Usually, I see this question posed from the other side, as a sort of shame-inducing pledge for podcasters, an admonishment to produce episodes to a regular schedule and not let their listeners/viewers down. To not do episodes on a regular basis is to not act professionally, and this is a black mark against your podcast, your future, and any hopes you might have in becoming a professional podcaster, blah, blah, blah…
But I think we need to rethink this, at least a little bit — because podcasting isn’t that kind of medium..
A recent experience in a little Irish pub illustrates the difference between the “traditional big media” take on podcasting and what I feel is the majority, the “grass roots” podcasting.
This little Irish pub was essentially a rectangle big enough across for about 5 people to stand, and deep enough to hold a good-sized university class or two (although they better be friends). To the left as you walked in the door was the bar, taking up half the width and at least a third to half the length. Opposite it, without any elevation or real demarcation, was the “stage”, which really consisted of a few stools, a microphone on a stand, a few lights and a mixer propped up on a table. The performer arrived — he was just across the street having supper — and many people flooded in at the expected start time. Without any introduction or ceremony, the lone man with his acoustic guitar said a few words, then launched into some folk songs and modern standards.
The performance was simple, earnest and direct. The performer was good, more because he seemed to be having fun and really seemed to enjoy the songs than being absolutely stunning or professional. Mistakes were overlooked by the friendly crowd — which, as it turned out, contained a considerable number of his friends. He is a biochem professor and researcher at the local university, and in the packed pub were many colleagues and friends.
The distance between the audience and the podcaster is much shorter. It’s much more like a pub performance than a stadium show. The audience is more intimately involved, usually very friendly and understanding, perhaps even friends or other performers.
So, what is all this “professional” talk about? Why are we seeking to be professional, rather than just good?
* ~ *
In a way, this article is also a mea culpa: I set out ambitious and perhaps unrealistic goals for the regularity of this blog and podcast, and they were easily missed due to impending travel I knew I was going to take. I do have another episode ready to be edited (an interview with author and podcaster Chuck Tomasi), and there will be more updates and episodes coming soon.
But, I hope you understand as friends: episodes will probably not be on a regular schedule, but on an appropriate schedule.
And I’ll try not to spend so much time in the pub!