By Darren Johnson
This week in podcasting, I was re-listening to my podcast on “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Drive-Time Podcast No. 59,” and remembered that the famous heel wrestler from the 1980s, who died a year ago, had had a podcast. I knew he had been a solid guest on podcasts like “The Adam Carolla Show,” but had never heard his own audio show, “Piper’s Pit.”
“Piper’s Pit” was also the name of the show he did on the WWE (then WWF) in the 1980s on Sunday morning TV, where he’d dehumanize people like Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and be roughhoused by people like Andre the Giant. It was the original “Jerry Springer Show.” Look up the old clips on YouTube. They’re hilarious.
As I waxed poetic in DTP 59, this guy brought me great joy as a kid, and he dispelled the myth that there are good guys and bad guys. This bad guy became someone fans eventually cheered for.
(You can find all DTP episodes here.)
This made me wonder about what happens when podcasters die.
Piper created 64 episodes before passing on. Like most old wrestlers, he seemed pretty broken down by the end, and reflective. He wasn’t very wealthy, either, it seems, as he still was wrestling in lousy, barely-pro circuits. I saw this poster in a pizza place in Utica, NY, about two years before his death of a heart attack at age 61.
In his last podcast, he complains how he was kicked off of his podcast network because “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who has a lot of sway in the podcast world, did not agree with some of his content. So now he simply was on Sound Cloud, like any other jabroni.
Piper didn’t think Austin was being all that manly doing that. “I’m a man. I have four kids and have been married 31 years,” Piper said, but he didn’t harp too long on the subject, instead interviewing 1980s jobber “Leaping” Lanny Poffo, who came from a wrestling family that included also-deceased “Macho Man” Randy Savage, in a chat that had nice insights into that era.
One thing to note: In those days, you didn’t want to have to travel in the back of the “Ring Truck” from town to town — that seemed pretty unsafe.
In episode 63, Piper actually posts the episode where comedian Will Sasso imitates Austin, which got Piper censored and kicked off the podcast network. It is a fun show. And then he died.
It’s kind of nice that a podcast can live on after the podcaster dies, but it’s also kind of odd.
Unlike, say a newspaper or a book, or even a movie or TV show, there is no library archiving these old podcasts. When Sound Cloud stops getting paid, will they just delete the “Piper’s Pit account?” If one wants to live on posthumously through podcasts, who is the keeper of this audio morgue?
But I do like the “moment in time” aspect of podcasts, and hearing people from the past again — before they got sick and died. It’s a great way to remember someone.
“This Week in Podcasting” is an occasional column about this new medium. Darren Johnson is a college Mass Media instructor and owner of Campus News, a newspaper that is distributed to 37 colleges in the Northeast. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.