Logo of The Bugle Podcast
|Hosted by||Andy Zaltzman|
|Created by||John Oliver, Andy Zaltzman|
|Opening theme||"Tide of Empire" (George Chase)|
|Original release||14 October 2007 – present|
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 until joining the Radiotopia network in October 2016. Focusing on global news stories (but primarily on UK/US news items), the show was launched in 2007 following John Oliver's 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 the podcast with a rotating set of co-hosts since a relaunch (as a part of Radiotopia) in September 2016.
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 Oliver's 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 Murdoch's 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, "[you] just don't want to find yourself with any misplaced sympathy for Rupert Murdoch." The comedians jokingly marveled with one another that no one in News International had yet shut down their podcast, with Oliver tapping his microphone and asking, "Should this not have been stopped by now? It doesn’t make sense!" In response to the report from the New York Times, in an episode of The Bugle released 19 August, Oliver gave this opening monologue:
"Welcome to any first-time Buglers who are here because they might have read The New York Times' story on us earlier this week…but now that the story's in a newspaper that I'm guessing [Murdoch] reads cover to cover every day, I'm thinking there's 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 I'm 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 show's 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. Chris the Producer remained on the show along with Andy, and the first set of new co-hosts are Wyatt Cenac (US), Hari Kondabolu (US), Nish Kumar (UK), Anuvab Pal (India) and Helen Zaltzman (UK).
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 Andy with regular co-hosts and Producer Chris. The show is similar in nature to the podcast, with added visuals, a listen 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 show's content. The first to be featured on air is "Tom the Producer".
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 Andy 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 Tom's 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, Tom 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 Tom's last as he had found another job. When asked by John and Andy 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. John and Andy agreed that this was an accurate characterization of their audience and did not pursue the matter further on the air.
In episode 200, Tom's '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, Tom came back for a short segment, speaking from Australia. In that episode, Tom confirmed that he currently works for ABC. Tom returned as a producer for the season 4 episodes recorded in Australia (4023, 4024, 4025).
After Tom left, he was replaced by Chris Skinner. Chris has previously worked with Andy on "Yes, It's 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 Chris first began producing The Bugle, he restructured the standard musical cues quite a bit to jarring effect (e.g., he once played the podcast's closing music during the middle of an episode), but over time, his production became more similar to Tom’s. Chris occasionally participates in banter with Oliver and Zaltzman with his guest spots increasing in volume over time, an example being an extended conversation about the state of Australia in Bugle 140. Chris 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. Chris was the focus of the website fuckyouchris.com, a site which was devoted to chronicling fans' ironic hatred of Chris.
Chris 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. Chris "does not ski", and ran in (and lost) the London Marathon 2012 (ep 192). In Episode 237, it was revealed that Chris had purchased the domain name fuckdungeons.com, which redirects to the podcast's home page.
Ped subbed for Chris when the latter is ill or on holiday. Not much is known about Ped. Vague attempts at getting a Chris-style hate campaign going against Ped have not succeeded. Ped also deputied for Chris on The Game. Ped reacted angrily on the Special "Producer Chris Podcast" episode when Chris stated he "let" Ped substitute for him on The Bugle, giving strong support for an earlier (jestful) insult thrown at Chris.
Bugle Season 4 co-hosts
|Co-Host||Episodes appeared in||Episodes|
|Tom Ballard||7||4023, 4026, 4035, 4040, 4042, 4056, 4066|
|Wyatt Cenac||4||4003, 4007, 4015, 4019|
|David O'Doherty||2||4023, 4065|
|Alice Fraser||22||4024, 4025, 4026, 4030, 4036, 4039, 4041, 4045, 4047, 4050, 4052, 4054, 4055, 4057, 4059, 4060, 4064, 4068, 4070, 4071, 4073, 4075|
|Hari Kondabolu||10||4001, 4004, 4013, 4021, 4033, 4038, 4044, 4046, 4055, 4062|
|Nish Kumar||20||4002, 4008, 4011, 4014, 4018, 4022, 4029, 4031, 4037, 4042, 4045, 4048, 4050, 4051, 4056, 4060, 4063, 4069, 4074, 4076|
|Zoe Coombs Marr||1||4027|
|Al Murray||3||4030, 4040, 4058|
|Anuvab Pal||13||4005, 4009, 4012, 4016, 4028, 4034, 4041, 4043, 4049, 4053, 4059, 4067, 4072|
|Tiff Stevenson||5||4035, 4044, 4052, 4061, 4071|
|Helen Zaltzman||11||4006, 4010, 4017, 4020, 4032, 4037, 4043, 4046, 4054, 4063, 4068|
- 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.
- @hellobuglers, a Twitter account. Although it began as a complement to The Bugle, primarily publishing one-liner political jokes, it also serves as Andy Zaltzman's own Twitter feed. For example, Andy 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 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'. Zaltzman's 'bullshit facts' are complimented, as is Oliver's 'biting sarcasm'. BBC Comedy review show What's So Funny described The Bugle as the benchmark in satire, in an episode dated 27 May 2011.
- Kondolojy, Amanda (24 April 2014). "'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver' Debuts April 27 on HBO". TVbytheNumbers. zap2it. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
- Goodman, J. David (14 August 2011). "Comedy Podcast Inside News Corp. Feasts on a Scandal". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
- Zaltzman, Andy; John Oliver (19 August 2011). "Episode 165: Bashar goes to Madcon 1". The Bugle. TimesOnline.
- Zaltzman, Andy. "hellobuglers". Retrieved 14 December 2011.
- Zaltzman, Andy. "TheBugle". Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- "John Oliver has left "The Bugle," the world's best podcast". The New Republic. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
- Sturges, Fiona (18 November 2016). "Podcast review: The Bugle: 'Silliness and laughter". Financial Times. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
- Buglemas Eve - a final preview, retrieved 2016-11-05
- "@hellobuglers". Twitter. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- "@hellobuglers". Twitter. 5 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.
- "@Producerchris". Twitter. Retrieved 27 January 2012.
- "The Bugle podcast". Philosophical Geek. Retrieved 21 July 2012.