Honesty Is The Best, Er, Format
October 16, 2015
Before we get started here, and in case you missed the announcement, we've started a Podcasting section at AllAccess.com. It'll include news and columns to start and more resources to come, so go to AllAccess.com/podcasts, why dontcha. Also, I have another column there, with practical stuff about doing podcasts, because I have absolutely no time for another column but I'm doing it anyway because I'm weird that way. (And other ways.) Seth Resler of Jacobs Media has a column, too. You'll learn stuff. Anyway, go there often.
Now, on to something else. I wanted to mention the story this week about the host who admitted to airing an old Donald Trump interview and passing it off as new, and, let's be honest, there is not a debate about whether it's okay to be lying to your audience. You don't lie to your audience. We all know that. You will get caught, you will lose your credibility, and you will be looking for another job. I would suggest running for office. Lying seems to be a prerequisite for those jobs. But if you're hosting on the radio or on a podcast, there's no reason for you to lie about anything. If this guy had only said, "hey, we tried to get Trump and couldn't make the arrangements, but I spoke to him a while back and here's what he said back then," he'd still be employed.
But I've seen some radio people say, hey, morning shows do that all the time, cut up old tape and insert new questions and make it sound "fresh." Really? If you're doing that, please stop it, because besides being dishonest, you're creating material just to fill time, not to be entertaining. Look, I get it, you have a lot of time to fill and you don't always have something in the tank. Well, your job is to come up with things to talk about, and be passionate and entertaining about, and an old interview re-edited with new questions is nothing you're passionate about and surely isn't going to be all that entertaining, either. There are better ways to get through the dead zones in a four-hour show than to fake out the audience. (Plus, if you're a publicist booking guests on a show, would you want to work with a host who'll take old tape and change the questions, potentially changing the meaning of the guest's answers? That's not a good look, and not a good reputation to have.)
When you do stuff like happened here, you're basically focusing on yourself. It's about YOU getting through the segment, about YOU dealing with the pressure, about YOU saving face when a celebrity blows through town and you couldn't get the interview. It's forgetting that in order for YOU to remain employed, the people who are tuning in have to be entertained and engaged. Focus on THEM first. It's not that you can't repeat topics -- you have to, there are only so many out there -- and it's not that you can't have an off segment or an off day, but if the phrase "what the hell, nobody's gonna notice" comes to mind when you're doing something, stop yourself. Your audience wants you to be real and honest. If you're not, well, like I said, there's always politics.
And really, if you need something to talk about and all else has failed, you can always come to All Access News-Talk-Sports' Talk Topics, where you'll find hundreds of items and ideas and bad jokes for your show prep needs, all up-to-date and conveniently available now by clicking here. And there's the Talk Topics Twitter feed at @talktopics with every story individually linked to the appropriate item.
Full Disclosure: I also serve as Director of Programming for Nerdist Industries, which includes the Nerdist Podcast Network, one of your major podcast entities.
One more plug: Come on over to the new All Access Podcasting section at AllAccess.com/podcasts. And let me know what you want to see there as we ramp the thing up. Should be fun....