There’s Nothing like Hopping on the Air Yourself to Make you Appreciate the Modern Craft of Podcasting
“Are you into podcasts?”
It’s a question that comes up more and more, regardless of whether or not the person I’m speaking to knows I host a podcast myself.
The most surprising thing to me is how many people have no idea how to download, subscribe to, or listen to a podcast. I thought this was generational but have recently run into a few people 20 years my junior who are podcast illiterate. Some don’t even know there’s a podcast icon right there on their smartphone home screen. SMH at them TBH.
If you haven’t taken the podcast plunge, it couldn’t be easier: Like I say, the app is right there. Like the health app and stock market tracker that came with the phone, you’ve probably just zoned it out. But if you tap it, a world of wonder awaits, one which will transform your commute, your gym time, maybe even how you conquer insomnia. (More often than not, I fall asleep with bluetooth earbuds in and a podcast playing; the sleep timer iPhone feature turns it off for me after a set amount of time.) If you need a helping hand into the Pod-verse, there are many primers out there, like this one from Wired.
When my buddy Jimmy Bradley and I were getting ready to do our old, now-retired podcast The Front Burner with Jimmy and Andrew, I had scarcely listened to any of them myself. But in preparation for going before the mic, I spent the months leading up to our first show training by listening to and studying as many as I could find time for; each in its own way helped me figure out what I wanted our podcast to be, and eventually my own podcast to be. During that time, I fell in love with a few of them and still listen to them two years later. Thought I’d share a few with you as a sort-of public service announcement for any podcast-phobes out there, or podcast-philes in search of new fodder:
I’m a stand-up comedy junkie going back to childhood; I can still recite entire routines by Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and that Jell-O pitchman I shan’t name here. When I arrived in New York City for college in 1985, it was a golden age of stand-up; a personal highlight was the night at The Improv that Rodney Dangerfield showed up in a pajama shirt, jeans, and trenchcoat, a yellow legal pad in hand, and hopped onstage to try out some just-penned jokes. So I’ve known of Marc Maron for years. In the podcast universe his WTF occupies, for me at least, the same spot Andrew Sullivan did in blogging: somebody who realized the potential of the medium before most of his competitors, who found their greatest expression there, and who got going early enough to dominate. Maron starts each show with a long monologue in which he speaks directly to the listener, often for more than 10 minutes, catching us up on his quotidian struggles and triumphs. Some friends of mine hate these openers, but if you’ve ever tried do anything like this, it’s awe-inspiring that he’s able to pull off what are essentially little monologue performances twice weekly. (I’m so bad at flying solo that Ms. Toqueland graciously joins me for my introductions each week.) His interviews are usually straight-forward biographical affairs, but his stated personal goal in all of them is to establish a “connection” with the guest, something to which I relate deeply. For me, WTF is the North Star, so much so that when I pitched Andrew Talks to Chefs to Heritage Radio Network, I described it as “WTF … with Chefs.” Not that I achieve that lofty goal, but it’s something to strive for.
THE TENNIS PODCAST
Seems to me that, generally speaking, there are four categories of podcasts: The solo-host-no-guest podcast (none of these grab me); the duo podcast; the group podcast; and the interview podcast….