You may be used to hearing Scott Monty and his podcast sidekick, Burt Wolder, interviewing other Sherlockians. Today we turn the tables and interview Scott, who will be one of eight fantastic speakers at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Six conference in Dayon, March 29-30.
To hoist you by your own petard, I’ll start with the question you ask every guest on your twice-monthly podcast, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere: When and how did you first encounter Mr. Sherlock Holmes?
Ha! I see what you did there. I talked about this with Burt on Episode 122 (https://ihose.co/ihose122). I was in high school and was doing a research paper about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Because our small-town library didn’t have sources that could adequately inform my paper, I pled my case to my teacher, who let me know that she just saw a Sherlock Holmes expert on PM Magazine on Channel 3 in Hartford. She encouraged me to seek out and document a primary source for my paper, so I called Channel 3 and got the phone number for one Harold “Tyke” Niver, BSI.
He answered the phone, “Baskerville Hall!” and I knew I was in business. Tyke spent an hour with me, describing how Sherlock Holmes became an inextricable icon in popular culture, and what Conan Doyle thought of it all. I had more than enough for a paper, and even better: I discovered enough to make me want to learn more about these “Sherlockians.”
How did you become involved in the Sherlockian community?
It was an immediate byproduct of the call with Tyke. He ran The Men on the Tor, and they met twice a year at Gillette Castle. At the conclusion of the call, Tyke invited me down for their next meeting. I was still 15 years old, so my father had to drive me.
When I entered the Great Hall, I was warmly welcomed by everyone, and I discovered that this group was made up of a cross-section of society: judges, professors, musicians, industrialists, homemakers, writers, and more — all with a common interest. I knew that I had found my people. And ever since then, Tyke and his wife Teddie — both BSIs — have been like my Sherlockian godparents.
I’ve always known a few Sherlockians, but no scion until I was almost 30. What has it meant to you to be part of a Sherlockian community in your more formative years?
There’s really something to be said for joining a group and having someone take you under their wing. That’s what Tyke did for me, and later Dan Posnansky of the Speckled Band. I didn’t ask them to guide me, but they must have seen something in me to want to introduce me to the right people, tell me about the right books and resources, and encourage me to attend the right events.
They really have been like a specialized set of parents for me. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed corresponding with them and seeing them at annual events when possible. And that has added to the feeling that a handful of Sherlockian events seem like family reunions.
You seem to be particularly fascinated with the earlier generation of Sherlockians – Morley, Starrett, Smith, and their contemporaries. Why is that?
These men are legends in our field. It can be a little difficult for outsiders to appreciate, but the names above are like the Founding Fathers of the Sherlockian movement. They gave it life, they wrote incessantly, and they provided the structure to keep it alive. Not only were they visionaries and passionate, but their writing was exquisite — something we don’t see these days. Oh, we certainly see writing, but Edgar Smith’s prose in particular was beautiful and masterful. Morley’s letters were whimsical and educational. Starrett’s books and columns were insightful and delightful.
What did it feel like to walk in their shoes when you became a member of the Baker Street Irregulars?
It was kind of a shock. And it still is, to be honest. I feel like I’m always standing on the shoulders of giants — of these greats that have come before us. I remind myself that we’re stewards of this august organization — or perhaps organism, as it’s a living thing — and that we should always try to honor their memory, but keep the group moving forward in a respectful yet relevant way.
When was that?
I received my investiture (“Corporal Henry Wood”) in 2001.
Tell me about your involvement with The Baker Street Journal.
Shortly after I was invested, Mike Whelan asked if I'd consider taking over as Business Manager of the BSJ. After doing a bit of research, I accepted and developed a 10-point plan for the Journal. These included, among other things establishing the first web presence for the BSJ at bakerstreetjournal.com, selling the BSJ CD-ROM (now the eBSJ), and initiating an online ordering process for all BSI Press items with PayPal. I stepped down from the role in 2008, but I remain proud of the strong start I gave to the BSI online.
When did you and Burt Wolder launch I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere as the first podcast devoted to Holmes and his world? And how did that come about?
It all started with the Baker Street Blog in August 2005. I was the business manager of the BSJ at the time, and I thought the public deserved more regular and timely updates rather than waiting for a communication every quarter. (I still do. 😉) I was working for an advertising and marketing agency at the time, and professionally, I was exploring the possibilities of social media. So, the Baker Street Blog became a living laboratory for me.
In early 2007, I decided that a podcast would be a fine complement to the site. After all, Sherlockians were no strangers to audio programming, as the Sherlock Holmes radio shows from the 1940s to the 1990s attested. And like Holmes and Watson, I knew that such an undertaking would be better with a partner. So, I approached Burt, a fellow marketing and communications professional, and we brainstormed about a concept and name. Thus, I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere was born. The show frequency, format, and features have changed a bit over the years, but in the last three years, we’ve settled into a good cadence.
In 2013, we integrated the two sites and run everything from there now.
What’s your favorite part of doing the show and the shorter podcast, Trifles?
My favorite part about doing both of them overall is that I get to interact with Burt. He’s a great Sherlockian and our friendship has grown since we started the shows. His knowledge never ceases to amaze me, and he’s got a wonderful sense of humor that keeps the show light — I think we work well together.
My favorite part of doing IHOSE is talking with our wonderful guests. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed the shows in which Burt and I discussed topics (which is really part of why Trifles was born) — but expanding our universe and learning from the great fun other people are having with Sherlock Holmes is a highlight.
How many bow ties do you own?
You know, I haven’t counted recently. I’m going to estimate and say something like 75 or 80. I also own about 400 neckties. And yes, I know. I have a problem.
You are speaking at Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Six in Dayton on March 30. In 25 words or less, what’s your theme (as of today)?
It’s about Sherlock Holmes and advertising; specifically, brand names in the Canon (and brands that should have been in the Canon).