We’re back! In this week’s episode we explain why we didn’t publish a new episode last week and what you can learn from our mistake, then we discuss a listener question that leads to an important epiphany from Jonny.
The question we tackle is whether or not it’s okay to alternate between monologues and interviews in the same podcast feed. We provide some reasons why this is a good idea, as well as some reasons why it’s not a good idea.
Then, most importantly, we provide three questions you should answer to determine if it’s a good idea for you, your show, and your audience. Because ultimately, that’s all that matters, and the context of your show will decide whether or not it’s the right choice for you.
Listen, learn, enjoy …
The Show Notes
- Audible is Offering a Free Audiobook Download with a 30-day Trial: Grab Your Free Audiobook Here – audibletrial.com/rainmaker
- Follow Jerod on Twitter: @jerodmorris
- Follow Jonny on Twitter: @jonnastor
- Showrunner FM
Is It Okay to Alternate Between Monologues and Interviews?
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Welcome to The Showrunner, where we have one goal: teach you how to develop, launch, and run and remarkable show. Ready?
Welcome to The Showrunner, the podcast for people dedicated to creating remarkable audio experiences for their audience. This is episode number 79. I’m your host, Jerod Morris, VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. I will be joined momentarily, as I always am, by my audiobook-listening co-host, Jonny Nastor, the host of Hack the Entrepreneur.
Speaking of audiobooks, this episode is brought to you by Audible. More on them later. If you love audiobooks or have always wanted to give them a try, you can check out over 180,000 titles right now at AudibleTrial.com/Rainmaker.
Jonny, welcome to this episode of The Showrunner. The second time that we are recording this episode of The Showrunner. I suppose we should begin by explaining to folks why we are recording this for a second time and why there was no new episode of The Showrunner in their feeds last week.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, as you were doing the intro I was like, “Are we going to discuss this now, or are we not? Are we just going to pretend that this didn’t happen? And maybe as the secret thing on the outro …” But here we are.
Jerod Morris: We have to. I think showing people the warts and showing people our mistakes has been something that we’ve done since we started this show. It wouldn’t be true to what The Showrunner is if we didn’t do that this episode. I have to take full responsibility for this, for the reason why there wasn’t an episode for you last week. It’s because I went against something that I always do. Before we jump in to this week’s topic, I do want to explain this, because I think there’s an important lesson to be learned.
We recorded this episode like we always do. The way that we do this, Jon, is you and I alternate who submits the episode to Toby and to our editing team. Last week it was my turn, and in the rush to get everything ready for Thanksgiving week, I didn’t submit this episode. I thought that I had. It’s one of those weird things. I thought I did, but I didn’t. I was cleaning out my folder of recordings to clear room on my hard drive, and I deleted this recording. I hadn’t done what I almost always do, which is the moment we get done recording, I upload it to Dropbox. It’s always right there.
I thought twice. I was like, “Okay, you don’t need any of these recordings, do you?” I was like, “No. No. No,” and I deleted them. Of course, come to find out, we don’t have an episode in there. We went and looked on Dropbox, didn’t find it, and we came to the realization that we were going to have to record this again.
We explain this, again, to stay true to what we do here on The Showrunner. But also to reinforce the lesson that when you are recording an interview — or anything, really — as soon as you’re done, upload it to Dropbox or duplicate it. Back it up somewhere so that just in case the worst case scenario happens and you delete one recording, you’re not totally out of luck needing to rerecord as we are right now because you have one saved. It is an important best practice to follow. I didn’t follow it, and this was the result.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. Also because we’ve been changing up our process a bit. We went from Zencastr, then sometimes we do Skype and then Zencastr, and now we’re on Skype. In Skype, we have to hit Call Recorder. I just hit Call Recorder a minute and 21 seconds ago. I missed the intro to this one too. I take just as much blame. You messaged me yesterday on Slack and you’re like, “I deleted it. Do you have the file?” Typically, I record it. Last week, we’re a minute into it and I realized I hadn’t started, so I was just, “Oh, whatever. I don’t need to. Jerod’s got it.” I didn’t have a recording either. It’s just as much my fault.
Jerod Morris: That’s the thing. When you don’t have a backup, you leave yourself open to this kind of thing. It’s not going to bite you probably 98 percent of the time, but that 2 percent of the time you’re always happy that you have a backup. Either have your guest or your co-host record the backup, or, even better, upload it and back it up as soon as you’re done with it so that you’ve always got it in a second place.
That’s our big lesson. If you stop listening to this episode and that’s all you take, it will be a very valuable lesson. We do apologize for there not being a new episode last week. Now we look forward to making it up to you with a good valuable useful lesson this week. Although now, Jonny, we have to do the dreaded try-to-recreate-the-magic of a recording that we’ve already done, doing it the second time.
Jonny Nastor: That’s hard.
Jerod Morris: In some ways it can be better, because hopefully you’ve gone through the material and now you’re a little better at it. In other ways it can be difficult, because maybe the spontaneous good stuff that you had in the original recording isn’t there. We’ll see what we do here on this one.
Jonny Nastor: Since I want you to keep listening out there, I’m going to say that it’s going to be better this time.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. No one has anything to compare it to, because obviously that recording is lost forever.
Jonny Nastor: Forever. Gone. Deleted.
Jerod Morris: This is going to be way better than the original. We guarantee it. You’re ready to jump in?
Jonny Nastor: Let’s do it.
Jerod Morris: We are continuing our process here of going down our Trello board and attacking some of these topics that have been suggested to us in questions by Showrunner listeners. This is another one. Someone asked us, “Is it okay to alternate monologues and interviews in the same podcast feed?”
We’re going to talk about that. Some of the positives, some of the negatives, and then give you some guidance. In particular, a few questions to ask yourself that will help you decide whether you should or should not do this.
Reasons Why You Might Vary Format in a Feed
Jerod Morris: Before we get to the drawbacks — because there are some drawbacks to doing this — let’s talk about some reasons why you might do this, Jonny. I think a few of them that jump out to me are to help you ease the scheduling load, obviously. Let’s say that you do an interview show and you decide to do a monologue. You only have to schedule with yourself. You don’t have to juggle anybody else’s schedule. That can help you ease that scheduling load.
You may genuinely have a lot to say. If you’re doing an interview show about a topic you’re really passionate about and experienced in, you may have things to say and you don’t want to overwhelm your show while there’s a guest on. So you do a monologue that helps you get out some of the important points that you want to make.
It also is a way to provide variety for your audience. While some people love the consistency of interview after interview after interview, a monologue can provide some variety, which — when done well — can be a nice way to keep things fresh. It can also be a way to test out some ideas if you have some new ideas that you want to put out there. What other ways? How do you want to expound on some of those positives or reasons why someone might want to alternate monologues and interviews in the same feed?
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. I would add audience engagement. I’ve doing this — I haven’t been doing monologues, but I’ve changed the format of my show three or four times now with “going deep” episodes where I don’t cover any of the same questions. I have a guest back on the show and we go into something deep that they’re an expert in.
I’ve been using it to engage my audience and ask them for their feedback. Ask them for other subjects they’d like covered. If they like it, if they don’t. If they think there should be a hack in it. Anything to get people going. It’s just changing the pattern of the normal interview and getting people to reach out to me via email or Twitter, or whatever that happens to be, and get that conversation going. I’ve found it really good for that.
I don’t want, or I’m not expecting any … I guess I’m taking a scientific approach. Rather than pushing it and hoping that it will be something that everybody wants, I’m using it to explore an idea. I’m completely open to the idea that that might actually take over my show. I can’t imagine it doing that, but I would be totally open to that if it’s better for my audience. I’m using it to reengage them now that I have more people listening, and see where other people think the show could go or should go.
Jerod Morris: I want to direct people to your feed, to Hack the Entrepreneur. What you do is you have a very specific titling format for your episodes, and you switch that up when you have these going deep episodes. You put in brackets “going deep.” I think it’s in all caps too. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.
The Drawbacks to Alternating Format in Your Feed
Jerod Morris: What’s important there is it helps your audience know what to expect. As we start to transition into the drawbacks of doing this, the biggest drawback that I see is that your audience doesn’t know what to expect from you from episode to episode if you start alternating interviews and monologues. I think you need to be clear. When your audience member is making the decision whether to listen or not, whether to invest their valuable time in your episode, you want to make it clear what they are about to listen to. Maybe they really want the interview and they don’t necessarily like your monologues. You want them to know that. Obviously, you want them to listen to everything, but you want your audience to be able to make that choice.
If you look at Jonny’s feed for Hack the Entrepreneur, it’s very clear which episodes are going deep. It’s clear from the headline that this is different. I’ll direct your attention to our feed at The Assembly Call as well. Obviously that show is based on a post-game show, and you can see the normal titling format for a post-game show episode and how that changes when we have the podcast version of our radio show, or a special mid-week edition episode.
It allows for your audience to know exactly what’s coming in that particular episode. I think doing that helps you to avoid one of those drawbacks, which is that your audience won’t know what to expect from you. A couple of other drawbacks, and then, Jonny, I want to get your thoughts. If you alternate, you may not be focusing on what your show is best at. If you are great at interviews, but you struggle with monologues, then every time you do a monologue means that that is a piece of content that isn’t as good as it could be because you’re not doing an interview.
You may say, “I need to do some more monologues to get better at it.” That may well be true, but let’s always look at this from the audience perspective. If you’re not focusing where your show is best, are you truly giving your audience the best experience? You can also struggle to get into a rhythm if you’re constantly alternating, especially if you’re alternating how and when you’re recording.
You may not quite get into the rhythm as an interviewer that you want to, or the rhythm of doing a monologue as you want to. If you feel that happening, that’s another drawback to doing this that you want to be aware of before it has any negative impacts on your show. What other drawbacks, Jonny, do you see from doing this?
Jonny Nastor: I think that’s the biggest one, that idea of half-assing it. We talked about this in the previous episode, “Should You Start a Podcast,” that please, please, please Ryan Holiday thing. When he talked to Jordan Harbinger from Art of Charm, Jordan said he didn’t get good at interviewing until he was at episode 250, which is a lot of interviews.
I really don’t think that you should start and choose both. I think you should work on mastery — if you want to call that — of the one medium, or the one way you want to do it. I think that it’s so much work to get good at monologues, and it’s so much work to get good at interviews. People will spend their whole lives trying to master interviewing, or speaking in a really … You know what I mean?
To start splitting them too soon … I think that oftentimes we do it because we’re bored, or we feel like we’re in a rut or something. To me, that’s not the rut, it’s the dip. You’ve got to push through that, that’s where mastery comes from. That’s where you start to figure out ways to do what it is you’re doing in a better way so that you get out of this “rut,” rather than, “I’m just going to do something else too.” Because then that part suffers and it stays in the rut, but you feel like you’re not in a rut, because now you’re also doing something half-assed. It doesn’t benefit the audience or yourself as much trying to get better at either one of these skills.
Give Yourself at Least 100 Episodes to Get Comfortable First
Jonny Nastor: I really want to make sure that you focus on it for the right reasons. I would even say 100 episodes. You’ve gone through with us. You’ve learned how to pick the proper format for your audience. Trust that gut. Trust that instinct and stick to it. Know that those dips are just those dips and those are part of getting good. Those are part of becoming a showrunner. Those aren’t things that you should try and veer away from too quickly. Those are things you should plow through. I honestly believe that.
And it’s hard, yes, but that’s where … I’m approaching episode 300. I’ve done three other shows in 300, and they started 30 episodes ago or something. Trust me, there has been what I thought was huge ruts, but when I push through them and just try and do what I’m doing, but better, that’s when my audience really responds and grows from there. It will do the same for you, just focus on just that whole mastery thing.
I’m probably biased because of the fact that I so want to stick to one thing and I so don’t believe that I’m good at interviewing yet. I have so much room to go. I know I’ve gotten almost infinitely better. Well, I am, because I’d never even interviewed when I started. It was my very first interview ever. But 300 in I’m starting to get more comfortable with it. I feel better about it, but I’m nowhere near a professional interviewer. I love that this huge long road is ahead of me, and the more episodes I can do like that, the better I feel like I’m pushing that direction.
I want to push people to really do that if they can. But I think if you hit 100 episodes and you still want to start doing other stuff — like Art of Charm does a mini-Monday episode, they do a Fan Mail Friday. They’re at 570 episodes of the regular one. I think with the mini-episodes, they’re approaching almost 50. Fan Mail — they’re approaching almost 100. They’re talking a ton of shows. They didn’t start this stuff right at the beginning. I guess it’s that self-awareness. Knowing what you’re trying to get around, rather than just trying to start a new format.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. Great point, Jonny. Really great point. You mentioned Art of Charm. The other that they do well — we’ll direct you to their feed as well — is, as you said, they have Minisode Monday, and then they do interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then they have Fan Mail Friday. It is clear from the headlines what it is, and that’s so important for doing this right. If you want to have different formats within the same feed, make it clear to the audience what it is so there’s never any guesswork for what they’re going to listen to.
When folks have 50 different feeds that they’re subscribed to and a bunch of new episodes everyday to look at, if there is uncertainty they’re just going to move on and consider the next one to listen to. You don’t want that uncertainty. It’s so important that if you do decide to do this that you are consistent with your titling and use that to set audience expectations.
Let’s go back to the original question to begin this episode. “Is it okay to alternate monologues and interviews?” I think Jonny just gave you a great way to think about this. I think it is great advice to stick with one for a while and get good at it. Once you are at that point, then is it okay to do this? We have a few questions that you should ask yourself to know if it is, and we’re going to get to those here in just one second.
First, we do want to let you know that this episode of the Showrunner is brought to you by Audible. Offering over 180,000 audiobook titles to choose from, Audible seamlessly delivers the worlds of both fiction and non-fiction to your iPhone, Android, Kindle, or computer. For Showrunner listeners, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free, 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check them out. To get started right now, visit AudibleTrial.com/Rainmaker.
If you want a recommendation — Jonny, we promoted you up at the beginning of this episode as audiobook listener. I believe you were telling me last week that you use audiobooks when you’re on long trips.
Jonny Nastor: Yes. Road trips. When we go on road trips as a family, I take that time to force my daughter to listen to books that I would like to sway her thinking on something without listening to me just rant about it, because we all know how that works when your dad does that.
The last one we did was Growth Mindset. Is that what it’s called? Growth … No. What’s that book called?
Jerod Morris: By Carol Dweck?
Jonny Nastor: Carol Dweck.
Jerod Morris: Yeah.
Jonny Nastor: Growth Mindset?
Jerod Morris: That’s the big idea. Yeah. Grit. Was it Grit?
Jonny Nastor: No.
Jerod Morris: I don’t remember.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, I can’t remember either. It’s her classic book about …
Jerod Morris: Search for Carol Dweck and you’ll find it.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah, it’s about getting the mindset that you can do anything if you think about it that way, that you can grow into it. I think it might be just called Growth.
Jerod Morris: Maybe it is. Mindset. She has a book called Mindset.
Jonny Nastor: That’s what it is.
Jerod Morris: Yeah. Mindset. Teaching a Growth Mindset. There you go.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. Totally. It was long. It was read by her. It actually came out, I believe, quite a bit before Audible. You can tell it was off a CD or something. We listened to it and it was excellent. And because it wasn’t me, it was this nice Carol Dweck lady speaking, my daughter listened to it and got some really cool points. Argued with her a couple of times — which is always good — while we were listening. Yeah, I love them for road trips. They’re good. We’ve listened to novels as well, too, which are also really exciting.
Jerod Morris: Very nice. To liven up road trips or to brainwash your children, download your free audiobook today. Go to AudibleTrial.com/Rainmaker. Again, that’s AudibleTrial.com/Rainmaker.
Three Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Offering Multiple Formats
Jerod Morris: All right, Jonny. Let’s help people answer this question. Is it okay to alternate monologues and interviews? Here are three questions that you should ask yourself if you’re trying to decide if you’re going to do this. Number one: are you substantially better at one format over the other? This gets back to one of the potential drawbacks of doing this, because if you are substantially better at one format over the other, then focus. This is especially true in the beginning. As Jonny just told you, you probably want to go at least 100 episodes one way anyway before you even consider doing this.
If you are substantially better, focus and maybe practice — and do it elsewhere. If you have built an audience and you’re 100 episodes in, you may not want to practice with your audience. You may want to get better before you introduce that to them. That’s one. Are you substantially better at one format over the other?
The second question is, can you actually deliver additional value to your audience by alternating formats, or are you simply doing it because you want to? We talked earlier about maybe you’re in a rut with interviews so you’re thinking, “Okay. Let me do a monologue to break out of this rut.” Again, if you’re not good at monologues, then you’re not going to be giving your audience something better.
Maybe, in that case, try something else to break out of your interview rut. Maybe adding a new question, or subtly shifting your interview format — something to keep that interesting. But do it in a way that is going to deliver additional value to your audience, not simply because you want to. Always empathize with your audience and use that to inform your decision, as supposed to what feels to good to you in the moment.
Then third is, can you be consistent? If you’re going to do this — especially over the long term — can you be consistent in scheduling, in formatting, in titling, so that you keep your audience oriented and knowing what to expect. It doesn’t mean that if you’re going to do this you have to do it every other week, or you have to do it every third episode of the month. You can put them in where they fit. But at least be consistent with formatting and with titling so that your audience knows what to expect. If you can’t at least make that commitment then I wouldn’t do this.
That question to me is the most fundamental. The other questions are obviously going to lead you to the answer too. Those are the three questions. Are you substantially better at one format over the other? Can you actually deliver additional value to your audience by alternating formats, or are you simply doing it because you want to? Can you be consistent so that you keep your audience oriented and knowing what to expect?
Answer those three questions and those will lead you in the right direction for, is it okay for you with your show to alternate monologues and interviews. That’s the last point that is important to make here, is the answer to that question is all dependent on the context. Is it okay to alternate monologues and interviews? That’s a question you’re going to have to answer for your show.
I think we’ve shown you that there are positives to it. There are some negatives to it. Whether it’s the right answer for you depends on you and your audience and the context of your show. Those three questions will help lead you in the right direction.
Jonny Nastor: I just had a breakthrough.
Jerod Morris: Oh, Whoa. Okay. Live on the air.
Jonny Nastor: I’ve realized why I’ve done 300 episodes of straight interviews. I wonder if I did this subconsciously or if this just worked out this way? I get to do a monologue every single show at the hack. I literally do a one to five minute monologue every single episode after an interview. I only did that to keep the radio style and keep people hooked all the way through to see if they could disagree or argue with me at the end. To get and summarize the whole thing.
That’s strictly, 100 percent, a monologue at the end, so I get to do both every single episode, 300 episodes. Which has possibly kept me satisfied, which is maybe why I haven’t been able to empathize as well with other showrunners when they get this urge to start doing monologues. I’m just like, “Man, I’m at episode 300 and I haven’t had that urge yet so why do you have at episode 30?” Maybe because I’ve actually outsmarted myself and put the monologue in. I didn’t put it in the beginning as a weird intro, because I want to get right to the chase. Give people the meat. But then at the end, you can not listen if you don’t want to, but I’m going to have my monologue after the hack.
Jerod Morris: Is it okay to alternate monologues and interviews? Yes, but it’s better to do both.
Jonny Nastor: At least, for me. Wow, that’s just a breakthrough.
Jerod Morris: All right. You’ve now made feel a lot better about the first version of this getting deleted, because we did not have that big discovery.
Jonny Nastor: We didn’t have that breakthrough at all.
Jerod Morris: No. There’s a reason why this happened.
Jonny Nastor: Yeah. If you’re in the stage of figuring out your format, maybe think about this way. If you’re the kind of person who likes to change things up, maybe try and encompass more than one format into your show. If you are really getting the urge at episode 30, or 50, or 80 — wherever you’re at — and you really want to incorporate monologues, maybe think of a way to put in a monologue, like a short one, into each show after or before the interview. You can copy my format if you want, really. That’s totally up to you, and I’m cool with it. It works for me, and I’m definitely a person who likes to do different things. It’s shocking, actually, that I’ve been able to get to 300 episodes, but this is exactly how. That’s it. I’m done. I got it.
Jerod Morris: It’s awesome.
Jonny Nastor: It’s cool.
Jerod Morris: That’s great.
Jonny Nastor: Tricked myself.
Jerod Morris: No. That’s fantastic. If you have been wrestling with this question and thinking about it, let us know what you decide. Tweet us @jerodmorris, @jonnastor. We always love hearing how you take this advice and apply it to your particular show. Tweet us, or even better yet, you can email us. The best way to do that is to subscribe to our Showrunner mailing list. You go to Showrunner.FM, join the Showrunner. You’ll get our weekly newsletter.
Even on weeks like last week when we don’t have a new episode, we still send out something useful. I sent everybody links to a couple of recent episodes of The Writer Files, where they interview the creator of Welcome To Night Vale, one of the great podcasting success stories. I hope everybody had a chance to listen to that. If not, go check out The Writer Files. You can go to Rainmaker.FM and find The Writer Files. Listen to those couple of episodes.
The best part about being on that email list is if you reply to an email we always reply back. There hasn’t been one email that anybody has sent us since we started this show that we haven’t replied back to personally. We love those opportunities to interact with you. Let us know how you answer this question. Let us know other great news that’s going on with your show. We love hearing that. Again, go to Showrunner.FM, join that list. It’s the best way to stay in touch with us.
Wow. All right, Jonny. I think that concludes … Oh, crap. I’m not recording.
Jonny Nastor: You’re totally joking.
Jerod Morris: I’m kidding. Just messing with you.
Jonny Nastor: Because the third time around I don’t think it will get better. I was about to say we should start doing two takes of every one, because this one was better.
Jerod Morris: Yes.
Jonny Nastor: A third, I think …
Jerod Morris: No. There’s no way. There’s no way we could have any enthusiasm if we did it a third time.
Jonny Nastor: We’ve got to be a little bit more professional than that.
Jerod Morris: No. I’m recording. We’re good. Now, I’ve got to hit … No, I’ve got to stop the recording and immediately upload to Dropbox, like I always do. I’m not going to forget that. That is the next step.
Jonny Nastor: I’ve made a folder.
Jerod Morris: Good. There’s already a folder. We’re going to upload this and everybody will get to hear this on December 7th.
Jonny Nastor: Awesome.
Jerod Morris: Beautiful. We’ll talk to you next week.
Jonny Nastor: Take care.