Friday, April 29, 2016

Vince Rotolo - Podcasting Mentor


About ten years ago I first learned about the world of podcasts and immediately started searching for shows focused on my off-kilter interests. Vince Rotolo's B-MovieCast was one of the first shows I subscribed to and not long after that time I realized that I wanted to put in my two cents worth. Vince made that easy by having a phone number set up for fans to call and so - after screwing up my courage - I called, left a message and thus began a long series of sometimes crazy contributions to that show. If truth is to be told I was trying to do a couple of things with those dozens (?) of phone calls. Sure, I wanted to add some information about the movies being covered on the podcast BUT - I was also trying to make Vince laugh. I really, really wanted to make Vince laugh. I knew that if he was amused he'd surely include me in his show. That's how it works, right? If you put a smile on the boss' face he lets you stick around.

Well, he did include my calls in the B-MovieCast and I could hear him laughing so I knew I was cool. B-MovieCast cool. And even when he wasn't audibly laughing you could hear the grin that was plastered on his face. That's right. Vince was the kind of host that could not keep the sound of his voice from telling you how much fun he was having making his show. He was enjoying himself the entire time, even when he was wrestling with Skype problems that made recording with his distant co-hosts a start and stop pain. Of course, I should have figured out long before I actually did that I didn't have to work so hard to make Vince laugh. He wanted people to join the conversation and as long as I added to the show he was happy to have me. Indeed, he seemed to be happy to include everyone that took the effort to be a part of the B-Movie love that he started the show to foster. I was far from the only listener to add my voice to the party and Vince weaved us all in no matter how nutty we got. Hell! I used his show to jokingly call another podcasting legend a heretic for not watching more Godzilla movies! (Sorry about that, Derek!) But Vince took it all in stride and juggled us lunatics like a professional. He made us all feel welcome in his place even when we acted like crazy people. He created the gold standard for this kind of podcast because he treated us all as friends - even those of us he had never met.


On this past Wednesday night I received a phone call from B-Movie co-host Nic Brown to inform me that Vince Rotolo had unexpectedly passed away just hours before. I was at a friend's house preparing to record a podcast of my own and as I sat down on the couch I felt sure that I was imagining this call. But I wasn't. Nic gave me the details he had and we sat miles away from each other, listening to our own breathing, stunned into confused silence. He was able to assure me that Vince's wife Mary was doing as well as could be expected but, being used to hearing her every week on the podcast, I could imagine her voice cracking with grief with the same words Nic was using. No matter what this was doing to me, Nic, or any other fan of his show I knew Mary was in a far more terrible place and I just wanted to help her. But there are no sympathetic words that aren't obvious. No phrase that will heal this pain. Not for her, not for Vince's family or for any of us.

I only met Vince and Mary once several years ago at the Monster Bash convention in Pittsburgh. I was so thrilled to be able to shake his hand and he was very gracious but also kind of shy. He smiled a lot and as soon as we all started hunting the dealer's room for goodies it was like kid's in a candy store. He might have seemed standoffish but as soon as the conversation turned to our common interests we were cool! I know he talked me into at least one purchase and I think I was able to point some cool pieces out to him as we searched too. It was magical and I can still see him holding a British Blu-Ray of WITCHFINDER GENERAL in his hand and pondering the price.

I'm planning to be at this summer's Monster Bash for the first time since I met Vince there. A big part of why I was excited to go was to talk face to face with him. I had plans to email him in the next few weeks to ask if he would be willing to sit down at the show and record a little for my own podcast. I wanted to dig into his childhood and ask him about his memories. I had visions of getting inside the head of a first generation Monster Kid. What was his first monster film? When did he realize how important movies were for him? What were his thoughts on how the movies of his youth formed his adult tastes? I wanted to know about his job and how he ended up living in the southern US. I wanted to pick his brain about Ray Harryhausen and the day he spent at his house. But mostly I wanted to spend some time with Vince. Some more time. Two or three hours a week for most weeks of the year just didn't seem to be enough. Not for me. And probably not for a lot of other people either. I started missing Vince Wednesday night and I'm going to be missing him every day for the rest of my life. He was a long distance friend; a podcasting mentor; a movie fan and an incredibly nice guy. A light went off this week and, unfortunately, we aren't waiting for the movie to begin on the screen in front of us - we're saying goodbye to that light forever. 

7 comments:

Nick Rentz said...

Well done article Rod.

Nick Rentz said...

Well done article Rod.

Stephen D. Sullivan said...

In the last few days, I've found it somewhat startling how much time I spent thinking "I should tell Vince & the crew about that." It's happened over and over again. I felt _bad_ if I didn't call in and "chat" as often as possible. And, of course, I'd hoped to actually guest on another show in the near future. I'd have done it every week, if they could have squeezed me in.

Really lovely remembrance, my friend. Let's keep the torch burning.

Nic Brown: Werewolf for Hire said...

Rod that was lovely. It is people like you that kept Vince coming back. He loved all the listeners as much as he loved the movies we talked about.

Ken & Juana said...

Wonderful words Rod. Gonna miss you and the other feedbackers just about as much as Vince. I know you will still be casting, but it just ain't the same when its not in Bmoviecast clubhouse.

Nigel Burton said...

Beautifully summed up Rod. Nothing will replace the B Moviecast but it's great to know that Vince helped launch other podcasting careers. You have the same unalloyed joy for these genre movies that Vince had - and that's why I love listening to the Bloody Pit...
Keep up the great work and let's honour Vince's memory by remembering those movies he would have enjoyed.
Nigel Burton, UK.

Rod Barnett said...

Although I don't think I'll ever be done wishing he were still around I intend to continue podcasting and hope I can fill some of the empty spaces he has left behind.