Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author and podcaster Jon Richter about his podcast; Dark Natter. He told me what inspired the podcast, what he talks about, and his creative process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Jon Richter and I’m a dark fiction writer and general enthusiast! I love dark fiction in many different genres and formats, anything from fantasy novels to horror video games to cyberpunk movies – as long as a story has a dark, sinister, eerie and unsettling edge, I’m interested!
How and why did you start podcasting?
Me and my friend Liam share the aforementioned love of ‘dark stuff’, and are also big consumers of podcasts. Our own show was essentially the result of a pub chat, where we talked about how there are a lack of podcasts catering for tastes across a wide spectrum of genres and media (most seem to focus solely on horror, or solely on video games, or whatever their particular niche is) and how much fun it would be to compile a list of our favourite recommendations, including some more obscure entries! A bit of research helped us to realise how surprisingly easy it is to create and release a podcast from a technical perspective, so we decided to give it a go.
What is your current podcast called, and how did you come up with the name?
Our podcast is called Dark Natter, which (if I do say so myself) is a tremendous pun of which I’m incredibly proud, but does make us quite hard to find on search engines as Googe/YouTube/etc are determined to ask ‘did you mean dark matter?’
What platforms can we find Dark Natter on?
We use the Buzzsprout hosting site so are available across a range of platforms including Spotify and Apple Podcasts. We also have a YouTube channel where we upload the episodes as audio only, although occasionally with video too, which you can find here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe3tTIDIah9PzzH9U6m-jtQ
What is Dark Natter about?
The podcast is a celebration of the best works of dark fiction. Each episode, one of the two hosts (and sometimes a guest) brings a particular piece, and Liam and I decide whether it’s worthy of a place in our (ahem) hallowed, prestigious ‘Hall Of Pain’. We’ve covered everything from movies and books to fairground rides, even albums; for our fiftieth episode special we covered wrestling legend The Undertaker! Definitely stretching the definition of ‘dark fiction’ as far as it will go…
Do you host Dark Natter alone, or have guest hosts/partners?
I’m the ever-present host, usually accompanied by Liam Martin (video games journalist and fellow dark fiction connoisseur) but sometimes by other guests, many of whom are dark fiction creators in their own right. This has helped us cover a really wide range of topics, some of which I hadn’t even heard of until they were recommended!
Do you edit Dark Natter or have someone who does it for you?
I edit the show myself using Audacity, which I find fun to do and really satisfying. The show is very light and silly in tone, so I usually sit there laughing while I’m editing it!
Do you script Dark Natter, or just chat as you go?
Other than a few prompts we are completely script-free, which hopefully translates into an authentic and shambolic charm!
How has Dark Natter changed or developed since you began?
We’ve definitely learned how to make the technical side and sound quality a bit better (our earlier episodes were using lower-quality mics) and I’ve got faster at editing, but to be honest not too much has changed – it’s still just Liam and me chatting enthusiastically about our favourite things!
What are you biggest challenges with Dark Natter?
The time commitment is always the hardest part – it takes about two hours to record an hourish-long show, and then maybe two and a half hours to edit every hour recorded, so realistically it’s about a day’s work for every fortnightly episode. Liam and I both have separate careers, and it can be difficult to squeeze in the podcast when ‘life stuff’ gets in the way. But we both enjoy doing it so are always able to somehow carve out the time to stick to our schedule.
What are your favourite podcasts to listen to?
We’re both fans of Bonfireside Chat, a Dark Souls podcast presented by Kole Ross and Gary Butterfield, and in my case I listen to quite a lot of other video game-related stuff including Sound Of Play (currently on hiatus sadly, but it’s a long-running weekly show celebrating the best video game music!) A big factor for me is the presentation and whether I find the hosts of a show genuine and likeable – as soon as something is over-produced, false-sounding or confrontational, I switch off immediately. From a dark fiction perspective I’ve listened to some fantastic productions including Limetown, which I highly recommend.
I have no idea what Liam listens to, but I imagine his podcast feed is a disturbing place…
How and where do you promote Dark Natter?
Not very well is the honest answer! We announce every new episode on Twitter as well as via our Facebook page, but rely on search engines and word of mouth to get new listeners. One thing I’ve seen other podcasters do is create a Facebook or Discord group to encourage a little community of listeners to evolve, but as always the time commitment is the issue.
Do you earn money from podcasting, or is it a hobby?
We earn absolutely nowt, so this is very much a labour of love!
What’s something you never expected about podcasting? What have you learned that surprised you?
I’ve hugely enjoyed it when random strangers reach out via social media to say they enjoy the show, or recommend it to others – really makes it all feel worthwhile! I’ve also been pleasantly surprised with how easy the editing side is to do and how the necessary software is freely available, as well as some really helpful tutorials. I’m not suggesting I’m any sort of expert but if I can do it then so can anyone else!
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start podcasting?
As with any creative endeavour, the best piece of advice is ‘just do it’! The vast majority of creative projects fail because they never start – life gets in the way and people tend to find excuses not to just sit down and get cracking on something that isn’t part of their current routine. Your show does not need to be perfect (ours is far from it!) and you will probably get a very low listenership, so don’t expect to make your fortune, but if you’re intrigued by the prospect of hosting your own show then give it a go!
And, finally, are your proud of what you’re accomplishing with your podcast? Is it worth the effort?
We’ve just released our fiftieth episode, which means we’ve been doing the show for more or less two years now, and I’m really proud of our body of work. We’ve covered some fantastic topics, I’ve learned about some brilliant stuff I never would have otherwise read/watched/played, and I think we’ve created a show that is warm and funny and sprinkled with some nuggets of interesting trivia too.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Thanks so much JJ for the chance to be featured on your site! If Dark Natter sounds it might be up any of your readers’ (dark and sinister) alleys, then they can find us by searching for Dark Natter (not Dark Matter…) on any good podcasting site, or here:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DarkNatter
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe3tTIDIah9PzzH9U6m-jtQ
Finally, if anyone is interested in my own dark fiction, specifically my seven books and other side projects, you can find out more info at www.jon-richter.com.
Thanks again and enjoy the show!