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  • Denis J. Runn

The Podcast that Saved the Network Gets Rebooted

It seems like 2019 was so long ago. The world seemed so different. People flooded the movie theaters in record numbers, and hit the bars to decompress after a long week at work. Youth Sports dominated some households, while others relied on the old standard of network television to get them through the work week. The US presidential election seemed to be getting ever so close and the Covid-19 virus seemed so far away. 2019 saw a decline in podcasts on the Wide Open Mic Podcast Network as well. The Gunnar and the Pistols Podcast, for many years the flagship Podcast on the Network, went through so problems. Founding Co-Host Kevin Deal embarked on a new career which took him literally across the country. Other Co-Hosts Mike and Chuck Lopez's travel soccer club exploded leaving them little time to do anything at all. "I found myself Pistol-less" says Gunnar Malstrom, host of the Gunnar and the Pistols Podcast, "I wasn't sure the podcast would ever come back."


Enter Jeff De Leon, a podcaster and mainstay of the Quad Cities comedy scene. "I met Jeff for the first time at a recording for his Podcast All You Care to Eat" Malstrom recalls, "and it became clear that we had much more in common than I realized." In 2019, a couple months before Marvel ended its 20+ film "Infinity Saga" De Leon started rewatching the films and blogging his reviews of the films. "The Marvel films had always been a very popular topic on the podcast, and I had been really enjoying reading his reviews, it seemed like a no-brainer asking Jeff to come on the show" says Malstrom, which he did.


Jeff was booked to do a single episode of GNP (Gunnar and the Pistols Podcast), and what was thought to be a quick hour hour episode ended up being a four hour session. "I realized that this was way bigger than a single, or split in two double, podcast episode." Malstrom reflects. The idea became to record a six episode (one for each infinity stone) mini series called "SNAP: an MCU Podcast miniseries". The only problem was time. "We were only a couple weeks away from Endgame, and I liked the idea of not only reviewing the films, but speculating on what was to become of Endgame" said Malstrom. "I knew what I thought we had to do, and surprisingly, Jeff was all in."


Gunnar and Jeff buckled down and over the next three weeks recorded recorded over 10 hours of audio including an Avenger's Endgame Pre/Post show, where they recorded hours before the Endgame opened and then right after to capture both their pre excitement and initial reaction. Now that they had all of this content how would they release it. "We considered doing it 'Netflix' style and releasing it all at one time, but at the end of the day we thought Podcasts were timeless and our pre Endgame thoughts would still be relevant in a post Endgame world."


Since the miniseries was released the world has become a much different place. Movie theaters across country remained mostly closed as film studios pivot their attention to direct to consumer streaming services. Marvel is no exception. Marvel's post Endgame plans were to start their next chapter (Phase 4) on May 1 of 2020 with the Scarlett Johansson led Black Widow film, followed in August by The Falcon and Winter Soldier a limited series to be aired on Disney+. Unfortunately, Covid threw a wrench into Marvel's plan causing them to reshuffle their plans. Finally 563 days after their last release (The Marvel/Sony release Spiderman: Far From Home) Marvel released WandaVision, on Disney+. The 563 days between releases was the longest gap since the time between The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 (693 days between Marvel's second and third releases).


"I really loved working with Jeff on SNAP, we have been talking for a long time about how we bring it back, what direction we take, and where do we find the time to record it" Malstrom reveals, "now seems to be the perfect time to reboot this podcast." SNAP: an MCU Podcast (no longer a mini series) has officially been rebooted. The reboot will be a weekly podcast covering the new slate of films and series Marvel is releasing starting with WandaVision. Unfortunately Jeff was unavailable for the weekly podcast, but in his place will be Kris King of the Harder Brunch Podcast. "Though Jeff is not going to be on every episode of SNAP, he is in the DNA of the show" said Malstrom "and he will be back from time to time, SNAP listeners haven't heard the last of Jeff De Leon".


Snap's first official episode, covering the premier episode of WandaVision, is out now, and the second episode is due out later this week. All episodes of SNAP: an MCU podcast, both the miniseries and rebooted weekly podcast, can be found at www.wideopenmic.net.

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