OK, podcasting. I like listening to talk radio occassionally, particularly NPR and the local CBS affiliate. Podcasting, which seems to have settled into the talk radio/morning radio show groove, seems like a half-decent idea, assuming the folks delivering the podcast are actually, y’know, interesting. Just as blogs prove why not everyone can be a professional writer, podcasts prove that not everyone should work in radio.
But that really shouldn’t keep folks from trying. What I consider time-wasting dreck, another may find compelling, hilarious or otherwise entertaining. That really is the beauty if the cheap distribution enabled by the web – you don’t need something that’s massively commercially viable to be a success at something.
There are, however, some podcasts that really have no business existing. Case in point: Foxcasts. Now, here’s a compelling idea – a brief podcast about the TV shows carried by Fox, including personal favorites The Simpsons and Family Guy. I imagined I’d be listening to the equivalent of a DVD commentary, or get some of the cool “Did you catch this?” things often found on fan sites and in companion books. Instead, I got a three-minute synopsis of the episode that actually told me everything that happened. I mean, if it were just a commercial with teaser info, I can get sort of get down with that (but it would still tick me off that they had the balls to call a commercial a podcast), but it actually contained what you may consider “spoiler” material.
Fox has done something that really makes them look cool and savvy on the surface. Podcasting is all the rage and, but participating in it, they seem edgier and “with it”. Unfortunately, they just don’t “get it”. Scratch beneath that veneer and you see it’s the same old crap always foisted on us by balding entertainment execs who pierce their ears and grow out there hair to “get in touch with today’s youth culture.”
Fox had an opportunity to do something extremely cool. The idea of little “DVD extras” available online as a companion to the shows they produce is a fantastic idea. I’d *love* to hear behidn the scenes stuff about certain episodes, or hear Seth McFarland talk about his inspirations for certain storylines. And, granted, I don’t want to hear about this for *every* show out there, but there are a few that would be cool. And not everyone cares about such DVD extras. Then again, those aren’t the folks who’d visit the Fox website looking for them.
So, Fox: You have a chance to redeem yourself here. Rather than have your smarmy intern read the episode synopses every week, have him throw in some interesting tid bits about the show, the actors, the writers, etc. Have him include interview soundbites from the creators or, for that matter, rabid fans. Give us more than your marketing speal. These Foxcasts, while cheap, can’t be free, and I don’t know of a single company that is willing to waste money, no matter how little it’s perceived to be. You clearly put some time and thought into making this idea a reality, you just blew it on the execution. It’s not too late to prove you’re more than a bunch of corporate robots. You wouldn’t bother with “Foxcasts” if you didn’t want to reach out to the fans in some way. Summarizing the plot lines is not the right way.