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Opinion: Marc Maron’s interview with President Obama gave podcasting much more legitimacy

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Nathan Truzzolino
Nathan Truzzolino

History was made last week when comedian and podcast trailblazer Marc Maron interviewed Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America.

This was a miraculous event for several reasons. One, because many folks have discounted and dismissed podcasts as nothing but hack radio since they first received the egregious name of ‘podcast,’ the fact that the President appeared on one adds instant credibility to the medium.

And two, it’s not every day that a comedian like Marc Maron gets the opportunity to interview the freaking PRESIDENT of the US!

He even went so far as going to California to hang out in Mr. Maron’s garage to tape an episode of WTF.

Thirdly, the show was not without controversy as during the interview the leader of the free world used the n-word. Think about this.

Not only is this a momentous event for all podcasters out there, this is without a doubt the most famous person in the United States saying a word on record that has degraded his heritage for generations.

This so-called “controversy” was created for silly reasons though.

Firstly, if you listen to the context, you see how misguided this anger was, and with that in mind I’d urge you to listen to the whole interview, not just the bit where he utters the word.

This way you get the full context because many people with their own agendas could spin this in their own way, so get educated and formulate your own opinion on it. We live in an age where sound bytes outweigh actual rational discussion, and the only reason anyone could be upset with Obama for using the word is if they did not listen to the context in which he said it.

But, Back to why this is big for podcasts. This ‘get’ for Maron is legendary because, as I said above, it’s a big step toward a blossoming legitimacy of podcasting. Since the inception of internet radio shows, an inverse pattern has been taking place.

Traditional terrestrial radio has lost their unique ability to express and create interesting radio while the world of podcasting has gathered those who are looking for an avenue to create entertaining radio on their own terms.

Shock jocks like Howard Stern, Opie & Anthony, and others all have migrated to either satellite radio or podcasts because they can no longer run a fun, entertaining program with the FCC regulations and our overall cultural environment getting in the way.

Let’s be frank – this form of censorship has killed terrestrial radio. Censorship has killed true talk shows. Censorship will kill our ability to express ourselves as Americans.

President Barack Obama talks with Marc Maron on his WTF Podcast.
President Barack Obama talks with Marc Maron on his WTF Podcast.

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld was a guest on ESPN talking head Colin Cowherd’s radio show and revealed why he no longer performs on college campuses. Jerry believes college campuses are becoming too PC.

Now whether you agree with him or not, I myself can see that being true.

Take for example another famous comedian who just came to Missoula’s University of Montana campus, Mr. Dave Chappelle.

Dave killed it here, absolutely killed it. It was like watching him years ago before his big Comedy Central television show.

Dave made a tactful joke about the recent book written about Missoula by the famous author Jon Krakauer.

“Missoula,” if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, is a book about the rape culture that is so prevalent on college campuses; it has made national news and even bigger waves in the small town of Missoula.

Now, you knew Dave had to say something about the book. He had to go there because he wouldn’t be as successful of comedian if he didn’t. And, sure enough, he flung out a campus rape joke and you could physically see peoples disgust on their faces.

Some booed, many laughed but not too loud. Still, that was Dave’s right as an American to tell that joke, on a campus where rape has impacted every single person in and around it.

Was it crass? Yes. Was it appropriate? That’s debatable. Was it Dave’s right to tell the joke? You’re god damn right it is.

Podcasting is a safe haven for these comedians and free speech renegades. Podcasting is a place where even the smallest of niches have an audience. Those with no voice now have the ability to reach millions across the world with a USB microphone and an internet connection.

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle

Podcasting is on the cusp of taking over the creative market where terrestrial radio left off. I’d say that in the next five years, you will see more big radio names move into the podcasting landscape and some of that is due to the auto industry’s embracing of it.

By the year 2025, every single new car made will have WiFi capability. This means that the one place where terrestrial radio is still king, inside our vehicles, will now be invaded by the World Wide Web, which is where podcasts live.

Podcasts will now become normal radio, except now it’s even better because now it’s on demand. A part of me wants to think President Obama went to Marc’s garage to record a podcast because he knew this was a place he was safe. Even when you are the most powerful man in America, you have to worry about censorship.

If Mr. Obama had said the n-word on national television or terrestrial radio, he probably would have been crucified and possibly even fined.

The sanctuary of podcasting allowed Obama to say what he really wanted to say about an issue that is still deteriorating our country, racism.

Also President Obama came to Marc’s house in California. Do you have any idea how hard it probably is to move the President from event to event, let alone the work that goes into securing a small two bedroom, one bath in a Southern California neighborhood?

Marc could have easily just have gone to Washington D.C. to record but no, the President wanted to do it right.

Podcasts start in garages and that’s where they thrive. Revolutions usually are a slow burning process, lurking in the weeds on a hot dry summer day. It takes something drastic and eventful like Obama on WTF to spark the match of revolution.

If you are looking to start a podcast you better do it now because in five years, you’re grandma will probably already have one.

When Nathan isn’t sitting slack jaw at his work desk, he’s feverishly producing his own podcast called True Montana. Check out the episodes at TrueMontana.co

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