Making podcasting a viable, income-generating medium was THE big challenge at my favorite pastime’s onset. Public radio was doing it for listenership. They monetized these audio syndicated feeds by adding a bumper from one of their grant providers: “This podcast was made possible by a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (tagline, blah, blah,blah) …” But as the comedy podcast found its footing, the conversation often revolved around making these valuable pieces of attention real estate profitable to the podcaster.

Caroola and Bunin

We started hearing the occasional plug in the intros, then we started hearing what could only be described as commercials plopped in the middle of a segment. They’ve not become disruptive or even annoying for the most part. Some podcasters can get a little ambitious with some of his spots. But why shouldn’t they? I have no qualms with anyone getting paid for providing the world (me) with entertainment. “Help keep the pirate ship afloat,” as Adam Carolla says. He built a lot of his empire on ad money and I am grateful for his daily musings on LA traffic and parenthood. Maybe that’s why I was a little pissed off with the Michael Dubin of Dollar Shave Club episode.

The show started out with “live” calls from Carolla’s listeners, couched under the “Mr. Brightside” guise. The first two sounded so artificial I had to stop listening. One was a “Southern” man with diabetes who’d lost two toes and was all torn up about the Final Four, which surprise surprise, segued nicely into a plug for one of Carolla’s sponsors.  The second caller was what sealed the deal; it was just too fake to continue.

Granted, I didn’t stick around for the Michael Dubin interview, but it was pretty clear where things were going. I’ve heard the spots for Dollar Shave Club, the company Dubin represents, and I didn’t really see how a long-form interview with the dude could be anything more than a commercial.

Now I understand this episode could’ve been the result of a last-minute cancellation, and Dubin happened to be hanging around the studio, getting some face time in. I’m sure that kind of thing happens all the time. My biggest fear is that Carolla has made some deals with some of his sponsors, and gotten them to pony up for long integrated spots, couched as interviews. We’ll see.