My Experience on NPR’s Talk of the Nation

I’ve been listening to NPR since I was 7 years old.  Whenever my mom or dad drove me to school, NPR’s Morning Edition was playing.  Guilty weekend pleasures of mine include Car Talk and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!  While I don’t watch any news on TV, I do admit to listening to NPR on my drive to the office in the morning and I occasionally catch Talk of the Nation.

Yesterday I was on NPR for the first time as a guest on the Talk of the Nation segment Who Pays for Our Online Lives?  Neal Conan interviewed me, Chris Anderson, and Kevin Rose about the challenges companies face building online businesses when consumers are used to getting information for free.  We covered some good ground, including the freemium model, different ways of making money online, issues (and rewards) of scale, and the difference between the potential of a popular site like Digg and JoesCars.com (who will now get some traffic because of this post.)  It’s all online (about 30 minutes) if you are interested.

The experience of doing the show was fascinating.  I don’t do much live radio (or TV) so it’s not a natural medium for me. I do loads of podcasts and live speaking things, but for some reason live radio felt different. 

It started on Tuesday afternoon when my partner Ryan McIntyre got an email inviting him to be on the show.  It turned out that he was on a flight to the bay area during the broadcast so he forwarded the invite over to me.  I connected via email with the show’s producer who filled me in on the topic.  I said I was happy to do it and waited for further instructions.

I got a call early the next morning with a "pre-interview interview."  I think the producer was calling to make sure I had at least a partial clue.  We had a nice 15 minute talk about the potential content after which I got the thumbs up to be on the show.  Then the "where do you need to go" scramble begun.  I was at my house in Keystone and I didn’t feel like roundtripping it to Denver for the day.  After an hour they came up with a studio in Edwards which was a lot closer.  There apparently used to be a studio in Breckenridge (right around the corner) but it’s now a "ghost studio" which I assume means that no one is ever there.

I drove to KZYR (97.87) in Edwards and met up with Steve at the station.  He did a great job of orienting me in a nice little studio with boom microphones and lots of computer / audio stuff I didn’t know what to do with.  The little clock counted to 1pm and then everything just started working.  The audio fidelity was superb – everything "just worked" – probably because all of the equipment was afraid of Steve.

I thought the interview went well (and was fun) although I realize that I have to reorient my brain on live radio (at least on TOTN) to talk in 30 second chunks (rather than my normal 1 or 2 minute podcast / panel chunks.)  I got a lot of great feedback from friends that feel into the "cool to hear you on TOTN" category and plenty of encouraging tweets along the way.

While being on TOTN wasn’t on my "100 things to do before I die" list, it certainly is on the "1000 things to do before I die" list if I ever got around to making it!