Back when we were a young and rebellious whipper-snapper of a podcast, when we aspired to something bigger, something cooler, something more earth-shaking, we scripted a quick set of recording guidelines that were to be our backbone, our conscience, our moral blade that would slice through the bullshit that surrounded us with each session. We knew that, if we didn’t stick to some set of boundaries and guidelines, our certain fate would be recognized swiftly.
So, here are the definitive guidelines set forth in our earliest weeks as a podcast. For posterity, let them stand as the spine of success for future young podcasters. Obviously, it helped propel us to greatness in this otherwise wasted world of drivel and endless hours of audio boredom.
NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR SOUND QUALITY
The realities of being an amateur in this game are you’re gonna sound like shit. Until someone starts fronting cash for quality equipment, engineers, and a recording space other than your garage or kids’ playroom, you’re just gonna have to learn how to go through life with subpar sound quality. Those American Life guys do this for a living. You don’t. Apologizing for sound quality is basically like apologizing for being you and breaks down a necessary barrier between you and the audience. Act like nothing’s wrong and you meant it to sound that way. The confidence in your vocal performance will overcome the severest of sound quality issues.
MINIMIZE USE OF THE F-WORD
We will accept the use of colorful language, but the word “fuck” tends to really split the air and alienate the audience. It’s important to maintain composure and exhaust all other words before brandishing this bad boy. Friends will question you, family will disown you, and the producer will likely edit you anyway. Guests, however, will be permitted to use it with less conservatism. Guest privileges.
Under no circumstances should any ice be in the vicinity of a microphone. Don’t be an amateur. This also includes corn chips, Jolly Ranchers, and french kissing…Blake.
NEVER LAUGH. WE ARE NOT FUNNY.
Laughing is unprofessional and Richard Clark does not like it. You’re not that funny so, if something is said that you find remotely funny, think about something sad. Or something that pisses you off. Think about war. Dying animals. Sweat shops. Ted Nugent.
NEVER REFER TO THE AUDIENCE AS “THEM” OR “THEY”
Simple principle here. By sticking to the you-language, you keep the audience close to you. The second you refer to the audience as “them” or “they,” you put them on one side of the room and you on the other. Example of this is statements like: “They’re not listening anyway” or “Who cares about them.” As a general rule, avoid about being referential to the audience altogether, whether in a distant third-person or more intimate first-person. It just gets kinda weird. Take the approach of you’re performing and they’re witnessing…witnessing greatness.
DON’T BEEF DOWN
You’ll have your haters, your trolls, your biters. Don’t beef down. Only beef up. There’s nothing to be earned from taking out rodent with sniper fire. Instead, mercilessly and heroically kill elephants with your bloody bare knuckles.
SPEND NO MONEY WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL
I have to ensure my lovely wife that this costs the family absolutely no money. If you spend, it’s your ass not mine and be prepared to repent during the recording session.
BE RESPECTFUL TO GUESTS. DON’T INTERRUPT.
We will have some real douchebags on our show, but be respectful. I mean, there will be guests that you’ll be all, “What an ass,” and we just ask you deal with it. You’ll be like, “This guy is perhaps the biggest tool I’ve ever met and just listening to him makes me want to shoot myself in the head,” but just endure. You’ll be like, “I hate this person with an unmatched hate,” and we ask that you just bury it until the call has ended. We can then include it in the blooper reel.
NO RAMBLING AND NO DIATRIBES.
We don’t have all night. No one wants to hear your rants. Start your own damn podcast if you think your shit is so interesting, Blake.
CRITIQUE INTELLIGENTLY AND ADEQUATELY.
Keep it above the belt, but below the neck. We realize that the music might indeed suck, but you need to speak about the music with some identifiable level of intelligence and prose. Be professional in your approach and do not use words like “sucks” or “interesting” to describe the music. Use colorful language, be descriptive of rhythm, melody, tempo. Be prepared to critique and not just crack jokes and insult artists and their artistry. That’s another podcast somewhere else.
DON’T BE DRUNK
Not only is it unprofessional, it’s makes for disastrous recordings. We will not stoop to such low standards. If you have a problem, seek help. We will not be your romper room for your drunken antics. You are encouraged to drink if it helps liberate your mind from the inhibitions that make recording (or life in general) difficult, however, if you go far past that liberation to the point of stupor, you will be asked to remain quiet for the recording and, perhaps, not invited back for future recordings, Blake.
We know you’re bored out of your mind. We will do our best to speed up our recording sessions to limit the amount of downtime. The world of podcasting is not as exciting and luxurious as the finished product might often sound. Mute your mic for all sighing, coughing, bantering not related to the podcast. Sorry to bog you down with recording the best podcast in the history of the planet. You’ll live through it, Cray.
SMILE WHEN YOU SPEAK
Smiling when you speak comes through on the recording and the audience will be attracted to your perspectives. Be handsome with your voice. Don’t mumble like an idiot. Speak with your chin up and your hands at your side. Speak like you would to a hot woman you are courting. Wait, don’t do that. It’s somewhere between how you would read a lullaby and how you would address a drill sergeant. But smile.
HEADPHONES IN AT ALL TIMES
By keeping the headphones in at all times, you avoid additional voices on the call and it isolates your voice. When you’re headphones are not plugged in, we hear everything happening on your computer…emails being received, your security warnings, your ongoing chat with mail-order brides in Taiwan, Blake.