Anthony’s Airwaves – Transmissions from Kat and Jethro Gilligan Toth of The Box of Oddities

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Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you all an amazing interview with another two of my favorite podcasters, Kat and Jethro Gilligan Toth of The Box of Oddities! If you’re looking for quick bites of fun, interesting, creepy topics and subjects, then this is the place for you. Episodes are typically 30-40 minutes and are just a delight to listen to; they are incomparable to other podcasters when it comes to their style of humor and how they present their stories. They cover anything from interesting historical stories to deadly plant life and creepy locations to hauntings. There’s something here for everyone and I can’t thank them enough for doing this. Below is transcribed from an MP3 file that they sent to me, and I couldn’t have been more excited to receive their answers back in this format! I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I had conducting this interview!

Anthony:
Kat and Jethro, I’d like to start this off with where and how did you meet?

Jethro:
We both worked at a radio station and that’s how we met. We’ve been together since 2010 so 11 years now and we’ve been married going on 6, it’s just one of things you know? Our love for bizarre topics, and I think we gravitated toward each other because of that. One of the first things that caught my attention was when we started talking about Salvador Dali when we first met. I’m standing next to her desk and I’m saying, “If you like Salvador Dali, I’ve got a book that you should really look at,” and she reaches up on her desk and pulls it off the shelf and says, “Is it this one?” So we knew it was meant to be.

Anthony:
It sure has been a crazy year so far, especially in the podcasting community. What have you been doing to pass the time while live shows are suspended?

Kat & Jethro:
Doing laundry, lots of laundry actually.

Kat:
We are hoping to eventually take the live shows back on the road and when that happens, we might be living elsewhere, so a lot of our winter has been spent getting the house ready to sell which isn’t sexy in any way.

Jethro:
We are getting the house ready to sell in our underwear.

Kat:
Oh yeah, so in that case it is sexy. It is a little sexy, quite sexy at first and then the bending starts and you’re like, I wish that weren’t happening.

Jethro:
Especially in my underpants because that fridge is heavy.

Kat:
Also, we’ve been talking a lot about our plans for a second podcast and what that might look like. We’re trying to look to the future and what we could be doing next.

Anthony:
Speaking of live shows, what have been some of your favorite places that you’ve had the chance to visit and travel to? How about your favorite venues, restaurants and hangouts?

Jethro:
I think our favorite venue, and I think we both agree, is Zanies in Nashville, right? I mean for a venue, it’s not the biggest venue, but, they’re certainly the nicest. I shouldn’t say that because everybody’s nice but they were the ones who gave us our first shot.

Kat:
It was our first one and that does mean a lot. They were like, “Do you wanna try this?” and we were like, “I don’t know, do you?”

Jethro:
I remember we got down there for our first show and the lady who was managing that night wasn’t the lady who booked us; she was showing us around and we said, “You know, this our very first show and we haven’t done this before,” and she said, “This aughta be interesting.”

Kat:
Yeah, I think you know we love Zanies. Our San Francisco show took me to California for the first time so that kinda blew my mind. I’ve never been that far west and I was really super excited about being there.

Jethro:
And it was a great venue, Cobb’s. We felt very honored to play there because people who played there before us, you know, were talking about people like George Carlin, Robin Williams and Richard Pryor, you know, huge names and here we are sitting backstage looking at all the posters of these people that have played there thinking, “Wow, these people are gonna be horribly disappointed in what they’re about to see.” But it was a great honor, it was.

Kat:
As far as restaurants go, we found our favorites in pretty much every city we’ve been to. There is a noodle place right across the street from Zanies that I’m obsessed with.

Jethro:
Is that the Vietnamese noodle place?

Kat:
Yes, and also in Nashville, City Tap was excellent, had amazing service, and had a great corn appetizer that we loved.

Jethro:
We love corn!

Kat:
In Charlotte, we went to a Thai restaurant where you could see…what was the building, where the light changes every night?

Jethro:
In Charlotte? It’s the big one.

Kat:
The big one, so you can see that big pretty building from the Thai restaurant and we had incredible noodles there. Apparently I’m a big fan of noodles.

Jethro:
You are a big fan of noodles.

Kat:
In San Francisco, we went to the place where they make the layered drink…

Jethro:
Oh, you’re talking about Irish Coffees.

Kat:
That was really neat, so yeah, every place we’ve gone we found something incredible and that’s been a big part thanks to the Freaks who give us a heads up as to where we should go.

Jethro:
That’s right, really on the road, what you’re learning here is our diet consists of Irish coffee and noodles.

Kat:
Noodles and booze.

Anthony:
At this time of writing, you’re nearing your 300th episode. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started? When did you first realize you had a successful show, that now pumps out two episodes a week, as well as a bonus episode every month for your “Order of the Freaks”?

Kat & Jethro:
We actually just dropped it today!

Jethro:
OK, we started with just one episode a week and we were, I think, maybe 10 or 15 episodes in…not that far… and we just decided we were gonna do two. We had some people who requested that we do more than one a week and we thought, “What the heck, let’s give it a try.” That was really a horrible mistake.

Kat:
It has made our lives very hectic for sure.

Jethro:
Yeah, but it did get us to 300 faster.

Kat:
As far as successful, I don’t know, that’s really hard to measure I guess.

Jethro:
Certainly successful by our standards and what our expectations were. We’re really blown away by the level of support, but in the grander scheme of things, we’re kind of…I don’t know…it’s hard to call yourself successful when you look at shows like And That’s Why We Drink or My Favorite Murder. We worship them.

Kat:
Yeah, we strive to someday be half as successful as they are.

Jethro:
Timesuck too with Dan Cummins. Dan and Lynze have been so nice to us by the way; they kinda took us under their wing.

Kat:
We had a mini celebration in the aisle of Lowe’s, which is where we hold all of our mini celebrations because we got 1,000 downloads and we were just losing our minds. I guess success comes in lots of different ways.

Jethro:
We look at is as successful because people seem to like it and certainly, I think at first, everybody when they start a podcast is focused on downloads, but I think we really measure it more by interaction with the Freak community.

Anthony:
Following up on the question regarding two episodes a week, can you tell us what your process is like when it comes to choosing a topic, researching, writing, recording and eventually the finished product for our ear holes? Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Kat:
I think a lot of that happens because Freaks send us suggestions which is amazing and super helpful. The Internet is a very strange, curious and scary place, so we get a lot of inspiration from things like that. I’ve had instances where one topic in an old episode will get me thinking about something else that we could talk about, so sometimes it’s just, you know, looking back at the weird stuff we’ve already talked about and sometimes it’s finding things that are completely new.

Jethro:
The inspiration for episodes for me comes from all over the place. Certainly you know, I have some go-to sites on the Internet, but occasionally I’ll be watching an episode of Law and Order for example, and they’ll talk about some strange or unusual procedure of how they solve a particular mystery, and I will look that up to see if it’s real and if it is, often times, that’s provided inspiration.

Anthony:
One thing I’m always curious about…what kind of equipment do you work with between hardware and software?

Jethro:
We use the Rode Rodecaster Pro. That’s the mixing board and all-inclusive pre-amp and mic channels and hot buttons and all that stuff, and that has really simplified our process immensely. We run 2 Shure SM7B and we added on Adobe Audition.

Kat:
Occasionally if we’re on the road we’ll use an iRig and just plug it into the phone which is really handy.

Jethro:
We’ve never done an episode like that but we have had to do commercials while we were traveling. We use a Sennheiser shotgun mic when we’re on the road which is great for isolating in noisy areas but it’s really difficult to get it through baggage check.

Kat:
Yeah, TSA is constantly nagging us. “Stop with that weird long metal thing… are those knives? Is that a fetus?” Those types of questions.

Anthony:
You both are able to bring a different kind of humor and podcasting experience that you just don’t seem to find anywhere else. I suppose the name of the podcast reflects just that too! What have been some of your favorite stories you’ve covered? Personally, one of my favorites is the Carl Tanzler episode. I also want to mention “The Thing in the Middle” segments. They’re all great; it’s hard to choose from any of them.

Jethro:
You mentioned the Carl Tanzler episode; that is one of my favorites.

Kat:
I was just transcribing that the other day and I just really enjoyed listening to you tell that story. You’re a great story teller.

Jethro:
Anything that involves somebody dying in the arms of a corpse behind a pipe organ… I’m all in on that.

Kat:
I have a terrible memory. I’m better at remembering stories that you’ve told me, so things that JG has come to the table with tend to stand out in my mind more than stories that I’ve told, which really should not be the case. There’s something wrong with my brain, but I’ve been a vegetarian for many years, and I think maybe in my formative years, I didn’t get enough fish oil or something.

Jethro:
Not enough protein.

Kat:
Well, it’s not protein, everyone gets more protein than they need. That’s one thing that we hear over and over: “Where do you get your protein?” There’s protein in peanut butter, Jeez Louise!

Jethro:
This is her angry vegetarian character. Thing in the Middle segments. I read a review somebody wrote about our podcast on iTunes and they referred to the Thing in the Middle as a palate cleanser and I didn’t think of it that way. I guess it kinda of is. It’s just a short break in the middle and it just seemed to add a little something extra… a little something special… rather than just going from one story to the other. It seems to kind of taken on a life of its own. We never really came up with a name for it and so Kat just referred to it as “the thing in the middle” and we just stuck with that.

Anthony:
You don’t mention that you live near Stephen King nearly as much as you used to in the podcast, right? Have you actually met him?

Jethro:
We’ve given up on that.

Kat:
It’s fine, Stephen King’s allowed to have his own life that doesn’t involve us.

Jethro:
And I think he got tired of us standing in front of his yard all the time and when I went through his dumpster…

No, that’s not real, I never did. I was tempted to. In fact, I had it all plotted out. I had drawn graphs.

Kat:
We both had met him, but it’s not like we’re buds or anything like that. He’s very nice. My dad picked him up hitchhiking one time.

Jethro:
That’s a true story! He really did. Her dad would pick up people hitchhiking all the time and one happened to be Stephen King. That’s the kind of guy Stephen King is. Well…was…he doesn’t do that anymore since he got hit by a van.

Anthony:
If I remember correctly, you were also on an episode on The Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold. I listen to a lot of his stuff as well. So, what was it like working with him? Who else have you worked with, and is there anyone else you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Kat & Jethro:
Jim Harold is the nicest guy. He’s an angel. We love Jim Harold. We love him!

Jethro:
We were speaking at a podcast convention in Orlando and Jim just sent us a message, just out of the blue, and said, “Hey I’m here, if you guys are around, let’s get together.” So, we met him in the bar for like 8 beers, I think. It was just gonna be a quick little stop in and say hi. We don’t want to bother the man; he’s extremely busy. We’ll have a drink with him and it was very nice of him to invite us. We hit it off, and we ended up staying there most of the night, and we developed a really good friendship. I can’t say enough about Jim Harold. He’s just one of the nicest guys that I think we met in podcasting.

Kat:
Yeah, he’s been really great. We’ve also had a chance to work with Lynze and Dan Cummins from Timesuck and Scared to Death a little bit and they’ve been splendid.

Jethro:
They’re great too. They’ve been really good to us. Christine from And That’s Why We Drink reached out to us and offered us some words of encouragement and I was just fanboying and Kat was fangirling. It was really nice to get to meet two podcasts hosts that you look up to that you listened to before you started doing your own and have them say ,”Hey we like what you do.”

Kat:
That’s pretty mind blowing and she reached out to us and we were like, “What now?!”

Jethro:
They do a great job. We love them.

Kat:
We’ve had a chance to work with Two Girls one Ghost a couple of times and they’re great too.

Jethro:
We love them. One of them is in Boston and the other is in Los Angeles, but, we always gravitate toward podcasters in New England. Jim Harold’s in Cleveland so that’s not accurate in any way.

Anthony:
Speaking of other podcasts, what are some of your personal favorites?

Jethro:
The ones that we mentioned. Do you have any other favorite podcasts?

Kat:
Yeah, Hardcore History is one of my favs. It depends on what I’m looking for. I’m currently re-listening to How Did this Get Made, which I think is just a splendid, beautifully-crafted thing and Jason Mantzoukas is just like…I’m sorry, cover your ears, Jethro…he’s just a treasure and I swear he might be my soulmate.

Jethro:
Mine too!

Anthony:
Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for any of our readers that may want to break into podcasting?

Jethro:
We went into it with the idea there is only a certain amount of things that you can control and that’s the quality of your product. So, we work hard to make sure the audio quality was good. We strategized how we wanted the show to flow and to sound. Other than that, just be consistent and do the best job that you can because those are the things you can control.

Kat:
And I would say also for your own mental health, don’t put too many parameters on what you think success is or how you think the people should receive your podcast because it’s not going to go that way. I mean, not everyone is going to like everything and that’s not always easy when someone gives you 3 stars and says that you’re obnoxious because you’re a feminist. That one review.

Anthony:
Kat and Jethro, thank you again so much for doing this. I love the energy you two put into the show and it goes without saying that The Box of Oddities is one of my favorite podcasts and always makes me laugh. I’m excited to share this with our readers.

Jethro:
“Thanks for doing this.” You bet. “Love the energy you put in.” Oh that’s really nice. We really appreciate that.

Anthony:
Lastly, where can our readers find you guys? Or should I say “Soshe meeds”?

Jethro:
You can find us at: theboxofoddities.com all the soshe meeds, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and we’re on TikTok now.

Kat:
Yes, blowing up TikTok.

Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/a-m-radio-archives/

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