So I’ve been burning through these podcasts at a furious rate (sitting in traffic every morning/evening), and I’m constantly amazed at the professionalism of the host and the quality of the guests. I’ve yet to run into any “dead air” or uncomfortable pauses or moments where I felt someone was padding the time. It’s as if Simon, the interviewer, has taken the elements of good storytelling and incorporated them into his podcasts, packing every episode with great information and entertainment. I actually look forward to sitting in traffic now.
I’m a chatty guy, I like to communicate with folks, so I sent him a note asking him how he manages to get such great guests, does he pre-screen them, etc.
He wrote me back:
- I do a lot of research. The topics that I do for each interview are chosen beforehand, and they are well within each author’s area of knowledge. I do pre-screen, but that is in selection of a topic. I’m always thinking, “What does this author know that others don’t?” or “What have they learned that others should hear about?” It’s very hard to know how good someone is ‘on the mic’ ahead of time. On the call, I guide the guest down a path, exploring things they are familiar with, and asking the questions within that framework. Going outside that leads to problems:
- the guest gets uncomfortable talking about something they don’t know about (pauses, lack of confidence, closing up)
- it’s not valuable for the audience.
- There is a certain amount of post processing. The show is edited. I remove some dead air to keep things punchy. Really obvious “umm” and “errrs” are taken out. This is time consuming but it gives it a more professional feel and I’m quite into delivering a professional product. I see podcasting as indie radio, and I want my podcast to sound as good as a radio interview on a big network.
What a great response, huh? I worried he’d write back something like, “Scram, ya bum.” Yes, I kid, but I suppose on some level we always expect to be rebuffed when we reach out to strangers.
For anyone interested in learning more about He Who Is Called “Simon Whistler,” there have been two interviews with him: