Thursday, April 12, 2018

Podcast confidential

I get lots of questions about my podcast (besides “why don’t you give it up?”). I’m well into my second year and starting to figure it out. Like with my blog, when I started I just tried a variety of things to see which would stick. I’m still on the lookout for new and different things to shake it up once in awhile – like doing my first (and last) stand-up and assembling actors for a reading of one of our pilots.

But the two types of episodes that have received the best response are me just gassing off about some showbiz related nonsense and interviews. And that’s fine with me.

The easiest episodes, to be honest, are when I have a couple of topics, jot down some bullet points, turn on the mic and just jabber for a half hour. One of my radio idols was Jean Shepherd. He would go on WOR radio in New York and just tell stories for an hour. And he was such a wonderful storyteller that I would listen spellbound. I’m not in his league, but I hope to at least carry on his spirit.

I’m often asked why I don’t do interviews every week? Because then my life would just be about booking guests. And there would be weeks where I needed a warm body and would have a guest who’s not that scintillating. I’d rather pick and choose and make the interview episodes really count. I’m also trying to bring you guests you don’t often hear. Upcoming guests include actress Nancy Travis, a former studio development person to discuss the do’s and don’t’s of writing screenplays, and blogger/writer/Renaissance Man, Mark Evanier.

Another question I’m asked is why I don’t have a co-host? I hear a lot of podcasts that do feature two hosts and some of them are terrific. But others are not. And nothing drives me crazier when listening to a podcast than two idiots just prattling on for the first ten minutes talking about nothing. I don’t care what they did that weekend. I don’t care that they took their dog to the groomer.

When there are two hosts I, as the listener, just feel like I’m eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation. I would much prefer to talk directly to YOU. I’m sure some of that stems from former Dodger broadcaster, Vin Scully. He was the only TV baseball announcer left who worked alone. Every other broadcast you have two or three knuckleheads debating every pitch. It was so refreshing to have Vin Scully there to tell ME what was happening.

So when I begin an episode I try to tell you within the first thirty seconds what that week’s show is about and why you might find it interesting. Just assume I had an okay weekend and BBQ’d.

I try to avoid politics on this podcast. Sometimes it’s hard, but I want the podcast to be a respite from the world’s insanity.

I’m also asked about the jingles. In fact, there’s a Friday Question tomorrow that goes into just that. I talk about it and show you the lovely singers. Clearly, I come from a radio background and my show reflects that. It’s probably a little less ragged than most podcasts but that’s me, so what the hell?

This week is one where I take center stage. I discuss the craziness of doing sports talk radio, introduce you to some real whack jobs, and play a sample of me calling Mariners play-by-play. In upcoming episodes I talk about Hollywood feuds, and do a commentary track for a FRASIER episode I directed. More surprises, contests, snarky reviews, giveaways and ways to interact with you guys is also on the way… along with the aforementioned interviews.

Thanks again for listening. And if you’re not, how come??? HOLLYWOOD AND LEVINE. You can click on the big gold arrow under the masthead or find it on iTunes and most podcast apps and servers. I’m still trying to build an audience so anyone you could recommend it to would be greatly appreciated… as would be a five-star review (which I’m told is important but never told why).

As you can see, I’m very passionate about this podcast. It’s great fun to do, and I hope that comes through over your ear buds. I’ll keep trying to improve it. You keep listening. And of course, if you want to get in touch with me for whatever reason, my email is

HollywoodLevine@outlook.com.

Does anybody have an email address for the Pope?

25 comments :

Jeff Alexander said...

All I can say about your podcast is this:

Thumbs up! (tried to paste the emoji, but I couldn't figure out how.)

Arlen Peters said...

I have had the joy and privilege of sitting with Ken as a guest on his podcast (episodes 48 & 49 - Dishing Dirt on Celebrities). An hour flew by as if it were a few minutes ... just two guys sitting and telling stories ... and as someone who has done hundreds of interviews over the years, I can say, without hesitation, that Ken is VERY good at it. Very easy. Knowledgeable. A good listener (which is so important) ... does his homework ... and he's INTERESTED!
As far as the sound of the podcast, you can tell Ken comes from a radio background (as do I--CBS Radio here). A professional jingle package and announcer woven through each podcast? So refreshing! But Ken is a pro and I wouldn't expect anything less from him!
If you haven't heard any of his podcasts, take some time and listen. You'll be entertained, amused, educated ... and have a smile on your face! Who could ask for more in our world today!

Karan G. said...

I enjoy your podcasts and appreciate that you try to keep them fresh and I recommend them highly. The best interviews I’ve ever seen are done through very well crafted questions (I believe well crafted questions are the genius of people like Dan Rather, who gently, yet precisely steer the interview), ferreting out the brilliance of the guest. We can check Wikipedia to see their resume. We want to know who they are as a person, their thought process and struggles. Your solo podcasts are good, because you approach the show with your own very interesting point of view. The likability of the guest is kind of irrelevant to me, I can interview my neighbor to get that. Those who have a very unique and interesting profession should have a very interesting story to tell. The mission is to extract the genius from the person, yet respect their boundaries. As a great writer, you know that a HUGE key to a TV show is the writing, and I contend that the same thing holds true in an interview. Your skillful crafting of questions shall serve you well.

E. Yarber said...

If the blog posts are your equivalent to a daily comic strip, the podcast is your Sunday page, where you have the space to really get into a topic with much more detail.

iain said...

Thank you very much for the podcasts, which I've enjoyed immensely. Looking forward to the Marc Evanier episode. I don't think the Pope Francis has email, but you can always tweet at him @Pontifex. If you do manage to schedule him, please ask when the Indians are going to start hitting.

Anonymous said...

Potentially dumb question about your podcast, which I like quite a bit. Your radio background is evident and makes the listening much better than the standard hemming and hawing most of us would do. Anyway...as a segment ends you say you'll be right back with... or something like that. Why? There is no pause or commercial where you go away. I'm assuming you don't "record" it all in one take and it's to let you know to find the next section, but why do you keep it in when there's no break in it. Told you it was a potentially dumb question.
-MW

Cliff said...

Really enjoyed the baseball themed podcast today. Mariner baseball without you and Dave just isn't the same. I mean it's not like the M's are contending for the series every year, so good entertainment from the booth is so welcome.
Cliff

Roseann said...

No email address for the Pope but he is on Twitter: @Pontifex
Let me know if he answers you.

Roger Owen Green said...

I love Jean Shepherd

Diane Beason said...

Ken, I LOVE your podcast. I like the variety of shows you do - guests and no-guest shows, the stories about shows you've done, your snarky bits about the award shows... Keep 'em coming!

Dhruv said...

I love your podcasts!

One way to bring in reader's participation to your podcast would be to let them know who your guest would be. Then readers can ask a few questions in the comments section, which you can subsequently ask the guests along with your own questions. Just a suggestion....

I would have loved to ask a few questions to David Goodman about 'Family Guy'.

MikeM said...

Ken

I have enjoyed the podcast very much-it's just as entertaining as the blog to me. Your blog is one of the few I check in with every week.

A question for you-why hasn't there been a great TV Show about a sports team? There has not been a great, long running show about a team. The only ones I can come up with is "The White Shadow" and "Friday Night Lights" and they were more about high school

Another question for you-what did you think of "Brockmire"?

Mike Miller

Lance Ballance said...

Ken,

LOVE the podcast, I'm now a subscriber...

You make a valuable point. To me, a podcast should never sound like "Bobby & Zippy In the Morning". If someone is trying doing a podcast and attempting to sound like a typical radio show, then they need to go get hired somewhere and actually make $$ at it. Whereas, most of those types of podcasts are from the types of people who could never get hired in radio to begin with, or try to emulate a Howard Stern or Adam Carolla. If a podcaster can't do a program without trying to sound like someone else...thy really need to rethink it, or risk winding up in the weeds with everyone else.

It does, however, go back to that most ancient of radio principles: be brief, be compelling, be finished. If your weekly podcast is 2 hours long, there is no way you can hold someone's attention for that length of time. Mine usually go 15-20 minutes, tops.

Love your blog, love your podcast!

Dr Loser said...

Ken: maybe a Friday question for you. Have you considered flipping the podcast to have one of the regulars here (VP, D.J, E. Yarber, I don't want to pick favourites) as the "host" and you + your chosen guests as the people answering questions?

But for now, darn, one on a baseball team. If you can call the Mariners that. You force me to listen against my will ...

Andy Rose said...

I really appreciate the way you get to the point on your podcast. On so many podcasts and YouTube videos, people do meandering introductions about their topic. Hello... we've already READ the topic before we even clicked on it. And those people who listen automatically because they are subscribed and didn't see the topic... well, they already like your show. You don't have to "hook" them with an elaborate intro.

As for the photo: You use a sock AND a screen? At least your mic will never get pregnant.

Dhruv said...

My favorite podcast as I have stated was about Hollywood Lunch :)

Among other podcasts, many I don't get since I don't know about baseball and many of the shows that is being talked about.

Other interesting ones are interviews with Arlen Peters, David Goodman, Phoef Sutton, Oscar announcer (sorry forgot name :)) and the most popular one being Oscar review.

I am yet to listen to Phoef Sutton's part 2, Kevin Smith both parts.

Has there been a podcast with your partner David Isaacs?

Would be great if Tom Hanks or Larry David were guests sometime.

Each day when I open the blog and see the new podcasts and blogs, it always amazes me to think what drives you to do this. On YouTube, subscription, views earns the entertainers some money. But here - no ads, nothing that benefits you.... What drives you!!?? :)

Filippo said...

I like it when you talk about writing, directing, creating a pilot, being funny etc.
This means that when thereʼs a guest, I donʼt care about the fact that itʼs a guest episode per se. I care if he or she is a writer or a director or an actor or a comedian who gives insight on his or her art.
Iʼm a guy who thinks that Chechovʼs writing suggestions are useful. So Iʼm always on the lookout for anyone who tries first of all to find and learn, then to teach and convey a method, really for the sake of giving and sharing, putting ego and jealousy aside.

I donʼt care much for the gossip or anecdote episodes. I like anecdotes when they are: “The making of” kind of anecdotes.

Anyway, this is just a big: “What I believe I think” kind of speech.
Actually, listening to your podcasts I learnt things I didnʼt think I would.
Like when I learned that Courtney Cox was the worst of Friendsʼ actors because she didnʼt find her own comedic character. I still think she did her job and did great acting, but yeah, unlike the others she didnʼt create a comedic character adding her own thing to what was written for her. She just delivered.

VP81955 said...

I would be honored to take part in something such as that, especially since Ken works or has worked in three fields that have long fascinated me and considered as occupations (comedy writing, baseball broadcasting, Top 40 radio). But, as Johnny Mathis once sang, it's not for me to say.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Ken, I've stated this before and I must stress that I'm not trying to be funny, The main reason I don't listen to the podcast is because I don't have a computer. All I have is a smartphone and no Wi-Fi. So a single show would eat up all my data. But, don't feel bad or insulted. I've NEVER listened to ANY podcast. Part of that is because of the afore mentioned technology gap. And part of it is "sour grapes." Quite honestly I'm envious and resentful of the success of some people who were once peers. (However, some of my former colleagues have earned and deserve their success. I have no problem with them.) Ironically, back in the OLD DAYS, I would have had a friend record the cast for me. But, cassettes predate podcasts and fewer and fewer people listen to CD's any more. That's an idea. If you had selected episodes on CD I'd buy one or more.
M.B.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Growing up in LA, when did you listen to Jean Shepherd? Were his shows available locally, or was WOR one of those stations you could hear all over? I listened to Shep in NJ, but late at night I could get the Orioles game out of Baltimore and sometimes a Chicago station.

God, I miss AM radio.

Brian said...

Looking forward to the Frasier commentary. I very much enjoyed the Cheers one.

Diane D. said...

I can’t believe no one on this baseball loving blog has mentioned Vin Scully’s amazing broadcast yesterday about the 2020 All Star Game being in LA. It was so beautiful. If you missed it go to YouTube!

Ken
I happened to hear it because I listened to you call part of a game on your Podcast, and I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to see how you compared to Vin Scully——uh, wouldn’t you know I would hear him give probably the most beautiful and moving tribute he’s ever given! Ha! You still sounded great, however.

PJ said...

I am so excited about the Frasier commentary. I still watch that show almost every night!

VincentS said...

I love your podcasts, Ken and I recommend it all the time to people as well as your blog. Thanks and keep up the good work!

Brian said...

How about a podcast about directing?