I had the honor of guest hosting FTN this week. McFeels was off attending to some personal issues, so I joined Ethnarch to discuss the news of the day. It is hard to know for sure, but FTN could be the most popular show in dissident media. Stefan Molyneux has a huge YouTube audience, but it is hard to compare video to audio. The two mediums attract different audiences. Just in terms of overall audience though, FTN is in the conversation for the most popular dissident show.
I don’t do many guest appearances and I’ve never been the co-host in this sort of format, so I was unsure how I would do. There is a skill to being a guest, a skill I do not have in abundance. Working with a partner not only requires guest skill, but it requires good chemistry with the partner. Ethnarch and I worked together quite well, at least from my perspective, so I think the show came out OK. Usually I’m tired after doing a guest spot, as I have to be on edge the whole time. This was rather relaxing.
One of the things Ethnarch and I discussed after recording is just how much time is involved in producing these shows. I was curious as to what was involved in putting together a three hour show about current events. A general rule is it takes 10 hours to produce one hour and that’s the case with FTN. Prep time has about ten hours of time to pull together the news items and the show outline. Recording is between four and five hours and then there is post-production to get the show up.
The prep time is what goes unnoticed by the consumer. For this week’s show, Ethnarch collected fifty or sixty stories. He collated them into categories and then organized them for easy transition from theme to theme. He told me he usually has over 100 stories in the stack of stuff for the show, but this was a light week. The listener just hears two guy talking about the news, but to reach that point means reading hundreds of stories and filtering them into a show outline. That’s a lot of work each week.
Of course, this means FTN is close to a full time commitment for McFeels and Ethnarch, as they do at least two shows a week. It’s why terrestrial radio shows can have half a dozen people in the production side. Three hours a day of airtime is 150 man hours a week in prep and production. Throw in the logistics of operating a studio and the business side of things and your drive time radio guy is a small business. A regular TV show qualifies as a mid-sized business, in terms of people and expense.
That said, for a show to have any import, it has to be a professional production. If it slapped together, the audience will just assume the makers are not serious. It’s like a house with a poorly kept lawn. People drive past and assume things about the owner based on the exterior of the home. Inside could be an immaculate palace and the shabby lawn is an exception, but people don’t think that way. The same is true of a podcast of video show. Poor production implies poor quality.
This is why livestream is never going to be serious. Two or three dudes standing in their respective bedrooms, staring into a cheap camera looks bad. The solo live streams often look like hostage videos. In contrast, guys like RamZPaul and James Allsup produce high quality video, because they know what they are doing. They understand how the viewer consumes video and how they appear in their videos. That requires a skill few live streamers possess. It’s a medium for amateurs right now.
There is a generational issues here, so I could be exhibiting a bias. A Gen-X person grew up with limited video. Cable came on strong in our teen years, but we did not grow up with our face pressed to a screen like today’s youth. Young people love using face time. Someone my age thinks it is weird. Why do I need to see the person I’m talking to on my phone? For young people, the live stream may simply be a natural way of consuming content, so I could be all wrong on the future of live streaming.
I think there is a debate to be had about what is the real impact of various media platforms, with regards to dissident politics. Social media is a closed space. The influence of Twitter and Facebook is entirely dependent on mass media picking up social media trends. That makes them worthless for dissidents. On the other hand, how much impact do YouTube creators or podcasters have? What is the impact of 50,000 views on YouTube versus the same number of readers?
If you look at some of the big YouTube guys, someone like Stefan Molyneux, for example, the ratio of views to subs is interesting. He has close to a million subs, but his videos rarely get 50,000 views. How reliable are those numbers? Who is actually viewing those videos? If his fan base is mostly libertarians, then his impact is negligible, as no one cares about libertarians. I don’t have any answers on this, but it is a topic worth exploring, so I’ll probably explore it at some point.
All that aside, the way forward in dissident media is to keep increasing the quality and the quantity of dissident media. That means not only bringing in new people, but also upgrading the skill base. Every time someone in dissident media gets in trouble, it’s because they relied on non-dissident talent. Laura Southern dropped out of the scene because she was compromised by two video guys she hired. Spencer’s media efforts have always blown up due, in part, to his relying on crazy people.
As far as the show this week, I think it came out pretty well, but I’m not the best judge of these things. The main reason is I do a solo show every week, so I don’t know how to measure myself as part of a duo. We spent most of the first hour covering immigration related items. The second hour we got into trade with China and how that relates to the culture war. We also talked about Bloody Eye Biden and the democratic primary. The link to the show is here or you can listen to it in the player below.
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