interview requests with a growing following, whether it was with local indie rock band Kid Brother or with keyboardist Ricky Peterson of Fleetwood Mac and Prince fame. Soon enough, the podcast became a routine part of their fans’ lives.
The listeners have become so dedicated that it’s eased some of the pressure on Foster and Lenahan to come up with ideas for their five-day-a-week recordings.
“They’ve started this really cool thing [on the Facebook page] where they don’t really need us and they’ll create a weekly playlist and handle the coordination and everything. It’s really wonderful and we just run that as an episode,” Foster said. He also mentioned that with the help of content creation platform Patreon, fans can make a small donation and pick a show topic every three months, allowing them to have a voice in the direction of the show.
Expect listeners to make their presence felt — and heard — at Wednesday’s show.
The “Rockin’ the Suburbs” podcast counting down The Who’s top 10 songs will be recorded live at Jammin’ Java on March 4 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit jamminjava.com.