I Love Podcasting But It’s Eating My Life
Last summer I started a new job. There were some great things about it, for instance that it was endlessly interesting, offered something new every week, and allowed me to interact with people I’d long been following and admiring from afar.
The downsides were that it was full-time and paid a monthly salary of exactly U.S. $0. To be precise, it paid a salary of minus a couple hundred U.S. dollars, since there were some expenses to actually doing this job.
I know what you’re wondering. Did I become a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador? (Technically that job pays one dollar per year.) Did I become one of those volunteer ladies who gives tours at historical sites, in full period costume, and says “watch your head in the low doorways; people were shorter back then!”? No, but close. I started a podcast.
Saying you started a podcast in 2020 is like saying you tried ayahuasca in 2016 or joined Facebook in 2009. There is no appropriate response other than “duh, you Basic. Who didn’t?” The only thing that’s a bigger cliché than starting a podcast in 2020 is getting a puppy in 2020, which I also did.
In my defense, I’d been searching for a puppy since well before the pandemic hit and had been wanting to launch a podcast for as long as podcasts have been around. Before that, I aspired to host a talk radio show. Before that — decades before — I’m pretty sure there was a moment when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I (approximately age seven) said “a talk show host, like Dick Cavett.” Thank goodness someone took me aside and said, somberly, “get your head out of the clouds; you need to do something more practical, like become an essayist.”
But last year, in the fourth month of the pandemic, I launched The Unspeakable. Format-wise, the show is pretty simple; just me talking with interesting people about interesting subjects, usually subjects that have been denied their due complexity and therefore rendered, fairly or not, “taboo.” In keeping with the nuance theme I’ve come back to frequently over the last few years — stand by for coffee mugs that say “Nuanced AF” — I make a big point of only bringing in guests who are going to offer balanced…