ⓘ The Bugle
The Bugle is a satirical news podcast, created by John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman in 2007. It was initially produced independently and distributed by TimesOnline before becoming independent of TimesOnline in 2011. Focusing on global news stories, the show was launched shortly after John Olivers move to New York to work on The Daily Show, allowing Oliver and Andy Zaltzman to continue a partnership that had previously enjoyed success with Political Animal and The Department. Oliver and Zaltzman co-hosted the podcast from 2007 to 2015, and Zaltzman has hosted it with a rotating set of co-hosts since a relaunch in September 2016. The Bugle was part of Radiotopia from October 2016 until the show announced in mid-December 2018 that it would be leaving Radiotopia at the start of 2019 and switching to independent production funded by a voluntary subscription model.
As of April 2015, the podcast had received over 500.000 downloads a month.
In 2007, comedians Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver were approached by The Times to do a satirical podcast, shortly after Olivers move to New York. The first episode of The Bugle was released on 14 October 2007. New episodes of the podcast were generally recorded and published on Fridays with related material appearing on its official website.
At its launch, The Bugle was distributed by TimesOnline, which is owned by Rupert Murdochs News International. During the News International phone hacking scandal of 2011, The Bugle satirised its parent company in a manner which the New York Times characterized as "blistering" in an article published 15 August. Over the course of a few weekly episodes prior to the New York Times article, Zaltzman and Oliver had gone "straight for the jugular" regarding News International, its newspapers, and Murdoch himself. Their barbs included a comment that The News of the World "would not be missed at all", as well as the assertion by Oliver - in response to the shaving cream pie attack on Murdoch - that despite the humor inherent in the attack, reads cover to cover every day, Im thinking theres an even smaller chance of us managing to not get fired now. So thanks very much, New York Times! Your trumpeting of this podcast may well turn into bugling the Last Post. I guess what Im saying is - to our new listeners - Hello and goodbye!"
On 14 December 2011, it was announced on the podcast that Times Online would no longer be hosting and distributing The Bugle. It was made clear by the hosts and TimeOnline that decision was not based on the shows repeated satirisation of News Corp and the Murdoch family, something that had been a feature as early as in the never-broadcast pilot approved by News Corp executives in 2007.
The first episode of the newly independent Bugle was published on 20 January 2012 and the podcast was funded by donations and merchandise purchases by listeners from October 2012 to mid-2016.
In the summer of 2014 The Bugle was put on hiatus so that Oliver could focus on his then-forthcoming television show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver with weekly Bugle publication having resumed in October. From summer 2015 to June 2016 episodes were published intermittently when the hosts work schedules permitted.
On June 3, 2016, it was announced that Oliver would be leaving The Bugle as a permanent co-host, no longer able to regularly host due to family and work commitments. The "fourth season" of The Bugle would continue to be hosted by Andy Zaltzman with various international guest hosts filling in for Oliver. The show was officially re-launched on 24 October 2016, supported by the Radiotopia podcast network. Producer Chris Skinner remained on the show along with Zaltzman, and the first set of new co-hosts were Wyatt Cenac US, Hari Kondabolu US, Nish Kumar UK, Anuvab Pal India and Helen Zaltzman UK.
The Bugle left Radiotopia in 2019.
2. Live shows
In 2017, the show began to add live shows, performed in front of an audience. Starting at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, followed by dates in London and Edinburgh, the live shows feature Zaltzman with regular co-hosts and Producer Chris. The show is similar in nature to the podcast, with added visuals, a listener Q&A and live audience-only content. These shows also are available in the podcasts feed for all listeners.
During the first several episodes of the show various "producers" are mentioned by name on air though none of them featured in the shows content. The first to be featured on air is "Tom the Producer".
3.1. Producers Tom Wright
Tom Wright, known solely on The Bugle as "Tom the Producer", was the producer of the show from episodes 1 through to episode 107. He was first mentioned in episode 11 as Zaltzman announced his plans for the Hotties From History calendar. He is first heard in Episode 54a, assisting Zaltzman in determining the listeners most incorrect definition of who or what Jigme Wangchuck is. In later episodes he contributed more often, with listeners often addressing their e-mails to him directly. According to Wrights on-air answers he was married, has a daughter as fetted in Episode 69, is Scottish, enjoys his job and does not ski.
In February 2010, Wright and his family emigrated to Australia. A week before his departure, he announced his intention to continue producing The Bugle remotely. However, in episode 106 6 March 2010, it was announced that the next Bugle would be Wrights last as he had found another job. When asked by Oliver and Zaltzman what his new gig was, he refused to identify it on the grounds that it was a sensible show and that mentioning it by name would result in it being abused by Buglers. Oliver and Zaltzman agreed that this was an accurate characterization of their audience and did not pursue the matter further on the air.
In episode 200, Wrights "character" was killed off in an apparent poisoning. The hosts remarked that this was the first person to be killed on The Bugle and would surely result in a ratings boost. In episode 247, Wright came back for a short segment, speaking from Australia. In that episode, he confirmed that he worked for ABC. Wright returned as a producer for the season 4 episodes recorded in Australia 4023, 4024, 4025.
3.2. Producers Chris Skinner
After Tom left, he was replaced by Chris Skinner. Skinner has previously worked with Zaltzman on the Yes, Its the Ashes radio show on BBC Radio 5 Live in 2009 and also produces The Game podcast for Times Online along with other podcasts. When Skinner first began producing The Bugle, he restructured the standard musical cues quite a bit to jarring effect e.g., he once played the podcasts closing music during the middle of an episode, but over time, his production became more similar to Toms. Skinner occasionally participated in banter with Oliver and Zaltzman with his guest spots increasing in length over time, an example being an extended conversation about the state of Australia in Bugle 140. Skinner has been the subject of semi-ironic hate mail and fan mail from listeners, apparently for no reason other than that he is not Tom, and this became a running joke of the show. Skinner was the focus of the website fuckyouchris.com, a site which was devoted to chronicling fans ironic hatred of him.
Skinner is the only member of The Bugle staff to be a regular poster on the Bugle Facebook page – often insulting buglers and taunting them with his power to release Bugles late or badly cut. Skinner has repeatedly stated that, during the weeks that the show was on hiatus before Olivers departure, or otherwise off, that shows were nevertheless recorded, edited and made ready for release without actually posting them on the Internet. Skinner "does not ski", and ran in and lost the 2012 London Marathon ep 192. In Episode 237, it was revealed that Skinner had purchased the domain name fuckdungeons.com, which redirects to the podcasts home page.
Skinner supports Tottenham Hotspur, however rumours that he was Chirpy the mascot from 2001-05 remain unsubstantiated. After a fundraising campaign trailer for the Bugle made a jocular reference to the idea, Skinner recorded and produced a full episode of The Producer Chris Podcast, much to the genuine appreciation of Zaltzman and Oliver.
3.3. Producers Ped
Ped subbed for Skinner when the latter is ill or on holiday. Ped also deputied for Skinner on The Game. Ped reacted angrily on the Special "Producer Chris Podcast" episode when Skinner stated he "let" Ped substitute for him on The Bugle, giving strong support for an earlier jestful insult thrown at Skinner.
- The Last Post, a daily satirical podcast hosted by Alice Fraser launched on 1 January 2020.
- hellobuglers, a Twitter account. Although it began as a complement to The Bugle, primarily publishing one-liner political jokes, it also serves as Andy Zaltzmans own Twitter feed. For example, Zaltzman has used it to announce his guest appearances on other programs.
- ProducerChris, a Twitter account from show producer Chris Skinner, providing news and updates.
- The Bugle Website – Created in January 2012, the site contains updates on new shows, funding information, notes from the producer and technical information. A site with the same URL had existed previously as an unofficial site.
The Bugle has received many positive mentions in the media. A review by American blog Frozen Toothpaste described the podcast in a 2007 review as "a usually delightful, witty and deadpan satire". Computing website Philosophical Geek praised The Bugle for its unique wit, saying that the reviewer found himself "laughing too hard to concentrate on anything else". The Bugle, according to The Nerd Rage Blog, is "a thing of beauty" and "is quite simply, hilarious". Zaltzmans "bullshit facts" are complimented, as is Olivers "biting sarcasm". BBC Comedy review show Whats So Funny described The Bugle as the benchmark in satire, in an episode dated 27 May 2011.
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