Helen Zaltzman, The Art of Podcasting No. 6

Helen Zaltzman is the co-host of England’s popular podcast, Answer Me This. This past winter, she invaded America with her new Radiotopia show, The Allusionist, which investigates language and culture. On Valentine’s Day, she and The Timbre‘s Devon Taylor enjoyed a cross-continental conversation where they discussed Helen’s new show, the gender imbalances in radio, comedy podcasts, and how you should always leave listeners wanting more.

THE TIMBRE

It occurred to me this morning that it’s Valentine’s Day and right now it is evening there and I may be interrupting your Valentine’s Day plans.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Oh, no, I don’t do Valentine’s Day.

THE TIMBRE

Girl after my own heart.

 HELEN ZALTZMAN

I don’t get it.

 THE TIMBRE

Me neither. It feels like, “Hey, quickly show someone you love them if you haven’t.”

  HELEN ZALTZMAN

“…at a commercially dictated time.”

  THE TIMBRE

Right!

   HELEN ZALTZMAN

Valentine, the patron saint of epileptics and beekeepers. I guess it’s like if you don’t really want to do Christmas. You still can’t have an average normal day on Christmas day without feeling like your soul is slipping down the drain.

  THE TIMBRE

Well, you just can’t go on social media. Otherwise you’re okay. I mean, I live alone in an apartment. My dog doesn’t know it’s Valentine’s Day.

   HELEN ZALTZMAN

It’s Valentine’s Day every day if you’re a dog.

   THE TIMBRE

Well, I get to spend my Valentine’s Day with you. Which is lovely.

    HELEN ZALTZMAN

Exactly.

    THE TIMBRE

I can already tell this is going to be fun. So, my partner is really jealous that I’m doing this interview, partially because he’s a fan of yours and also because he’s obsessed with English culture. He’s a total Anglophile.

 HELEN ZALTZMAN

I never get tired of that. Whenever I visit, Americans are so nice and polite.

THE TIMBRE

I don’t understand that. I don’t think Americans are that nice or polite.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I think it’s just the accent. I think as soon as they hear the accent, everyone switches into extremely accommodating mode.

THE TIMBRE

When you were in talks with Roman Mars to create your show, did you come out to Oakland or was that all done from abroad?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I’ll explain the trajectory of my relationship with Roman. I first met him when I was interviewing him for a BBC special about podcasts. I think he already listened to my show, Answer Me This, so he felt like he knew me. Then we were both on the same panel at South by Southwest. We were on that with Jesse Thorn. Then, last summer he came to stay here for like a week because he had some shows in England and Ireland. He had been keen to get Answer Me This into the first wave of Radiotopia. He talked to me about it a few months before he started. But PRX was like, “No, no comedy shows.” I told him about a show I’d really like to make and then a few weeks later he emailed me and said, “You know, I think it’s good.” It just goes to show that you should pitch to people when they’re jet-lagged and vulnerable.

THE TIMBRE

I’m going to have to try that.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yeah, or when they’re staying in your house. You can just lock them out.

THE TIMBRE

Or not feed them.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

<laughs>

THE TIMBRE

Why didn’t PRX want to add any comedy shows?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Roman’s attitude was “just good shows” and he liked Answer Me This, but they were like, “We don’t get it.” He would say, “No, no, it’s special. It’s not what you think it is from having not listened to it.” I don’t know why he thinks it’s special.

THE TIMBRE

It’s special.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

It worked out better for me better in the end because I wouldn’t be making The Allusionist if they had taken Answer Me This. I have wanted to make this show for years.

THE TIMBRE

I feel like the comedy premise has given a lot of podcasters license to have shows that don’t necessarily have a focused point.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes, I absolutely agree. This is something we always felt we had to be aware of when we started Answer Me This. We put a lot of effort into making sure the show was tight and had a concept. The best piece of advice we got when we started was “Make sure it’s not just two friends talking shit.” When I am training people, I always say, “This is really important. You cannot take a listener’s time for granted. The whole Internet is there for them and, if they have chosen you, that is extremely generous of them. Repay that with something good.”

THE TIMBRE

That’s good advice.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yet, eight years later, I am still amazed that people are doing shows where they think they can just switch the mic on and magic will happen.

THE TIMBRE

When we were building our website, we spent a lot of time debating the coverage. In fact, we still do. We talk about it every day. We ultimately felt like those comedy shows don’t lend themselves to much discussion, though we don’t want to ignore something that is culturally relevant. Those shows have so much loyalty.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I don’t listen to comedy podcasts even though my brother makes one.

THE TIMBRE

But The Bugle has a focus.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes, and he puts in a lot of writing. So much effort goes into that show. But I rarely listen to comedy shows in general. There is a kind of predictability to them. And I know a lot of people who are amusing. Maybe those shows are for people who don’t have any funny friends? Those are the conversations they don’t get in life. For me, I really love the story shows–the ones that take you on this little journey of knowledge that you didn’t have when you started the show. I like them because they’re not as much like tuning into your interior monologue. I want a podcast to tune out my interior monologue.

THE TIMBRE

Isn’t that why we drink?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

<laughs> And, see, I don’t really drink.

THE TIMBRE

So you need podcasts.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I guess if podcasts are replacing radio, it makes sense. People put on radio for company. Maybe that’s why people are listening to these very long, unedited conversations. But sometimes I just think the production is almost an insult to the audience.

Comedy is so subjective. If you don’t find it funny, it’s very hard to review its quality. There are other shows I listen to where I’m not really that into it, but I can see that it’s good. It’s just not to my tastes. But I think with comedy you can’t really do that because they appeal more to your emotions.

THE TIMBRE

My partner and I are more drawn to narratives anyway. We feel like our backgrounds as writers make us slightly more qualified to review those types of shows. With comedy, we really wouldn’t know where to start.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

What’s the benefit of picking it apart anyway? The magic of comedy is when you don’t understand why it’s making you laugh. But if you did, it probably wouldn’t. You would just be like, “That’s clever,” rather than laughing.

Do you feel like writing about podcasts has tampered with your enjoyment of them?

THE TIMBRE

Hmm. Now you’re interviewing me.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

<laughs> I can’t help myself!

THE TIMBRE

It’s okay. It’s really nerve-wracking interviewing interviewers. You’re like, “Oh god, they’re going to think this is a terrible interview.”

HELEN ZALTZMAN

No, no, we just like having an interesting chat with people. What I like about the longform interviews on your site is that you have obviously edited them very well.

THE TIMBRE

Well, thanks.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Keep it up. <laughs>

THE TIMBRE

I am going to use that as a segue because I want to talk to you about editing. I have read a lot of stuff from you and about you online where you talk about the importance of editing. It seems to be something you really prize and work hard at. I wanted to hear about why you felt like that was the work you needed to put in.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Before I was doing the podcast, I was doing freelance publishing work. I was doing proofreading and copy-editing on books. What I liked was having a finite amount of material that I just had to make as good a version of itself as possible. When it came to podcasts, I liked the fact that I just had to carve away as much stuff as possible to reveal the best version of what we had recorded that day. We record twice as much as what goes out. I don’t know why we put in so much effort at the beginning because no one told us to and we didn’t know anything, but it’s really good that we did because when you’re excited to start something, you have a lot more energy than when the reality of doing the thing kicks in. We already had it in place.

At the beginning, I felt like Olly was a lot more of a dominating person than I was and I didn’t have as much control during the show. But afterwards with the editing, I felt like I could control it a bit more. It also gave us the freedom to try things that might not work. Go off on tangents. If they worked, great. If they didn’t, get rid.

We were so aware that you have an extremely short time to catch a person’s attention online. I find that now when I listen to podcasts. If in the first three minutes they haven’t grabbed me, it feels like twenty minutes. Like when you’re watching a YouTube ad and you’re like, “Why is this taking forever?” I suppose it’s just the idea that there is more stuff that I will be interested in than I will have time to listen to in my lifetime. I don’t have time to waste time on something I don’t like because that is taking up time that I could be spending on something I do like. I think it’s because of that more than that I have a four-minute attention span.

THE TIMBRE

It’s funny, with The Allusionist, sometimes it is so short that I have the opposite feeling. I want more of it. Like this past week when you’re talking about curses. I loved that. I felt like I could listen to it for forty minutes. You keep it so short that I am left wanting more.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Always leave them wanting more!

THE TIMBRE

When something is short and enjoyable, it’s such a mark of a good show because you know someone has probably left things on the cutting room floor that were probably really good, but not great.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Or really good, but a different story. To get to it would take away from the main one that you’re telling. I wanted to make a short show anyway because now I’m finding if I have an hour and a half, my thought is “I can listen to three half-hour podcasts in that time that are different from different people.” I always want to hear different voices and learn different things. I also wanted to make something really different than Answer Me This. I don’t know how to make The Allusionist yet and I knew that I couldn’t learn how to make it before making it. I would have to make some, put it out, and keep making it. When I started, I was really shitting myself about it for months–not literally.

THE TIMBRE

<laughs>

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Three months before starting it, I was having anxiety dreams about the show. When we started Answer Me This, the audience was a lot smaller for podcasts. We talked to all of our friends about it and some of them heard the first episode, which wasn’t very good, and therefore thought it must be shit forever. And then a few years later, they would happen to hear one and be like, “Oh, it got better. I wasn’t expecting that.” People will judge it on the first thing they hear.

With this show, I was like, “I would really love it if no one could hear it for the first four months. Then there would be several out and they could listen to it.” At the moment while the show is establishing itself, it’s probably good for the episodes to kind of be as different from each other as possible. Then when you hear more than one, you kind of join the dots in your mind and you can form a picture of the show. I tend not to listen to podcasts until there are six on the feed. Or four. Then I am a lot more generous to the first one. Because if the first one is the best one, I think the show is a bit fucked. I think making a short show really focuses what I’m trying to do. It might grow longer and sprawling and lazy.

THE TIMBRE

When you talk about the evolution of the show over time, do you feel like that’s something that happens because of your instincts or the reaction or response that you get?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I think it’s my instincts, and the character of the show kind of settles after a little while. But I find people’s reaction kind of paranoia-inducing. I am doing all of this myself, which I’ve never done before. Even though I work alone a lot, there is always someone else’s opinion to factor in. The fact that there is no one else but me to say, “This is the right direction” or “Maybe try this” is really terrifying.

THE TIMBRE

Right. When people are watching, you can’t quietly tinker with something. The tinkering is loud.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes. Absolutely. And generally I’ve found podcast fans to be the nicest people on the Internet. I don’t want to tempt fate, but it’s very rare that we get people just being shitty like YouTube commenters. Even when people are complimentary–like a lot of people really liked the episode that is about the word “cunt” and they were like, “Yeah, do more like that.” And I’m like, “I can’t always do a show like that because most words don’t have a story that has so many different nuances and funny ways you can go with it.”

THE TIMBRE

I think you can get paralyzed by people’s responses. We have had that a lot and we’re doing something on a much smaller stage than what you’re doing. Some people are always going to dislike it. It’s always going to be the case. If you try to please everybody, you end up with something that is shapeless and milquetoast.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yeah, it’s compromised, isn’t it?

THE TIMBRE

I think so.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

You’re right. You can’t please everybody–and you don’t need to, because the great thing about the Internet is that there is pretty much something for every niche and those niches can appeal to millions and millions of people. They’re just all scattered around the world. They’re just not filtered through a mainstream channel.

THE TIMBRE

There’s a lot of room to experiment, but not everything gets heard.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

That’s true. I thought that was an interesting piece on your site the other day about why aren’t podcasts more avant-garde? I thought, “Actually there probably are some that are being quite experimental, but very few people are listening. Because, like with avant-garde music or avant-garde films, it’s not that enjoyable.” It’s quite hard to listen to those sorts of things. I think there are some things that are quite experimental, like Love + Radio. And over here there is a producer named Francesca Panetta who makes these very beautiful soundscape’y type things. She makes podcasts for The Guardian, but she also has a podcast she makes herself and she’ll spend eight months on an episode making it perfect. But, generally, people seek out entertainment that is enjoyable.

THE TIMBRE

And what they know. I always think TV is a decent analog for podcasts. If you look back to the 1970s, there were the major networks and a few shows, and everybody watched those shows. They followed a very predictable script. I don’t think that’s the case in terms of all the podcasts, but I think the platform for the avant-garde shows is much smaller and people are more likely to tune into what they know. That was the point Josh Richmond made, where there is kind of a “This American Life mold” and so many podcasts have followed that. And then listeners feel like, “This must be good, because it’s in that mold.” I think as podcasting gets bigger and it fractures and there are more networks and a larger audience, some more experimentation will rise to the mainstream.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes, absolutely. But, particularly over here, I think we’re years behind.

THE TIMBRE

Oh, really?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

In England particularly. I think in part it’s because we have a lot of good radio. The BBC is pumping out a lot of different stations at a high quality. That means the commercial stations raise their game to compete. This meant for a long time people didn’t really seek out podcasts because they didn’t have to. People are aware of Serial and that has opened up the audience a bit. When we started Answer Me This, the UK was maybe five years behind America, and I think we have slipped further behind. It also intrigues me how dominated by public radio a lot of American podcasting is. It means there are these incredible producers working. Like with Radiotopia, I was scared they are so good at producing beautiful stuff and I don’t know how to do that.

THE TIMBRE

I don’t think you give yourself enough credit.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I think people assume there is some central Radiotopia audio factory that all of our shows go through that shapes them. There isn’t. It’s all separate people with different resources all scattered around. We’re joined together by this thing. It’s like a club we’re all included in. But we’re left to do our own thing.

THE TIMBRE

But you must recognize that being brought into it shows a great deal of confidence in your ability.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Oh, yes. I think Roman was instrumental in persuading the rest of them to let me in. They were so keen to bring more diverse voices to podcasting.

THE TIMBRE

When you say diverse voices, do you mean females?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes. But the gender balance is not the only thing. Like every media form, podcasting is dominated by straight white men. I think they would like to redress that.

 THE TIMBRE

I read a couple of interviews with you where you mentioned that you were very conscious about being a woman in a field dominated by white men. I read one where someone asked you if you were a feminist. You had a very long and articulate response and at the end of it, you sort of said, “Yes, I wouldn’t have realized I was a feminist prior to this.”

 HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes, I wasn’t conscious of sexism until I started working in radio.

THE TIMBRE

Really?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes, it’s pretty bad over here. It’s ridiculous. I think your radio industry is somewhat more balanced. Sound Women did some research that showed that 1 in 5 presented as female. And behind the scenes a lot of women leave around the age of 35, and a lot of that is because they have been struggling so much and climbing the ladder. At that point, they are like, “Why am I working so hard to do this when they don’t even care? I could go do something a bit more rewarding.” There are fewer opportunities for women in radio. That’s part of why podcasting is great–but I don’t actually know that many female podcasters in this country.

 THE TIMBRE

Have you firsthand experienced a lot of that sexism or harassment or is it something you’re aware of in terms of people’s opportunities?

 HELEN ZALTZMAN

When Olly and I were first starting out with Answer Me This, we would have so many meetings and people didn’t know what to do with a male-female duo. Now they are deliberately trying to make more male-female duos because they have to put more women on air. But that just means that they’re dumping a female cohost with a man who doesn’t really want her there. She is very rarely in the ascendent position. She is almost always a subordinate. That kind of shit is where we are at the moment.

But it also works in my favor because people were just surprised when I was funny or interesting or could talk about tech.

  THE TIMBRE

<laughs> Isn’t that so upsetting?

 HELEN ZALTZMAN

It’s pathetic, isn’t it?

THE TIMBRE

Right. Like, “You have a good personality. How amazing. It goes well with your x-chromosomes.”

 HELEN ZALTZMAN

We got this amazing iTunes review years ago. It was like “I don’t usually find women funny, but Helen is just like a man.” Way to make a compliment really insulting.

THE TIMBRE

I’m sure you heard the story on This American Life with Lindy West.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Oh yes! That was such a good episode.

 THE TIMBRE

That was great, wasn’t it? I shouldn’t say it was great. It was terrible. Do you follow her on Twitter?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

No. But I read her articles.

THE TIMBRE

I started following her after that and I will occasionally see her response to someone who has just said something absolutely horrifying. And I think, “How do you do that day in and day out?” Where your gender is the subject of somebody’s wrath.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

It’s so stupid, isn’t it? What year is it? Future generations are going to think we were so stupid for all these imbalances we still have. But, like I said, I’ve been so lucky. And I think that has a lot to do with the quality of audience we have.

THE TIMBRE

Your Answer Me This podcast is quite popular and quite well known. Do you feel like that makes you a public figure?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

We’re not actually on the radio that often. When we first started, we weren’t on Facebook or Twitter. They were still relatively new. And the reason we had that interactive format for the show was so that we didn’t have to think up all the material. That was really serendipitous because it also builds this little community around the show and it keeps listeners coming back to find out if their question was in. Now so many shows have some kind of audience response built in. Even if it’s really inappropriate. Like sometimes our news stations will be like, “Text in what you think of this matter that was really important.” I’ll think to myself, “I’m not sure I want to hear unfiltered public opinion about Syria.”

THE TIMBRE

Oh, I know.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

But it means for us is that listeners feel like we have a more intimate relationship than we actually do. They’ll be really candid and honest with us because they listen to us and they feel like they’re in the same room with us. Sometimes people will send us stuff that is so serious. It’s so amazing that they’ll send strangers emails full of their feelings. That is kind of beautiful.

THE TIMBRE

Sound is so intimate. It can be so much easier to communicate that way. I’m not the first to say this. It’s been discussed. But the confessional element of it–even when someone is not confessing, but they are in your ear and you are alone with their voice–can invite a relationship that is certainly one-sided, but you feel nonetheless.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yeah, absolutely. When people are wearing headphones, you’re sort of talking right into their skull. It’s not coming from a radio set on the far side of the room. And you’re walking around and you’re creating this sense memory. I’ll remember where I was when I listened to a certain show. Or I’ll have been sewing something, and every time I look at that thing, I’ll remember what I was listening to to amuse myself while I was doing it. It’s a very intimate relationship.

THE TIMBRE

Yes.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

And also because they’ve chosen it. It’s still a bit too protracted of a process to get to listen to a podcast and to find new shows is a bit too difficult. Once you’ve done it, you’ve made so many decisions, once you’re listening to it and keep listening to it, you’re probably really into it. It’s not a casual thing.

THE TIMBRE

Do you listen to Strangers?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes. I love it.

THE TIMBRE

I was just listening to the new episode. Lea Thau has really transitioned that show in a lot of ways. It’s become a lot more first person than it used to be.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Yes.

THE TIMBRE

I wouldn’t have thought I would have liked that, but I do like it. I think it’s because of exactly what we’re talking about. It’s just this relationship. I feel like if I met her on the street, I would be that inappropriate person who would want to talk about her life because I feel like I know her.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

<laughs>

THE TIMBRE

To go back to television, I feel like it attempted to create that intimacy at one point with reality TV. But it devolved into, as Alex Blumberg calls it, hate-watching. Where it’s just about laughing at someone or judging them. I don’t feel like that’s present with podcasts. Do you?

HELEN ZALTZMAN

When I listened to the “Love Hurts” series on Strangers, I thought, “I could never do this.” It’s amazing that other people can put themselves on the line like that. I find that so difficult. But I think it’s such a wonderful thing. I guess with TV, even if people are being quite candid like they were in the early days of reality TV, by the time it gets to the audience, it’s been so distilled and manipulated. With podcasts, it’s such a small hierarchy. Usually it’s just the podcaster and the listener and there’s not much in between. I think the listener is aware of that.

Also, if you’re podcasting, most of the time you don’t have to do it. So if you’re still doing it, it’s probably because you feel like you have something to communicate.

THE TIMBRE

I definitely feel like you might not be adopting that confessional style, but there is something about you–and I’m sure I’m not the first person to have said this to you–that’s very warm and inviting, and it’s very easy to feel like you know you. You just seem like somebody who wants to connect with other people and wants to talk about the world and not just to be nice but to understand it.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

Other people are really interesting. I’m familiar with myself. I want to learn about other people. What I love most is conversation. I always want the shows to feel like, if you’ve just stumbled upon them, you don’t feel like there’s a club and you’re not part of it. I just want to make things that are really accessible and you don’t need to bring any prior knowledge about me or the subject.

There are shows that I’ve had ideas for that have never come to fruition. One of them was like, I’ll put on Twitter something like, “I’ll be in a particular place for two hours and, if you want to come talk to me, just come and we’ll have a conversation. I’ll record it and put out the best bits.” Everyone has something. I like seeing what you can get out of people without making them feel uncomfortable.

Throughout my life people have told me quite a lot of stuff about themselves without me really prying. When I was 17, I was working at this book shop and people would come in and tell me stuff. This old woman used to come in quite regularly and she would say, “I really hate my children!” Then she would say, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. You just have that kind of face.”

THE TIMBRE

You also apparently have that kind of voice.

HELEN ZALTZMAN

I’m happy to hear that.

 

 

Author Description

Devon Taylor is co-founder and editor in chief of The Timbre. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, CutBank, and The Tottenville Review. She grew up in New Jersey, received her Masters in creative writing at the University of Memphis, and lives in New York City.

  • Josh

    Comedy: no matter the medium, no matter how popular it remains, it’s always the red headed stepchild. There is something called “the art of conversation”; just because anyone can do it doesn’t mean anyone can do it well. Developing an articulate, engaging back and forth takes practice and skill, and it takes effort and research to make a good conversation-driven show, even if most of that effort doesn’t come in the editing bay. Same goes for the improv that drives so many great comedy shows; it’s a discipline that takes years of practice to become great at. There’s tons to analyze and dissect if you know the form, and a world of difference between good comedy and bad. It’s a bit insulting to dismiss that by saying “all comedy is subjective.”

    And positing that comedy shows are for people “who don’t have any funny friends” subtly places narrative-driven shows on a pedestal, like *their* listeners are there for edification and enlightenment, not because it’s fun to hear the C-bomb get dropped a bunch of times, say, or maybe because they just like hearing a calm, soothing voice in their ears as they drive. It’s all entertainment. It’s not like there isn’t a formula for interview-based shows as well that plenty of podcasters lazily follow. Find someone with an interesting story, tape them, cut it up, rearrange it to create a couple arbitrary “twists” every few minutes, find some grand universal point to end on, add expository narration and a little stock music, and you’re done. Certainly the best storytelling shows do much more than this, I’m just challenging Roman Mars and anyone else who thinks comedy is inherently a lesser form.

    • Josh

      OK, I posted that before finishing the interview…then I kept reading and you said some nice things about me and cited my point about the formula of TAL-style shows and now I feel a bit abashed. And I get what you’re saying, that the epitome of the lazy podcast is still two people in a room talking, expecting magic to happen. But as someone who listens mostly to shows that are essentially a few people in a room talking, I can quickly tell the pros from the people who don’t know what they’re doing. There’s an objective difference, and an objective skill to being a great comedy host.

      Finally, if you don’t think a pure comedy show can have the high-gloss production values and precision editing of a storytelling show, you haven’t heard Superego: http://www.gosuperego.com

      • Helen Zaltzman

        Josh! I MAKE a comedy show! That’s what Answer Me This is. The main reason I don’t listen to to them for my leisure time is because I’ve had to work on my own one for half the week and need to hear something completely different.

        • Josh

          I totally get that, as someone who produces pop-culture shows and sometimes just needs a break from it. I should listen to Answer Me This, because I am really enjoying The Allusionist, despite my snarky comment above! I just get sensitive…you know how comedians are…

          And yes to more women in podcasting! I am half of a male-female duo, and my co-host is the best. I don’t know why more shows don’t try it. I’m starting to see more coverage of shows partially or entirely hosted by women though, so hopefully that tide is turning…

          • Helen Zaltzman

            Yes! Hurry up, tide.

            V glad you’re enjoying The Allusionist! I wish I had the knack to do the kind of original production you were writing about in your piece (because I agree: you could do practically anything in a podcast, so why DON’T people really go for it?). But my attempts at such would be tragic…

      • Devon Taylor

        Josh, I’m really glad you’re weighing in on this discussion. Comedy is really tricky. You’re right that we were talking mostly about the lazy style of comedy where it’s 2 1/2 hours of three guys sitting around chatting about “anything and everything.” Those can serve as a catch-all that, in my mind, have become all too prevalent.

        That said, I totally agree that there are some comedy podcasts that are pure genius. My point in this interview is that I don’t feel qualified to review them. It’s as simple as that. I know storytelling. I write stories. I teach storytelling. I’ve studied it for the better part of my adult life. Does this make me qualified to critique narrative podcasts? Maybe not, but I feel way more comfortable talking about them than comedies. That’s why you need to write more for our site. 🙂

        Finally, I want to say as a larger point that it’s great to see this conversation happening. Podcasts are at a stage where I don’t think we fully know where they are going to go and where they will evolve, but I think having this conversation will help steer the ship more purposefully. It’s great to see the engagement. Thanks for weighing in.

        • Josh

          Yeah, most of those marathon talkfests are not great and hard to swallow. But I think there’s wheat and chaff in every genre. I am happy to read conversations on podcasting as interesting as this as well!

  • Pingback: Interview with Podcast Al Letson, State of the Re:Union()

  • Pingback: Buzz No 21, Podcast News July 23-29 - The Timbre()

Loading...