Since the podcast has been perpetually evolving, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what to expect in any given episode. However, there have a been a few features and segments that pop up from time to time, at least with enough frequency to merit inclusion here.
In an effort to validate ourselves, we invited our listeners to write in with their thoughts and comments on… well, anything. While this began slowly, it has increased steadily, and now this segment comprises a great portion of each week. As a result, many of our throughlines and ongoing stories stem from discussions we have with our audience through email.
Nicknames and Titles
Through our first several episodes, we kept referring to people we knew, and in an effort to not alienate our audience, we kept reminding them (and us) who these people were. The one that seemed to come up in each of our first six or seven episodes was Dan Feyer, who won the C Division at the 2008 ACPT. Every time we said his name, we followed it with why he was important: “Dan Feyer, Winner of the C Division.” A few more people became regular characters in our discussions, and we didn’t want them to feel left out. Now it’s beyond our control.
In August, we host a crossword tournament of our own. It’s happened twice now, so that kind of makes it “annual.” Top-notch constructors (Nothnagel, Gordon, Peterson, Quigley, McClary, Vengsarkar, etc.) have contributed puzzles, and our past winners have been Dan Feyer (2009) and Howard Barkin (2008). Look for more information as we approach August 2010.
The Thunder Round
In the early days of the podcast, we spent most of each episode recapping the week in puzzles. Because this became repetitive after a while (how many ways are there to say that a Monday puzzle was relatively easy?), and because we started getting interested in more things (e.g. Viewer Mail), we gradually spent less and less time every week on the puzzles. When we realized that there were a couple episodes that featured ZERO time on puzzles, we decided to find a reasonable balance. A fast-paced back-and-forth seemed like a fun idea, and The Thunder Round was born. Each week features a different sound clip in conjunction with the thunder. If you have a suggestion for a sound clip, please let us know.
From time to time, we include an interview in the podcast. Past subjects have included Brendan Emmett Quigley, Patrick Blindauer, Andrea Carla Michaels, Vic Fleming and Peter Gordon.
We now offer a weekly contest (most weeks). It’s usually a word game of some sort, much like the games played on Will Shortz’s NPR program. Several of our listeners have generously donated puzzle books of varying sorts for us to give away as prizes.
Our most dedicated listener is Crosscan, without a doubt. For reasons we will never fully understand, he decided one day to make a spreadsheet that tracks every time we mention anyone on the show. We say your name — you get a point on the spreadsheet. Write to us. We’ll say your name. It’s what you want, isn’t it?
Questions and Answers
We don’t know stuff, so we ask it out loud. Frequently, someone tells us the answer.
One of our most loyal listeners, Amanda Yesnowitz, has a rather compelling voice. We use this to our advantage.