The one thing that has deterred people from entering the world of Podcast listening is, I believe, the Podcasters themselves. On hundreds of occasions once you start to enjoy somebody’s offering, it’s quickly snapped away from you when one day the Podcasters you know and love – to give its technical term - “can’t be arsed this week”. The ADD world of new media does feature one lively, divine constant that has been providing DAILY – yes, DAILY - content for the short-attention iPod generation since 2005. With well over thirteen hundred Podcasts under his belt, he is still providing his own very unique slant on the world from a beach hut on Worthing’s sea front. Say hello to Richard Vobes, one of the UK’s most prolific Podcasters...possibly.
Monday to Friday, Richard Vobes provides half an hour of discussion on an entire range of subjects. It is difficult to put Vobes into a particular category; he’s not a talking head on the topics of the day, nor is he an audio blogger, an agony aunt, a comedy performer or a documentarian. He’s all of these and more...he’s The Vobes!
So you’re probably wondering; why has this man slipped under my radar for nearly half a decade? Sadly, it’s the very thing that makes The Vobes fantastic that is also his undoing. Vobes is a real “have-a-go” bloke who talks about anything and everything, at anytime, in any order. One day he’s performing a comedy skit about the UK politician expenses scandal, the next day he is talking about religion and the day after he’s playing a documentary he made on Worthing history. This mish-mash of styles and content makes for real roulette radio, and I find myself dipping in and out of my RSS feed throughout the year because of it. I love the social commentary that this very funny and slightly unscrewed man offers, but when he goes hiking with a friend to admire several old battlements on the south coast I find it difficult to stick with. For a man trying to build up a large, consistent listener base, this doesn’t bode well for The Vobes franchise. When it comes to creating an audience, it’s easier to broadcast something to everybody, rather than everything to somebody.
As a presenter, Richard Vobes is hard to dislike. Positive, loud, proud and upbeat from the word go, he could easily slot into a full-time local breakfast radio show if things had been different. In recent years, the man known as The Vobes has fallen on numerous financial and medical hard times, yet when the On-Air light goes on you can tell he’s having fun and letting it all hang out. Richard allows his troubles to be shared through his on-the-side audio blog “The Naked Englishman”, which in its own right makes for compelling listening. It’s only after listening to a few episodes (in which you will hear of a few episodes, if you get my drift) you realise just how much pressure he it under to make the show work. It makes his passion for what he does and he style he does it seem all the more special.
Richard Vobes continues to be a poster-boy for Podcast consistency with his frequent shows and friendly, easy-to-warm-to style. If he can find a way to bring this mantra to the content of his daily presentations he could very well pioneer a new boom period for Podcasting. Until that day comes, Richard Vobes will remain one of the Internet’s best kept secrets.