The Public Radio Talk Show Handbook

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The Public Radio Program Directors association has put together a really useful guidebook on how to make a local public radio talk show.

I know, you don't work for a public radio station, and don't aspire to make such a show.

However: I know many of you are podcasters, or are interested in local media. The guide is every bit as useful to you as it would be to a local public radio station.

It covers everything from pre-show prep to hosting to "formatics".

An invaluable tool if you're interested in making high-quality audio.

Interview with Never Not Funny Hosts Jimmy Pardo & Matt Belknap

Jimmy Pardo (L) and Matt Belknap (R), photo by Liezl
Jimmy Pardo
Matt Belknap

Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap are the hosts of Never Not Funny, one of the world's most popular comedy podcasts. Pardo has been a standup comic for twenty years, and has appeared on the Tonight Show and been featured in his own Comedy Central special. He's also hosted television shows like National Lampoon's Funny Money on GSN and Movies at Our House on AMC. Belknap works in film development, and is the founder of the comedy fan website aspecialthing.com.

Jesse on Never Not Funny

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My friends at the podcast Never Not Funny invited me on their show recently, and it was a pleasure and an honor to accept their invitation. Never Not Funny has been one of my favorite podcasts for years; I listen every week.

Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap, the host and producer of the show, will be guests on The Sound of Young America in a few weeks. Jimmy was a guest a few years ago, shortly after he and Matt launched the show.

Above are the first 20 or so minutes of the show, which are free. If you subscribe ($20 well spent), you can get the full episode and for a further five bucks, the video.

Podcast Fridays

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My pal Clinton from PRI had a great suggestion today on Twitter: Podcast Friday.

Recently, Twitter users have taken to sharing their favorite twitterers with posts tagged "#followfriday". Clinton suggested we use the same format to share some favorite podcasts: #podcastfriday.

Here's what I'm subscribed to at the moment (besides, of course, my own shows):

The Age of Persuasion
The Best Show on WFMU
The Bugle
Car Talk
Fresh Air
Hey, We're Back!
The Moth
Never Not Funny
On the Media
Savage Love
Seven Second Delay
Ted Talks
This American Life
You Look Nice Today

So -- if you're on twitter, try a post tagged #podcastfriday. Either way, share your picks with us on the forum.

The Best Show Gems - Tom Scharpling's New Podcast


Long-time Sound of Young America followers are probably already familiar with Tom Scharpling's The Best Show on WFMU. It's a call-in talkshow on the nation's premier free-form radio station, which Scharpling calls "three hours of mirth, music and mayhem."

Calling it a call-in talk show, though, undersells it dramatically. On the show, Tom and his partner in crime Jon Wurster have created an entire fictional universe, with recurring characters, feuds, drama... like Arrested Development on the radio. Wurster calls in in-character regularly, and part of the fun of the show revolves around the line between truth and fiction. Even when regular folks call in (and it's mostly regular folks), half the time Tom pulls them in one direction or the other, leaving us to wonder what he really thinks. It's half talkshow, half deconstruction of the talkshow -- both celebrating and making a mockery of talkshow convention.

Comedy stars like Paul F. Tompkins and Patton Oswalt and rock & rollers like Ted Leo are fans and supporters of the show, and for good reason -- it really is something special. I'm a fan myself (in case you can't tell) and Tom & Jon have been guests on The Sound. I once dedicated an entire Sound of Young America to highlighting material from The Best Show.

The show has been available by podcast for sometime, but the whole three-hours-a-week thing can be tough for a new listener. To help ease people into the world of The Best Show, Tom's created a new podcast, called Best Show Gems. It's a sort of greatest-hits compilation, every other week. Easy to digest and follow, easy to laugh at, tons of fun.

You can check out Best Show Gems online here. This is the iTunes link. This is the podcast feed. As the proud winner of a Best Show Award (Worst Caller, 2007), I urge you to take a listen.

The PRI Arts & Entertainment Podcast

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PRI, my radio distributor, has launched a cool podcast that aggregates content from across their programming -- from The Takeaway to The World to Studio 360 to, now, The Sound of Young America. They've recently featured our interviews with Seun Kuti and Janeane Garofalo, along with interviews from Studio 360 with David Zucker (mp3) and The World with Sergio Mendes (MP3). It's a broad spectrum of content from the broad spectrum of PRI shows, and definitely worth checking out if you're looking for a hit of content every weekday.

Here's the show's feed.

Here's an iTunes link.

Podcast: Ze Frank Live in New York City

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Ze Frank is the creator and... host(?) of zefrank.com, a remarkable collection of toys, ideas and vlogs. His year-long video blog project, The Show, is widely considered the pinnacle of the form. In the show, he urged listeners to dress their vacuum cleaners in people clothes, to make a sandwich out of the earth by placing slices of bread at opposite sids of the globe, and much more.

All our videos for this show were shot by Benjamin Ahr Harrison, a New-York based videographer. You can find him online at badcharacter.com. Thanks, Ben! Our audio was captured by Jeff Solomon.

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You Look Nice Today!


I have gushed a lot about our friends (left to right) Merlin, Scott and Adam and their great show You Look Nice Today, which is really wonderful and great.

They joined us last week at The Monsters of Podcasting Tour in SF, and they've finally posted the results.

Photo: Upskirt by Neven Mrgan

Ep. 64: In Front of the Mayor

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Jordan joins Twitter, and much is discussed, including brand loyalty and shame.

* Follow Jesse and Jordan on Twitter
* What was your most embarassing moment?
* Vote in March of Time Madness!


* Review the show on iTunes.
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The State of Never Not Funny


Our friends at Never Not Funny have made some big changes lately, and everyone and their uncle has asking me what I think.

For those who don't know, NNF is a comedy-talk podcast hosted by MaxFunPals Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap. Jimmy has been one of my favorite comics for years, and has hosted several TV shows on cable. Matt is the founder of ASpecialThing.com, which is a great website that I've been visiting since I was in college, when it was part of a comedy news site called Fugitive Alien. My nerd-roots with these guys are deep. I feel very lucky to know them in real life these days, and they're awesome guys who I respect and admire. The show is really wonderful, maybe my favorite podcast. I'm not alone, either, they have a very strong listenership.

Here's what they've been up to:

* They've just completed their 100th episode, which was taped live in LA.

* Jimmy's brother-in-law, Andrew Koenig, videotaped the show and is producing clips for his new site, MonkeyGoLucky.com like the one above.

* They're going pay. They'll be charging $20 for their next six months of weekly episodes -- about 75 cents apiece. There will also be 20 minutes of each episode offered free to non-paying customers.

It's the lattermost thing that's been most controversial. It remains very unusual in the world of podcasting to charge for your work. This is in part because the technology has been difficult to implement. It's also in part because it is difficult to build an audience when you're charging. Mostly, it's because everyone else's shit is free.

So there are a couple of questions this suggests, the first of which is: should podcast creators be able to charge for their content? My answer to that is an emphatic yes. I think talented people working hard to create great content should be rewarded for doing so, and I think that the price these guys are asking is very, very modest. I know I will be paying the money gladly.

Another question is: is this the best way for them to monetize this content? I think in Jimmy and Matt's case, yes. Both have real lives and families, and neither is a salesman. They tried an advertising model with a failed comedy portal early on, and later reached out to advertisers without much success. I know from my own experience that this is a very, very tough row to hoe.

Should they take donations? I know from my own experience that Jimmy in particular finds asking for donations distasteful, and I certainly understand where he's coming from. I also know from experience that this, too, is a tough row to hoe. Even producing a public radio show, something people are used to donating for, I get donations from less than one percent of my listeners. Donations are a part of what lets me eat, but even if NNF was getting the kind of support I'm getting from their audience, split between two guys... it wouldn't be much.

The last question is: will it work? I don't know. I know the show has lots of fans, about as many as my show, and lots of them love the show plenty. Many of those folks will pay. Even if they lost 75% or 85% of their audience, they's still be pulling in one full-time income between the two of them. I think they'll make money.

The question for me is how this will affect their growth. It's my guess that at the minimum 65% of their listeners won't pay. Probably more like 90%. How many will continue to listen to the free short podcasts? How many will tell their friends? How many will sample when sampling costs $1.99? All of that remains to be seen. The worst case scenario is that 1,000 people pay for these 26 episodes... then 500 for the next 26... and so on. That's not my prediction, but it's certainly possible.

What do you think of the move? What do you think will happen? There's been an excited discussion of issue in the forum.... join in!

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