Dynamic Duos: Ampel Audio’s Justin McArthur and Jack Eaton

In this week's Dynamic Duos, Ampel Audio's audio producer, Justin McArthur, and host, Jack Eaton, spoke to Mumbrella about the slow burn of their friendship, from university acquaintances to co-hosts and producers on their own podcast, Mates in Space.

In Dynamic Duos, Mumbrella each week asks two members of the same organisation with a professional and personal affiliation to share with readers the importance of workplace relationships in an increasingly hybridised world of work.

Justin McArthur:

Jack and I met more than a decade ago, studying Media at Adelaide Uni and volunteering at Radio Adelaide. On paper, we have different interests – Jack’s a natural heartfelt host who’s married-with-pets and loves AFL and Eurovision, while I’m a studious researcher/editor who loves spreadsheets and crosswords. We’re both pretty optimistic people, but I can be quite serious-minded and analytical, while Jack is pretty light-hearted and tends to trust his gut.

We’ve always been a bit of an odd couple, but I think we have more in common than meets the eye. In particular, we’re strong cheerleaders for each other’s successes, and we’ve stuck it out when times were tough. The media industry can be a difficult place, but sometimes all it takes to get by is a few words of encouragement on Instagram at a critical moment, or a quick piece of feedback on an edit when nobody’s answering your emails. In those moments, you know who’s got your back.

Towards the end of last year, we were grabbing a coffee and I mentioned that I wanted to start a new science podcast for Ampel Audio. Jack confided that he’s always been interested in space – from Laika and Ham to alien conspiracies and billionaire vanity projects; from the glitz and glamour of the (literal) stars to the threatening infinity of the void beyond us. From there, we developed Mates in Space, which combines my love of weird science facts with Jack’s spontaneous wit and charm. I think I’ve always enjoyed listening to podcasts where you learn a bit, but mostly you’re just having fun; it’s amazing how much more you end up learning about a topic when it’s explained by two friends that are genuinely just trying to make each other laugh. But you can’t find that in the edit – it has to happen organically in the room. When we’re both in front of a microphone, I remember why I love making podcasts. Jack and I are passionate people, and through podcasting, we’ve found avenues to explore the stories we enjoy telling.

Jack Eaton:

Justin and I met back in our early Adelaide Uni days, where he was a rising star of the written word and philosophical thought, and I was wondering whether I’d make it through to the end of the week still enrolled. I worked through a media & politics degree, which I have put to excellent use by incorrectly picking every US Presidential election winner since 2008.

From that point until recently, we definitely weren’t on the path to a solid, lifelong podcasting relationship then, nor did we exactly run in the same circles. Despite that, something between us clicked. We stayed loosely connected to each other through social media over the next few years, floating in and out casually.
We were briefly reunited when Justin ran in a state by-election in 2012, I was out there doing all the heavy lifting (letterboxing) on his behalf. I like to think I’m responsible for the swing he got (unfortunately, however, it was a swing against him).

It wasn’t until Covid came calling in early 2020 that Justin and I realised what gold we had. We’d both started independent podcasts, on wildly different topics. Justin had forayed into the very serious topic of how lockdowns were affecting us socially, culturally and emotionally, and whether society will be changed permanently after the pandemic. I had started one about the Eurovision Song Contest (Douze Points), and was mostly just yelling salty comments about British entries into a microphone.

Despite the disparity of content, we had our shared interest – we loved to podcast. We caught up. We talked. We shared our visions. We realised it was a match made in podcasting heaven. Soon after that, our one good child, Mates in Space, was born, and has grown steadily from there.

The foundation of our relationship is simple – Justin loves to learn. He absorbs it like a sponge and truly enjoys teaching and spreading the truth to people who will listen. Conversely, I have the attention span of a fly, and a problematically quick tongue. This allows a give and take, a natural flow of conversation, all rooted in a wonderful friendship that shouldn’t have taken us so long to let blossom. There is a start point to our careers together, and that is Mates in Space, but there is no end in sight – working together has given us a new creative spark borne from a love of telling stories.

Justin on Jack:

Most memorable moment with Jack: It’s all about the little things. When we were first brainstorming ideas for Mates in Space, we spent an hour with an AI image generator putting acclaimed musical theatre actress Ethel Merman in a spacesuit. If that’s not a sign of a lasting friendship I don’t know what is.

Best word to describe Jack: Effervescent

Jack’s most annoying habit or endearing behaviour: Jack’s got a meme for every occasion. Is it annoying, or is it endearing? Yes.

Jack on Justin:

Most memorable moment with Justin: Trying to keep blissfully unaware senior citizens out of shot long enough to get one good take of our Instagram promo video in the Botanic Gardens. Justin’s composure was saintly compared to my sailor mouth.

Best word to describe Justin: Passionate

Justin’s most annoying habit or endearing behaviour: Currently refuses to let me use Ethel Merman in a space helmet as the mascot of Mates in Space, but I’ll wear him down eventually.

If you and a colleague would like to submit your story to Dynamic duos, please email kwelch@mumbrella.com.au.


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