As our in-house podcasting maven, Seth Resler has made some smart connections when it comes to bringing radio broadcasters and podcasters together. As an early attendee of Podcast Movement, Seth facilitated Jacobs Media's involvement in the conference, leading to the creation of our “Broadcasters Meet Podcasters” track.
In today's guest post, Seth's instincts continue to be solid, as he vigilantly searches for that intersection between broadcast radio and podcasting – their commonalities and their differences.
Seth will give you a lot of homework to start the workweek, but I promise you that whether you're on the air or on-demand – or both – you'll find his audio tour well worth your time. – FJ
Recently, comedian Marc Maron recently celebrated a huge milestone: his 1,000th podcast episode. In a world where many podcasts “podfade” well before reaching the 100-episode mark, Maron has used the medium to open up completely new career opportunities for himself. Because of the podcast he started in his garage, he's been a keynote speaker at the Podcast Movement conference, starred in the Netflix series Glow, and even been featured on The Simpsons.
Maron began his WTF podcast by interviewing fellow stand-up comedians, but over time it expanded to feature musicians, actors, and other celebrities. While he had some radio experience prior to launching his podcast — he had been an on-air talent on Air America — he was, first and foremost, a stand-up comedian.
As a fan of stand-up comedy, I have many favorite episodes, including his interview with Robin Williams as well as the one where Gallagher storms off. But as a radio broadcaster, there are a few that I found particularly interesting. Here are seven episodes that I think you, too, will enjoy. (Please note, you may need to pay for access to some of them.)
What do you do to celebrate such a momentous occasion? While the WTF team considered booking a big-name guest, in the end, Maron and his longtime producer, Brendan McDonald, chose to spend two and a half hours reflecting on their podcasting journey. They trace their adventure back to their Air America days, through the New York Times article that changed their lives, all the way up to the present day. Along the way, they discuss how the medium has evolved and how they tackled different challenges along the way. It's a fascinating trip that offers insights for radio broadcasters and podcasters alike.
Key Quote: “I want to create something that's a combination of This American Life and The Howard Stern Show.” –Brendan McDonald
Marc Maron and Terry Gross are two of the best interviewers in the business, but their styles could not be more different. You could listen to 100 episodes of Gross' iconic public radio show, Fresh Air, and you would know very little about her personal life. On the other hand, listen to one WTF episode and you feel as though you know everything about Maron's world. So what happens when the two come together? Not surprisingly, Maron manages to get Gross to lower her guard and share personal stories.
Key Quote: “Life is harder than radio.” –Terry Gross
Maron's most famous interview is the one he did with President Barack Obama. While he had a sizable audience for a podcast by this time, podcasting itself still hadn't quite managed to cross into the mainstream. So, Obama's unusual decision to join the cats in Maron's garage for a one-on-one conversation caught a lot of people's attention and advanced the medium as a whole.
While Maron's Obama interview is worth a listen, the episode that is particularly interesting for broadcasters is the one that follows it. McDonald and Maron discuss how the Obama interview came together. As they recount the amount of effort that went into making it happen — complete with snipers on the neighbor's roof — they also reveal a lot about the nature of the relationship between on-air talent and their producers.
Illuminating Detail: When Maron heard about the date that the White House staff scheduled the interview for, his first concern was that he would have to reschedule his vacation and might lose his air miles.
Phil Hendrie is a unique on-air radio talent, but he started his career backselling records like everybody else. How do you achieve success with an unconventional style when your bosses want you to fit into a preconceived mold? In the course of the conversation with Maron, it becomes clear Hendrie has been a careful student of the art form, and has a deep understanding of all the radio rules that he breaks. It's a theme they would revisit again in an episode of the IFC TV show Maron which featured Hendrie as a guest star.
Illuminating Insight: Hendrie explains his admiration for Rush Limbaugh as a radio broadcaster, completely separate from his politics.
Many radio broadcasters started their careers the same way: talking into a tape recorder in their parents' basements. Who knew that director Judd Apatow did the same thing? But he took it one step further: As a 16-year-old, he managed to land interviews with comedians like Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Gary Shandling. He shares those tapes with Marc, and in the process, reminds us that we were all once small kids with big dreams.
But Wait, There's More: If this conversation, which stretched over three episodes, wasn't enough for you, don't worry — Apatow returned for another interview in 2015.
When I came up in alternative rock radio in the 90s, Howard Stern was the biggest name in my universe; every broadcaster I knew felt his influence in some way. For many in the podcasting space, that role is played by Ira Glass, the host and producer behind the landmark public radio program This American Life. It would be hard to underestimate the impact that Glass' pioneering legacy of storytelling journalism has had on the world of podcasting. Maron nabbed this interview relatively early in his own podcasting career — it's only his 117th episode — but it's a conversation that will still interest broadcasters today.
Key Confession: Glass admits that in his early days as a boss, he was passive aggressive with his staff; he had to learn to get better about it.
In the early years, much of the WTF podcast consisted of Maron aiming to set things right with comedians that he had alienated during more tumultuous days in his career. It was like a real-life version of Jason Lee's character in My Name is Earl. One of his early standout episodes featured a reconciliation with former friend Louis C.K., while Jon Stewart has reportedly rebuffed repeated invitations to reconcile on the podcast.
Hearing Maron's neuroses on full display in these early episodes made it clear that podcasts could provide a level of intimacy that couldn't be found elsewhere on television or on most radio shows. One of the first episodes to really suck me in was Maron's conversation with Conan O'Brien, who was still recovering from his loss of The Tonight Show at NBC. Hearing O'Brien open up about his own insecurities in the entertainment business, you felt as though he had the same problems that all of us do.
Personal Aside: One of my favorite books of all time is William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and I had never heard anybody talk about it before this episode.
There are number of other episodes that radio broadcasters may want to check out, including interviews with Adam Carolla, Artie Lange, Larry King, Jimmy Kimmel, and more. Congratulations to Marc on an amazing run. Do you have a favorite episode?
More Digital Tips From Seth:
- How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Radio Station
- You're a Radio DJ. You've Lost Your Job. How to Take Control of Your Online Presence.
- How to Run a Weekly Website Meeting for Your Radio Station
- 20 Ways to Use Twitter’s #FollowFriday Meme to Engage Your Radio Station’s Community
- Ask These Two Questions Before Every Radio Station Promotion
- How to Use Webinars as Part of Your Radio Station's Sales Strategy - August 8, 2022
- How Radio Stations Can Use QR Codes - August 1, 2022
- Podcasting Has a Privacy Problem - July 25, 2022