Join The Club: How a couple of Dum Dums captured the podcast world, radio not included

If you scroll a little way down on The Little Dum Dum Club Instagram you’ll find a picture of a pristine white beach, decked out in such a way that one might think it’s a fancy destination wedding.

In actuality, it was the setting for a live comedy podcast, an event that presenters Karl Chandler and Tommy Dassalo convinced 300 people to fly overseas to attend.

Karl and Tommy have worked hard over the past eight years to create one of the most high-profile podcasts in Australia. Interviewing some of the biggest global comedy and radio figures; from Wil Anderson to Russell Howard to Tony Martin – and they did it without a radio presence.

“Pretty early on in the podcast, we started doing stuff with Barry, the Triple M digital station which was all comedy content,” Tommy explains.

“And so they would pay us a little bit to air the episodes on Barry each week and we also got to use their best studios to record in.”

Karl adds, “Then Barry went down but we kept using the studio until about six months later when they found out and they sent us some letters to never come back.”

“That’s probably been like the most sort of radio affiliation we’ve had,” Tommy says.

But that’s by no means where the story ends for the pair, they recently passed their 400th episode with a huge live recording in Sydney, they were invited to podcast at Just For Laughs Montreal, the most prestigious comedy festival in the world, all the while garnering upwards of 20,000 unique downloads per weekly episode.

In the process, they’ve cultivated one of the most dedicated fanbases in Australia and a new career.

“It wasn’t the intent but it’s a happy surprise, it’s not like we sat there at the start ‘this is gonna be, this is our job, let’s do this.’

“It was just a hobby and it sort of very slowly did that to a point where now it’s sort of doing that a bit more and it’s a job now.”

With Australia’s top podcasts being dominated by commercial radio personalities, the pair is relatively unfazed that they’ve never been called up for duty.

“I think in the beginning though it was more frustrating when it hadn’t quite clicked yet in terms of actually making money out of the podcast,” says Tommy.

“Back then, getting something on radio was the be all and end all of leveraging the podcast into some kind of income. Now we make a good living off it and we get to do things exactly how we want to do them. We don’t have to compromise or be working for someone else.”

Despite having “a couple meetings” with radio bigwigs, the pair maintains that nothing has ever eventuated.

“They’re always sort of nice and everything but look, the best possible result I think from one of those interviews with radio people is getting offered midnight til dawn shifts or whatever for no money,” Karl says.

“We’re doing our own show whenever we want and we’re earning a good living at it.”

There is a certain freedom for anyone aware of The Little Dum Dum Club – whether it’s having the c-word becoming a term of endearment or jovially bullying a then-unknown Dilruk Jayasinha until he ups and wins a Logie.

“We can do things that would get shut down by a producer within ten minutes for being too harebrained but because it’s just the two of us, we like to do things that are stupid and even if it flops it’ll be a funny story,” says Tommy.

“We’re happy to kind of try anything, if you had eight people in a boardroom debating whether you could pull it off or whether it’s worth doing, it’ll probably never get off the ground.”

Karl sees the oversight of the podcast, radio’s loss and their gain.

“A radio show would go ‘alright come back for an outdoor broadcast, it’s free and we’ll bring pizza, we’ll give you banter and stuff’ and you won’t get a couple hundred punters.

“When we go “Hey come and see our live podcast and you have to pay 50 bucks to get to it” we sell out theatres. So it’s like well, I’ll take that.”

So with such a massive cult following and critical acclaim, do the guys have any idea about why radio has largely overlooked them?

“It’s not my business but they very much have a reputation for not knowing what’s going on out there, not even just podcasts, TV, anything – it doesn’t seem they’re even going digging looking for the next new thing, they’re watching The Bachelor.

“From the few talks we’ve had with radio most of it’s been ‘And thanks, so what do you do?’

A rarity in a world of comedians doing podcasts to land a radio gig, The Little Dum Dum Club has bypassed convention into an unknown land – and that’s the way they like it.

“We’ve just done stuff that people in radio couldn’t do. Like we just sold out the Opera House, we brought 300 people to Thailand. I’ve never heard of a radio, a star on a radio station, doing anything like that.”

“I’m not saying we’re better than Hamish and Andy, no we’re not. I’m just saying we’re doing stuff that some radio shows wouldn’t or couldn’t be able to do.”

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Matt Thomas
14 Jul 2018 - 10:22 am

Without a radio presence? Umm yeah. Just quietly, and I know this may be contentious, but there’s a hell of a lot going on in podcasting that happens without radio’s nod. Some of the best podcasts in the world don’t have and have never had any affiliation with radio. It’s a brilliant medium for independent and niche content. In fact it’s this non mainstream content that begat and then spurred the growth of podcasting. Why? Because podcasts go well beyond content that’s designed to attract the widest audience possible – which is where radio’s model essentially lives. For the most part radio continually sizes up podcasting as a medium it thinks it owns, yet in many instances shows it doesn’t understand. Sure it’s great for extending radio’s reach. Giving on demand convenience to radio’s existing audience. And it’s a great chance to provide extra content. Bolt-ons. But for audiences, podcasts are also often a breath of fresh air. Something new. Something that ISN’T radio. The thinking behind them doesn’t come from the ‘inside the box’ thinking that exists across breakfast shows, comedy drive teams etc. They can go beyond boom tish, beyond topical. Evergreen content thrives. They provide platforms for things that could never be on radio, and that radio would never touch. They are a new frontier and one that radio gets to be a part of but certainly does not write the rules for. Sure there are some wonderful exceptions. Radio shows re-packed for on demand have their market. Let’s NEVER take for granted unfettered access to Tony Martin, some quality stuff from the ABC, or some of the better resourced radio based podcasts out of the US. Radio has provided a wealth of popular and successful content in the podcasting world. But the triumph of podcasting is that it’s a medium that also caters well to specialist content, and long form content, both of which frankly, are not radio’s forte. So excuse me as I raise an eyebrow at the idea of surprise at a podcast being successful ‘without a radio presence’. I’ll take that raised eyebrow and head off to hit the treadmill where I regularly listen to podcasts from Tim Ferris, Casefile, Cults, No Such Thing as a Fish, and Party In China – Party Parslow’s epic Chinese expat adventure! (highly recommended). Radio needs podcasting. But podcasting doesn’t need radio.