Tag 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.


Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, A Review

One of my favorites podcasts is FIR (For Immediate Release) with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. I was intrigued with a recent interview  with Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge about their new book Putting the Public Back in Public Relations.
I bought the book.
I’m working my way through it now. I say “working” because it’s not an easy read. I appreciate that. I’ve read so many breezy books filled with slogans, cliches and battle cries that having to really concentrate is a nice change of pace.

I’m reviewing this in two parts because it brings up a lot of issues in this time of apocalyptic transition in communications.

The book revolves around the concept of “PR 2.0,” coined by Solis. It takes a realistic look at what’s wrong with PR today (PR hacks, spammers, lazy “pros” who don’t know or care about the audience they’re pitching to).  I like it.  Call a hack a hack and go forward.  Show them how to improve and if they don’t, follow Wired editor Chris Anderson’s lead and blacklist them.

The book has five parts: “The True Value of PR;” “Facilitating Conversations: New Tools & Techniques;” “Participating in Social Media;” “A Promising Future;” “Convergence.”

The authors do a good job of looking briefly at the history of PR and how after 100 years it has morphed from “throwing it out there and seeing what sticks” to getting to know the “people formerly known as your audience,” participating in conversations and giving and taking.

It’s a huge  transition to go from a century of traditional media that force fed the masses to a global community of “tribes” as Seth Godin defines it.

I started my career as a reporter for a daily newspaper.  I also wrote review columns and did weekly radio shows.  I was an intimate part of the traditional media and I welcomed its downfall in the onslaught of  the rowdy, free-for-all world of blogs, podcasts, vidcasts, and Twitter.

Putting The Public. . . captures this transition very well.  In every chapter I learned something new.

There are also things  I take issue with.

More in Part 2.

I Did These Things. Now What?

Ron Bronson’s post about spreading yourself too thin in his Edustir blog on Bloghighed August 17, was a wakeup blast of synchronicity for me.
I was just about to do a post about what more I can do in social media land.

And I’m still going to do it.
We’ve been producing podcasts since 2005. They’ve slowed a bit and evolved but we’re still doing them and still getting visits.

We also have every podcast transcribed, both to enhance search engine accessibility and to meet ADA requirements.
This year I created a biweekly TV talk show, “Conversations,” that airs on local cable. We edit the shows into 2-3 segments and upload them on YouTube.
We’ve begun doing student testimonials for YouTube.
We’ve been getting our feet wet with Twitter.
We’re nearing the 1,000 fans mark on our Facebook, which I think is good for a small, rural university.

A couple weeks ago, after months of thought, I, with the help of our IT department, launched the MU Blog, a mix of news and observation.

My news director is about to debut a twice weekly news video –stripped down, straightforward, using a web cam and keeping it under two minutes.
We’re making plans to gradually move our alumni quarterly online.

So, even after the great points made in Ron’s blog, I still wonder what more can we do?
My internal question with everything that we produce: is the content good? I don’t want fluff. None of us has time for that.
Are we speaking meaningfully to our intended audiences?

Is there more we can do in a meaningful, productive way?

Or should we be doing less?

I’m really asking.

* * *

I was  vacation this week.  I decided, in my personal blog, to make a list of all I want to get done, and then document each day to see how many of the projects I actually accomplished, since (thanks John Lennon), life gets in the way of our plans.

Check out my progress or lack thereof.

Conference Notes on Changing Times

The College and University Public Relations Association of PA (CUPRAP) conference this year drew 159 PR/marketing/Web folks from four states. Here are some observations that may be a snapshot of higher ed marketing in general.


-For years, CUPRAP was composed primarily of middle aged white males. The last few years it’s almost evenly males and females.

– This year the majority were in their 20s and 30s. Only a handful were in their 50s and 60s.

-Ninety-eight percent were white.

-No one besides me is podcasting.

-No one, including me, twitters.

-A couple folks are producing and posting videos.

-The PR people in decision-making positions are still trying to figure out how to convince the administration that a mention in The New York Times is losing relevance and importance.

-Nearly everyone is familiar with Web 2.0. Most have not done much with it because they’re still tied up with producing print publications, writing traditional media news releases and stomping out the usual little fires.

-I was the only attendee with a digital audio recorder. I recorded three presenters.

-I was the only one there with a camcorder. I recorded an awards ceremony.

-I took my still camera but never pulled it from my hardware bag.



PR people are struggling to keep up with the huge changes in communications. They are still pressured produce home town releases, Dean’s Lists, check passing pictures, etc.

-Publications people are feeling more secure than they did a few years ago.

-Web folks are tired and excited.

-PR and Web people are working more closely with each other. Web folks welcome the more user friendly Content Management Systems which enable them to turn content responsibilities over to departments, freeing them up to experiment and explore. And this is a very good thing.

-PR folks need to move more quickly into the Web 2.0 phase because time and change are moving faster.

-Administrations, trustees and others need to be educated on the importance of the new media. Newspapers are still important, but in a different way. Our brand is reinforced not by a mention in The Chronicle but by our Google rankings, Facebook, Del.ic.ious, blogs, videos, etc.

-Not all conversations are produced by us, but by an increasingly active world around us. A growing audience of students, parents, alumni and others are contributing to the definition of who we are.

Note: If I’m off on any of this, let me know.