Every bro and and his dog has a podcast these days. The podcast section of Spotify has become akin to the self-published section on my Kindle — full of voices that think the sun shines out of their asses. Sorry Dan, I didn’t want to read your misogynist opinion pieces in your zine, and I don’t want to hear about them on your self-produced podcast. 🙄
Fortunately, Spotify Australia is here to restore my faith in boys with podcasts. Search Engine Sex is the first podcast produced by the Australian division to hit the airwaves, and it does not disappoint.
Each week, host Rowdie Walden consults the experts (sexperts?) to get down and dirty with Google’s most searched sex questions. Think you know your shit? Think again. Turns out the clap is not what I thought it was, Queenslanders don’t know how to have sex (listen to How to Have Sex), and healthy, long-lasting queer relationships are not a myth (thank you Benjamin Law).
Check out our interview with Rowdie below to get schooled on sex, podcasting, and… penis pumps (?).
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ROODMOOD: Hey Rowdie. So, Search Engine Sex is about answering the most Googled questions about sex — what’s something embarrassing you’ve turned to Aunty Google for?
ROWDIE WALDEN: I think I’ve self-diagnosed myself with everything. Convincing myself I had scabies once was a real highlight…
I thought I was the only one doing that but turns out, I’m not! We all do it – but we probably shouldn’t be doing it. I wanted to create another place where people can go to get answers that might be a little bit more helpful than the often terrifying – and often factually incorrect – search results, so Search Engine Sex was born.
RM: You participated in Spotify’s SoundUp Bootcamp and spent time under the wings of some podcast producers from Spotify’s US division. First of all, who were they and what podcasts did you get to work on? And what did you learn from the process?
RW: Sound Up is Spotify’s podcast accelerator program that aims to amplify voices of the First Nations community and it was very much like a podcasting bootcamp. It was surreal to be in a room with big rigs from the Spotify US teams, and for them to tell you what’s great about your idea, how you should do it and to give you the ability to do it – that was incredible. Every day was different – one day you’re challenged to think about the audience for your podcast and the next you’re recording and learning how to edit audio. I’m very fortunate to have been chosen and have a show commissioned by Spotify. But even if you were a part of Spotify Sound Up and that didn’t happen, you still walked away with a fleshed-out treatment, equipment and the skills to be able to put that together.
It was also quite surreal to be in a room with other Indigenous Australians who had completely different ideas to each other and different takes on what a call out for ‘Indigenous podcasters’ represented. Everyone has very important stories to tell; stories that revolved around culture, and obviously I turned up with a podcast about sex. It was interesting to see the different ideas about what the Indigenous podcasting space would, or could, be.
RM: Are podcasts the new blogs?
RW: I hate blogs, so I hope not. If I have to scroll through one more essay of someone’s food journey just to get a recipe…
I think podcasts are in many ways like music – it is audio content that connects the listener with culture in a deep and personal way – it’s like they’re inviting you into their living room and you get to be a fly on the wall in these conversations. Search Engine Sex just works as a podcast because it’s quite anonymous – you can pop your headphones in and have me whispering in your ear while you’re at your desk… or in your bed.
RM: What podcasts do you listen to loyally?
RW: You’re Wrong About. It’s hosted by two journos who unpack a historical event, moment in history, trend or famous person who’s been misrepresented – or where the public perception of it is totally wrong. Notable episodes are the Anna Nicole Smith episode and the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime show. But they’re all great. Well worth the listen.
RW: Yeah, I mean it’s proved that I probably need to get a new interest or hobby. I wonder how many more sex/love ideas I can milk a show out of?
Every project has been so different to make. It’s difficult producing/writing for yourself – if it’s shit, the only person to blame is you. Making audio is a lot harder, you’ve got to tell the audience everything, and hook them in with just audio.
RM: In an interview with SBS you mentioned that the secret to a good podcast is “a good story.” What is Search Engine Sex’s story?
RW: Search Engine Sex is a story of a bunch of hopeless millennials who are too scared to go to the doctors and sit at home searching their issues on the internet. So, we’re having a conversation about sex and relationships to help close the knowledge gap and realise we’re not the only one asking these questions or having these experiences.
RM: And what do you hope listeners will learn and take away?
RW: We’ve tried really hard to make the show as inclusive as possible. Some of the questions are very hetro, so we’ve tried to strip it back to focus on genitals, not gender.
I’ve found that the narrative we are fed about sex in pop culture is always the same, which doesn’t really address the reality of what sex is, and can leave a lot of us feeling excluded from the conversation.
So we’ve made sure that anyone that listens – no matter how they identify or what genital they have – will be able to walk away with something tangible, perhaps some new knowledge, reassurance, or maybe just a laugh.
RM: Your first guest, psycho-sexologist Chantelle Otten, was delightfully informative and funny. How did you decide who to interview for what episodes?
RW: What a review! Thank you.
Chantelle is a real treat. I could listen to her talk about squirting for hours. I try and find someone who can answer the question…but maybe not the obvious person. Like in an episode we have coming up, I speak to an evolutionary biologist about how to measure a penis. I always want the guest to be able to take us on a journey. Starting with the most searched question, but then giving us a WTF moment or teaching us something.
RM: What have your highlights been during the making of Search Engine Sex?
RW: Having never made radio or a podcast before, the highlight has been working alongside an all-female production team, who I might add are kickass at what they do.
RM: And what can listeners look forward to this season?
RW: Sex, relationships and penis pumps.
…but really, we’ve got episodes coming up on navigating grass is greener syndrome, a few episodes diving into STIs, orgasms and even a whole ep dedicated to lube.
We’re also going to tackle some deeper, thought-provoking relationship questions with Benjamin Law, Abbie Chatfield and FlexMami – stay tuned for those.
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Remember to practice safe-sex and get tested regularly, xx.