‘Hello Internet’s’ vinyl podcast misses its mark

“The Vinyl Episode” lacks charm that makes online edition great, Steals other show format for exclusive vinyl only episode.

Lars Lonnroth, Freelance reporter

When I heard that the podcast “Hello Internet,” hosted by education youtubers CPG Grey and Brady Haran, were releasing a podcast printed exclusively on vinyl, I was gripped by the novelty, the irony, and the notion of a podcast pressed onto a physical object.

The notion ricocheted around my head as I attempted to garner enough support among my family to get their blessings to purchase it.

And once I got that blessing, the waiting game began. In total, it wasn’t a cheap purchase, carrying a substantial £40 ($50) price tag, but I felt as if this charming little episode was worth it.

In terms of the physical delivery, my vinyl arrived in one-piece. However, the order took five months to actually arrive on my doorstep after initial ordering, as Haran handled the processing personally.

But once it arrived, I scheduled a time to listen to the episode, excited beyond belief. I ended up trekking to my grandparents house, who own a phonograph I could play the episode on.

And while shows like Radiolab, Reply All and so many other highly produced radio-style storytelling operations are vying for my attention, but whenever a new Hello Internet episode is released, I can’t keep my ears away.

Online, Hello Internet really shines in its free-wheeling discussion with the addition of witty humor, intelligent insight and banter, and Haran and Grey’s idiosyncratic personalities. The fact that they both are so different, with diametrically opposed personalities, but still have a magical chemistry with their individual quirks shining out, leads the listener to feel as if they know the two and craving for more.

With their penchant for creating little “corners” of discussion—ranging from plane crashes to corporate compensation—along with the vernacular that has materialized over the show’s two-year lifespan, Haran and Grey have fostered a sense of community, making the listener feel like they are just sitting across the table from their friends cracking inside jokes.

While the vinyl episode definitely a tad of that magic, the episode’s exclusive approach stymied that ability to really come into its own, as they adapt the format of “Desert Island Discs,” another podcast and BBC program in which they list what eight songs they would take with them on a desert island. However, that format spawned a show that has the feel of a listicle rather than the glowing conversation that the show does so well.

Now, for those who are hardcore “Hello Internet listeners,” the show is definitely worth your time, with understanding their personalities making the show more engaging than if you walk into the episode with abysmal knowledge of their personalities and the “Hello Internet” vernacular.

But otherwise, it doesn’t seem like as if the episode itself has enough substance to give a person a reason to care—the most important hurdle to jump in podcasting in general—especially if someone was handed the episode on the street.

The notion of playing a podcast on vinyl is still tantalizing and having a physical copy is almost worth it itself, but the Hello Internet Vinyl episode comes up short in terms of content—and the change in format is the root. While the exclusiveness grabs attention, it just misses its mark and creates a worse episode, an episode that isn’t worth $50.