Distinguished late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien is one of the latest entertainment titan to have turned their attentions on podcasting. Many well-known media personalities have expanded their brand into this space, and in a similar vein to those excursions the format has offered him a break from his bread-and-butter vocation to share a different side of himself with fans.
Conan has spoken of his attempts over the years to establish a more informal dynamic with the guests on his TV show, and how the presentational requirements of the showbiz format have made it difficult at times to foster this more in-depth rapport. However, his foray into podcasting has given him a space to conduct the more candid conversations that proved so challenging to setup on television. “Conan O’Brien needs a friend” is a relaxed long-form interview program where the talk show host invites an eclectic range of guests in for a relaxed chat ranging from Pulitzer prize winning authors, to former first lady Michelle Obama.
Without the glare of studio lights or pressure to perform for a studio audience, stars have sounded noticeably relaxed during their visit, and listeners have been treated to richer more intimate interviews as a result. This approach has proved a hit with listeners, with the show racking up 1 million downloads an episode and being snatched up by podcasting network Midroll for 2 more seasons in a recent seven-figure deal. Emboldened by this runaway success, O’Brien and his TeamCoco production crew have turned their hand to other podcasting genres with small town life satire ‘Frontier Tween’ and hipster start-up satire ‘Smartr.’
A staple of American TV like O’Brien praising the distinct merits of the podcasting format, and clearly viewing their work in the field to have an equal standing with their television commitments, is another indication of podcasting’s maturation from fringe concern to mainstream player.