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Dear Podcaster – Keep Asking “Stupid” Questions

October 24, 2014

PodcaststudioThere’s a post by Chris Brogan that’s currently making its way around podcasting circles. In it, he gives podcast hosts “something to think about.”

I’m going to give you something else to think about…

First of all, if you’ve taken the time and effort to get a podcast going, good job. You’re in the game instead of watching it from the sidelines and, even if your podcast isn’t perfect, it’s still better than the podcast that never gets produced.

We Agree On This

I think it’s a good idea for you to honor a schedule. If you say you need a guest for 20 minutes, you should stick to that. It’s basic manners.

Chris’ advice about being human with the questions you ask guests is good. As long as you can keep focused on the main point of the show, some off-the-script followup questions will keep things interesting.

People like the human element of broadcasting and they want personalities — lack of this is why most radio sucks these days. People want to listen to other people who are actually interacting with each other, not talking robots reading from a script.

Interviewing people is not a factory job.

This Is Where I Think Chris Brogan Is Wrong

Feel free to ask the “stupid” questions. For example, “How did you get started?”

If you don’t ask these questions, you’re doing your audience a disservice.

People with media training get this and below is a quick example of what that it sounds like. It’s from an interview I did with Jim Peterik.

You don’t know who that is, do you? In fact, even if I mentioned his band to you, depending on your age, you might know recognize that name either.

But you’ll recognize the song he’s famous for because it’s one of the biggest pop songs of all time. And that’s why I set things up with a “stupid” question about it…

This song is over 30 years old. And he’s told this story hundreds, if not thousands of times.

Did it seem like he was sick of talking about it? Or sick of playing it for people?

No. Because he’s a professional.

That’s how pros do it — they play to the audience. And if your guest really cares about your audience, he’ll do the same thing.

It’s Your Show

Don’t be intimidated by guests, no matter how famous they are (or think they are). You know your audience better than your guest does and you’re the one running things.

When a guest steps in your studio or answers your phone call, he’s in your domain. You ask the questions, he answers them.

Don’t play small. It’s not your job to filter yourself for the comfort of guests — it’s your job to ask the questions your audience want answers to.

Good Or Great? — It’s Your Choice

Lack of barriers to entry in podcasting is great in that it allows you to have a seat at the table. If you want to keep that seat though, there need to be some restrictions in place.

You are responsible for this.

“Produce” is different than “release.”

You get good at broadcasting by actually broadcasting — not reading about it, or watching webinars, or getting into discussions on Facebook. To get good at podcasting, you need to produce shows.But should you release them all?


Don’t release crap.

If the guy you’re interviewing sucks or you’re having an off day, it’s better to ditch the recording than release it to the world. Like Chris said, you want to respect people and the most important people are your listeners.

Good luck!

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