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Elvis says “WTF” with Marc Maron

Elivs Mitchell (left) and Marc Maron (right)

Elvis Mitchell, that is, host of public radio KCRW’s half-hour interview program, the Treatment. This week’s edition of the program has comedian and podcast host Marc Maron as guest, and at the beginning Maron makes a point of the fact that Mitchell was willing to say the show’s abbreviation name (though clearly not what it stands for), while the New York Times declined to even mention his podcast’s innocuous three-letter name.

This is actually the best interview I’ve heard with Maron since he started his podcast. He and Mitchell develop an almost immediate chemistry, and Mitchell sounds like an actual fan. He is quickly able to dive in and discuss how Maron is able to get comedians like Norm MacDonald to let down their guard, drop their persona and go deep.

What’s notable about this appearance is that the Treatment more often features actors, authors, musicians and other personalities who are there to promote a project that has been validated by a studio, publisher or label. While Maron is a working comedian and former Air America radio host, his podcast is self-produced. Maron does make TV appearances on shows like Conan, but those primarily feature his stand-up bits. The Treatment interview, on the other hand, is really about Maron and his podcast, treating WTF as a media production just as legitimate as movie or television show from a studio or network.

Now, it is true that an edited version of WTF aired on some public radio stations this past summer. But Mitchell made no mention of it in their interview; there’s no indication that the brief public radio run was used as the bona fide to justify Maron’s appearance. Rather, it sounds like Mitchell is listener and fan, and actually wanted a chance to talk with Maron.

I see an interview like this as another sign of the growing prominence and legitimation of podcasting as an actual media form, rather than being simply dismissed as the audio equivalent of bad public access television. While there are certainly the audio equivalents of Wayne’s World in iTunes, there is an increasing number of thoughtfully produced programs that could belong on radio, if only radio were interested in more diverse and creative fare.

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