2010 Canadian Weblog Awards Exclusive Nominee Interview with Chris Walts and Mike Doyle of The 49th Parallel

Chris Walts and Mike Doyle host The 49th Parallel, which has been nominated in the Podcast & Vlog category of the 2010 Canadian Weblog Awards.

Why vlogging in particular?

CHRIS: I think video was a natural choice for Mike and I, because, well, we figured it might help out dating lives.

MIKE: It's true. I was banking on the fame the internet would bring me to take me to that next level dating-wise.

CHRIS: Mike and I have been making videos together since grade six. We both spend a ton of time online, and Mike turned me onto a couple of video podcasts that I now love. I figured it looked like something we could do and be pretty good at, so we jumped right into producing our own video show. I don't know that we could drink beers and write blog posts nearly as effectively.

MIKE: The alcohol really helped with the stage fright too. I think video was the natural choice for us. We don't have particularly amazing sounding voices, so an audio podcast was out. But we are both cute as buttons, so video really showed off out strengths.

What have been your greatest achievements/setbacks so far in your vlog quest?

CHRIS: I think our greatest achievement has been the fact that we have been able to consistently produce a show every two weeks (more or less). Mike lives in Victoria and I live in Vancouver, so one of us is commuting four hours each way for every show. There have been weeks when neither of us has wanted to do it for various reasons, and we have anyway. I'm pretty proud of that.

MIKE: It's been a pain in the behind for sure sometimes. The plus side of it, though, is I've become closer to a good friend I've known since I was six years old. If nothing else, it has given me the opportunity to have a good time with a great friend.

CHRIS: As for setbacks, I think the trickiest thing has been finding our audience. It's tough to get out there and get known, especially when you often talk about Canadian politics. We have a pretty decent dedicated audience, but I think secretly (or maybe not so secretly) you always hope that it is bigger.

MIKE: I've not been recognized on the street yet. It hurts, but I know it will come in time. "Don't stop believin'!"

Have you had any embarrassing moments while vlogging?

CHRIS: I can't really think of any off the top of my head. Editing the shows, I've certainly picked up on a couple of bad acting habits I have and have tried to not do them anymore, but nothing really embarrassing. Maybe the worst thing is realizing that you are talking about your sex life from time to time and then thinking that your parents might be watching.

MIKE: I've caught myself a few times on that. It's interesting how I feel I can be more liberal with my discussions with perfect strangers than I can with my family. As for embarrassing, I think one of our first shows we had a bit of an audience and a bit too much alcohol... I try to limit how many sips I take these days.

CHRIS: That doesn't mean we'll stop doing it though.

MIKE: Can't stop. WON'T STOP.

How does your vlog fit into your creative porfolio? Is this your primary outlet, or do you publish elsewhere?

CHRIS: Right now, I think the podcast is my primary artistic output. I've written a couple of guest posts for Granville Magazine and Miss604.com, as well as having a couple of my own blogs (ChrisWalts.com, Adventures in Traveldom, and Oxymoronic Aquiescence), but I don't update them nearly as often.

MIKE: This is my main outlet for the time being. I'm in school fulltime right now, so my free time is lacking. I think the show is a definite stepping stone to other projects, though. I think one of the best aspects is all the people I've met through doing it. The key to success is who you know after all.

CHRIS: There may be other podcast type shows in the pipeline though so stay tuned ;)

If you were to impart some knowledge to an aspiring vlogger, what would you tell them?

CHRIS: Really I think the best piece of advice anyone can give is if you are thinking about doing it, just go out and try it and see what happens. We weren't sure if we were going to be any good at our show, but we went out and shot episode 0 – the beta test. I cut it together, showed it to a bunch of friends, and everyone seemed to think it was decent, so we went from there. It really isn't expensive to produce something like we do, so why not try?

MIKE: Chris is absolutely right on this one. If you have a laptop with a built in webcam you can get a vlog up and running for practically nothing. As with most things, the hardest part of doing it is simply starting.

How do you feel about the word "vlog"? Are you okay with it, or does it make you kind of want to hurt me for using it so often?

CHRIS: I'm not going to lie. I'm not a big fan of the term. In my mind, a vlog is one person sitting in front of their webcam ranting about something and then posting it to youtube. There are two of us, so I think by default we don't vlog. We also actually shoot dual system (meaning we synchronize our audio and video in post production), and I often colour time the episodes, etc. I think we spend too much time on them to be considered a vlog. I like podcast, video podcast, or maybe webisode. We do often rant about things though.

MIKE: ^^^^ this.

Which blogs/vlogs are your must-reads/watches? Are there other political blogs/vlogs that inspire you?

CHRIS: I read so much news every week; it's actually kind of crazy. We just need to be on top of so much stuff to be semi-knowledgeable about it for the show. I'm on NowPublic, Digg, CBC, and BBC multiple times a day. I also get a ton of news by just watching my twitter feed and seeing what people are talking about. As for actual blogs, I've got TechCrunch, Tech Vibes, A view from the Isle, Hummingbird604, and Mommy is Moody in my Google Reader. I'm also a big hockey fan, so I'm always checking out Hockey Buzz and Spector's Hockey. I don't think that I really watch a ton of vlogs, but I do love the video podcasts over at Revision3. I watch Diggnation and the Totally Rad Show every week.

MIKE: I won't bother repeating most of Chris's links as we have many of the same sources. I spent a lot of time on the road, so I end up listening to podcasts more than watching vlogs. My favourites right now include The Moth, This American Life, Radio Lab, and You Look Nice Today, and, for my british/american comedy news, The Bugle.

The 49th Parallel is hosted by Chris Walts and Mike Doyle. It is a show for the informed information junkie. Every episode looks at interesting news stories from the past few weeks and comments on them.

Their goal with The 49th Parallel is not just to present the news but to explore what the news actually means through dialogue and debate. It is only through talking about complicated issues that we can begin to understand how they impact everyone’s lives differently. If you don’t agree with what they say, they would love to continue the discussion and invite you to head to their forums or blast them an e-mail!


Elan Morgan

Elan Morgan is a writer and web designer who works from Elan.Works, a designer and editor at GenderAvenger, and a speaker who has spoken across North America. They have been seen in the Globe & Mail, Best Health, Woman's Day, and Flow magazines, TEDxRegina, and on CBC News and Radio. They believe in and work to grow both personal and professional quality, genuine community, and meaningful content online.