‘Long days and pleasant nights…’
The great thing about podcasts is that they provide a platform for every niche imaginable. If I want to listen to hours of content about Tom Waits (and I do want that), I have the Song by Song podcast. If I wish to enter into some kind of sordid vortex that combines true crime with the golden age of Hollywood then there is You Must Remember This. And if, constant reader, one wishes to enter the hellish world of Stephen King via the barrens of Derry, Maine then there is only one place to go. And that place is The Losers’ Club.
Featuring a rotating cast of King devotees including but not limited to Justin Gerber, “Wolfman” Mac Gerber, Mike Roffman, Dan Caffrey, Rockin’ Randall Coburn, Jenn Adams and Rachel Reeves, The Losers’ Club is the deepest of deep dives into all things Stephen King. What started life as a chronological book-by-book analysis of King’s work has mutated like the Captain Trips virus into something much more in-depth and labyrinthine. As well as the book-by-book stuff, The Losers’ Club now handles TV adaptations, extensive interviews with people from the wider King universe (and on one memorable occasion with King himself) and even the films and books that have influenced King along the way. It’s the best goddamned podcast from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine… Or Portland, Oregon, for that matter.
For me, as I have written extensively in the past, King was not only a gateway into horror, but also into adult literature more generally. He was the first author I turned to when I became too old for the Goosebumps books and Roald Dahl. Novels like IT, Pet Sematary and Salem’s Lot are as much a part of my central DNA as the school I went to and the music I like. Indeed, many of these books are old friends. Or at least that’s how it feels. The Losers’ Club from IT taught me that it’s okay to be an outsider. The ballad of Louis Creed from Sematary taught me that you can’t change the past. And The Running Man taught me… well, actually that one didn’t teach me anything but they can’t all be winners. As an English teacher, I’d be hard-pressed to find much love for King amongst my colleagues. And to be honest. That’s fucking bullshit. King is the best storyteller since Dickens in my view, I’m not talking in terms of prose, I’m talking sat around the campfire shooting the shit type stories. It’s not for nothing that many of King’s works have been adapted into monstrously successful feature films.
Whilst there is no shortage of Stephen King ephemera floating around in the ether, The Losers’ Club podcast is the first King-related media that invites the listener in and asks them to pull up a chair. I won’t say that this podcast made me feel vindicated in being a King fan, he is one of the most successful writers of all time after all, but it did take me back to a time in my life when obsession was the norm. When I first fell for Stephen King’s books, I fell hard. In the intervening years, I’ve always kept my oar in the murky waters of Derry and Castle Rock but this podcast has dragged me back into my adolescent obsession and boy does it feel good.
I should probably talk about why I love it. The hosts are all experts certainly but not in a way that is exclusionary or intimidating. Often, at least one of the guests is encountering a King book for the first time and this enables the listener to read along with them. I’ve found myself revisiting books I missed the first time and returning to old favourites. In the section they call King’s Dominion, the Losers lay out how whatever they are covering ties into the rest of the Kingiverse. It’s utterly fascinating.
I should wrap this up. The Losers‘ Club is exactly what makes the whole medium of podcasting so great. It offers not only unique content on a relatively niche topic, but it has also led to a community of King fans who use the podcast as their unofficial meeting place. In short, I award this podcast five bright red Pennywise clown noses out of five. It feels like home.