‘The Pub’ #84: A live show about how to do live shows

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Adam Ragusea and Andrea Silenzi (Photos: Andrew Gill/WBEZ)

What are the best practices for recording a podcast or radio show in front of a live audience? We recorded a podcast in front of a live audience to find out.

“There should be an element of suspense,” said Andrea Silenzi, host of Panoply’s Why Oh Why and a veteran live show producer. “There should be a thing that’s kind of hanging that we’re hoping either succeeds or fails.”

What kind of suspense? Well, when Silenzi produced a live show for WFMU’s Seven Second Delay, the hosts played “pot brownie roulette” — one host ate a regular brownie while the other ate a spiked one, and everyone had to wait to see which was which as the evening unfolded.



Tyler Greene, events producer for WBEZ (where he’s helped produce Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, The Moth and other live shows), said producers tend to focus on the final, edited product at the expense of ensuring a quality experience for the live audience.

“They get so caught up in the idea that they’re doing a live show that they forget that there’s gonna be people there,” he said.

This live episode of The Pub about how to do live episodes (a new height of meta-ness) was recorded at the Public Media Institute’s Co-Prosperity Sphere at the Public Media Millennials Facebook group Third Coast after-party in Chicago, organized by myself and Colorado Public Radio’s Stephanie Wolf.

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We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at adam@current.org or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to adam@current.org either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

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