I’m not ashamed to say that since starting Find That Pod, I’ve had a gigantic pile of podcasts that continue to amass themselves in my podcast player of choice, Overcast at an alarming rate. There are now so many unplayed episodes from so many shows that I dearly want to find more time to listen to, that they are by far the largest chunk of storage space on my iPad and iPhone. One of those shows is The Alarmist podcast. A show hosted by Rebecca Delgado-Smith that dives deep on history’s biggest disasters. The angle here, more often than not is to try to decide who was to blame for each disaster. Or if it’s a natural disaster, who is to blame for the poor response.
Here is my interview with Rebecca Delgado-Smith.
Tell me what makes The Alarmist different from similar podcasts?
Rebecca: The Alarmist takes a look at history’s greatest disasters and tries to figure out who or what is to blame. It’s a show that not only appeals to people interested in history, but also to people who naturally look at things and think about the worst case scenario.
Why did you start The Alarmist?
Rebecca: I’ve always been interested in historical disasters. I find comfort in learning about terrible things that have happened in the past because it puts today’s tragedies into perspective and it helps me deal with my anxiety. The Halloween before we started the show, a group of my friends and I dressed up as ghosts of the Titanic for a party. We were sharing an Uber and I was searching the internet and giving them a little backstory on the horrors of the sinking of the ship. Producer Amanda, who was starting Earios (an all-female podcast network) at the time, was in the car and she kept telling me to stop calling them “fun facts.” We had a good laugh about it, then a few weeks later, we started developing The Alarmist. In my mind, the more you know, the less likely you’ll put yourself in harm’s way.
Tell me about your process and the things that go into producing each episode?
Rebecca: There’s a lot of research and time that go into each episode. Luckily, our coordinator Malin is also very good at research and she helps me out with that. Amanda, our producer, is also our editor and sound designer. She’s a wizard. We also have our Fact-Checker Chris at our recordings…although he does get easily distracted and that’s okay. And then, the rest is sticking to the format. We lay out the tragedy, state the “fun facts aka death stats,” and then, along with a guest, we start putting people up on the “blame board.” Once we feel like we’ve covered every angle, we start crossing people off the board and at the end of each episode, we’ll send someone or something to the Alarmist Jail.
What have been the most challenging aspects of producing this podcast?
Rebecca: We’re a comedy podcast, but some topics are really, REALLY depressing. We try not to shy away from them, though. It’s important to discuss and learn about them too!
From a personal standpoint, why do you do the show? What do you get out of it?
Rebecca: I love getting together with my friends to talk about history. I like hearing their “hot takes” on ancient subject matter. Plus, there are so many events and facts that got glossed over in history class and this show serves as a great opportunity to refresh myself on them! It blows my mind how undervalued historical education is in the U.S.
Do you ever think about the lasting impact of your show? What would you want it to be?
Rebecca: While we’re in the business of placing blame, ultimately I want people to have conversations about bad things that have happened so that we can figure out how we can do better. I’d love for people to connect over historical tragedies! And if our podcast helps spark a fun discussion around an otherwise awkward or boring dinner table, that’s awesome!
How do you promote your show? What have you found to be the most effective?
Rebecca: We’re active on our social media accounts (instagram: @thealarmistpodcast, Twitter: @AlarmistThe) and that’s how we let our listeners know when new episodes are up. We also use them to interact with our listeners and find out if they totally disagreed with our verdicts. Sometimes that’s totally the case and we like to hear from them. Everyone, for the most part, has engaged in respectful discourse. Plus, controversy can be fun when you’re talking about the Plague or the breakup of the Beatles! Other than that, any opportunity we have to cross-promote with other podcasts is great. Word of mouth is stellar when starting out.
What advice would you give to a podcaster just starting out?
Rebecca: Podcast about something you love and are passionate about. It really comes through in the work. Besides, podcasting is a lot of work (most of the time, for very little money), so you might as well enjoy the process!
What do you think the future of podcasting holds? More walled gardens or open RSS feeds?
Rebecca: I’m not sure. It feels like we are at a turning point right now. The pandemic has really expanded the medium. That said, I hope that advertisers support smaller podcasts instead of just focusing on celebrity-hosted ones so that we can keep those open RSS feeds going! It’s like they say, support small businesses…well, support small podcasts too!
Aside from your show, give me 3 of your best podcast recommendations.
Bible Brothers — it’s hosted by two comedy writers (Dan Klein and Robert Padnick) who are reading the Bible together for the first time. Hilarious.
The Big Ones — Earios co-founders, Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci tackle life’s tough ethical questions in an extremely comedic way.
Web Crawlers — Hosts Ali Segal and Melissa Stetten unearth some of the weirdest myths and conspiracies on the internet. It’s a fun one!