My theory of podcasting is that the best shows are hosted by iconoclasts who share three traits:
- They’re successful in their field, but not the most successful
- The have strong opinions and like to mix it up, but they know how to listen
- They don’t care what people think of them, but they want people to tune in
These people are unmanageable by the corporate entertainment complex, so you won’t find them on cable TV.
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Sure, they would be great guests themselves, but only on a longer form talk show. If you run a network, you would never give them their own show, and if you did it would end in a barn fire.
One of my favorite podcasts is the Bret Easton Ellis Podcast, by the famous author of books like “Less Than Zero” and “American Psycho.”
He starts the podcast with a monologue, something he clearly puts a lot of time into. In these wonderful essays, he will weave together his thoughts on movies, directors and the culture we’re living in. He will get into his personal life, talking regularly about his video game playing, millennial boyfriend and his never-ending, career-long list of tv and movie projects that have failed to get off the ground (“Less Than Zero,” the TV series!).
Next up, he will talk to a guest for an hour or two, and maybe answer some listener questions from time to time. He recently had author Ben Fritz on (who I think used to work for me) and Rachel Kushner, as well as Andrew McCarthy and Nick Jarecki back in 2017.
He doesn’t care what you think of his opinion, and he is willing to change his mind. He appreciates talking to people he doesn’t agree with, and he frequently disagrees with guests.
These days my movie programming starts with Bret’s suggestions, and then I go to Metacritic to fill in my programming lineup. (How do you make your picks? Comments are open below.)
He used to be on a podcasting network, reading ads half-heartedly (if not sarcastically), but now has a private Patreon feed. This means you have to pay for it, for $2-10 an episode, with higher prices getting you a couple extra minutes of content.
He’s controversial, non-corporate and articulate, and sponsors won’t touch him since he likes to touch the third rail. I don’t agree with everything he says, and sometimes he says stuff that is brutally candid and politically incorrect (his next book, non-fiction, is called WHITE), but he’s smart and entertaining and worth checking out.