Vale – The Model Railway Show

In general I consider myself a bit of a curmudgeon and a Luddite when it comes to technology: I quite like technology but I’m happy if it’s steam powered. However a couple of years ago my partner Louise bought me an iPod as a gift. Onto this I copied my pathetically small collection of CD’s, purchased one album on iTunes using a gift card (this time from the kids) and went on to discover the world of podcasts. The album I purchased was by a fantastic artist by the name of Sarah Jarosz and I sometimes wonder whether her music doesn’t sit somewhat uncomfortably with Thin Lizzy, Neil Young and AC/DC 🙂 I listen to the podcasts (mostly sourced from radio) I collect onto this little purple device almost religiously as I model in my workshop. Along with good coffee and reading, listening to my iPod as I model is one of the great pleasures of my life. Until recently the podcast The Model Railway Show was among the small, spoken word treasures in which I indulged.

I was listening to one of the last episodes of The Model Railway Show I had not previously heard today as I pottered about my workshop. I’d been saving the last few episodes to listen to when I really had time to enjoy them: today’s episode featured Gordon Gravett and Dave Frary, two of my favourite modellers. You can’t get much better than than these two men and the interviews were among the best the show has ever featured in my opinion. The discussion with Dave Frary had him talking about a NG layout he had built for the Whaling Museum on Nantucket island off the coast of the US state of Massachusetts. Suddenly a small bell was rining in my head and I smiled at the conincidence that I should be listening to this at this particular time and on this particular show. While not earth shattering the story is probably worth the retelling.

In early 2003 I had decided that it was time I did some overseas travelling, so in August of that year I found myself in Toronto, Canada at the NMRA national convention. Model train events weren’t the only thing that I included on my itinerary but I’d been wanting to attend one of these conventions for a number of years and this was my big chance. What no one had planned on was SARS and my memory is that numbers at the Toronto event were well down on average but this didn’t bother me: I had talks to listen to and layouts to visit! On my second or third day at the convention I found myself sitting at a table in the convention centre and got into conversation with a couple of modellers who happened to sit with me. One of the people I was talking to was a coporate clown (that’s what it said on his buisness card, I kid you not) and the other would go onto be one of the hosts of the Model Railway Show, Trevor Marshall.

Now I suppose I could be accused of simply tending to favour the person who I happeded to share a name with but in the short time we chatted, I found I really liked Trevor. I don’t remember the clown’s name, but then again, maybe I do 🙂 When I got back from overseas I made contact with Trevor by email and we’ve remained friends ever since: sharing layout planning ideas, swapping photos and generally just keeping in touch on an intermittent basis. Nantucket was my next stop on the trip and I visited the whaling museum where Dave Frary built the layout being talked about on The Model Railway Show. Unfortunately I was there before the layout was installed but it’s almost exactly 10 years since I was there so maybe it’s time for another visit? As I say, this is not an earth shattering story, but listening to that podcast today brought back some very fond memories for me of the NMRA convention and my trip to Nantucket.

While you can still get podcasts of all the episodes of The Model Railway Show that were produced, for me listening to old episodes doesn’t really replace the hole left in my podstyle (see, even old farts like me can make up their own tech words) 🙂 What I got from the show was great ideas from some of the best minds in the hobby. The two hosts, Jym and Trevor, never took themselves too seriously but never made any apologies for taking our hobby seriously. The show dealt intelligently and entertainingly with the widest range of topics imagineable: everything from making trees to disposing of the collections of deceased modellers. I also liked the somewhat home brewed nature of the show which was very much in keeping with what is best about narrow casting on the internet.

Trevor had hinted to me before the show came to an end that he was finding the amount of time it was eating up was causing some issues: after the show came to an end he said that he and Jym were going to get a lot more time at the modelling bench. It would be nice to think that our hobby could commercially sustain such a show but I’m grateful for the effort that was put in and thank those who were responsible for producing it. I have a feeling that it was produced mainly through volunteer labour and by calling in a lot of favours.

Thanks guys, I will seriously miss The Model Railway Show.

You can find a link to the show down the right hand edge of this blog.

2 thoughts on “Vale – The Model Railway Show

  1. Trevor – it’s been a great 10 years knowing you!
    And thanks for the very kind words about The Model Railway Show. You’re right – the podcast was great fun but was definitely eating into our modelling time. I estimate each show – roughly half an hour – took about 10 hours of my time, once all aspects of its creation and distribution were factored in. These included research, approaching interview subjects, doing the interviews, editing the interviews, voicing the host segments, packaging the show, loading it to the servers, creating the XML files that allowed it to automatically appear in iTunes, writing the Episode Guide and confirming the links all worked, and so on.
    If it had been a commercial venture, that would’ve been a different story – it would’ve taken hours from the “work” bucket. But as a labour of love – with a little bit of commercial support, but not nearly enough – it was taking time and money from the “hobby” bucket. At some point, I came to the realization that it was becoming another hobby – the hobby of podcasting – that was taking time away from my model railway hobby. So, the choice was either to wrap it up, or expand it – try to turn it into a business, to justify spending money for travel, booths at hobby shows, and the like. Given that there’s no easy formula for offering paid subscriptions to podcasts – and given that the online culture has become used to getting content for free – this seemed like an uphill battle that none of us wanted to undertake. So, sadly, we pulled the plug.
    In addition to keeping the shows and supporting Episode Guides online, I’m still using the domain name for blogs about my layout and other hobby interests. This means there’s still an opportunity, in the future, to revive the show. But it would become a revenue-generator.
    – The Other Trevor

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