So it’s not just me writing “Dear Leo” letters
Related: I have essentially replaced the TWiT network with Dan Benjamin’s 5by5. I barely get to listen to half the shows I want, but Dan’s put together a great lineup with some killer co-hosts. There’s no pre-roll fluff and Dan’s sparse home-made sponsorship spots don’t need to get gonged off the stage.
I have a lot of admiration for what Leo Laporte has done with the “This Week in Tech” network—it’s professionally-produced and looks just as good as its inspiration, the original TechTV from years gone by. But Laporte’s willingness to exercise editorial control seems to be inversely related to how successful he’s gotten. Sure, the personalities on the show are important, but the fluff isn’t just in the pre-roll. The number of times during each show when I found myself wanting to scream “Shut up!” at a co-host blathering on over someone else who’s actually trying to stay on topic got to be greater than one per episode.
And indeed, I’m listening a lot more to 5by5 podcasts myself now. They all tend to be the same basic format: Dan Benjamin and a cohost who drives the show’s topics. Even when the shows are running upwards of 90 minutes they don’t seem like they’re spending half the time off in the weeds, and Benjamin does an excellent job of guiding conversation without coming across like he’s steering. (The only exception is “The Talk Show,” with Benjamin and Daring Fireball’s John Gruber—which is actually a lot of fun, as long as you’re up for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Pundits.”)
Yes. This. My own podcast addiction is almost entirely Benjamin-powered now.
Long Live 5by5!
MacBreak Weekly is the only Leo podcast I listened to, and every time I did I found it to be a mixture of 97% “appalling waste of time” and 3% “useful.”
I don’t listen to a Mac podcast sponsored by Audible.com to hear you talk for 20 sponsored by Audible.com minutes about the latest Audible.com book that you’ve listened sponsored by Audible.com to.
I don’t listen to a Mac podcast to hear about whatever new $40,000 camera Leo or Scott or Alex is using with a resolution so high nothing can actually play it back.
I really don’t listen to a Mac podcast to have it start with 2 minutes of pre-roll followed by 3 minutes of “who is with us today” followed by a tangent followed by a rathole followed by a “Well there isn’t much to talk about this week” followed by 90 minutes of “I guess we should talk about something since we’re all here.”
At some point it seemed like Leo got too busy to edit, and his goal was to create as many minutes worth of podcast material as possible, not as many good minutes as possible.
But what made me quit Leo’s podcasts forever was one very specific thing:
- His continual practice of cutting people off before they had a chance to finish their sentence/thought.
I suspect that Leo thinks this is part of what makes him Leo, and that it’s part of the “conversational style” of his shows. I find it aggravating and annoying, especially because most of the time he didn’t really seem to understand what the person was going to say, would interrupt them (thinking he knew what they were going to say) and then they’d never get back to what they were trying to say.
Mostly I listened to the episodes Merlin was on, so I don’t know if Leo did this to everyone, but here’s a fun game: listen to a MBW episode and take a drink every time Leo interrupts Merlin mid-sentence. Warning: Do not do that, you will die of alcohol poisoning. Sponsored by Audible.com.
On some episodes you can actually hear Merlin give up in frustration. And then Leo would wonder why Merlin wasn’t available as often as Leo wanted him to be there.
I dunno, Leo, why don’t you try showing your guests some respect?
(Now Merlin is making a weekly podcast with Dan, who is very respectful of his guests.)
Leo’s circle of podcast guests seems to be pretty narrow and getting smaller. Dan’s seems to be growing ever larger. That’s not a big mystery to me.
Anyway, RIP “Twit” network (unintentionally apt name, btw).
Remind me to kiss you on the mouth next time I see you, TJ.*
* Not redeemable for actual prize.**
** What? You’ve never heard of hyperbole?***
*** Sorry. I still don’t know how to use MultiMarkup so I can have more palatable footnotes.