Libertarian ideology, that of respecting people’s freedom and property absolutely and only employing force in self-defense, is still a relatively fringe philosophy when applied to government. As such, media outlets generally tend to stick to disseminating views more in line with those of mainstream political parties. Because of this, liberty media oftentimes resorts to more underground and decentralized media platforms. Podcasting, with its flexible format and uncensored nature, is a natural fit for libertarian and anarchist ideas.
I interviewed Rodger Paxton of the LAVA Flow Podcast about using podcasting as a medium to advance the ideas of liberty.
The Desert Lynx: You’ve chosen podcasting as your avenue for advancing liberty. Why?
Rodger Paxton: Primarily because I listen to many podcasts myself, and there was a huge void for the type of podcast I wanted to hear. Essentially, a lot of timely information and commentary in a short package without a lot of banter and fluff. So, I created what I wanted to hear, and it has grown much larger than even I anticipated.
That’s what you wanted to hear. Is it what others want to hear as well?
RP: Based on the numbers of my listeners and the amount of money I’m bringing in for a very part-time podcast, I would say yes. My numbers have grown month-over-month every single month since I started almost two years ago. My per episode downloads also continue to rise each episode.
Do you think most listeners are just like you? In other words, do you think you’re preaching to the choir?
RP: For the most part my listeners are already libertarian, yes. Many are minarchists and many are anarcho-capitalist. I’ve had several of my listeners, including one I spent a lot of time with at PorcFest, tell me that they transitioned from minarchism to anarchism because of The LAVA Flow Podcast. The primary function of the show is to educate and entertain libertarians.
So it’s a primary a “refining tool” to polish up the liberty-loving and liberty-curious into intellectually consistent anarchist types?
RP: Yes, but it can also be a tool for libertarians to share with non-libertarians when certain subjects are brought up. For example, one of my most listened to episodes is “The I Didn’t Sign It Edition” () where I talk about social contracts. That one gets shared a lot by libertarians when they are talking to non-libertarians about the subject.
So it’s good intellectual ammo as well. Is this different from usual liberty podcasts? They seem to be a dime a dozen.
RP: Like I said, I had a hard time trying to find a liberty podcast that gave me what I wanted, which is why I started TLF. So many liberty podcasts lack good content, have way too many inside jokes and chit chat back and forth, and terrible production quality. There are very few liberty podcasts that I recommend to people when asked because of this. This is why I’m working on creating a liberty podcast network which focuses on shows with high quality content and production quality.
Can you tell me more about this podcast network?
RP: My goal is to find podcast personalities who can present the best quality content available in the liberty arena and get them in front of a microphone. I will then take the content and put it in a pleasing production that makes it easy to listen to. I will help get the equipment for the personalities along with do all of the front and back end work of setting up the show, a website, artwork, feeds, etc, so the personality only has to focus on the content and nothing more. I have several different shows for different liberty niches in mind, including shows on Christian libertarianism, peaceful parenting, liberty entrepreneurship, Libertarian Party unofficial podcast, Free State Project unofficial podcast, and many others. I will begin taking applications and vetting potential podcast personalities in the next couple of months.
Sounds a lot like what LRN.FM is doing. Why start your own network instead of just joining LRN?
RP: The LAVA Flow Podcast is a part of the LRN.FM network of shows, and I like a lot of what LRN does, but the format for LRN for its live shows is archaic. I understand why Free Talk Live must format itself in a radio style format, since it is run on terrestrial radio, but many of the other live shows also follow that format even though they don’t need to, so you get a few minutes of talking, then, when it starts to get good, you are forced into commercial break, then have to try to pick back up. This is not a conducive format for good content. A podcast network will have none of those limitations.
Besides, competition is good, and I think LRN needs a good competitor to make it even better, and in turn, help my network become better as well.
So you’re competing by having a more purely-podcast formula. Any other competitive advantage you’re seeking?
RP: I think the vetting of personalities will be key as well. I will only be taking content from strong content producers to keep the quality top notch. Quality in content is something missing from a lot of liberty media and my network will only be taking the very best. If this means that I have to work to help develop that talent, then I will do so. If it means I need to invest time or money into getting the talent where it needs to be, then I will do that as well.
Going for the “cream of the crop,” eh?
RP: Absolutely. I think that is what will make it stand out from the rest.
Why the commitment to podcasting as a medium? Why not writing, video, radio, or something else?
RP: Because podcasts are a truly near-universal medium. It can be listened to by anyone with limited bandwidth, all over the world, and even by people who may not be able to read, or see, or have some other issue that makes other forms of content difficult. Also, reading an article or video requires 100% attention and a static location generally. With podcasts, you can listen to them as you drive, mow the yard, take a shower, or many other times that it is impossible to listen to other mediums. This is why podcasting as a medium is growing every year.
Libertarians are all about five-year plans, right? Where is Pax Libertas going to be five years from now?
RP: Five years from now, I expect to see Pax Libertas be the premier source for liberty content on the internet, and have a podcast network on par with many of the other non-liberty oriented podcast networks that are out there. I also expect that in five-years it will be generating a good income for both the network and for the content generators.
Lastly, really big picture for a second here: how does this change the world? Does it? Or does it change less than the entire world? Or, is it just for you and podcast network partners?
RP: Ideas are what will change the world, and producing good quality content with amazing ideas and conversations on controversial topics can make a difference in the world. Can you imagine how many people, primarily conservatives, have been introduced to libertarian ideas by The Tom Woods show, for example? That is my goal, to introduce as many people to libertarian ideas as possible and to change the world into a more moral and peaceful place.