Thursday, September 21, 2006

Six seconds of lame

If someone sat in for the recording of a podcast, yet virtually none of his contributions made the final edit, was he ever really on the show?

A couple of weeks ago, Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson asked her readers if they might be interested in appearing on her new podcast. Being a huge fan of the blog, and eager for a chance to chat with a writer I enjoy, I sent over an e-mail to say "Hell, yeah!" A couple of days later, I was invited to participate in the next taping.

Of course, it's possible that I was selected largely because I said I was available at the time she was recording. Looking back now, I probably should've backed out, as I had to shoehorn that conference call in between a commute to Royal Oak and a staff meeting for Motor City Sports Magazine. I wasn't going to be sitting at home or in an office with a solid phone connection. But I still thought it would work with me calling from somewhere with my cell phone. And I wanted to participate.

Then it rained. A lot. And really, really hard. So my plan of wandering the streets until I found an area with a good signal, preferably from a sidewalk table at a cafe, was scotched. The best solution, as I saw it, was to duck into Barnes & Noble and hope I could find a quiet corner where I could chat without feeling self-conscious.

And I did manage to find a decent place to settle in and chat for an hour on a conference call with Whitney and four other Pop Candy readers. But I'm not sure I was able to conquer any self-consciousness. I was someone standing by a window, trying to make sure he wasn't that guy, talking so loud the rest of the store can hear him. So it's very possible that I sounded, well, subdued during the recording. I have no idea.

But I know I wasn't very good or interesting during the taping. About five minutes in, I could just sense that I'd have virtually nothing to contribute. The idea was to ask Whitney questions about herself, about the blog, etc., since that's a request she often gets from readers. And everyone else had "fun" questions, like what she had on her Netflix queue, who's her dream interview, or whatever.

Not me. No, I leaned toward "inside" questions, like how she came to her current job, when did she decide to podcast, did USA Today (Pop Candy's home) ever step in and censor anything, and so forth. Interesting to me, perhaps, but maybe kind of boring for the general audience. As I think about it, I may have been a bit too much in "journalist" mode, and forgot to toggle the switch to "fan." So when I felt like I was kind of dragging down the conversation, I kind of clammed up.

Other reasons (rationalizations?) for me being quiet? I like to think I'm up on pop culture, yet fell woefully short when it came to certain topics. For instance, the gang spent quite a bit of time talking about Rock Star: Supernova, a show I haven't watched a single second of this summer. I could've just gone to the bookstore cafe and come back 15 minutes later. Instead, I was thinking of what I'd get to eat before my meeting.

It's also possible that I was just enjoying the conversation so much that I just sat and listened, rather than add anything myself. Right? Whitney's answers to everyone else's questions were interesting. I tried to throw in a joke or snappy remark throughout the chat, but often felt like I had nothing to say.

Maybe I was just sounded boring. Anyone who's ever held a conversation with me knows that I don't always articulate my thoughts super-quickly. Not exactly "sound bite" quality audio. Or maybe I just breathed out of my nose right into the cell phone too much, and it sounded awful. Who knows?

Anyway, this is a really long build-up to the punchline. How much was I actually in the podcast?

Six seconds.

Read more of "Six seconds of lame"...

I didn't even make it to ten. Six seconds. You hear me introduce myself. And even that part was cut down! Everyone else on the panel told their life stories. Me, I tried to keep it to the pertinent information - short and sweet.

But here's a lesson to anyone who might appear on a show where you're supposed to ask the host questions about her blog: After saying your name, you might not want to try plugging your own blog or fledgling magazine gig. Oh, and if he or she asks how you found the blog that brought everyone together that day, don't admit that you can't remember, and probably clicked on a link at some other website. Got that, kids?

Whitney did answer one of my probing queries at the end of the podcast, however, concerning what she does with all the free stuff she gets (CDs, DVDs, books, etc.). You just don't actually hear me ask the question.

I hope I'm not coming off as bitter, because I'm not. Really. I'm laughing about this. (However, at six seconds, you have to wonder why Whitney bothered to include me in the podcast at all. I should be grateful that she did, I suppose, though it sounds like I got ahold of the tape and squeezed in that introduction myself.)

I appreciate the humor that comes from my pain. (Just ask Kevin Antcliff, who was in tears when I told him this story.) I'm more embarrassed than irritated (and glad I only told a very select few about the invite - although this takes care of that, doesn't it?) I was really excited to be asked on the show, and despite my crap-out, I'm glad I participated. It was a fun way to spend an hour in the late afternoon, and I should've made sure I was better suited to enjoy it. If there's a next time, I'll plan around it much better.

You can find the podcast in question at Pop Candy. (Here are links to the iTunes and RSS feeds, as well. Or you can just download it here. You're getting a lot of links for six seconds, Whit.) The first half of the show is an interview with the Rock Star winner. After that, it's the roundtable. I can be heard from 14:30 to 14:36. The other 29 minutes and 31 seconds of the podcast are Ian-free.

I'll be spending the rest of the week locked away in a dark room, either dulling my pain with whiskey or masking it with handfuls of wasabi peas.

(Image from "Get Fuzzy"
©2006 Darby Conley/ Dist. by UFS, Inc.)