(UN)POPULAR CULTURE

The home of writer & author A. J. BLACK

Howdy folks, it’s been a while since I did a Tony Talks post, indeed this is the first one of 2019. It feels fitting for events that have come to pass this week.

So today is my final day, essentially, as the co-editor of my website Set The Tape, which I founded just under two years ago with my friend Owen Hughes. The decision came as a bit of a shock when we announced it to the STT team but, in truth, it’s been something I’ve been moving towards for the better part of the last six months.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like to run an entertainment website. Set The Tape has been modestly successful but we can’t claim to have come close to the heights of the biggest sites out there–Den of Geek etc…–yet as an editor and driver of content, the reality is that it’s a full-time job. There aren’t really any days off. Sure, we managed to reach an equilibrium where none of us edited more than two days a week, but the reality is that editing is not the grand sum total of the role. You’re chasing content, coming up with ideas, scheduling, messaging writers, checking emails, contacting PR, and the list goes on.

Now I was fortunate enough to have Owen as a partner throughout, someone who taught me a great deal about the rules and systems of publishing (he’s a proper BBC journalist with degrees and all sorts, so I’m an utter clueless amateur in comparison). Owen has given up STT alongside me because from the outset, we each only wanted to do a project like this *with* each other and we’ve done it well. As difficult as it’s been sometimes, I don’t regret a day of it and I’m proud of what we achieved. It just reached a point where when I projected two, three, five years into the future, the thought of balancing all of those elements with my marriage, hopefully starting a family, my job, friendships etc… just filled me with unease. Enough time has passed for me to realise stepping away is the right choice.

The good news, also, is that STT will live to fight another day under the auspices of our co-editor Wendy Attwell. She’s one of those quietly brilliant people you only know is brilliant when you get to know her. She won’t let on. But if anyone reading this wants a place to write about what they love in popular culture, guided by someone super approachable and encouraging, Wendy’s your gal and STT’s your place. I’m delighted the site isn’t going to just be an archive. The idea of it was always bigger and more important than the people running it anyway. So it’s survival leaves me feeling warm inside.

What does this mean for me, then, going forward?

Well if you’re reading this, I’m reasonably confident you enjoy my writing and you’ll check this site out from time to time. In my zeal to put STT first, Cultural Conversation has to some degree ended up on the back burner for a while but this will change. I do hope to post more regularly, whether it’s with TV or movie thoughts, think pieces, reviews etc… but the reality is that part of leaving STT is to gain some offline time and reconnect a bit in that space, so I wouldn’t start expecting a post on here every day.

The podcast side is also ticking over. We Made This, my nascent podcast network, had a soft launch in January and now has a fair few series airing, with more to come. I’ve recorded less this year as part of my attempt to streamline a bit but I do have some fun irons in the fire where WMT is concerned – right now I’m really enjoying reconnecting with my mate Sean Wilson and recording our film music show Between the Notes, as it’s been a great way to keep up with new orchestral music so far this year. I’m excited to have my X-Files podcast The X-Cast returning more regularly soon too, much as I’m on this year’s episodes a lot less.

There is also The Book, of course. I do now have an agreed title with the publisher and once the cover art is finalised, I’ll be excitedly announcing details about it on this site & on social media. Still no idea when it’ll be published but it’s in turnaround so hopefully by the end of 2019. Plus! My publisher likes my idea for Book 2 and I’m working slowly but surely on a full proposal, in hopes I can maybe start working on that later this year. Can’t reveal any details beyond the fact I’m focusing on one, single, beloved franchise for this, and it plays off interests I’ve had for quite a while, and will be familiar to a few people…

In other words, plenty still going on. Set The Tape is the end of an era for me, and I will miss regularly collaborating with the fine assortment of scribes we gathered for that project, but the time is right. As a favour to me though, please do bookmark STT and check in on it when you can – it will continue to produce great work for your entertainment.

See you round the bend anyway, for now.

T x

One thought on “Tony Talks #8 – Setting the Final Tape

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