Returning to the show that ‘looks at the legendary & strange’, as well as the unusual events that have shocked history, we complete the feature on Astonishing Legends by bringing you Forrest Burgess, who co-hosts the podcast with previous ‘Podfluencer’, Scott Philbrook.
Who Is Forrest Burgess?
Forrest Burgess was born and raised in the Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho region of the United States. Although the general area lays claim to its fair share of Fortean legends and anomalies like Bigfoot, Ogopogo and the occasional UFO, he has experienced none of it… so far. The more he has learned about the unusual, the more he has come to believe that nothing is impossible, although it can certainly be improbable.
Forrest wants to know what’s behind the curtain. He wants to, respectfully, know the secrets of the universe, or at least what he’s allowed to know. He wants to know what are the things that we can’t see, can’t know, or can’t understand; the mysteries of life forgotten by time and ignored by most. How do these things happen, why do they happen and what is the purpose? He would like to know why things that shouldn’t happen, happen.
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Who has had the biggest influence on your podcasting career and why?
When I first started casually thinking about doing a podcast back in 2009 and checking out other podcasts to see what was being done in the field, especially within the genre of the paranormal, there were maybe only about 6 in total that dealt specifically with paranormal topics, only 4 that were decent and Jim Harold was producing two of them, The Paranormal Podcast and Jim Harold’s Campfire. Doing a Campfire style of show was an idea I had before I knew about Jim, so I couldn’t do that type of show, but was glad someone was doing it well. Jim Harold had started back in 2005, when not many people even knew what a podcast was, and he was the first to show me that one person could produce a quality podcast or two, be a pioneer in structuring it for monetization and eventually make a living at it. Since that time, he’s interviewed just about every major name in the field of paranormal research and “Alternative History” subjects, and his Campfire show may be the largest audio collection of people recounting their strange experiences on the internet, so my hat is off to him in a big way. Then I would say, since listening to Radiolab as a standard radio program on NPR and then following them to a podcast format, Radiolab has had the biggest influence on me in terms of proving how excellent a podcast can be in regard to production quality and style as well as content.
If there’s someone, past or present, that you’d love to have an opportunity to go to dinner with, who would that be and why?
I would say the Count of Saint Germain, although from what we know of him by the accounts of his contemporaries, he probably wouldn’t eat but would indeed be a fascinating conversationalist. He’s the one person we’ve covered as a subject on our show that I regard as having the broadest range of worldly experience and skills and the greatest depth of mysterious and arcane knowledge. Not sure how much of his secret knowledge he would divulge, but I have so many questions and would relish the opportunity just to pose them to him. Also, the scenario of a dinner with this historical figure is not entirely improbable by some stretches of the imagination, as many believe he may still be alive to this day.
What is it, about your audience, that continues to surprise you?
I suppose I’m not all that surprised, but in line with Scott’s answers, we are always subjected to the whims and preferences of the podcast audience, and it makes clear, sometimes painfully, the old adage that “there’s no accounting for taste.” I would guess that maybe 90 to 95% of listeners that have sampled our show at least find it acceptable or even worthwhile and enjoyable and a notable percentage enjoy it immensely and continue to be big fans, as far as we can tell by the iTunes reviews and direct feedback, so that’s comforting. Also comforting is that in reading the iTunes reviews of other shows we find to be of the highest quality, there are still those listeners who have a major complaint or find the show to be rubbish, so it makes us feel as though we’re in good company, at least in that regard. Another interesting albeit expected by-product of human nature, is that no matter our stance on a topic or overall tone with the show, especially with paranormal stories, there will be those who think you’re not being skeptical enough, and those that want you to explore the more “way-out” theories even further. To be fair, it seems there are slightly more listeners who want us to be more skeptical or who think we’re too credulous in general, but overall there appears to be listeners at both ends of the spectrum, with the most being somewhere in the middle with their beliefs, and adjust their viewpoints depending on a particular subject. I can say that what’s not comforting is realizing just how many bitter and frustrated people there seems to be out there and within our present era of digital communication, how compelled and emboldened they feel to express their vitriol, at least anonymously. The impulse to express one’s unsolicited opinions is perhaps a result of the personalization of our digital age, but I believe the bitterness is of course a component of the human condition that has always been and will always be with us – it’s just easier nowadays to put it out there.
In one word, how would your best friends describe you? Why do you think that is?
I would like to think I’m seen as “wise” in general but more likely just observant by those who know me? I seem to have a knack for remembering all sorts of odd bits of knowledge and stories, but unfortunately just possess an average facility for putting that knowledge to any good use, except maybe in casual conversation or a podcast. A Jack of all factoids, master of none.
If you had one day, completely free, away from work, no watch on, and could do whatever the hell you wanted, what would it be and why?
Probably reading and/or napping under a large tree in a beautiful meadow, because it seems impossibly idyllic and highly unlikely for me at the moment, and I would enjoy the serenity and the comfort of not having an obligation to be anywhere or deliver anything. Fishing at a secluded mountain lake would also suffice for the same reasons.
Any advertisers you want to give a shout out to? Or anyone you’d like to thank?
I would again echo and concur with Scott’s answers, but to put it in my own words, I would first give tremendous thanks to The Great Courses Plus, because not only have they been a sponsor from the get-go, they continue to support us consistently. It’s one product I truly wish I had the time to utilize in its entirety or at least explore more of the topics they offer that interest me, but that could literally be years of learning. However, any time spent learning in my opinion is worthwhile.
This is not to give any lesser status to any other of our sponsors, because as Scott said they have all greatly contributed to making our show possible and to our continued progress and we can’t thank them enough. I can honestly say that with each product we’ve endorsed, we’ve found them to be a quality item and a good value for the money, and we continue to use and enjoy them ourselves without hesitation.
We’ve also been very fortunate with the variety of our sponsors, because from the Parachute Home sheets that go onto my Casper Mattress that help me sleep better, to the Harry’s razors, MVMT watch, Mack Weldon underwear, and Indochino suit that make me look better, to the Warby Parker glasses that help me see better and the Blue Apron meals that help me eat better, or The Great Courses Plus and Audible services that entertain and inform me, every sample we’ve been lucky enough to receive has been a welcome upgrade to my life in their own way. My apologies to any sponsor I’ve failed to mention here, but you are no less appreciated.