Formats matter

[00:00:00] Brendan: And there is also a link to all that in the show notes.

[00:00:05] Mark: Yes, there is. Which you won't read, but the people that look at them,

[00:00:09] Brendan: you can just say to hell with all of you, you know,

[00:00:12] Mark: which I hope is all of you, which is all of you. Yes. Love. Yes. This has been betrayed, right?

[00:00:21] Brendan: I have burnout over this.

[00:00:35] Mark: Hi Brendan Hutchins from podcast advocate network. Hey, Mark from Podiant. And hello to Dan Mizener of Pacific content. Hello? Hello. Um, Dan, tell me what is, tell me, tell me your secret. What is, I mean, I mean, Pacific content, um, marvelous work that, uh, that you guys do.

[00:00:53] How, what, how tell us, tell us everything.

[00:00:56] Brendan: So I can tell you a little bit about Pacific content, which is. Day job. Uh, we are kind of a weird company in that. The only thing we do is make original podcasts with brands. So we don't have our own editorial slate. We do not make shows under our own name. In fact, most of the shows that we work on, don't carry our name in any way.

[00:01:23] We don't sell advertising, uh, because. Sally people advertising against our own shows. We are in a lot of ways, very much behind the scenes, uh, really being obsessive about podcasts and in particular, this sort of intersection of podcasting and. Brand strategy. So we work with a lot of big companies. We like to think they're big smart companies.

[00:01:47] So we work with, uh, folks like Mozilla. They're the Firefox people. Uh, we work with Charles Schwab. Uh, we work with Dell technologies. We just launched a show with Facebook. Uh, we've worked with lots of really smart companies over the years, and we're trying to be really, really, really, uh, deeply expert. One weird corner of the podcast industry, which is, uh, working with brands.

[00:02:13] Mark: So where is the line in between? And I'm sure this is a question you get a lot. So if I, I listen regularly to hackable, for example, and that is not a podcast that is. Um, it does not shove the, the McAfee idea down your throat. You know, even a lot of times they will say, get an antivirus thing because you need one because this thing we've just shown you, that is terrifying, um, is best mitigated with an antivirus thing.

[00:02:40] And, you know, the caffeine, one of those, but it's, it's, it feels very light touch and. Is that something that you guys have to sort of reinforce with the clients? Or is that something that, you know, it's an understanding that you, you kind of

[00:02:56] Brendan: come to thank you for listening to Hackaball? Uh, I think it is a pretty good show.

[00:03:01] Uh, and you're absolutely right. It has what I would call an extremely light brand touch. They're not selling products, they're not selling services. The name. Of the company McAfee appears, I think in most episodes twice, once at the beginning and once at the end. And it usually comes in the form of you're listening to hackable, an original podcast from McAfee and that's about it.

[00:03:26] And the show itself is, you know, I think we like to call it kind of hacker MythBusters. The idea that we, you know, we see on TV and in movies, all of these dramatized, uh, depictions. What it is to actually hack something, right. We think about series like Mr. Robot, right? And the entire show is about figuring out whether the stuff that we see on TV and in movies is as hackable as it seems in, in fiction, or if that has truly been dramatized or blown out of proportion.

[00:03:59] And, you know, in most of the episodes, uh, our, our hosts, a guy named Joe. Uh, he's sort of the, the human Guinea pig for this stuff. He gets hacked. Right. And then he talks to, you know, largely white hat hackers who, uh, explain, you know, just how easily, uh, this, you know, a lot of consumer products, uh, can be hacked, right.

[00:04:18] So, you know, you're you're right. This is like very inside McAfee's wheelhouse. Yes. They are a company that provides, uh, security solutions. But, uh, we preach all the time at Pacific content that. It needs to be an extremely light brand touch. And if you're going to make a show that anybody is going to listen to on a regular basis or in an ongoing continuous way, it cannot be an advertisement.

[00:04:44] It cannot be an infomercial. It cannot look or smell or feel. Like marketing, it needs to be a genuine show that stacks up editorially alongside anything else that anybody could possibly listen to. And, you know, it sounds kind of ridiculous to say it out loud, but when you think about what people could possibly be listening to, you know, given the enormous amount of choice everybody has for what they're going to put into their ears, the competition for a branded podcast or an original podcast from a brand.

[00:05:18] The competition is not other branded podcasts. The competition is every other extremely high quality thing that somebody could choose to listen to. Right? It's not like people are looking at a menu of 30 or 40 different branded podcasts and saying, oh, this is the branded podcasts I'm going to choose.

[00:05:34] Right. So I think you can trick somebody into listening to an infomercial. Once maybe once and a half times, maybe half a time, you can trick somebody into listening to an infomercial, but we're pretty firm believers. That podcasting is a medium that is built on loyalty and habits and ongoing opt in sort of permission-based relationships with your listeners.

[00:06:01] And. You know, yes, you can fool somebody into downloading an infomercial once, but they're never, ever going to come back. So the shows that we really, really try and push our clients to make are genuinely good, high quality shows that we think stack up, uh, reasonably well compared to. Anything else that somebody could choose to listen to.

[00:06:22] And, you know, w w we've been really lucky enough to work with companies who, you know, have some marketing oomph behind them, but are also committed to this idea of an extremely light brand touch, not talking about themselves. I think we've all heard what a crappy. Branded podcast can sound like, or, uh, you know, frankly, just a podcast from a company, right.

[00:06:44] And often that is, you know, the company's leadership or the company's CMO talking to their in-house experts or talking about themselves, talking about their products, talking about their services and. I've listened to a bunch of those and I tend not to go back to them. So we're, we're trying to make really, really high quality stuff that not only is sort of designed for people to listen to and enjoy and get value out of.

[00:07:10] But it's also designed to sort of meet the business objectives of the company that we're working with and threading that needle. That is the tricky part, but that is what is so interesting about this kind of work.

[00:07:23] Mark: That's the day job. Yeah. Um, and then in the, in the, in the night day job, um, you have grownups read things they wrote as

[00:07:31] Brendan: kids.

[00:07:31] That is exactly right. It's a really long name for a show. Grownups read the things they wrote as kids. Uh, and you know, despite the very long name, uh, we kinda like it cause it's exactly. What it says on the tin. We do a live stage show, uh, primarily here in Canada, although we've done some international dates, uh, recently, but we do a live stage show in theaters all across the country.

[00:07:55] We do about 25 live events a year. Uh, People get up onstage and they share childhood and teenage writing. Some of it's sad, some of it's, uh, funny, some of it is heartbreaking. Some of it is deeply awkward. Uh, and then we record all that stuff, uh, and we release it as a podcast. Two weeks and we've been doing this, I think this is now our sixth season and our seasons correspond to the calendar years.

[00:08:25] So we've been doing this every two weeks, uh, for a very, very long time. Uh, and it's a hobby that my wife and I do, uh, just sort of in our spare time, evenings and weekends. And that is why I'm particularly keen to be talking to you today. Cause I know we're going to talk a little bit about sort of like the rigor, the rigor of a release schedule and, uh, this.

[00:08:46] Teague that can sometimes come along with putting out something, uh, on a regular basis, uh, forever and ever, and ever without necessarily any plan or intention, uh, to stop. Yeah, that's, that's a super great point. So like when you started that, when you started working on a side project that would take up your evenings and weekends with your partner, how did you go into that decision?

[00:09:13] And. Like how much foresight did you have in the beginning of like how much time that would actually take and how long you would be able to do it? I mean, the short answer is we did not have a plan and we did not foresee doing it for nearly this long. I mean, yes. Uh, it's actually good to hear it's w we didn't know if it was going to work, uh, at the beginning.

[00:09:38] And so. We're so focused at the very, very beginning on just getting the thing off the ground. And just as a little bit of background, the podcast has been going for, you know, five or six years give or take, but the live show that the podcast is based on has now been going on for, I think, 11 or 12 years.

[00:10:00] So, so, and, but we were not doing it with this kind of regularity. We did not have the requirement to, to release 26 podcast episodes every single year. So we went into it and we did quite honestly, we did not have a plan. And we did not say we're going to do this for a month and see how it goes, or we're going to do it for a year and, you know, reassess.

[00:10:22] Uh, partway through, we really did not have a plan and, you know, over time, I think what we, what we realized is that, of course, if you've got a hobby that is time consuming and sometimes costs you money sometimes makes you money. Uh, but that you were significantly invested in. You're going to sacrifice other things, right?

[00:10:45] Yeah. Time, time at home is a big one of those because we travel with the show so much time together is something that we sacrifice my wife and I, because you know, there are times on the weekends where I've got headphones on and we're editing and mixing and, you know, uploading and doing all of the sort of stuff that you have to do when you were a one or two person show.

[00:11:06] So. W, you know, we, we didn't, uh, we didn't have a plan when we started, but I think, uh, you know, reasonably shortly after we got some traction and people started listening to the show, we sort of sat down and said, we're just going to check in with each other regularly, every so often and see, like, are we still getting out of this?

[00:11:28] What we want to get out of it? Are we still. Doing this for the right reasons. And you know, my criteria are pretty simple for, for my hobby show, which is like, I want to be doing it, uh, so long as it's fun and so long as I'm learning something and it continues to be really, really fun. Right. We get to travel all across the country and we get to meet all sorts of really interesting people.

[00:11:50] And we get to. Allow people to get up on stage who might not otherwise be all that comfortable getting up on stage and we get to see them shine and we get to see them share this part of their life that maybe was secrets maybe was private, maybe nobody's ever heard before. Like that's a really powerful thing.

[00:12:06] So it continues to be really, really fun. And, you know, like I was saying earlier, I have a day job in podcasting and a big part of my. Day job is around audience development and trying to get people to listen to stuff and figuring out how do you market podcasts in a, in a really effective way. So, uh, you know, th the second criteria of am I learning anything, uh, Is so important because my hobby ends up feeding into my day job, which ends up feeding into my hobby again.

[00:12:35] Right. So we almost treat grownups, uh, the grownups who thinks they wrote as kids show as sort of a test bed or a sandbox where we can sort of try stuff out. Yeah. Yeah. So, so am I having fun? Am I still learning? Uh, and like, are we. Burnt out. Are we feeling a little too tired? You know, we, we have those conversations regularly.

[00:12:58] And I think if you're podcasting with a partner, if you've got a co-host situation, if you are, you know, working on a production team that has more than one person or frankly, even if you are just one person setting those regular intervals, just to sort of like stop, take a breath, reassess and compare how things are going relative to what you want it to get out of it in the first place.

[00:13:21] That is our version of healthy to that end.

[00:13:24] Mark: What have you put in place when those moments do arrive? They arise because they must do, you know, you've been doing this for six years. Um, there must be times where you think, oh God, do I really want to be doing this? So what do you do to re-energize yourselves and get yourselves sort of,

[00:13:39] Brendan: so, I mean, I don't know if this resonates with either of you, but you know, there are times when I'm slogging through.

[00:13:48] Or an edit, it's just not working or, you know, like I'm sitting at the computer and my home broadband is slow and I'm trying to upload a 300 megabyte wave file. Right. Like, and I just add, I just want to, it was like, and I, and I stopped. And I think like this will be a lot easier if this was not my. Like I could, you know, I don't, nobody's forcing me to do this.

[00:14:12] I could just stop. I could be on the

[00:14:14] Mark: sofa watching Netflix.

[00:14:15] Brendan: Exactly, exactly, exactly. And, um, and this is going to sound corny, but like I have, I have an, I have a folder of email from people who have listened to the show. Uh, and you know, people write in all kinds, all kinds of things. So they, they sometimes send suggestions and sometimes they say, you know, here's how I discovered your show.

[00:14:35] And I hope to come to a live event one day and, you know, quite often we get, um, we could email from kids. We get email from teenagers, um, and our show is, it is, you know, Adults reading childhood and teenage writing onstage. And like I said, some of it's funny, some of it's sad, some of it, you know, deals with really, really difficult parts of growing up.

[00:14:57] Um, so like we hear pretty regularly, even though we never intended to make the show for kids and it's intended for an adult audience, we hear from kids. So like, I've just got a folder full of like nice email that people have sent me saying, like what the. To them or, uh, you know, how it has helped them in some way.

[00:15:16] And, you know, I I'd be lying if I said, uh, on a, on a bad day, I didn't open up that email folder and just sort of like remind myself that, you know, th the, the, the, that we're having some impact beyond ourselves. Um, and I think that could be really a tough thing, especially for. Solo podcasters, hobby, podcasters, passion, podcasters, people who are not necessarily doing it as their jobs, or is their main thing, but they're doing it simply because they love the medium and they want to put something of themselves out into the world.

[00:15:50] I think it can be really, really hard when you spend so much time sweating the details over this thing that you're making and you send it out into the world. It's, you know, you can like, I guess watch the download. Tick up or you can, you know, you can like measure your success in lots of different ways, but sometimes it's easy to forget that like behind all of those downloads or those subs or the followers on Spotify or whatever you want to measure, like there are actual human beings who are putting the stuff that you make into their ears.

[00:16:22] And I think for me, one of the, one of the things that, where I find, you know, the extra little bit of energy to like keep going through an otherwise difficult edit. Uh, it's just it's it's, it's good to be reminded that, uh, Uh, ideally you're making something that people get value out of and, uh, and that it's appreciated.

[00:16:43] So that is what I do. I don't know. What about you guys? Yeah, for sure. Well, what you just said, hearkens back to what Matthew Passy said on our previous episode where, uh, the prevention of burnout in, in the production of a show, uh, really depends a lot on engagement. Producing something, and it's not, you know, maybe it's getting downloads, maybe it's not, but if you don't have people that are engaging with you on social media or email, or, or if you were doing a live show or something like that, then it can feel like you're just doing it for nothing.

[00:17:17] And it can be really, uh, Yeah. I don't know the word I'm looking for. I'm not wasteful, but

[00:17:23] Mark: yeah. Yeah, exactly. Um, yeah, I mean, I, I, I think about that a lot, cause I, you know, that the show I'm one of the shows I'm most proud of is when I still do. And, uh, the, you know, the latest episode got 222 downloads. Um, and that's, that's a few days and I was thinking about this on first day.

[00:17:45] Night, when I finished the edit for the Wednesday, I'm going to finish the edit for the latest episode. How I still, and I don't know if this really contributes to the topic. This might just be me saying a thing and I don't know, humble, bragging, maybe. I don't know. Um, but I, I still, after all of this time, I'm getting frustrated.

[00:18:07] At my lack of being able to find anything, you know, engage with our audience or, or find that engaging audience. I, I still don't see that translating into the edit. Um, and that's kind of surprises and it's something that never occurred to me before. Like there are, you know, I was shattered on, on Wednesday night.

[00:18:29] It was very, very tired. Um, and I. In so many walks of life. I think it's very easy with jobs and things to just half up half asset and just go, okay. Yeah, that's good enough. But I always find myself going that extra bit, you know, saying, oh, you know what? That music would be just right for this segment here or that clip of a thing needs to go right here.

[00:18:51] And I will sit and I will edit, um, uh, someone's laugh over Skype to make sure. It came over the right bit when someone said something funny and it's not been mangled by the delay, like, and I will spend time for netting, these and that, that was a bit of a sharp intake of breath there because the limiter cut it.

[00:19:08] So let's fade that in. And I, I'm still surprised that of all the time, like everything else frustrates me. And I sit down at the edit and, and I think like, like you were saying, Dan, like those days when it's difficult at it, you sit down and you sort of go, oh God, I've got to do this. And then. You, you emerge two or three hours later and there's this thing you've made.

[00:19:31] Um, and it, you know, it's, it's, it is a slogan. It is hard work, but at the end of the day, you do get to look back and go, you know what? I know, no one listened, but I read, I made a thing. I made an actual thing and I, I, I sweated over it and I'm pleased and proud of what I've done. And that's as, uh, you know, as corny as that is going to sound like that.

[00:19:55] That's when you're doing your best work is when, you know, for sure. Yeah. You know what I'm, I am pleased with that. I did, I did a

[00:20:00] Brendan: good, you know, w what you just said resonated so strongly with me and, you know, I think a lot about in particular, cause I, cause I have a hobby podcast, I think about people who do shows, not primarily as a business endeavor, but.

[00:20:17] For themselves for lots of different reasons. And, you know, I think it's worth having goals and I'm not talking about download metric goals or audience size goals, but like even just fuzzy, what do I want to get out of this type goals and like actually taking note of those and then checking yourself against those.

[00:20:43] Right. And I think about like, I dunno, I, I, uh, Ever since I was a teenager, I have owned guitars and played guitars. And I have known people who pick up a guitar. And the entire reason they have a guitar is for themselves. They want to learn, they want to practice. They want to figure out the songs that they like to listen to and play them for nobody but themselves.

[00:21:08] And that that is, there is nothing wrong with that. And I have met people who have picked up a guitar because they want to be on stage and they want people cheering their name. And I have met people who pick up a guitar because that is the tool that they use to write. And it's a form of expression and it's a way of getting what's inside out.

[00:21:27] And. Hey, maybe they write a song and it becomes a hit, or maybe they write a song and they put it on Bandcamp or SoundCloud or wherever else, and a handful of friends and family listened to it. And that's fine. And I think in, in a lot of, and of course there are people who become, you know, very competent musicians and play for a living and then there are superstars, right?

[00:21:49] And so there's like a whole spectrum of people who. Do music for lots of different reasons and none of those reasons are wrong. Right. But I think what can be challenging is if you get into it for one reason and then lose sight of why you originally got into it or what you originally hoped. Out of it.

[00:22:09] Cause it can be really frustrating to be say in a bandwidth, somebody where a few of you are there because you want to drink beer and rock out in somebody's garage. And one person is intent on starting, right? Like that is not a good fit. So I think, you know, particularly for, you know, uh, people who do this for.

[00:22:32] For their own edification because they want to make a thing, regardless of whether anybody hears it, whether they just want to scratch their own itch. They've got a question that they're trying to answer in a podcast as a way to help them figure it out. Like whatever the reason is. I don't think there are, there are no right or wrong reasons to do a show, but I think it is really good to have at least in your own head.

[00:22:56] Uh, sense of why you're doing it, what you're hoping to get out of it. And then just to like periodically ask yourself, am I, am I getting out of this?

[00:23:07] Mark: I at the risk of making this about me again. I really like that point because I, as you were talking, I was thinking about the sort of purity of motivation.

[00:23:16] If you like. And a couple of years ago, I put out a three song of songs that I'd written recently, and one song that I've written like 14 years ago. And. I spent a few Tuesday evenings when my neighbor was away. So I could shout into the microphone and sing at the top of my voice, recording it in my, in my little bedroom, off his hair and put it out.

[00:23:39] And it's, you know, it's on Spotify, it's on iTunes and all that stuff. And. I looked every now and again, uh, to, you know, to satisfy my curiosity at the stats page. I haven't looked in about 18 months. I don't care. Um, I go back to it every now and again and go, yup. Still pleased with that. Or you're, or like still pleased with it, but I definitely know that bit there needed fixing or, Ooh, should I have done a bit more auto two in there or your voice gave out whatever.

[00:24:09] There, there was a purity of motivation there. I think in the, and the phrase you used to, you know, scratching my itch. It was, it was something I felt I wanted to do. And it was purely for, yes. I wanted to put it out there. Cause if it was purely just for me, then I wouldn't have needed to put it out on the internet, but I did.

[00:24:28] And. I think I find that really interesting in, in, in the, uh, this is something I've done, you know, I've made podcasts for 10 years, but the motivation has always been very different from, you know, that little EAP that I put out or the, you know, the, the kid's book that I'm writing now for fun. Like the motivations there.

[00:24:48] Are entirely different. And I think the, that, that may speak to some people about the, um, the, the things that can lead to burnout that they feel when they, when they see the, the download numbers or the lack of engagement or whatever, it's, it is then a matter of sort of readdressing that and going okay.

[00:25:07] Really are you doing this for the right reasons? Because if you want an audience, that's fine go, but you've got to go chase it, um, again, and you know, and that's fine. Like if that's what you want to do, then, then that's great. But also maybe examine, are you doing this to enrich your life, to give you something to do on a Saturday afternoon?

[00:25:26] Uh, is it something that you can see your friends with? You know, is it. You know, all of these different motivations and, and they're all valid rather than just, um, can we, uh, can we be the

[00:25:37] Brendan: next superstar? You know, you've released that EAP knowing full well that Rihanna exists and the Beatles exists, and many other people are probably going to be wildly more successful.

[00:25:53] Uh, financially, uh, in terms of notoriety, you know, there are going to be a bigger stars in the world, but I think, you know, podcasting is still this, it still feels small enough that I think people's expectations, uh, can sometimes be a little bit out of whack where, you know, if, if you, you know, you read the trades and, you know, you have some sense of other people's numbers.

[00:26:18] I think it's easy to feel like, well, I put out my thing and I do. You know, the same kind of numbers that reply all does. So I'm a failure, which seems, you know, completely, um, just out of line with how we understand, uh, you know, other media, right? Like for sure you can be in a, you can be in a bar band knowing full well that you're not going to be, you know, And that's fine.

[00:26:43] It's completely appropriate that you picked a Rihanna and the Beatles. Cause I think that Mark's music is just like right down the center of this to all

[00:26:54] Mark: you cut me down the middle and I bleed, uh, umbrellas and, um, fixing a hole with a rain came through. There you go.

[00:27:04] Brendan: I think, uh, I think that the, that point of checking in on the original reason that you got into thing that you're doing, whether it's podcasting or otherwise is super important, but I, I think, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that you also don't mean to say that your reason for doing it can't change.

[00:27:25] Um, but to be mindful and aware of whatever your current and, and. Um, More more appropriate or more, um, modern version of your need to do something is a, is alive and well, I would hope that what you want to get out of it changes, right? I mean, right. Like as with any endeavor, you don't know everything going in and you would hope that as.

[00:27:56] Go deeper into whatever your passion is or whatever you're trying to do, that you discover new things that you like about it. I mean, that seems ideal to me. I would not want to have to, you know, I, and I don't know. I think about this a little bit. Right. Cause I, I mentioned earlier. You know, I want to have fun and I want to keep learning stuff like that is what I'm hoping to get out of.

[00:28:18] Uh, we're doing a hobby podcast and, you know, in some ways, I don't know, I use this analogy a lot, um, in my day job, but I think about it a lot, right? Like grownups who thinks they vote as kids. My hobby podcast is. You know, if you listen to an episode that came out last week versus an episode that came out five years ago, you know, it's going to sound a little bit different.

[00:28:42] Cause we got nicer microphones and we licensed some better music, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, it gets sounds better now than it has in the past, but it is effectively the same. Like we've been making kind of the same show for a very long time and. You know, I've gotten better as an editor. And I think I've gotten better as a mixer.

[00:29:05] And I think, you know, my tastes have changed over that time. And you know, the saving grace of the show is that it's new readers every single time. And yet there's this bottomless pit of amazing, wonderful, super weird childhood and teenage writing. So it's not the same, every single episode. It's very different, but the format of it remains largely the same and, you know, Talking about burnout, uh, talking about sort of how do you avoid those things?

[00:29:30] I think format can be such a useful thing to establish and tweak over time, but it, you know, you can, you can having a really tight format. Can be such a win and can help you get through maybe the more difficult parts. Right. So it's like format and process. So I think about, and I'm going to get back to this in a second, but I think about the difference between, uh, the television shows, uh, jeopardy and.

[00:30:04] Game of Thrones. Right. And if you're making a season of jeopardy, like, you know, that jeopardy has changed over the years. Right. You know, Alex Trebeck shaved his mustache one season and like they introduced, you know, video daily, double, and you know, that kind of stuff. Like they have changed the game a little bit and they introduced the, you know, the teen tournament or whatever they do.

[00:30:28] Like, I, I'm not a regular jeopardy watcher, but like that is a prime example of a. They added rock and roll jeopardy. Right. But it's like, jeopardy is jeopardy is jeopardy and people watch jeopardy in, uh, you know, I don't know if you know, people who watch sort of like daytime, uh, TV game shows, but like people watch that stuff religiously.

[00:30:47] Right? Judge Judy is the same thing. Like judge Judy is the same format. Right. The courtroom, uh, soap opera stuff, right? Like for me, you know, if you've ever watched, uh, storage wars or, you know, uh, American pickers or, you know, like any of these shows, like they use formats because they work and they make your production process.

[00:31:11] A little more streamlined, a little more predictable. You can plan for it. You can put together a plan and then you can execute it on around on it. Right? So like producing a season's worth of jeopardy, it looks very different than producing a season of game of Thrones, where with game of Thrones. You are making everything up, you know, in some cases in the later seasons, when there are no books to back it up, you're building it from scratch.

[00:31:38] You know, is there a formula to a game of Thrones episode? Not in the same way that there is a formula to jeopardy and people watch these shows. It very different ways. Right? Game of Thrones is an event. It is a mini series. It is, you know, it's the cereal. If you want, you know, where we're going to, we're, we're going to like make a huge tent pole thing out of this.

[00:32:00] It's, you know, reasonably evergreen. I can watch a game of Thrones from beginning to end, uh, you know, well, after. It's out of market. Um, but that plays a very different role in my life than I want a very comfortable thing to watch, uh, in the afternoon that's trivia hosted by Alex Beck and it's going to be there every single day at exactly the same time in a very reliable way.

[00:32:26] Right? Like, so this, I think about this spectrum of like jeopardy on one end and game of Thrones on the other, and like figuring out where you are on that spectrum and where your show is on that. I think can help you set more realistic expectations about how much work you're going to have to do, how much time you're going to have to spend.

[00:32:47] And I don't think there's anything wrong with either end or any point of that spectrum, but they are vastly different from a production standpoint, a workload standpoint. And I think. And I've never worked on game of Thrones, but I have worked on projects that feel like I am working on game of Thrones. I think, you know, being able to fall back or lean a little more heavily on a more structured, more kind of formatted show can be a really gift, a big gift, especially if what you are doing is designed to be there, uh, you know, in a regular way in, in your listeners here.

[00:33:25] You know, I was talking to the other day with, um, a graphic designer, uh, an art director. And, uh, we were talking about actually sort of designing episodic artwork for podcasts. And he told me that one of the ways he thinks about this is. On any project and it could be a series, a podcast series. It could be sort of an ad campaign.

[00:33:49] It could be whatever he's working on. He tries to establish a list of things that are changeable and a list of things that are not changeable. And the things that are not changeable are what gives you the, uh, sort of like the recognizability of something. It's the reason why episodes of Dubai Friday.

[00:34:12] All they are recognizable. Like if it was on, in the background, you would, you would be able to recognize that. But what doesn't change while there's a core of, you know, three characters on that show. And sometimes one of them's not there, but there are recognizable characters and more than one of them will be there for every single episode, like the jazz break.

[00:34:31] And there's this sort of pacing of the editing and the sort of the, the way that those episodes are structured. And I think. If an episode of Dubai Friday was on in the background. I would be able to pick it out as an episode of Dubai Friday, because it's got these sort of unchangeable elements that give it recognizability.

[00:34:50] And that I think is true for visual media. But I think it's also true for, for Sonic media, for audio media. So like, what are the things that are going to stay the same episode to episode? Is it always going to be the same two co-hosts? Is it always going to be, you know, a certain length of time? Is it always going to be.

[00:35:09] Released on a particular day, is there a theme song, right? Like all of these, what are the things that are going to stay the same and keep those the same or gradually changed them over time? Right? Every episode of jeopardy has a daily double in it. Right. Uh, and then what are the things that are going to change?

[00:35:26] Right. And you know, this, this guy that I was talking to his vice, it was like, have some fun with the stuff that changes, but you want your episodes to have a family resemblance and you want to, you know, have it really, really clear in your mind, like, what is co what makes this show? This show? Zero in on that, dial it in and then keep it the same evolve it slowly over time.

[00:35:51] But keep those core elements the same and then have a ton of fun with the things that you've agreed can be different. Every episode

[00:36:04] A hobby podcast live event that we then turn into a podcast and our live events run anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours. The podcast itself is roughly half an hour. So not everything that is read on onstage ends up in the podcast. We use, you know, roughly a third. Or less of what we record and the criteria for the podcast, you know, which stories we use and which, uh, readers we choose to feature.

[00:36:36] We've got to set a criteria for that, right? We hear a lot of different types of writing and an entire episode that is just teenage girl diary. Entries is not interesting, or it's not varied enough for my tastes. So we want to hear. Uh, diary entry. We want to hear a piece of poetry. We want to hear a short story.

[00:36:55] We want to hear a letter written home from camp. We want sort of formal variety in the episode. We also want a range of different types of voices in the show. We want to hear older voices. We want to hear younger voices. We want to hear voices from different parts of our country, like all that kind of stuff.

[00:37:11] So one of the things that used to, I used to dread sitting down to try and. You know, a 90 minutes or two hour recording into a tight 25 or 30 minutes. I used to hate sitting down to do that because I would have to then relisten to the entire thing and then make really difficult decisions about who's in and who's out based on these criteria that we've set up and we just tweaked our process a tiny little bit and we hate doing it.

[00:37:39] But it S it's again, a gift from past us to current us. So we do a live show and it's exhausting, right? Like we're in a theater, there are hundreds of people there we've like, we have just put on a big show and we are tired. And the last thing we want to do is make the short list of who's probably going to be in the episode and which readings are the right mix of readings to include in an episode.

[00:38:06] But after a live show, having heard from 15. When people w you know, we've got a pretty good idea of like, what worked in the room and what has the tonal variety. We want something funny. We want something sad. We want something a little bittersweet, right? Like, we've got a good sense. And in fact, it's freshest in our memory right after we've done a show.

[00:38:26] So what do we do? We sit, we like go out for a. Somewhere near the venue. And we pull out our notes and we say, okay, let's do the list. And then we, we narrow it down and it makes total sense. And it's like, we are in the best position and the worst position to do it. Cause we are dog tired, but it's fresh in our minds.

[00:38:46] And so now we started doing this. I'm going to say maybe two years ago, it took us longer than it should have to realize that we should do this. But we started doing this about two years ago and now. You know, I can take a recording that we made six months ago that is kind of distant in my memory. And I might not remember all the nuance and the detail of all the readings, but I've got a starting place.

[00:39:08] Right. And I think this applies, uh, to not just, if you're doing a, a weird diary reading show in theaters in Canada, I think this applies to like, anytime you interview anybody, I am such a big advocate for making notes. As you interview somebody recording timestamps, you know, whatever system that you've got, you know, some people have fancy recorders where they can hit a button and that leaves a marker.

[00:39:31] Like whatever your system is like. The best, you know, you know, when the tape is really singing right in the moment and. You know, the, the best time to record that is in the moment, the second best time to record that is just after you've done the interview. You know, what really stood out to you? What stuck in your brain?

[00:39:53] What did the person say that really resonated with you? You know, write down those four or five things and do it right then. Because the, the worst possible time to try and remember the smart or clever or resonant things that somebody said is six months after you interviewed them. And you're sitting down to try and interview.

[00:40:10] So like the best gift you can leave future you, who is going to edit something is some pretty decent notes. And you're in the best position to make those notes closer to the actual mode.

[00:40:21] Mark: Absolutely. And don't assume that you're going to remember because you won't, you always think you will. Yeah. And it

[00:40:25] Brendan: applies to, it applies to podcasts.

[00:40:28] It applies to interviews. It applies to like coding anybody who has ever had to go fix somebody else's code or try and figure out. They were thinking when they wrote this code two years ago. I mean, the idea of well-documented code or, you know, self-documenting code, uh, says the guy who writes a lot of Python, you know, this is the fundamental point sticks, no matter whether you're talking about audio or lots of other things I've been on and off again about this podcast, I want to make, because I've never, uh, I've never done trying to overwhelm myself like.

[00:41:05] Pattern in my life. Um, and I, I have, uh, I have this political podcast I've been wanting to make, I got two buddies on board. Um, I made a, I made a Twitter account for it. I mean, you know, maybe the album artwork or album artwork, podcasts, artwork, and everything. I, I promoted it a little bit. Uh, and it was just it's it, but it's also been so overwhelming the idea of making this podcast because I want it to be, uh, I want it to be.

[00:41:34] Logical and I want it to be truthful and I want it to be accurate and insightful. I want it to have resources. I want to do what I want every other political and newsworthy podcast to do, which is to have sources for everything that you're talking about, uh, so that people can look up and verify that the things that we're talking about are actually true, which should be happening, uh, on everything that's going on right now, uh, which, you know, rant over, um, But, you know, the idea of, of, of doing that is also at the same time paralyzing, because it's so much work to be able to do that.

[00:42:10] I need to have, uh, not only my two co-hosts that we're going to be, you know, discussing things left right. And center, but we're also, I'm also going to have a producer listening at the same time. But somebody else can be doing that in the moment. Marker of, uh, important thing, not important thing, finding the resources so we can verify stuff in the moment.

[00:42:30] And I'm almost to the point where I'm scrapping the whole thing that I've been working on for a year and a half, just because I can't, I can't find the time for it. I can't find the energy. I can't fit it into my schedule. To make it so that it's as good as I want it to be. Cause I don't want to put out something that I'm not proud of.

[00:42:48] Is this a, is this a thing that you imagine running in perpetuity with no defined. And date, like I'm trying to think, is there a way to, is there a way to constrain it? Right? Like what, what does you know, we're going to take a month and do this look like, what does, we're going to commit to it for six months?

[00:43:12] Look like, what does let's just get the. Done. Let's do three pilots, right? Uh, with no expectation of ever letting them see the light of day, like is like, are you, is part of why it feels so big because you're covering an area that is so fast moving and, you know, you could in theory do in perpetuity. Yes and no.

[00:43:36] I mean, those are all amazing and fantastic questions. I'm going to repeat that instead. Luckily, this is really recorded. Um, Yes. And no, because like, sure. Yeah, the, the daily news is just on, you know, it's a fire hose and nobody can keep up with it all. And we don't plan to, it's not going to be like a, a daily or even weekly kind of recap of the news.

[00:44:00] And we all talk about it from our different perspectives. It's more the idea of tackling a bigger topic question. Like, um, the things that really divide, uh, Segments of, of politics and, you know, talking about, um, you know, what makes a good person, uh, who should really be on a, uh, quarter Supreme court. Um, and, and, and, and a little bit larger item questions like that.

[00:44:31] Um, but it's still, it's, it's still pretty overwhelming not having. Uh, specific, uh, time and structure like that, like you were asking about not having them, you know, and, and, and, and doing wonder multiple pilots is something that I've definitely contemplated and would probably do. Uh, if I ever convince myself to do it, I worked for close to 10 years here in Canada at the CBC Canadian public broadcasting.

[00:45:00] I did a bunch of stuff through a part of the company called program development, where all they did was make new ideas for shows and like try and find projects that they wanted to, you know, if they had, uh, you know, uh, personality or a talent, I think was the word they is. Right. If there's like, if there's talent and they want to find a project for them, like this is where program development.

[00:45:26] Really shine because you know, it was where you could go in a relatively low stakes environment and like go make a pilot with some resources. And the, a whole idea was like, how do we test this idea? We think on paper, it's going to work right. Where we have a sense that it might work. We know that this is a show that does not currently exist and maybe fills a need that is being underserved, but we don't know.

[00:45:57] And, you know, the interesting thing we were program development and in fact, grownups are things they wrote as kids. My hobby podcast was born of, uh, the program development process, right. Where we got a little bit of time and a little bit of money to like actually pilot the thing, you know, part of, part of the value of, you know, doing a pilot is like taking this thing that's in your head or as maybe roughly sketched out on paper and making something.

[00:46:24] And is it ever going to be. The platonic ideal that you have in your head? No, but are you going to learn a heck of a lot by actually doing it? Are you going to be like, you know, with grownups, we didn't know if we could travel across the country and book theaters and rattle them up and get people to sign up, but we tried.

[00:46:44] And then lo and behold it works, but it could have just as easily not worked all that well. Or the people that worked on it with me, we might not have gotten along, or we might not have traveled well together. Or like, there are so many ways that it could have failed. Right. And I worked on Pawlenty of projects that never saw the light of day, or ended up being repackaged as sort of a holiday special one-off and they never went to series.

[00:47:09] Right. Like, and the TV world in the movie. Full of this, right? Like take your idea and figure out what is a really lightweight way to answer the questions that I have about the feasibility of it. Uh, whether that's a production question, whether it's a Sonic question, whether that's a personality question, like.

[00:47:29] You know, I, I, this is a very programmed Murray way to do it, but like rapid prototyping or, uh, you know, minimum viable product to sound like a startup, you kind of got it. No, but it's like, it's, it's, it's, it's taking that same idea. Like not expecting that you're ever going to share this with anybody. The point of doing a pilot is doing the pilot.

[00:47:54] Mark: Tom, this has been an absolute pleasure. Where can.

[00:47:57] Brendan: Find you on the internet. People can find me on the internet, uh, through Pacific content, which is my day job. You can find all the shows we We also have a medium blog that you can follow where we write a lot about podcasting, uh, and you can find my hobby podcast, grownups read things they wrote as kids by typing those words into the.

[00:48:27] resented by Mark Steadman and random hunches. All the thanks to Dan for joining us, you will find Livingston show notes that the right and stay the Corona for our next episode, live through Ackerman of this leaf with me podcast, robot.