I am probably showing my age right now, but as I interviewed Bob Baty-Barr and Kevin Giszewski, the hosts of The Bob and Kevin Show, I realized how Carol Burnett must have felt in a skit with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. Kevin is Tim Conway and Bob is Harvey Korman on their show, and I sat there half the time trying not to burst out laughing.
When Kevin admitted that he will often try to trip Bob up on their unscripted technology podcast, it was like being on the set of The Carol Burnett Show, watching Tim Conway’s efforts to make everyone on stage laugh and break character during the live show. I know their podcast is in the Technology category, but I think they could easily fit in Comedy, too!
In addition to classic comedy, I love a good origin story, and this duo has a great one. Not quite on level with Superman, Wolverine, or Captain Marvel, but a good one. Two American geeks—one a software engineer, the other a coder who prefers to lead teams of developers—meet at an opensource software conference, Codegarden, in Copenhagen where one, the engineer, begins to wonder if the other is stalking him.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Their very first episode, housed on YouTube, came about after Kevin was driving and had the thought, “What if we did a show where we ate hot wings and talked tech?” So, they did. After a while, they switched to an audio-only podcast using Zencaster. Then, in a never-ending quest to have the best audio possible, they switched to recording the shows locally using their own equipment while talking to each other. They’ve gotten so good at doing the show this way that it now only takes Bob a short time to merge the two individual audio streams into one. While Bob does the audio engineering, Kevin creates the episode artwork.
Bob and Kevin are family guys at heart who have learned to balance raising kids, working from home, leading teams, and having an addicting podcast where no subject is off limits… except ones they have no interest in. Keeping the show fresh is top-of-mind for them, and once they have been back and forth on Slack and decided on a topic, they block out all conversation about it until show day. Then, the hounds are unleashed, and the conversation goes wherever the questions lead.
A key piece of their strategy to find topics is social media. They look on Twitter for trending topics and differing viewpoints. As Kevin says, they “watch for the Twitter outrage of the hour,” review Techcrunch and other top tech streams, and then pick the topic that “puts [them]selves first.” Yup, them first. Not what you expected to read, but this is critical to what makes their show intriguing. They have passion for their topics and want every word to be “authentic, genuine, and unscripted.”
Remember I said they are family guys? Bob shared that several episodes have come from conversations with their kids. As they were growing up, the kids asked Bob and Kevin, “Why don’t you leave to go to work like normal dads?” (Obviously, a pre-Covid conversation. Now, no kid would think it odd for a parent to work from home.) That question led to a great episode about how they each work from home.
Keeping topics “evergreen” is also their mission and makes it interesting to go back and listen to older episodes of the show. Topics may not feel current, yet they manage to stay relevant as the guys pose questions to “bring to light topics that need to see the light of day” now and in the future. Not many shows I listen to walk that line of having current and evergreen episodes.
Bob was the quieter of the two during the interview, but is no less passionate about life, their podcast, and their friendship. Living in Boulder, Colorado, he loves to get out with his family and hike in their “backyard”… more commonly called the Rocky Mountain National Park. He used to play guitar, but discovered his son was much better at it, so Bob gave his guitars to him. Kevin spends free time playing guitar in his church worship band and has quite the collection of all types of guitars. He would love to be playing some Pink Floyd in a band somewhere, he said, but the church band fulfills his need to play. Guaranteed you will find both Bob and Kevin with their families before and after work is done. They were both quick to point out they have postponed recording shows to spend time with family.
Some of their show titles are not what you would expect from a tech podcast. Take a look at “Suzanne Somers for 500 Please,” “Black Mirror Season 6,” and “Even Assault Vape Pen Ban,” and you will instantly know what I mean. Others are a slightly different spin on the traditional tech: “The Tech of Weed,” “Speedboats vs Aircraft Carriers,” and “Social Media and Your Mental Health.” When I asked why the sometimes-obscure names, Bob and Kevin said the titles all come from comments made during the episode. What does that mean for listeners? A treasure hunt. You never know what nuggets lurk behind the titles, so just have fun and click on whichever one intrigues you most.
My biggest takeaway from interviewing Bob and Kevin, and from listening to their show, is that these two hosts are family men first and friends and geeks forever. Not a bad combination for a podcast.