How The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show Built a Massive Audience of Music Fans

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It’s almost 6 p.m. on a Monday night, and while the rest of the world is still recovering from the weekend, Eddie Barella, Jason Newcomer and Chris Barr are setting up for the 164th episode of their podcast, The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show.

After more than thirteen years on the air together, the three high-school buds have just landed their first sponsor, Warby Parker. While they set up shop in the corner of Barella’s Denver Tech Center apartment, they debate between ordering sunglasses and regular glasses to promote their sponsor. After years of consistent work on the Internet radio format, The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show has evolved into a respected and paid gig, and the three co-hosts take a minute to celebrate that.

The show’s roots date back to 2001 when Barella decided he didn’t like anything that was on FM radio, then found a way to do it himself online.

“I always thought Denver radio was lame, and I was too young to be taken seriously in the industry,” Barella says. “I wanted to do exactly what I wanted to do — a fun radio show — and not spend years hanging banners in the promotions department, which is where most people in radio start. I wanted to get right into it and try to make some waves.”

In the beginning, the show was an excuse for the three of them to hang out and try to put out entertaining content to the few people that were listening. In 2002, Barella saw an opportunity to broadcast with the idobi Network, which is now the most-listened-to alternative-music stream in the world, with more than 5.7 tune-ins per month.

Flash forward through a rebranding process in 2011, and the three co-hosts are reaching an average of 50,000 listeners with each episode, which is frequently anchored by an interview with a band. Previous guests include I Fight Dragons, Emery and plenty of locals. Back in Barella’s apartment, the three have just kicked off the show by reading an e-mail from the office of Congresswoman Diana DeGette, who wishes to congratulate each of them for winning Westword’s Best National Podcast Based in Denver for 2015.

Over the course of the next two hours, the three find a balance of making prank phone calls, interviewing U.K. band Young Guns and trying to keep up with the surprisingly large group of teenage fangirls that are talking about bagels and Fall Out Boy in the EJC VIP chat room.

The fast-paced environment is overwhelming to watch as an outsider, but Barella, Newcomer and Barr are in their element. After decades of friendship and years of co-hosting, the three feed off of each other’s energies. They breeze through the various segments of their show, interacting with each other and the listeners the entire time.

"It's a comedy show."

When eight o'clock hits, the three routinely pack up their equipment, move Barella’s desk back against the wall, and head to the kitchen for some post-show pizza. The microphones could have continued recording, as the group’s dynamic doesn’t change off the air; they’re still three high-school kids just having a good time with each other.

Barella sends one final message to their fans in the chat room before the three of them discuss how their audience has changed over the years. “The demographic stays the same — we just get older,” Barella says.

“We’ve had at least two distinct eras of fans,” Barr says. “It’s weird — the first era fans were like fourteen at the time, and now they’re out of college.”

Newcomer chimes in now, saying that occasionally the older fans will make reference to shows they did seven or eight years ago, often reminding him about those bits in general.

“We’ve been doing this so long, I literally can’t remember some of the stuff we did back then,” Newcomer adds.

The three guys have been hosting this show since the early Internet days, and they often joke about how drastically different The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show is thanks to technology.  “When we started doing our show, it was on the dial-up Internet, way before social media,” Barella says. “It was hard for people to understand Internet radio or that they’d need to download Real Player to listen to it.”

Barr adds that early broadcasting was “a motherfucker” to try and broadcast, especially since they were just right out of high school and didn’t have the best tools at their disposal.

“We shared one bundled Microsoft microphone,” Barr says. “Or we’d use the speaker on a cordless phone. We would literally mike up the speaker phone.”

The show somehow pulled through over the years, and Newcomer and Barr credit Barella’s belief that one day Internet radio would really take off.

“Eddie predicted Internet radio,” Newcomer says. “We were just along for the ride.”

Barella says he didn’t know exactly how it would happen, but that he always thought somehow people would have Internet radio in their car. Though Barr thought the Internet was “just a fad,” the idobi Network transformed The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show.

“We were literally at one listener in the beginning, but then we had 200, 300, 1,000 to 20,000, and every step of the way it’s always been, like, holy fuck,” Barella says.

As their audience grew and evolved, so did the show. The live broadcast no longer takes place on a Friday night, and it’s gone from a party to a professional show. The three have recently secured additional sponsors for the show, including Harry’s Shaving and DraftKings. Newcomer says they aren’t trying to be a shocking, HBO-style radio program anymore.

The three friends don’t know when or if they’ll ever stop doing the show, but for now they’re having a good time, saying they all enjoy where they are now and the flexibility and freedom the show offers.

The Eddie, Jason and Chris Show is broadcast live on the idobi Network on Monday nights at 6 p.m., and all podcasts are available online at ejcshow.com.  

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