As has been mentioned numerous other places, ESPN is backing a new Bill Simmons project, which basically sounds like a pop-culture blog network kind of thing, headlined by Simmons and Chuck Klosterman. I saw this a while ago (I think I may have tagged a press release for a Links Dump), but was reminded of it yesterday when listening to Simmons’s podcast fro ESPN, which was a monster two-part thing with Klosterman as the guest (part 1, part 2).
I’m not much of a podcast guy– I listen to Simmons and Klosterman, and that’s about it– but this is right in my wheelhouse. It’s two guys, both of whose writing I enjoy, riffing on whatever sports and pop culture things happen to catch their interest, coming from a sensibility not all that different from mine. This round covered Charlie Sheen, rock bands, college basketball, the Oscars, labor trouble in the NFL and elsewhere, and being a writer, among other things. I don’t agree with everything they say– I don’t have any interest in reality tv, for example– but it’s always entertaining. It’s a good thing they don’t do this more regularly, too, because I can’t do much else when it’s on (I managed to send a couple of emails and make one figure for the book-in-progress during those two hours).
This kind of podcast seems like it would be an awful lot of fun to do– just talking about whatever happens to come up, without any apparent need to be Deep and Serious– but I bet it’s damnably difficult to do well. You need two people who know each other well, have similar-but-not-identical tastes, and who are funny and quick on their metaphorical feet. Which is probably why there aren’t more shows like this.
(As I said, I’m not a big podcast guy, mostly because I can usually get the same information more quickly from text. This kind of free-flowing thing is the exception, because a lot of the back-and-forth banter plays better with tone of voice cues as to what’s going on. It’s the kind of thing that makes me want to try the medium, but I’m not sure who I would do it with…)
(Which is a good comment-thread topic, now that I think of it: If you were going to do this kind of podcast, who would you pair with? Or, alternatively, what two people would you listen to ramble on about whatever on a podcast?)
Anyway, Simmons and Klosterman teaming up with like-minded writers for a blog network seems like the sort of thing that could completely wreck my life. What’s likely to save me is my basic laziness– if they follow the ESPN model of an RSS feed with just post titles and maybe one-sentence summaries, I’ll end up not reading very much, because if I have to open a new browser tab to read something, there’s about a 70% chance it doesn’t get read. If an evil genius set out to create a site that would leave me completely frozen in front of the computer like the people watching the Entertainment in Infinite Jest, just barely able to keep hitting “reload” in search of new content, this is a great starting point.