This is a review of Relay FM’s new podcast, Rocket, hosted by Brianna Wu, Christina Warren and Simone de Rochefort. This is one of my new favourite shows, and I wanted to share with you my thoughts on why it’s not only a fantastic, entertaining and enlightening show, but an important one, too. But first, let’s get some context.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, and the vast majority of them are about technology. Let me make you a quick list of the fantastic shows (and hosts) I listen to on a regular basis.
- The Talk Show with Daring Fireball’s John Gruber
- Accidental Tech Podcast with Marco Arment, John Siracusa and Casey Liss
- Upgrade with Jason Snell and Myke Hurley
- Connected with Stephen Hackett, Federico Viticci and Myke Hurley
- Inquisitive with Myke Hurley
As you can see, I spend a good chunk of my existence listening to men, men and more men talk about tech (okay, mostly Apple). It’s not quite exclusively dudes – on occasion, John Gruber will have a female guest on his show. There have been three episodes of The Talk Show with female guests in the past year: Serenity Caldwell in March 2015, Christa Mrgan in November 2014 and Joanna Stern in August 2014. And then there was that one time Tiffany Arment took her husband’s seat on ATP to talk about the game Journey. So there you go – off the top of my head, four episodes of several hundred over the past year that have had women. My point is, from my perspective, there’s been a serious dearth of female voices in tech talk. Until now.
Enter Rocket, tagged as “accelerated geek conversation”, a weekly show from Relay FM that covers three topics each episode. Even though Rocket is a tech show hosted by women, as you can see from the show’s tagline, it means not to advertise that. It’s not “accelerated lady geek conversation”. There’s no particular homogametic bent. It’s a small detail, but I like it.
The show has covered a broad range of topics in its short existence (we are currently at episode 12). Wu, Warren and de Rochefort effortlessly bounce from pop culture fodder (Left Shark at the Superbowl halftime show, for example) to Linux, Net Neutrality, comic books and of course, all things Apple. The tone of the show is fun and conversational – we as listeners are merely flies on the wall, witnessing three good friends have a well-informed chat. As another reviewer, The Peachy Pixel, pointed out, it doesn’t take long to feel hooked, not only by the content of the show, but the ones presenting it as well.
Each host brings her own perspective. Warren is senior tech analyst at Mashable, replete with deep technical knowledge, anecdotes from keynotes past and (spoilers) amazing voice acting talent. Wu is head of development at Giant Spacekat, maker of the innovative iOS game Revolution 60. She came to my attention as one of the central figures in the GamerGate controversy. She’s a strong feminist voice and that comes through on the show. I enjoy her stories about game development, how she pokes fun at her husband Frank, and her love of animals.
I was familiar with Christina Warren and Brianna Wu previous to the launch of Rocket. Simone de Rochefort is a new voice to me, but a welcome one. She writes and is the on-camera host at pixelkin.org – a gaming news site focused on families. She brings to Rocket a love of games, a cheeky attitude and the ability to keep the show on track. I consider her the Casey Liss of the show – unknown at the outset (who the hell is Casey), but quickly recognized as the peanut butter that holds the podcast sandwich together. In this analogy, just to be clear, Christina is the bananas and Brianna is the honey – no one should have to be boring slices of bread. I digress.
Looking to the future, I’m excited to see the show grow in popularity. Rocket is the bellows stoking the fire of my love of podcasts, technology and great conversation. Listen to it. Be friends with it. It will reward you with its awesomeness.