Struggling writers should become whores to their professions. Mordecai Richler said something to that effect once, and I have followed those instructions for nearly two decades.
I have been hired to write about almost everything. Political columns. Children’s books. Documentary films. Web copy. Investigative reporting. Corporate video scripts. Pitch video scripts. Telemarketing sales scripts. Sex columns. Political speeches and a ton of other things I have probably long forgotten.
I’ve been such a whore over the years. A lot of us have. And good for us.
So naturally I decided to start a podcast. After all, I’ve built up enough contacts for solid content and interviews, plus I’ve had a bit of on-camera experience and feel comfortable behind the mic. I got a new laptop with a condenser mic and ran Audacity and OBS for Skype interviews. I’m not very technologically proficient but eventually got the basics down and had a decent editor standing by.
My first interview was Dr. Jordan Peterson, and I had less than two weeks to create a show from scratch. I needed a format, introduction scripts, transitional phrases, conclusions, and theme/segment music.
This was back just when Peterson became famous. I decided I would delay selecting the music until after properly preparing for the interview and creating the format. It was a little intimidating as I was a community college dropout and this guy once taught at Harvard. All I knew is that I wouldn’t try and sound all academic.
Or maybe I was thinking about everything too much.
But the music kept nagging at me. I was torn between using hip hop golden era-ish instrumentals or something that more closely matched a hard-hitting news outlet, or a show like Frontline. I’ve supervised the purchasing the following: music for tv commercials, music for digital ads, music for websites, music for corporate videos and music for documentary films. There is a ton of sources for this kind of stock music but I was struggling coming up with a show identity to even start my search.
I should probably mention that I also happen to live in a converted oats factory in a small town just east of Algonquin Park. I should also mention that my internet download speed usually tops out at 3mbps. My upload speed is just 0.75mbps. This posed many, many problems. It would have taken days to send and receive Skype interviews to my editor, and would have cost a fortune due to my remote location. After testing Skype and realizing the slow internet speed resulted in choppy interviews, I opted for an interview over the telephone. Funny, that was also when I realized what the show identity would be. In-depth interviews with interesting guests, mostly in media, politics, and academia. No video, at least not yet, and just a real focus on content. I chose a hard hitting, dramatic intro music, mostly because it reminded me of a political thriller, and then a more cerebral, minimal electronic track for my opening segment.
Also, I was a little rusty. I spoke too much, said um and uh more than I would like, and could have asked better follow-up questions. It showed I needed to put a lot more work in. Still, I more than held my own and have since banked a bunch of interviews with equally compelling guests in hopes of launching a permanent channel this summer.
I’m still obscure at the time of this writing, but I learned long ago that being a whore to your dreams is sage advice, and I’ve been around, to say the least.