Neither a Secretary Nor A Stenographer Be


Take any high-profile court case in the last ten years. What was the name of the judge? The defendant? The attorneys? The court reporter?

Yes, the court reporter. Who was she? After all, the court reporter was right there, with all the other players, in the midst of the drama. But unless you have a strange fascination with stenotype machines, odds are you have no idea who she (or he) was.

If you record an interview with a guest then turn around and post it online you’re the podcasting equivalent of a court reporter, stenographer or secretary. You’re not creating drama you’re taking dictation. And, like court reporters, stenographers and secretaries everywhere, you may perform your job with exquisite perfection only to discover that’s not enough to distinguish yourself from the thousands of others of court reporters, stenographers and secretaries looking for work (or podcasters looking for audiences).

What Makes You So Special?

What sets your show apart? Your guests? Your relatives aside, whomever you can get someone else can get. There are plenty of of podcasters with larger audiences, more distinguished hosts and bigger budgets than yours. If you can snag a guest so can they.

Your interview style? Listen to an interview by Dick Cavett, Stephen Colbert, Terry Gross, David Frost or Mike Wallace. It will be a while before most of us hit that level.

And the Difference is…

Your edge has everything to do with your storytelling ability and how you shape a raw interview into a show that is so compelling people will listen to even while telling themselves they have something else to do or somewhere else to be. Not everything your guest says is worth airing. Not everything your guest says is said in a compelling way. Not everything your guest says is said in dramatic order.

But, everything could be.

That’s you as editor-in-chief or producer or showrunner or publisher or…pick your driving creative force. Editors, producers, showrunners et. al, don’t report on the content they make. They make the content other people report on.

It takes a lot of work to do podcasting well because good podcasting is hard work. It’s creatively demanding. It’s time intensive. It’s deadline driven. It’s real media. Secretarial work is a decent, respectable profession, and it is what it is. If that’s what you want to do, do it. But don’t be surprised if you are easily replaced by your listeners.

Who do you want to be?

PS: I sincerely apologize to William Shakespeare and his family for this post’s headline.


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