Last Sunday, I watched as John Oliver hit his arc – well, kind of. He shut the show down stating “There’s nothing left for us to accomplish”. While I expect the show to continue next week, I started thinking about stories, arcs, and podcasting. Simply put, will you know it’s time to say “The End”?
We’ve achieved a koala chlamydia ward, so there’s nothing left for us to accomplish. pic.twitter.com/wll7kQwaF0
— Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) May 7, 2018
How John Oliver Found His End
Three weeks ago, John Oliver and Last Week Tonight donated a bunch of Russel Crowe memorabilia to the Anchorage Blockbuster store – one of the last ones in existence. Russel Crowe was so amazed by the gesture, he decided to give money to the Australian Zoo. Now, The Zoo, in return, decided to name a Ward of the hospital to John Oliver – the Koala Chlamydia Ward.
After the reveal, Oliver pulls out a envelope, showing the one thing he wanted to accomplish with this show. After 5 seasons, it happened. He opened the letter to the words “Koala Chlamydia Ward”.
Of course, it’s a joke. After all, the series is only halfway through this season, and it has 3 more years on HBO contract. That is, unless Oliver actually walks, and they have someone else to replace him (I hear Craig Kilborn and John Stewart aren’t doing anything right now).
What is Your Story Arc?
Every Podcast has a story arc of some sort. Even if you’re reporting news on a weekly basis, you have an arc. Podcasting is about telling stories – and most of those stories are about yourself. When I ran the Geekazine Podcast, the story was about technology. Day in Tech History is about just that.
Have You Thought About Your Podcast Demise?
Most people don’t. It’s a sad thing to think about. But sometimes, you have to. Sometimes, you have to think about your future, and where it’s going to go.
When I transitioned the Geekazine Podcast to “Geekazine Review”, my ideals were clear – focus more on products than news. Being a news reporter was not my thing, and there were many others doing that as well. My weekly show couldn’t compete with a Tech News Today, Daily Tech News Show, or shows put out by Mashable, WSJ, and more.
My focus was more on getting the product to review, or going to the company and learn more about what they are working on.
We Podfade Because We Don’t Know Our Story
It’s really a point of getting lost in your own words. Podcasting is tough, because most podcasters think they’re talking to nobody. It’s like walking up to a wall on a weekly basis, and banging your head on it for 30 minutes, then planning to do it again the next week.
But it’s also because we don’t see the direction of the show. We all want to be the MVP Quarterback, but even they know where the ball is going. Even if the receiver is not there.
Drawing Your Story Arc
This is the simple part. It only requires a piece of paper and a pen. You have the stuff you talk about in a weekly fashion, then the overall story. Maybe it’s one about how your planning a trip. It could be about an ongoing news story.
In 2009, I made my arc the Yahoo-Microsoft merger. A story arc that took a few years to complete. I followed the initial bid, then the lawsuit Carl Icahn submitted, the stepping down of Jerry Yang, the new blood, then the eventual selling of search, leading to the ultimate sale of the company.
Heck, that story is even continuing, as Verizon has to clean up a major mess in the Yahoo email data breach.
Make a Plan to Get Out
I know this may not be conducive. Heck, if you still have a story to tell, then continue on. In Oliver’s case, it happened before the end date. But with this, you have a direction to go. You also have the map to follow.
It’s no different than certain jobs. You say you are going to find something new in a couple years when you’ve accomplished what you are set out to do in the current position. Carl Icahn does that a lot – he gets involved, buys the brand, splits it up, and moves on.
An end game is a great way to move forward. Be happy with your accomplishments, and make plans for the next year. Don’t get stuck in a dead-end thing thinking it’s the safe bet.
So with that, I’ll say goodbye to Oliver, and hello to whomever replaces him next week – even if it is John Oliver…