Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

An intro to podcasts, with Downtown’s Mike Seay

During my early days on the job, I did a trend story on blogs. This was back in the early 2000s, when you still had to explain such things (blog = web-log). Shortly thereafter podcasts came along and really blew people’s minds. It was sort of like radio, but you could put the shows in your iPod and listen to at your convenience. Finally, there was no excuse for not knowing about “This American Life.” Fast forward to 2013, and podcasting in not just a thing (with millions of listeners), it’s a career field. At least for guys like Chris Hardwick, Marc Maron and Adam Carolla, who is live taping an episode his his podcast Sunday night at the Tower Theatre.

I busted my butt trying to work an interview with Carolla in advance of the show. Sadly, we couldn’t get our schedules synced, so, I threw some questions out to my buddy (and local podcast guru) Mike Seay. Disclosure: Seay is my co-host on Flowing with Famous.

How have podcasts changed since 2004 or whenever people started paying attention to such things?

It’s become much more niche. In the beginning there was a lot of regular people doing their version of a radio morning show. Not many celebrities, mostly average people that would never try getting a job in radio but still thought they could do that brand of entertaining.

Is podcasting becoming more legit then?

For sure. The rise of the smart phone has made podcasting very accessible. Add to that, podcasts have become part of the promotional circuit, like TV talk shows and morning radio. It’s a accepted part media now. If you have a new album, book, TV show or movie out, you need to be on a podcast just like you need to be on a late night talk show.

Is podcasting a profession? In the way that a radio or TV talk show host is? Most of the popular podcasts seem tied to personalities that were already sort of famous. Not that other way around.

It definitely is a profession for some. But just like anything in the creative field, it’s just a small percentage actually making a living from it. For most people, it’s just a hobby. It can be a great promotional device for something else that you do though. A lot of the podcasters who make money, make it by promoting some other thing they do, while on the podcast.

Are there different types of podcasts?

There is an insane amount of different types of podcasts. There is a podcast for dang near anything you can think of. If you are a nerd about a certain subject, I guarantee there is a podcast about that subject.

So, who is this Adam Carolla guy? Just kidding. Seriously though, having him live tape a podcast in town is kinda cool right?

This is totally cool. When you have, maybe, the top podcast out there recording a show in Fresno, it’s pretty damn cool. People all over the world will be listening. It’s kinda like when Fresno State plays a game on ESPN, only this to a different demographic. A demographic that might not otherwise hear or think about Fresno.

Is podcasting just for comedians?

Ha! No. The comedians certainly get more of the mainstream attention because they are the actual celebrities of the genre. But there are podcasters from every walk of life. Complete nobodys that talk about nothing, to celebrities talking about their lives.

What’s the appeal?

It’s anything and everything. It’s a form of media that has no rules. Really…there are NO rules. Anybody can take part. You can display your creativity, no matter how different it is, and you can actually find a group of people to consume it. You don’t need a TV network, or to sell a script or to convince a radio program director to hire you. You can just be what you want to be. If you’re actually entertaining, people will find you.

Final thoughts?

Podcasts give a creative voice to the regular person. Podcasts give a voice to the kind of person that would never have the guts quit their day job and move to Hollywood or even get up on stage and do comedy in their home town.

Mike Seay runs the Dorktown Newtork of podcasts, which includes Dorktown, The Perfect Pour and Flowing with Famous.

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