Podcast Spotlight – Friends of the Force

I spoke with Brad from Friends of the Force Podcast about what he loves about Star Wars and his favorite moments of podcasting in this email interview.

What is your first memory of Star Wars?

My brother bought the 1995 VHS box set of the original trilogy, and I remember just getting plopped in front of my TV and watching those on repeat almost every single day. My parents had to stop me from stomping around the living room floor pretending to be a Jedi swinging my laser sword. I would also hang off the side of our couch as if I were on some crazy, death-defying adventure. My only other memory is seeing The Phantom Menace in theaters, specifically the opening crawl, and I even got my face painted as Darth Maul at Disney World later that year (Buzz Lightyear acted terrified when he saw me)! The prequels heightened my love of Star Wars the most.

Who are some of your favorite Star wars characters and have those favorites changed over time?

Growing up, I’d say Boba Fett was my favorite simply because of his mystique and cool looking armor. I’m sure you could imagine how loudly I screamed when Boba appeared in The Mandalorian, which in itself is a dream show as someone who loves the history and culture of Mandalore. Ben Solo and Padmé Amidala are two of my other favorites. Ben proved that “no one is ever really gone” and turned back to the light despite the things he had done. Star Wars is a fictional story that is meant to teach us we can’t erase the past but we can learn from it for a better future, and Ben proves that in his redemption, no different than Anakin. Padmé is admirable because she always stood for what she believed in, even in her dying breath. She faced insurmountable pressures as a young senator, but she always beat everyone’s expectations and fought for democracy no matter the cost.

When did you make the decision to start your own Star Wars podcast? Had you been a part of other podcasts (either as a host or guest) before?

I didn’t have many people to chat with about Star Wars growing up, but when I attended Star Wars Celebration Chicago, I realized just how big and passionate the Star Wars community actually was. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on! I binged a few episodes of Skytalkers Podcast the next week and their passion over talking about Star Wars inspired me to join the fun!

How would you describe your podcast to someone who hasn’t heard of it yet? How is it different from other Star Wars podcasts?

My podcast is dedicated to finding joy in the Star Wars fandom. I phrased it in this very specific way to emphasize that while we do gush about the things we love in a very positive way, we don’t shy away from having critical discussions and addressing important issues that face the fandom. There’s always room for improvement in the stories we tell and we balance both sides of that to create a more well-rounded podcast. I also strive to bring as many new and diverse voices to the table as I can so that the podcast doesn’t become so insular, hence the name Friends of the Force. I love meeting new people in this community so much!

Tell me about your first episode (or first few episodes) and how your podcast has changed since those first few episodes.

My first few episodes were rough mainly because my seasonal allergies were flaring up so bad haha. I almost don’t recognize my voice when I listen back. Those first few episodes were primarily news focused, but, as the podcast started to evolve, I really dedicated myself to theme-driven episodes, book reviews, and interviews with creators or fans. I didn’t want to be just another podcast that only recaps news, even though we discuss it on occasion.

How do you decide what the subject of your podcast is going to be? Do you know what you’ll be talking about months out ahead or do you decide more in the moment?

It depends on what Star Wars content is out, but I always try to approach topics in a new and innovative way others haven’t or else I don’t necessarily see the point. I try to plan episodes 1-2 months in advance, which becomes easier when there are TV/Book releases.

Do you have favorite parts or least favorite parts of producing a podcast?

My least favorite part is editing. It can sometimes take up to four hours depending on the length/number of guests. I was initially doing 3-4 episodes a week, but it became a lot and I scaled back to about 1-2. My favorite part is scheduling a new guest. I can’t describe how grateful I am that people want to come onto the podcast and talk about Star Wars, and it makes my fandom experience feel much more welcoming, connected, and positive. The BEST feeling though is hitting the publish button :).

For new listeners can you recommend 3 episodes that would give people an idea of what the podcast is like?

(1) My interview with Carrie Goldman (8/8/2019) is one of my early episodes that I cherish. She talked about her daughter overcoming bullying at school since she liked Star Wars, and it was really inspiring!

(2) Tori Fox and I just interviewed Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Carson Teva on The Mandalorian. Paul radiates positivity and was such a joy to have on. We even got to hear some stories from the set, including his costume fitting!

(3) Over the summer, Sarah Hass and I launched Remembering Resistance Day to celebrate the show’s final season, and we had the privilege of interviewing Josh Brener, the voice of Neeku on Star Wars Resistance. We joked all year that we would freak out if we got him on the podcast, and somehow we did! It was an unbelievable experience that I am so thankful for, and Josh was so kind.

Sarah and Brad talking with Josh Brener from Star Wars Resistance.
What podcast episode have you received the most positive feedback about? I’m curious if you knew that one would be a winner or if it surprised you that this episode was a hit with listeners.

Sarah and I did an episode on Revenge of the Sith for its 15th Anniversary and it became one of our most listened to episodes in 2020. I was surprised but also very happy it became a winner because we put so much research into it and had some insightful conversations around the film’s themes! I love that one especially as a firm believer in what I call the “prequel renaissance” that’s been happening these last few years.

Who are a few people you’d love to have on your show as a guest in the future?

My dream guest is Kelly Marie Tran. I know it’s a longshot, but I love Rose Tico and want to know more about how she approached the role. “Saving what we love” is such an iconic Star Wars line!

What kind of equipment do you use for recording? Any overall tips for new podcasters?

I use a Blue Yeti microphone that plugs right into my Macbook, and I record all my audio through Garageband. For any podcasters, I would absolutely recommend a pop filter for noise protection as well as a mic arm stand for better flexibility of where your mic is positioned. This setup has worked wonders for me! At the end of the day, though, it’s less about having the best equipment and more about the editing process for better sound quality.

What are some of your favorite Star Wars focused podcasts?

My favorite Star Wars podcasts are Blast Points, Skytalkers, What the Force?, Talking Bay 94, and Lipstick & Lightsabers. They each offer something unique to my playlist and are just so much fun!!

Tell me about your previous Celebration experiences? Highlights? Lowlights?

Highlight: taking a picture with Sam Witwer and Freddie Prinze Jr. Those guys are Star Wars legends! I also loved the convention floor, and I want to spend more of my time exploring the booths in 2022. The lowlight was waiting in line for 8 hours at Chicago’s Celebration store. Luckily we made some friends in line and rotated in and out when we wanted food or needed a break, and I got some awesome merch!

What are you the most excited to see or read in the Star Wars universe coming up in the next year?

I’m most excited for Victory’s Price, which is the final book in the Alphabet Squadron trilogy. Before the first book came out, I wasn’t sure I would be interested in a story about pilots, but I was proven so wrong. It’s a character-driven story with a lot of heart, and I’m so sad it’s ending. Sarah and I love yelling about these books from the rooftops, and we think Alexander Freed is one of the best Star Wars authors out there right now. I’m even more excited for the new Rogue Squadron movie, and I have my fingers crossed for an Alphabet Squadron cameo!

How can people who want to listen to your podcast find it and help support it?

Friends of the Force is available on all major platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor, and more. We also have a YouTube channel where we post all of our episodes every week!

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