If you plug in "WTF with Marc Maron" or "The Adam Carolla Show" podcasts while jogging or at the gym, you might want to consider adding the locally produced "Hey My Man Podcast" to your playlist.
Dave and Ben, who wish to not be identified by their last names because of potential repercussions at work, release a weekly comedy podcast that features two fathers in their 30s making Seinfeldian observations and griping humorously about life. They've recorded more than 110 episodes of a show that aims to have broad appeal but is filled with Region Easter Eggs, such as with tales about drinking at Beer Geeks in Highland or how the guy at a local Dunkin' Donuts always tries to upsell them on their coffee order.
They recently relaunched the "Hey My Man Podcast" after a hiatus of a few months, a period when their schedules conflicted too much to record new episodes. They're putting out a roughly hourlong show at a time when podcasts are exploding in popularity, with more than 2.6 billion downloads in 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Edison Research estimates a third of all adults have listened to at least one podcast, and the number of people who listen to podcasts at least once a month has doubled since 2008.
In 2013, Dave, a Dyer resident, started the humor podcast, which is available for download online at iTunes and Podbean, with a different co-host who's since departed the show. He was replaced by Ben, a listener from Highland who reached out of Twitter and asked for a spot as a replacement host.
"We're two guys, two family men in our 30s just shooting the breeze," Dave said.
Both have backgrounds in radio, though neither chose to pursue a career in the field. Ben is a huge fan of Adam Carolla, while Dave grew up as a fan of Steve Dahl, Jonathan Bradmeirer and Kevin Matthews on Chicago radio.
Ben had gone to the Illinois Center for Broadcasting, but gave up on a career in radio after hearing how bad the pay, hours and job security were. He was intrigued by the podcast because Dave and the previous co-host were talking about relatable things you couldn't hear on WJOB or any Chicago station, such as bad service at a local craft brewery.
Both hosts find the podcast cathartic.
"It's like you could pay a shrink whatever they charge to air your grievances, or just do it on the show," Ben said. "You can get out all the stress or the anxiety instead of buying that six pack or that bourbon, or doing yoga."
Dave first got into podcasts when he got a new vehicle with SiriusXM Radio, which got him thinking why he couldn't just do his own show talking about normal, everyday matters. So he did.
The result was the "Hey My Man Podcast," the title of which refers to a former boss's habit of saying "hey my man" in a high-pitched voice, which Dave autotuned into a humorous song.
When he and Ben first started recording the show, neither could get a word in edgewise for the first few weeks. But they slowed down and let each other talk, and finally got into a rhythm where they play off each other's jokes.
They rarely socialize outside the show and usually don't talk about the subjects until about five minutes before they start recording, so they can keep it loose and fresh. They'll write down potential topics on a grease board, such as if Ben wants to talk about taking his kids for a walk in the park or how an attractive dental hygienist made him feel uncomfortable.
They're always hunting for material — Dave carries a notebook with him everywhere, while Ben logs his observations on his phone. But they play up what happens for comedic effect.
"We create characters of ourselves for comedy, like how I might go on if something gets my goat," Dave said. "If something interesting went down in real life, we'll sensationalize it a little bit, to make it pop a little."
The "Hey My Man Podcast" has occasionally featured guests, including the owner of 45th Street Tattoo in Highland and well-known character actor Michael Rapaport, who's even recorded a promo for the show.
They've been steadily growing their fan base, and their show is even simulcast on KFUG Community Radio in California. There's even an animated "Hey My Man Podcast" cartoon a friend created for them, which can be viewed on YouTube along with "The Logan Show" web series Dave recently started with his kids.
"We're like most working dads," Ben said. "We come home, turn on the game. We have relatable lives, the same lives as other people in the Region, but we mine it for humor."