Celebrating 15 Years of CoasterRadio with Mike Collins & E.B. Part Three: Observations and The Future

Since podcasting got its humbling beginnings in the mid-2000s, there have been a number of podcasts that have focused on theme parks and roller coasters. However, there’s just one “Original” Theme Park Podcast, and that’s CoasterRadio.com. What begun as a 5-man show that was supposedly last one summer in 2005 has evolved into podcast that has produced just shy of 600 episodes over the last 15 years.

A long-time listener of the podcast, I wanted to reach out to Mike Collins and E.B., hosts of CoasterRadio.com to learn a little more about the podcast and the hosts behind it as they celebrated their 15th Anniversary on April 25. Luckily, they agreed to an interview, which we’re going to break into three parts (because there was so much discussed!)

In case you missed part one, you can find it here!

And if you’re looking for part 2, click here!

Coaster101: How do you guys feel the industry has changed? The biggest thing that’s changed in the industry both, I guess for CoasterRadio, but for the industry as a whole over the last 15 years?

Mike: The focus on the theming, I think. When we started the podcast on the tail end of the Coaster Wars. And now we’re to the point where even an even a Six Flags probably won’t put in a roller coaster without also building a themed area, even if it’s themed Six Flags style.

Everybody has to focus on theming, everybody is doing it. And then you have the big guys like Disney and Universal where they’re building lands. Star Wars, I mean that’s ridiculous. We joked about going back and listening to old episodes of coasterradio.com, and you hear us going back in those old episodes saying things like, “Oh, a wooden roller coaster that goes upside down, that’s ridiculous!” But you even go back to those old episodes and I think there’s a point in those episodes were like, “Oh man, somebody should build a Star Wars land. That would be amazing.”

EB: I think I think theming is easily the thing that we’ve seen the evolution of from 15 years ago in the industry.

Mike: Yeah, and I think social media and also the popularity of the smartphone being used in theme parks. Just social media, how the parks use social media, but also how people can broadcast stories from within the parks like that, that didn’t happen very much when we started and then also how just people using their smartphones in the park is kind of changing the way the industry works. Even from easy things such as mobile food ordering but going all the way up to like virtual queuing and stuff like that and just everybody being able to broadcast from the park, I think that reliance on technology, once we get out of this whole COVID-19 thing, is going to just blow up. I think that’s exactly what the parts are going to be utilizing is the smartphone technology to be tracking people to be moving people, to be interacting with the guests in real-time, to move them around and put them where they need to be. That’s going to be the outcome of this whole pandemic garbage is a huge leap forward.

Coaster101: It’s been 15 years as of April 25. Where do you guys see the next 15 years going for CoasterRadio?

EB: No change! We’re gonna park it right here. We’re at the peak. [Laughing]

Mike: Same old. Same old. We’re very comfortable [Laughs]

EB: I think it’s just going to keep going. I would love to see us continue to add more content, more streams of content, more ways for the fans to interact. We’re always experimenting with adding different ways. We just started up in the past year, for example, a Discord, and that’s typically gamers getting on to chat and talk about things but now it’s just for anybody who wants to come up with something and so we’ve opened up a Discord to our supporters on Patreon and that’s been a really cool fun thing.

So I think if we can keep expanding and keep developing new things like that for fan interaction for listener interaction with the show. That’s what we’re going to keep doing.

Mike: Yeah, EB and I both like technology and so I think we’re always looking at whatever new technology is coming out and then using that as part of the show. Especially getting content from the audience. We’re always looking for new ways to do that because the best shows we’ve ever done are the ones that are really driven by the audience interacting with us.

So that’s what we’re always looking to do is whatever the newest way to bring content in whether that’s audio, video, doing video versions of Coaster Radio, but also I think expanding our travel to or always talking about getting to Europe and doing meetups there. So I think that’s something we’ll probably see definitely in the next 5 to 10 years for sure.

Coaster101: Do you guys feel like the Discord is kind of the new “New form forum?”

EB: Nothing will ever replace the new form forum, Old-school internet forums or a thing of their own. I mean there was a whole community built around that. A terrible tragic dysfunctional community, we tried Reddit, we’ve tried Facebook, we’re trying the Discord. Nothing is ever going to replace what internet forums were in the early 2000s.

Mike: There was just so much greatness about the Coaster Radio new form forum, and that was a place in time that I don’t think we’re ever going to get back.

Reddit it is not… we tried like you said, we tried it all. None of it has been as good but I always have hope that we’ll have something like that. So again, that’s like what we were talking about with new technologies like trying Discord seeing if that catches on both[?], but yeah, I miss those old forum days.

EB: You know what, Mike, some coaster sites have not given up on them.

Mike: Yeah. Some still have them, right?

EB: Still hanging on.

Mike: They’re holding on for as long as they can.

Coaster101: Kind of staying on the forums. There are people have been with you from the beginning, there are people who you would recognize from like a forum name who are still listening or still connect with you guys in certain ways?

Mike: Oh sure. Yeah, there are still people who would come up to us at meet ups with their forum name.

EB: Oh, yeah, if those nicknames have stuck and we don’t even know their real names necessarily. We can’t you know dig back and figure them out, but they still go by those forum names for sure.

Mike: People come up to us and say hi. My name is Donald but you know me as [insert forum name here], and that happens all the time and I wouldn’t know Donald but I know coasterman98 or something like that. It’s funny how those names stick.

Coaster101: Longtime listeners will recognize forum names from earlier broadcasts? Have you ever found JumboShrmp?

Mike: We don’t know who that is. We looked. We thought it would be a fun episode to find that person, but even with research, we haven’t found who that is. There are some people who were listeners and big parts of the show in season one and two that we don’t know where they are.

Coaster101: You’ve won a hypothetical Award for the best Coaster Podcast for the last 15 years. What is your acceptance speech?

EB: patreon.com/coasterradio.

Coaster101: Ding!

EB: I love it.

Mike: I think we always say and we set it on some kind of a sign off of our 15th-anniversary show. EB I think you said it like the half-joke is that we do the show for ourselves and just for the fun of doing a radio show, but really what it’s become is that interactivity with the listeners and knowing the stories of the listeners who have used the podcast either to like maybe reconnect friendships or make new friendships. That’s kind of the unintended thing that happened with Coaster Radio is that all of these communities and friendship started building up just from people who are out there listening to the show and that’s one of the things that I think made us the happiest is that’s something we didn’t plan on happening, but it did.

EB: If you’ve ever met somebody that you’ve heard on the radio for a long time, where you’re a big fan of on television or YouTube or anything like that and you walk up to them and you say, “You don’t know me, but I feel like I really know you”, and that’s happened to both me and Mike.

Podcasting is really interesting because it’s an intimate relationship. If you think about it, this isn’t going to the movie theater with 300 other people and watching a movie, this is you with earbuds shutting out the world to listen to the voices of two people talking just to you during your subway trip, in your car while you’re driving to work, out in the yard when you’re doing something, running on the treadmill, whatever it is. It’s an intimate experience. And if you do that week to week to week for years, there’s a relationship that exists there.

And when people tell us the stories of that relationship that we didn’t even know existed, but it has in fact profoundly affected their lives, it’s really touching and it holds me and Mike. We’re accountable to those people, which is just really fascinating. We have had people come up to us and tell those sorts of very personal stories about how we were with them through hard times, through dark times, through difficult times, through joyous, happy times, and we didn’t know, we didn’t know that that was happening, but it was so important to them.

Mike: Yeah, and we were also saying that there are some days and weeks where it’s tiring. Life is tiring, we’re both have families and stuff and sometimes you don’t want to do the podcast that week, you’re kind of tired and like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to stay up until 9:30 till midnight some nights to do it”, but then it does not matter as soon as we start the show, we are energized and get excited about it because of those interactions that we have with people. And it never fails, like I could be dead tired at 9:29, but as soon as 9:30 hits and the mic’s turn on and we start going, it’s like this weird energy.

EB: You just drag yourself into it.

Mike: Yeah, you’re in it. Yeah. Yeah, so and because of those people in those interactions in those meetings that EB said it absolutely there’s an accountability to do that. Yeah.

Coaster101: And you sure it’s just the CoasterRadio energy and not the Whiskey or the Moonshine or the Tiki drinks?

Mike: Sometimes it is. Sometimes it could be that. Sometimes, you need a little extra fuel.

EB: That’s when the strangest, weirdest, worst characters come out.

Thanks to Mike and EB for their time! You can follow CoasterRadio on all of the social media channels: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram, and visit their website (because the name of the show is the name of the site: CoasterRadio.com).