As is often the case with us writers, I have a number of publishers. One of them had decided some time ago that it would be a good promotional move to own and host a podcast. The show would primarily feature writers as interview guests, although businesspeople, entrepreneurs of all sorts, musicians, and other interesting guests were also welcome. In a truly democratic spirit, the owner of the company, who initially was the show’s host, decreed that writers were welcome regardless of whether her company was their publisher or not.
As is typically the case with podcasts, she broadcast from her home. This worked fine until there was a school holiday that coincided with the day of the weekly podcast. Two of her kids were still rugrat age, too young to understand that Mommy needed them to be silent and leave her alone for an hour while she was on the radio.
Knowing that I’d had experience hosting two different local TV series, she asked me would I like to fill in for her. I was delighted to do so. When summer was approaching, she asked me if I’d like to replace her for the length of her kids’ summer vacation. Again I was more than happy to. And eventually she asked me if I’d like to take over the show permanently—or at least, until it was no fun for me anymore.
And so I inherited a podcast.
She’d had an engineer, but that person was not available to me, and so I assumed the roles of not just host and producer but engineer as well. It fell to me to find the guests, schedule the guests, remind the guests, elicit from the guests questions they’d like to be asked, print out the questions, the easier to read them on the air, find last-minute replacement guests when I had a late cancellation, load up the software, fill out the episode details, which showed up somewhere online, manipulate the software, call the guests on Skype and hook them into the software, play the intro, open the show, welcome the first guest, interview the guest, thank the guest, read a commercial, make sure the second guest was standing by, welcome the second guest, interview them, thank them, do the closing, play the outro…and finally relax.
Sometimes things went wrong—in fact, all too often. I could silence the ringer on my cell phone, but it still rang on my computer. All too often my internet connection went down during the show. Sometimes the guest’s Skype connection was bad, or the guest’s mic was inadequate and they were barely audible. Occasionally a guest would get tongue-tied or give one-word answers that left me with time to fill when I’d asked all the questions I had prepared and still had 10 or more minutes before the second guest was due on.
A publicist named Ned was a godsend in helping me find last-minute replacement guests, and another publicist, Missi, was a big help in such circumstances, too. But the frantic scramble was unnerving. And once, indeed, I had to go on with only one guest and cut the show short.
Podcasting was hair-raising and exhausting, but I enjoyed it. However, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The publishing company that owned the show went in for a round of budgetary belt-tightening, and the podcast got the axe. We did our last show several months ago. It freed up more time for me to devote to my writing and editing career, but I was sorry to see it go.