They’re not monkeying around. They’re serious.
Like many Internet radio podcasts, New York City based “Monkey Radio with Marc” records part-time from the kitchen table, with no production or marketing staff and a sparse out-of-pocket budget.
Yet the quickly growing show launched on Blogtalk Radio has defied the odds, gathering nearly a quarter of a million downloads and interviews with notable personalities and celebrities, in just eleven episodes during its first three months.
Considering the weekly one-hour comedy and interview podcast has been averaging about 80,000 listeners monthly, a few minutes of time on this podcast may be a good trade for what could be useful and easy promotion for even the most known star. The show has managed interviews with such guests as the producers of “The Annoying Orange”, computer hacker -turned filmmaker John Threat, teen sensation and reality star Rachel Filsoof and others, as well as upcoming/currently scheduled guests famed “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” improvisational comedian Colin Mochrie, two-time Golden Gloves winner and former “The Biggest Loser” TV fitness star Cara Castonuova, and Tony Award nominated writer/lyricist Chad Beguelin.
The show also has employed budding animator Jared Kowis to create a growing series of witty animated shorts which have been noted to be reminiscent of the 1990’s Comedy Central animated television series “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist.” And what’s more, companies like the New York City-based Baconery are now signing on as sponsors.
Originally from Rochester, NY, show creator and host Marc Raco, who is also an actor, comedian, filmmaker and songwriter — and an actual Kentucky Colonel–launched “Monkey Radio with Marc” as a platform to entertain and with entrepreneurial intent. The show’s motto “Two minds, one world, zero patience” may suggest fearlessness.
“We hoped we’d soon reach hundreds of people and build from there,” he recalls. “I was hoping we’d hit a hundred thousand in maybe a year or so. Suddenly we’re in the hundreds of thousands and growing steadily, with sponsors and amazing, marquee guests. We’re laughing, we hear our audience is having a good time, and we’re talking to fascinating people John Threat and the ‘The Annoying Orange’ producers and others. Now it’s time to bring it up even a couple of more notches.”
Raco’s current co-host Ben Rose, who doubles as a fitness trainer as well as an entertainer with a quick improvisational wit, adds “Our fast rise, the popularity, grabbing sponsors and notable guests. Even at this point in our young show and from a “nowhere” starting point. It’s raising eyebrows. Plus—we’re cost effective and eager to please. We’re really, really doing our best to think entrepreneurially.”
The show’s bacon-obsessed producer, described as cantankerous and who goes only by “Elsie”, claims to have a cat that is in a jazz band and often fills in as co-host, suggests “He (Raco) wants to talk to his idols. It probably should be the President or Martin Scorsese or someone like that. But if we can get Bill Shatner or Tina Fey? Who could complain? We should be so lucky.”
As evidenced by their primary sponsor, Elsie isn’t the only show-member with bacon-related enthusiasm. Bacon is often referenced on the show and Raco’s song “The United States of Bacon” has gained some notice as far as Australia, and is by far the most popular in his catalogue of more than 70 recordings.
With the podcast, though, it hasn’t always been a smooth road, notes Raco. “We’ve had our bumps and bruises, even in these three months. We’ve lost our first co-host after his first show, suffered technical glitches and learning curves during recording and even accidentally erased an interview. We had to find a really creative way out of that loss, and keep moving forward. “
That “creative solution” was to concoct a pair of fictional British DJs, played by Raco and Rose. The substitute host characters known as burnout Mickey and dullard Billy leave their own show in the UK to fill in for the regulars who have been suspended by the corporate giant (also fictional) Westminster Pies which owns both shows.
Raco muses “An absurd situation called for an absurd explanation. So we created one which turned out to be more fun than if it has turned out right the first time. Lemonade from lemons and all that.”
In the end the lost interview was replaced with a second appearance by its gracious subject, comedian Melissa Villasenor, who returned and volleyed willingly with the fictional duo.
“You never know what will happen with us, with this show,” quips Rose, “We’re completely dependable. And entirely unpredictable. We’ve got something up our sleeve for the first quarter of 2013.”
Rose may be reflecting upon a mysterious promotion entitled “Operation Shatner/Fey/Stewart” teased on the show’s website. No further details have been offered thus far, despite the obvious reference to last names of three celebrities (two of which may have been slipped by Elsie).
Raco is optimistic. “I watch the download stats every day. I keep waiting to see them skid to a halt and wake us from a dream. But they haven’t. They just keep going up and up. It motivates me to push them. To push myself.”
Elsie offers a more pragmatic outlook. “We are confident we’ll be seen as a creatively original up-and-comer with momentum that is worth a look for someone’s station lineup. Maybe then we’ll interview the president.”
The “Monkey Radio with Marc” podcast and animated shorts can be found at www.monkeyradio.info .