Don’t blame Canada, or fanboys, or the patriarchy, for the end of the “Hello Sweetie! Podcast,” Salt Lake City’s favorite feminist, foul-mouthed foursome talking about all things geeky.
Blame the passage of time.
“All of our lives have changed a lot,” said Charity O’Haodagain, one of the founding members of the show. “We weren’t necessarily as fully immersed in geek culture [as we used to be]. … And we knew we weren’t providing the best show that we could for our listeners.”
So the Sweeties — who have cheerily chatted about and argued over movies, TV, video games, comic books and science since 2011 — are recording their 300th and last episode this Friday night, in a live performance at Club 50 West, 50 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City. The event starts at 7:30 p.m.; admission is $10.
The taping isn’t just a farewell. It’s also the launch of the new Hello Sweetie Podcast Network, serving up a variety of podcasts on such varied topics as pop culture, health, true crime and stand-up comedy. Friday’s party will feature mini-episodes of four of these podcasts. There also will be ample amounts of stand-up comedy, karaoke and drinking.
“Hello Sweetie!” started in 2011, inspired when a member of “Geek Show Podcast,” then and now the 800-pound gorilla of the Utah podcast landscape, said, “If you [women] want to have a podcast, you should start one.” O’Haodagain decided to do just that, and paired up with a roller-derby friend, Kristal Starr, to create their podcast.
The name “Hello Sweetie!” is the tagline of Dr. River Song, the time-hopping love interest of The Doctor on “Doctor Who.” It became a running joke that the hosts would try and fail to say the title in unison in every episode.
The other two members of the quartet, Rebecca Frost and Danielle Betteridge, joined shortly thereafter. (Betteridge recently took her married name and retired her longtime nom de plume, Danielle ÜberAlles, because people kept assuming the name — which she borrowed from the punk band The Dead Kennedys and their song “California Über Alles” — had white-supremacist connotations.)
“What made ‘Hello Sweetie! Podcast’ was the four of us together, and our energy,” Starr said. “What we had was a chemistry.”
The timing was perfect, O’Haodagain said, because the Sweeties hit their stride — talking about pop culture from a fiercely feminist perspective, tweaking the tender feelings of fanboys — at a time when “podcasting as a medium is getting much more relevant.”
O’Haodagain points to the success of “Serial,” the true-crime podcast produced by public radio’s “This American Life,” as “a real turning point,” melding journalism and storytelling to the podcast format. She also points to interview shows like Mark Maron’s “WTF,” and moves by NPR to add podcasts to their radio offerings, as landmarks in podcasting’s expanding footprint.
That footprint was growing in Utah, too. Entities like the Utah Podcast Network and Big Shiny Robot established their own clusters of titles. Established media outlets, such as The Salt Lake Tribune and X96 (where Geek Show Podcast resides), added more podcast titles to their offerings.
For podcasters like Chris Holifield, who began the “I Am Salt Lake” podcast in 2012, the learning curve was steep.
“I had to do a lot of trial and error, and wasted money buying the wrong thing,” Holifield said. “Even as far as what equipment you use, or even scheduling an interview.”
Holifield’s show, in which he interviews Utah personalities, is often compared to one of X96’s podcasts, Bill Allred’s “The Let’s Go Eat Show.” The formats are similar, but “they have two different angles, two different ways of looking at things,” Holifield said.
O’Haodagain said the Sweeties share a similar philosophy. “For seven years, we’ve had the motto there’s no such thing as competition in podcasts,” she said. “We’re not competing for time slots, we’re not competing for a limited audience. Most people who listen to podcasts listen to more than one.”
Maintaining the chemistry that kept “Hello Sweetie!” fresh became difficult as circumstances forced the four hosts apart. Two years ago, Frost moved to Brooklyn for a year, and Betteridge moved to Toronto permanently. The show was recorded over Skype, when everybody could arrange their schedules, but something was lost.
“‘Hello Sweetie!’ is the four of us together,” Starr said. “Phoning in isn’t the same.”
For the new network, Frost, O’Haodagain and Starr are spinning off the old show’s most-popular feature, “The Box.” On the old podcast, this was where Starr would read the weekly box-office rankings, with raucous commentary from the others. The new show will cover pop culture more broadly, beyond what’s current to what’s interesting to the hosts.
“For example, Kristal’s bingeing ‘ER’ right now,” O’Haodagain said, referring to the hospital drama that left the airwaves in 2009. “That’s not necessarily new, but it is fun to talk about.”
Frost added, “That way, we open it up to the possibility that we don’t have to meet every week. We can record one or two episodes every other week and call it good.”
The network is allowing the Sweeties to pursue their other interests. “Everything you can be a fan of, you can have a podcast of,” O’Haodagain said.
O’Haodagain and Frost will co-host “Spoonful of Podcast,” about the link between food and mental health. And O’Haodagain and Brynn Solo are teaming up for a Utah true-crime podcast, “This Is the Place.”
The network will debut the podcast version of “Dungeons and Comedy,” a popular live series in which stand-up comedians perform their routines and play Dungeons and Dragons.
Also on the network’s slate: “Nighthawks,” in which two critics break down a single film in detail; “Cinema Queens,” a queercentric movie/TV podcast; and “Funnybooks and Firewater,” about comic books.
“This is very ad-hoc right now,” O’Haodagain said of the network. While the three Sweeties were being interviewed, they were hashing out the details of the fee podcasters would pay for a spot on the network. The fee is small — nobody’s getting rich doing this, the three women stressed — but important, O’Haodagain said. Like any pop-culture freak, she had an apt reference ready, a quote from the musical “Hamilton”: “You got skin in the game, you stay in the game.”
“We really are using the network truly in name, to network with other shows,” O’Haodagain said. “We promote for each other, we talk about each other, we collaborate with each other.”
“There are a lot of people who want to do a podcast, but once they record it don’t know what to do with it,” Frost said. “That’s when I say, ‘Come to us. We will help you.’”
Hello (and goodbye) Sweetie!
”Hello Sweetie! Podcast” tapes its 300th and final episode, while also launching the Hello Sweetie Podcast Network.
Where • Club 50 West, 50 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City.
When • Friday, June 8, 7:30 p.m.
Admission • $10. Must be 21 or older to attend.
Activities • Besides recording the final episode, hosts Charity O’Haodagain, Rebecca Frost and Kristal Starr will play mini-episodes of four podcasts launching on the new network. Stand-up comedy and karaoke will follow.