Category Archives: podcast

Alec Baldwin’s “Here’s the Thing” Full of Interviewer Tips

Alec Baldwin’s podcast, “Here’s the Thing,” is one of the best interview series out there.  I’m just fascinated with the guy who provides a blueprint of a well-done interview and here’s why.

1.  He comes to the studio absolutely prepared for the guest.  If it’s a show business colleague, he probably knows the person but still has done his research on the guest’s work.  Often, as in the case of Dick Cavett, he says, “I’ve seen all your shows,” and then references several.  Because of that, they have a good talk about Sir Lawrence Olivier, an extended chat about  Marlon Brando with insights you’d get nowhere else.

2.  He relates to the guest.  Again, with Dick Cavett, they talk about working while enduring emotional issues and then talk about Cavett’s  period of depression.

3. Baldwin is honest.  When talking with Jerry Seinfeld, he asks, with mild disbelief,  “You’ve never been short with a person?   Seinfeld says no, never, and Baldwin says with naked winsomeness, “I wish I could say the same thing.”  It’s a reference to his famous temper but the comment is real and heartfelt, and we have brief glimpse into his own life and regrets.

4.  He’s funny.  He interviews novelist Erica Jong and her writer daughter.  The two are close but have different views of life and are headstrong.  In one segment when they begin arguing about feminist issues, Badwin breaks in at the perfect moment shouting “We’re going to a commercial break brought to you by Victoria’s Secret!”

5.  He’s passionate.  At times, he wants to know something so badly he talks over the guest and drives in his question, forcing the guest to new and often uncharted territory.  He does this several times with Julie Andrews, who at times reveals her devotion to her family, her vaudeville roots, her rebellion against her Mary Poppins image, and, at times, her polite insistence on finishing her thought.

6.  He’s modest.  At different times guests will refer to Baldwin’s acting skills.  Baldwin brushes them aside with a polite thank you and returns to his  questions.  He’s not there for himself .  He’s focused on the guest.

7.  In every interview he seems to get to a core truth of the artist.    Musician Herb Alpert says at one point, “There’s something about being an artist. . . . When you’re doing it you’re in the exact moment of your life.”

8.  He’s passionate about getting to the root of the person’s ambition.  In his interviews with  Brian Williams ( March 4, 2013) , they talk about Williams’  early years, his drive, living in poverty and eating Spam sandwiches.  But he also gets to the person’s true loves, as well.  Williams spends more time talking about his wife and raving about his daughter than he does interviewing several presidents.

This interview is  fascinating  in retrospect because Williams does reference his “experience” in being in a Chinook helicopter that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire in Iraq in 2003,  which has gotten him into trouble, but throughout the interview he comes across as a down-to-earth, hard working professional devoted to his profession and his craft.   You can’t dismiss his sincerity and humility.

9. Baldwin uses whatever he can to show that he can relate to the interviewee.  In some cases, it’s similar childhoods, sometimes raising a daughter.  With Billy Joel they compare their respective high profile divorces from beautiful women.

In all the interviews Baldwin  is knowledgeable, passionate, and in pursuit of what makes the artist, journalist, writer, policy maker, tick.

He’s always after what makes that person that person.

10. What really cemented my respect was Baldwin’s interview with  policing experts Joe Eterno and David Kennedy.  Baldwin’s knowledge and passion are present but he rightly steps back and  lets the men talk.  They are two of the best interviews I’ve ever heard on the subject of 21st century policing, human rights, the Constitution and the relationship of police and community.

Baldwin  combines  research,  talent, curiosity and passion. Each show  is  lively, honest, entertaining and bursting with revelations and insights — about the interviewee and occasionally the interviewer.

I’d love to interview him sometime about his technique.

My Bogged Down Blog

I haven’t written a blog here in weeks.

The words stopped.
I do three blogs. One is a fun, personal one. One is for Mansfield University. And this one.
I’ve done 208 posts on this blog, a few hundred on my personal one and one a week for the MU Blog which I started last summer.
And without any warning, I crashed. I had no energy to write, and worst of all no interest. No ideas. Nothing to say.
Writing is a way of life. It’s also an addiction. It’s also a way of sharing (or exposing) yourself, your feelings, your ideas, your hopes, dreams and disappointments.
So I’m doing what all addicts do. I’m confessing. “Hi, my name is Dennis and I’m a writer. . . . .”
In the dead zone of non-writing, I read — novels, articles, nonfiction, news, blogs, op-eds– filling the vacuum with the thoughts, ideas, dreams and disappointments of others, seeking a community of intellect and emotions.  Most importantly, I guess, is that I’m seeking  company.

I’ve found literary inspiration in These Lovely Bones, human inspiration in Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation, which is giving me insight into animal behavior and autism.  I find anger and delight in news articles and reader responses on Huffington Post.  I quietly cheer when I watch YouTube clips of Stewart and Colbert. I watch the original Twilight Zone for its blend of a good story with simple, powerful camera work and famous actors at the beginning of their careers.  I occasionally listen to Rush until I feel myself wanting to rip out my car seats with my teeth.

I’ve talked about my radio and podcast habits in a previous post.

All things are natural, with their own rhythms.  When a well runs dry, you wait patiently for the underground water table to fill it again.

Mine was as dry as dust, but it’s filling again.

I can feel it.

It’s nearly there.

Putting The Public Back in Public Relations: Part 2

I enter part two of the review of Putting the Public Back in Public Relations reminding you that I think the book  is  valuable.

Putting the Public neatly summarizes the demise of the traditional media and the rise of the social media and PR 2.0.

It’s  ironic that the authors understand and capture  well the new media and the need to communicate ideas  in a quick, concise, clear way that’s tailored to our particular audience, and it takes them 300 pages to do it.

-A 300-page novel is not outmoded.

-A 300 page book on social media is.  With more thought and a good editor it could have been at least 50 fewer pages.

-As soon as it’s published, any references to Robert Scoble’s posts, or Chris Anderson’s blacklist is not news.  In the PR 2.0 world, this stuff is ancient history.

Granted, the  book is both a guidebook and history. But 300 pages is still too long.

The authors repeat things over and over.  I’m sure they’re doing it to drive home their points.  But I, like others, am reading this book because I already read the leading blogs,  listen to podcasts (which is where I heard an interview with them, leading me to buy the book), engage in Twitter, read AdAge and Wired and and follow Scoble.

In the larger picture, these are niggling complaints.  The authors have done a service to a profession in profound evolution, providing a pioneering work that’s  a textbook for the future of PR.

As the authors point out, we’re in the time of a huge transition.  PR is in an era of telling stories and being a part of a community that we understand and contribute to.

With each chapter I found myself grabbing a pencil to mark passages where Brian and Deirdre offer up insight, truth and a clearer way into PR’s future.

Just as importantly, I’ve subscribed to their blogs and sites to keep up with the conversation that they initiated.

Multimedia Blog, My Leap into the Norm

Okay, I’m sure others have done this but it was a big deal for me, a goal I’ve had for months.

Monday, August 31, I posted the latest installment of The MU Blog that utilized various social networking outlets.
It’s composed of 10 short graphs that can be read in two minutes.  There’s news, folksy gossip and teasers.

It contains  links to:
-an online  news release

-YouTube video created with a Flip camera

-YouTube video adapted  from a TV talk show

-two podcasts

-still photos on Picasa
I announced the posting on Facebook and Twitter and our internal daily online announcement network.


Background: With  my Zoom H2 and H4  audio recorders, I recorded the president’s breakfast remarks and the convocation speaker’s address. I yanked out my Flip to capture the marching band’s music and faculty procession for convocation.

After a video shoot with our president in her home, we sat on her deck and talked. She mentioned that her 79-year-old husband was taking a motorcycle test.  He’s also the boxing coach.  I used this tidbit to link to a podcast interview with him about coaching boxing.

* * *

I played with the concept for the MU Blog for nearly a year.  I was not at a point where I could put down on paper the concept of the blog but I knew the style.  I knew who I wanted to reach.  I knew I wanted a blend of news with a touch of the  personal.

And, finally, I knew that I just had to jump in, do it and let it evolve.

All this takes teamwork.  Our IT folks have created the technical pathways  to do these things– from podcasts in 2005 to content management systems, YouTube channels and my WordPress blog site.


Monday was deadline day.  I was writing the content for the blog (and a look at my revisions record shows that I revised about 20 times).  One staff member  (wearing headphones and munching Doritos between keystrokes) edited and mixed two podcasts and two videos while a student worker recorded intros to the podcasts from scripts I wrote in between working on the blog text, answering phone calls and running to meetings.


Most people, aside from this blog’s readers and a few others, understand the leap.

It’s now the norm.

My No Budget TV Talk Show Pt 2

“Conversations” has been airing for three months.  Our first guest was VP for finance Mike Reid about a new community relations committee and some of its goals.

I did this to show that  the university is very involved in the community and the region.   We interspersed information about Mike’s farm, his family who created a business selling maple syrup and apiary products.

Admissions Director  Brian Barden was another guest.  I wanted people to see how complex his operation is, how the admissions process works year- around, and some of the challenges he faces to bring in not only a diverse mix of students, but the challenges of filling certain programs.

I followed up on one request and interviewed Mansfield University President Maravene Loeschke and local optometrist and trustee Bob Strohecker about a new  college/community committee whose first project is to raise money for a movie theatre.

We took the equipment into the field and interviewed officials on a new business park and what it would mean to the community.

I have a roster of potential guests that could fill the next year.   I  do a show every two weeks so neither I nor my producer will be inundated.  The show airs four times morning and evening each weekend.

In the show itself, I take two breaks which we use  to air MU commercials.  Possibly, in time, I’ll seek commercials from area businesses, charge a nominal amount and turn the money over to our Foundation for scholarships.    (I’m thinking out loud here.)

After several shows aired, I wrote a news release and we sent it out to local media.    People on campus and around the area have stopped me to tell me how much they like the show and what a great community service it is.  This is the kind of word-of-mouth publicity you can’t buy.

Like everything else that all of us do, the producer and I have fit it into a crowded schedule.  But the payoff on a local and regional level is worth it.

We pull the audio, lay down a music bed and turn some of the shows into podcasts.  I also have an intern breaking the shows into four-five segments to upload on Youtube.  (I actually had requests to do this from people not on the local cable. I’m sure alumni will be interested, too).

Some of you have also expressed interest in seeing them so I’ll provide a link in a future post when some are up.

I emphasize again that this show is no budget.  No special effects.  No set design.  We use a few still shots when appropriate.  It’s exactly what the show title says it is, conversations.

As we do more shows, I’ll keep you posted on our progress and what I learn.

If you have thoughts or ideas, please share them.

Podcast Highlights: Laughter, Tears, Jesus and Darth

Michael P from orgsync submitted a comment recently with questions about podcasting:

What was the most memorable thing that happened during your podcasts? How many did you do? I was reading that most podcast don’t make it over 10 casts due to the amount of work that goes into them. Your thoughts…

Always in search of new subjects, I jumped on it (Thanks, Michael!)

I started doing podcasts in October 2005.  With more than 200 shows we’re still going strong.

I hadn’t read that most podcasts splutter out so quickly but it’s probably true. If you want quality podcasts, there is some work to them.  At the same time, they’re not as much work as quality video productions.   And being a lover of the spoken word, conversations and good stories, I think podcasts are worth the time and effort.

Several memorable moments crowd their way into that category.  One of the most emotional  for me was my first interview with our new president, Maravene Loeschke.  The subject of drunk drivers came up and she said she and her husband had “a very beautiful daughter” who was killed by a drunk driver.

I was totally unprepared.  I teared up and choked up, barely whispering how sorry I was to hear that.  After a moment I recovered and continued the interview.

Another very real moment came with Eden, one of the first students I followed through their freshman and sophomore years to let them tell the story of entering and adjusting to college through the students’ experiences.  One day Eden came in and sat down, totally shaken.  She had caught her fiance cheating on her with her friend. She told me the whole story.  “I threw my engagement ring at him and left,” she said.  “Later I thought, well, it will make a good podcast.”  And so we sat down in the studio. . . .

Casey, a 6’2″ music major, was another student I interviewed weekly.  He always provided a great interview with his offbeat vision of the world. He had a wonderful, hearty laugh.  One day, I said something that struck him funny and he launched into a laughing fit and couldn’t quit.  It was one of the few times I’ve lost control in the studio because I started laughing, too.  Later I time it.  It lasted a minute and a half, which is a really long laugh.  I left it in the interview.

Verne Lapps is a retired speech professor who years ago recorded the New Testament. He studied the Bible, and did a lot of research to prepare to do the dozens of voices in the Scriptures. His description of how he found himself disagreeing with Jesus a couple times, and what it felt like to be the Voice of God, was, to me, riveting.

Lapps also went to college with James Earl Jones, and hearing stories of what “Jim” was like at the very beginning of his acting career, and how a play they were in together drove them apart, again, was fascinating.

So, Mike, again, thanks for the questions.  Yes, podcast production is work but when you have real conversations and really get people to open up, their stories are compelling, and in a lot of cases, timeless.

I also did a series on how to podcast, equipment, etc.

You can find the shows at  Scroll through the archives.

We’re redesigning the page to accommodate our growth and make it more user friendly.  Let me know how you like the shows.

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts Part 16

In my last post, guest Dick Jones wrote about the demise of newspapers, happening in part because they refuse to let go of their double digit profits. Ad Age has begun a series entitled Newspaper Death Watch. The first installment mentions many of the same problems Dick did. I’ll be following this series and provide a link to each installment. Intriguing stuff.


Related to the death of newspapers and the huge transition we’re experiencing in news gathering- dissemination (and PR and marketing) is Chris Brogan’s post on Some Differences Between Pitching Mainstream Press and Bloggers. There are some marked differences and, of course, a lot of similarities.

Most revealing are the responses when Chris Twittered his friends for their opinions. Read this in full and think about it. There’s a lot about passion, opinions, homework, freebies . . .oh, yes, and pimping.


Martin Weller is a Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University in the UK. I’ve subscribed to his blog, The Ed Techie for quite awhile but, like everyone else, I don’t get to all my feeds as often as I’d like.

In the virtual world this April 7 post, Whither the Blogosphere, might be considered old, but it’s relevant, well-written and thoughtful. It’s about the possible trend of bloggers moving away from the blogosphere and into different forms of communication on the Web. Martin writes in part:

What I think is happening is another example of technology succession. The blog was the primary colonizer for the barren landscape of online identity. The presence of this colonizer changed the environment, which made it more amenable to secondary colonizers. . .


I found this interesting entry on The Ed Techie’s recent post, Making Connections 2.0

Blogger Tony Hirst was criticized harshly at a conference for having his laptop to do some live blogging. Both his account and the comments give some great insights into the schism between traditionalists and 2.0 practitioners.


John C. Dvorak, VP at the former Podshow, explains the name change to Mevio. His post is short and to the point. The 68 responses range from agreement, to anger to thoughts on the term “podcasting,” branding, search engines, etc. Again, interesting insights into our fast-changing times.


Finally, I need your insights and ideas.

Three weeks ago I did the three-part post on the drug bust. A week later I followed it up with a report on another one. As I posted them, each one attracted a larger-than-usual number of views. They continued to get a steady but lower number of views, which is the norm. Then, Friday night, views of these posts suddenly jumped way, way up. The views continued growing throughout Saturday, giving me one of my top five days ever. Has this ever happened to anyone else?

Any ideas as to why this seemingly untimely explosion of interest?