By Darren Johnson
This week in podcasting … I’m going to explore why podcasters so often seem to interview other podcasters.
Last week, I wrote how podcaster Alison Rosen appeared on two other shows, one being “Fitzdog Radio” with Greg Fitzsimmons.
So this week, I listened to a few more interesting and personable Fitzdog podcasts; one where he interviewed a comedian, the specifics of which I can’t recall, and another where he commented on the Sunday newspaper.
Then I went to mow my lawn, the specifics of which I can’t recall, and put on “The Adam Carolla Show,” a podcast that is structured in a predictable way, with regular features such as “the news” and a game where they try to predict movie review scores, thus making it a good show to engage in mentally when doing something monotonous physically, such as driving long distances or mowing a lawn. There’s something comforting in predictability. It helps pass the time.
After the podcast with the movie review game ended, a new one automatically loaded, and the guest was Fitzsimmons. Haven’t I had enough of this guy of late?
Then I realized, podcasts too often have on other podcasters as guests. It becomes a sort of inside baseball, or, perhaps, more like early 1980s weekend morning wrestling shows. On those shows, they didn’t want to have, say, Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant. It wasn’t worth it for some show on at 10 in the morning on some independent channel to have these guys ruin each other’s records. No, instead the wrestling league used what were termed “jobbers.” Like the Generals, the team that plays the Globetrotters, jobbers were supposed to lose. They weren’t quite as polished as the stars. People like Rene Goulet and Leaping Lanny Poffo would be capable enough, and helped us pass the time, but ultimately were pinned by Hulk and Andre. That’s what podcasts remind me of when the guest is also a podcaster. Some kind of setup, where the more popular podcaster usually has his way, and the host is made to play second banana.
One could say, though, that such shows give exposure to the lesser-known podcaster; that, perhaps, some fans will then start downloading both podcasts. But, alas, there are only so many hours in the day, only so many lawns to mow, and we’ve already determined in a previous column that these podcasts don’t make a lot of money. So what’s the point, really?
Another podcast staple are comedians. They are trying to build a fan base, and get more people to their comedy shows, but I get tired of them, too. There are only so many stories of these guys playing some club called Chuckles or The Funny Bone in Cleveland or wherever that a listener can relate to. Hey, you chose this life of going town to town, telling the same hacky jokes — your problem, not mine. Please don’t waste my bandwidth with your sorry tales of hecklers and staying in some cheesy Ramada Inn off the highway. These comedian road stories have become cliche.
We don’t need to hear one B celebrity interviewing the next. And why do we always get podcast guests who are simply on the show to promote some upcoming paying gig? What I would like to hear more of are interviews with regular people.
Fitzsimmons has a lot of funny takes on his life, and can come up with new jokes rather quickly. As well, he seems to relate to the common man. I’d be interested to hear him break the mold and interview, say, his mailman, or anyone we’ve never heard before.
I wrote a column for a while that was based on the “everyone has a story” principle. I’d interview cops, dog rescue people, a girl and her horse — it was rather random. And those stories really tested me. They took twice as much work — sometimes ten times as much work — as interviewing a politician or celebrity, those who had experienced dealing with the press — but the end result was so much better. The stories had a “life” to them.
I know there are some small-time podcasts that interview “average” people, but it would be interesting to have a celebrity interviewer take on this concept. The contrast would be interesting; someone who has “made it” and someone who, perhaps, made it in a different way, or not at all.
Otherwise, we get celebrity podcasters and celebrity guests who are in cruise control, PR mode, just helping us pass the time — and not anything deeper, or more memorable. It’s Saturday morning wrestling, where the outcome is never in doubt.