Former students make Mediocre success
Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 18:04
Two local radio personalities — and former UCF students — have turned what started as conversations suited for two guys hanging out in a garage into a weekly podcast.
While Daniel Dennis' and Tom Vann's day jobs have them working as producers at WTKS' morning show, The Monsters in the Morning, every Friday afternoon they put together the informal A Mediocre Time With Tom And Dan.
"We were just joking around, and any time we are talking to each other and joking around, it gets significantly more colorful as far as language goes," Vann said. "Me and Daniel both looked at each other and were like, ‘Man, it would be really funny if someone could hear this.' "
Once the idea was sparked, it didn't take much to get it off the ground, Dennis said.
"That was on a Monday that we had that conversation," Dennis said. "I had everything tested and ready to go by that Friday. It wasn't that hard."
The podcast is produced in a make-shift studio is a spare bedroom in Dennis' home in Orlando. The small, dark-walled studio contains a few chairs, an Apple iMac, a few speakers and microphones and a mixing board.
The board — which Dennis found for $60 at a local yard sale — and a $7 subscription to a Skype phone line were the only startup costs needed for the two to produce their very own uncensored show. All the other equipment he already owned.
The topics covered tend to focus on the juvenile — in-depth conversations about genitalia and feces are the norm. Anything can be a topic of conversation, and almost no prep work goes into getting the Mediocre Time topics ready, Dennis said.
"It's almost like someone's guilty pleasure," Vann said.
Although he writes down ideas on a notepad before the podcast — including asking why people in movies always swing a dead body three times before throwing it off of a bridge — rarely do those ideas ever make it on the show.
The lack of structure, however, is by design.
"We would listen to some other podcasts, and it sounds like they want to do radio," Dennis said. "One of the things that we talked about and we both agreed on is that we didn't want this to sound anything like radio."
Vann said that although there is cursing and suggestive topics are covered, it's more reflective of society than the current controlled state of media caused by the Federal Communications Commission, including what they are allowed to say and do at their day jobs on traditional radio.
"That's another thing that turned us on to the podcasting thing," Vann said. "As far as the FCC goes, we're censored as a society in a whole. I think it's ridiculous how much we're censored."
Vann said that advertising for A Mediocre Time has been mainly through existing social media networking — including Facebook and Twitter accounts both he and Dennis already had — as well as word of mouth around town.
"It feels less invasive that way too," Dennis said. "You throw it up on Facebook, and you don't really feel bad. It's not like when you go to check your mail and there is a thousand fliers in there."
Dennis said over the course of a year they have picked up fans from across the world, from the U.S. to England to Iraq, including thousands of regular downloaders.
The biggest achievement so far has been reaching No. 31 on iTunes' weekly ranking of comedy podcasts — beating comedy stars such as Sarah Silverman and Phil Hendrie.
Both Vann and Dennis are former UCF students.
Vann attended UCF from 2000 until 2006, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration.
Dennis, who said he is on a 14-year plan, transferred to UCF as a communications student in 1997 after spending two years at Flagler College.
After landing a job with a local FM radio station, his time available to take classes dwindled until he was unable to make enough free time in his schedule outside of his paid job.
During his final class in 2002, he got up to use the restroom and never came back.
"So, I'm a dropout with an ass-load of credits," Dennis said. "I could almost graduate twice."
He said he still stays in contact with his advisers from his days as a Knight and will occasionally re-enroll as a student.
Dennis said his time as a UCF student has influenced the topics and general attitude of A Mediocre Time.
"If you think about me ending my college career the way that I did, I'm perpetually stuck in college," Dennis said. "If I could dress as Knightro with no pants and there were girls around me all the time, I would."
A Mediocre Time had its one-year anniversary March 19 with an event called the "52nd Podcast Mediocre Meet-up."
Another anniversary meet-up has already been named — the 104th Podcast Meet-up.
Dennis and Vann both said they see another year of structureless Friday conversations mimicking the kinds of things they talk about when hanging out and drinking beer as the key to rising success.
"It's worked out for us so far that no plan is the best plan," Vann said. "And I think that, based on our personalities, works best for us."