Ep 89 – Minisode – Responding to a Listener on a Sunny Morning

Written by on July 10, 2014

Brother Jake responds to some feedback Infants on Thrones received from a Mr. Reed.

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  1. hetaira   On   July 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    A perfect poetic reply to prosaic “helpful” advice. Um, was there chiasmus in there? And like, wtf is chiasmus again?

  2. Heather_ME   On   July 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Soooo…. to abuse another current day colloquialism, just let me say…. this was EPIC.
    1. Why do people maintain radio silence except when they want to criticize? On my podcast, I’ve noticed that people who have NEVER commented on a single episode before will come out of the woodwork to freely bitch about something they disliked on the most recent installment. Then, once they express their outrage, they disappear into the ether… never to comment again. (Perhaps that’s a sign they’ve stopped listening, I don’t know.) It’s one thing to get gentle feedback from someone who regularly engages in conversations with us or leaves us good feedback at other times, etc. But drive-by complaints really confuse me. Is it human nature? Something about the internet? Why are we so quick with our complaints and so slow with our compliments?
    2. Lately I’ve been doing casual calculations about the amount of time I edit out of a typical episode. It’s between 20% and 30% of the recording, depending on whether or not there were audio difficulties during the call. I have edited out HOURS of: “and things like that”, ums, likes, “you know what I mean”, “I’m sitting here”… as well as false starts, stuttering, pops, clicks, audio glitches, etc etc. I’m actually sort of anal about it. As I’m in the middle of all this editing of extraneous audio, I think to myself it DOES make the episode sound better… more professional. I also find I’m a little critical of other the editing on other people’s podcasts. I have often thought to myself, “Man, why didn’t they edit that out???” Especially dead air…. two, three, four seconds of dead air bugs me. But, lately I’ve listened to a couple of my own episodes over again and thought, “Damn, this sounds over edited. The conversation seems stilted and people don’t sound natural.” I’m starting to think I need to lighten up and stop editing out every imperfection in exchange for a conversation that sounds more natural and casual.
    3. I often find myself reminding people who leave complaints that my podcast is a garage band… not the Stones. It’s something I do for fun, for zero monetary compensation, in my free time. I don’t have the time or the resources to make things sound like it’s put out by NPR. Professionals have 40 hours a week and a large staff of editors, producers, and writers. THAT is why This American Life or RadioLab sounds so damned amazing. I’m sitting in my bedroom with: a $150 set up, a free-source audio editing program, and a 5 year old computer. My “staff” consists of a couple other people who also do this for zero compensation in their free time using their limited resources.
    I find I’m often conflicted about responding to listener complaints. I mean, I want them to keep listening, right? And I want to maintain the facade that I’m a nice person who is easy to get along with. But, on the other hand, I sometimes find myself thinking, “Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea how much time I spent working on that… just to have you turn around to bitch at me about it when you downloaded it FOR FREE? Take a hike!” But then I get off my broom and try to be civil. I’m not always successful. I had an exchange with a listener on an episode a while back that I’m not proud of and still cringe about. Perhaps if I were as clever and witty as Brother Jake, I’d be tickled by that interaction the way I’m tickled by this one. :^)

    • Glenn   On   July 12, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      If the guy hadn’t specifically come after Erica, I don’t think we would have responded at all. And we debated amongst ourselves whether to make this into a minisode or not. But Jake’s poem was just so damn good (and so incredibly effortless) and his reading of it and music choices just put it over the top. Plus, how cool was it of Erica to read that email from “Mr. Reed”??? I’m glad people have been able to enjoy it.

    • Brother Jake   On   July 12, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed this one! Your comment definitely resonated with me. I have the same tendency to scrub out dead air or people stumbling over their words from the raw recording, but I always feel like it warps the rhythm of the conversation. It just doesn’t feel as alive to me after I’ve performed audio surgery on it. However, it’s an impulse that I find hard to ignore. I’m not really sure where the balance is, but I haven’t found it yet.
      I also find it difficult to manage listener expectations for the podcast. It’s an odd little tightrope I find myself walking between letting this be a hobby for me and accommodating listener feedback/criticism/suggestions. And like Glenn said, normally we wouldn’t respond to this type of thing with a podcast, but the combination of the email’s tone, the fact that he singled people out, and the way he seemed to fundamentally misunderstand the casual, fun atmosphere we try to create on the podcast made it…irresistible.

  3. Johnno   On   July 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Love your podcasts, they make my regular long driving trips so much more bearable, thanks so much. But a little shocked today with this minisode. “Mr Reed”‘s feedback didn’t sound too bad (sounds like an old dude), just sharing his two bit opinion, but your response seemed very uncharacteristic – unduly caustic and personal. An over reaction? You’re witty, funny and often self-effacing, and NICE company – that’s what I like about IoT. Cheers

    • Bob Caswell   On   July 14, 2014 at 12:39 am

      Thanks for the feedback, Johnno. If it’s any consolation, we did struggle a bit behind the scenes with how to approach this. We didn’t all agree that it was worth the attention. But ultimately we like doing things that are fun and entertaining and that’s why it was eventually released in this format.
      But I totally get how it might not work for everyone (and have the opposite effect of leaving a bad taste in the mouth). If that’s how it landed for you, hopefully it’s just a five minute blip on the radar from otherwise good company. Thanks again.

      • Johnno   On   July 26, 2014 at 5:38 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Bob. It really hasn’t left a bad taste, I guess I was more surprised than anything (I hadn’t heard any of your other stuff quite like it) but with the extra background from yourself and Randy, I can empathize with your reasoning. The poem was, of course, very clever. Cheers!

    • Randy_Snyder   On   July 14, 2014 at 1:21 am

      Johnno, I was strongly against a response behind the scenes as I felt it would make us look insecure as well as give too much attention to Mr Reed’s feedback. But then Jake produced this Robert Frost style poem in response in what seemed like an hour. Remember, it was his wife Erica whom Mr Reed singled out very scathingly, regardless of how articulately pseudo-respectful he crafted it. And I hope you noticed it was Erica who read his email. And you didn’t find the passive aggressive cheap shot of saying “I was surprised that one of your panelists…said he is an attorney.” Re: I would expect a real attorney to be actually articulate.
      In the end, Jake’s poem was too good to be denied to me and I relented on my original position. Like Bob said, it’s only a 5 min episode so I hope it doesn’t sour you on our “company”. But I wanted to give you a sharper image of why this episode happened.

      • Vic Ferrari   On   July 24, 2014 at 11:59 am

        “articulately pseudo-respectful” … I think the term you’re looking for here is “Mormon passive aggressive”.

      • Johnno   On   July 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

        Randy, thanks for taking the time and giving a bit of extra context! keep up the fine work.

  4. BigBadPanda   On   July 15, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Yeah, fuck that uppity old polite guy for sharing constructive criticism. How dare he challenge your, like, perfect podcastinationisms. Keep your polite, well meaning input to yourself!

  5. Marc Lewis   On   July 16, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    You’ve proven again just how tasteful and oh so deserving your cunning wit can stifle the inferior man’s reasoning. Now please impart medical counsel on how to resolve the abdominal pain induced by side-splitting laughter. At least give us warning next time of such impending brilliant humor. Cheers!

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