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Here's yet another suggestion:
In this week's challenge, Totally Laime blew it but hung on by the skin of their teeth to stay in the Challenge. WHAT IF when you almost lose like that, you have to do an extra credit assignment to stay in the game (ostensibly)? The extra credit assignment could be reworking their submission from that week, or a little mini-challenge like writing little audio bumpers to go between segments or making an awesome looking iTunes "now playing" image. Or it could be homework, like Matt makes them listen to an old episode of the National Lampoon Radio Hour and give a little oral report.
I think it would cut down on the commenter complaining/bad feeling that happens when somebody almost loses but sticks around, if they did a little extra work to earn it back. Plus it would make the Day 1 episodes a little more interesting.

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I'd like to hear what the judges have to say about the podcasts off-air, in between talking to them and making the elimination decision. Maybe that could get a little redundant, but I think it would be worthwhile to hear their thoughts when they're not directly voicing them to the contestants, ala that period in Top Chef / other shows where the judges' panel goes over each submission, edited in a way not to spoil the end.

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At the dawn of podcasting (2003-ish?), one of the very first podcasts I subscribed to was Tim's Take, the now-defunct podcast where Project Runway's Tim Gunn did a little anecdotal digest of what happened on the show and behind the scenes that week (and his opinion of the outcome, since he was a mentor, not a judge). It was pretty good! I think a very short episode where Matt speaks candidly about the process of judging and elimination and his thoughts would be very interesting. So do more work, I demand it! << clap-clap >>

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Must have been late 04, early 05 JW, Project Runway began in December 04.
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And I agree that more Besser would be splendid. "Do more work" you say? Do more fun, I say.

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I don't know if this has been brought up yet or not (forgive me if it has), but a good way to tighten the coaching episode would be to edit it down. On Project Runway, for instance, we don't see Tim Gunn talking to every designer every week. We only see the conversations that brought up something interesting: a potential flaw in the contestant's design, a funny exchange, insight into a designer's thought process, etc. I realize it might seem weird to only hear Matt talking to some of the competitors, but if you find yourself making the same point four or five times, maybe the audience only needs to hear it once or twice. Perhaps we would hear from every podcast each week, but some more than others. If there's a great clip you can throw in from podcast C, while the rest of the conversation is too similar to those we've already heard you have with podcasts A & B, just play the good part and move on. I'm really enjoying the podcast, but ≈2 hours a week is kind of a lot.

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These are mainly suggestions for the next season of the challenge. But I'm feeling like a lot of challenges I thought would come up have not, as we're moving into the final weeks. The sketches challenge felt a bit of a stretch, given that meant many podcasts had to go really outside their wheelhouse. Now we're recycling (with tweaks) some of the older challenges (using guest, content). There are definitely other aspects of a comedy podcast (or really any podcast) that could be judged that haven't.

What about a sound quality/production challenge? This is one that could have happened early, with each podcast producing a 1 min clip and judging based on clarity and production value. We had an intro challenge, what about an outro? Each podcast gets 2 mins to go from mid segment to show end. Wrapping up a show well is pretty important, too.

I really liked when Matt had the contestants pitch the show to him. What about a challenge that is a pitch to the guest judges? There is no recorded content, just each podcast gets 1 min to pitch and 1 min to respond to the judge's questions. Or something like that.

LHR did this and so did LDDC I think, but what about a challenge entailing responding to listeners in some way? Having a call in line, reading emails, iTunes reviews—something interactive. Many comedy podcasts do something related to interacting with the listeners.

Again, I think these are mainly things that would work well in weeks 2-6, rather than this far along. But I think they'd be great for next season.

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Some really good ideas there KC. I think the sound quality challenge is a little dry (in fact good sound should probably be a pre-req for selection rather than an in-show thing) but the others are interesting.

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On this week's show, Matt and Frank talked about how the coaching sessions tend to repeat info because other contestants haven't heard it yet. What about getting all of the contestants, or at least groups of them, on the line all at once but muting whoever is not being interviewed. There isn't really any big secret to what another show might try, is there? Plus, they wouldn't have to wait by the phone/computer wondering when they'd be called.

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Maybe just have Matt do a final “What We Learned” wrap up of the episode with Frank, and send that to everyone. I’d be pretty interested in what Matt believes are the most important things he talked about in the coaching sessions anyway. Obviously he won’t re-hit every single point made during the episode, but any huge revelations that might come out after 2-3 calls won’t be missed by those first 2-3.

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Maybe just have Matt do a final “What We Learned” wrap up of the episode with Frank, and send that to everyone. I’d be pretty interested in what Matt believes are the most important things he talked about in the coaching sessions anyway. Obviously he won’t re-hit every single point made during the episode, but any huge revelations that might come out after 2-3 calls won’t be missed by those first 2-3.

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Really enjoying this series -- very informative while also entertaining. Some more suggestions:
 
1) Just listening to the Doug Benson & Harris Wittels feedback episode, and something is coming up that has happened numerous times throughout the series:
 
Inform the Judges of the restrictions of that week's challenge ahead of time
 
It's frustrating to hear feedback on issues related to the nature of the challenge itself over and over. Did Doug & Harris know that each podcast had only 10 minutes with Nick without being able to contact him ahead of time? Obviously not from their feedback. This is the most obvious time this has come up, but has also happened on other shows.
 
2) The objective of each challenge needs to be clear from the start
Maybe in season 2 this will be easier to identify, but it seems to be worked out during the coaching session (so not every participant gets a clear vision of the objective) and then changed throughout the judging part. If the point of the "Using a famous guest" challenge is to showcase the guest, the judges can't criticize one podcast for not letting the guest talk enough, and criticize another for building the entire show around the guests performance.
 
3) I was really surprised to hear that the participants aren't getting to hear the full coaching session.
I know Matt mentioned something about the concern of episodes getting leaked early, but surely that's a secondary problem to not everyone being on the same page. Some suggestions to get around this:
 
a) Deliver the coaching session via some kind of private, streaming only service.
B) Provide it unedited and low-quality -- listenable but of diminished value to leak.
c) Have an intern transcribe notes & email all the participants
 
All in all, the series has been great -- in spite of the lack of polish.
 
I think it's great you guys are doing something never before done in podcasting, and really dissecting the medium while doing so, but there are logistical problems here that once solved will make it much less frustrating for the participants, and vicariously, the listener too. Looking forward to the rest of the series, and season 2!

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Really enjoying this series -- very informative while also entertaining. Some more suggestions:
 
1) Just listening to the Doug Benson & Harris Wittels feedback episode, and something is coming up that has happened numerous times throughout the series:
 
Inform the Judges of the restrictions of that week's challenge ahead of time
 
It's frustrating to hear feedback on issues related to the nature of the challenge itself over and over. Did Doug & Harris know that each podcast had only 10 minutes with Nick without being able to contact him ahead of time? Obviously not from their feedback. This is the most obvious time this has come up, but has also happened on other shows.
 
2) The objective of each challenge needs to be clear from the start
Maybe in season 2 this will be easier to identify, but it seems to be worked out during the coaching session (so not every participant gets a clear vision of the objective) and then changed throughout the judging part. If the point of the "Using a famous guest" challenge is to showcase the guest, the judges can't criticize one podcast for not letting the guest talk enough, and criticize another for building the entire show around the guests performance.
 
3) I was really surprised to hear that the participants aren't getting to hear the full coaching session.
I know Matt mentioned something about the concern of episodes getting leaked early, but surely that's a secondary problem to not everyone being on the same page. Some suggestions to get around this:
 
a) Deliver the coaching session via some kind of private, streaming only service.
B) Provide it unedited and low-quality -- listenable but of diminished value to leak.
c) Have an intern transcribe notes & email all the participants
 
All in all, the series has been great -- in spite of the lack of polish.
 
I think it's great you guys are doing something never before done in podcasting, and really dissecting the medium while doing so, but there are logistical problems here that once solved will make it much less frustrating for the participants, and vicariously, the listener too. Looking forward to the rest of the series, and season 2!

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One thing that came to me after listening to Day 2 of Time Crunch is who is audience of the challenge submissions and what is their context? That is, should they be putting out material that could stand within the context of their show in general or is only specific to the Earwolf Challenge? And is it geared only for the judges and only for that week?

For the most part, the shows have done general submissions, but especially in this past week and a few times throughout, the podcasters are either speaking directly to the judges (and not just in the little "intro" clips). Or they speak freely about this being for the Challenge. In 2 weeks, TL put out material that breaks that barrier more, by having introductions *within* the submission to segments of the submission.

I feel like this breaks the conceit of the show and kind of goes against the spirit of the Challenge. Can they produce content that meets the context of that week's challenge, caters to the judges, but can work for the style of their show overall? That is a worthwhile venture for these podcasts, a better way to judge them, and a cleaner medium for the listener.

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One thing that came to me after listening to Day 2 of Time Crunch is who is audience of the challenge submissions and what is their context? That is, should they be putting out material that could stand within the context of their show in general or is only specific to the Earwolf Challenge? And is it geared only for the judges and only for that week?

For the most part, the shows have done general submissions, but especially in this past week and a few times throughout, the podcasters are either speaking directly to the judges (and not just in the little "intro" clips). Or they speak freely about this being for the Challenge. In 2 weeks, TL put out material that breaks that barrier more, by having introductions *within* the submission to segments of the submission.

I feel like this breaks the conceit of the show and kind of goes against the spirit of the Challenge. Can they produce content that meets the context of that week's challenge, caters to the judges, but can work for the style of their show overall? That is a worthwhile venture for these podcasts, a better way to judge them, and a cleaner medium for the listener.

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@KC: I agree with you-- When submissions are playing directly to the guest judges, to a very special audience of 2, it can be boring and even annoying. But even if it were objectively obvious that a submission was overexplaining and repeating itself for the sake of the judges (instead of just our opinions), what could you even do to prevent it?
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I started listening to the archives of the Bob & Dan Cast and whenever I've come across a section of their show that was submitted to the Challenge, I've been kind of impressed that it's just a funny chunk of their show and not a weird simulacrum made for the benefit of the judges.

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@KC: I agree with you-- When submissions are playing directly to the guest judges, to a very special audience of 2, it can be boring and even annoying. But even if it were objectively obvious that a submission was overexplaining and repeating itself for the sake of the judges (instead of just our opinions), what could you even do to prevent it?
.
I started listening to the archives of the Bob & Dan Cast and whenever I've come across a section of their show that was submitted to the Challenge, I've been kind of impressed that it's just a funny chunk of their show and not a weird simulacrum made for the benefit of the judges.

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Matt had me fooled on this week's elimination! (and nervous, too!!)

Anyways, suggestion one is that if Matt doesn't return, the next host should be able to pronounce wolf correctly!! But, I think Matt could possibly be what makes the show so he definitely needs to come back!

In regards to other suggestions discussed last week, it would be great for you to send the file of the coaching segment to the contestants so they can all benefit from all of Matt's advice. Of course, you would have to cut out contestants' plans for that week. If you are worried about someone leaking it, you can encrypt the files and ID them so it would be hard to leak and would be traceable.

I would love it if you could have the same judges for the whole season. The two finalists are way better at podcasting than most of the guest judges. All of the judges that have bad shows were frustrating because they all seemed to go on and on about things that they aren't even good at. The dream team of judges would be Matt, Scott Saucerman, and Tom Lennon... No doubt about it! Matt Walsh, Nick Kroll, Sarah Silverman, either Sklar and Paul Scheer would be nice, too! Of this year's judges, Jordan Morris, Tig, Doug Benson, Jesse Thorn, Jimmy Pardo (never funny off stage), and Doug Benson were completely horrible, annoying, not funny and talking out oh their @sses! The rest were good to great including Paul F Tompkins actually being tolerable enough to almost make my list of dream team honorable mention! Having said all of that, you could also have two nobody's be judges (me!) via the web, obviously not allowing fans of any of the Smodcasts. Anyways, it would be nice to have consistency and letting people benefit from past performance is a good thing according to educational assessment research (my field).

I'm hoping the final week will be a challenge where the two finalists could do a 10-15 minute montage of their best stuff from the submissions that includes a 2 minute ending that is original material (stolen from a previous suggestion above). Whatever next week brings, I will love it since the two best shows did make it to the finals! (and because Frank and Matt will be there!)

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Matt had me fooled on this week's elimination! (and nervous, too!!)

Anyways, suggestion one is that if Matt doesn't return, the next host should be able to pronounce wolf correctly!! But, I think Matt could possibly be what makes the show so he definitely needs to come back!

In regards to other suggestions discussed last week, it would be great for you to send the file of the coaching segment to the contestants so they can all benefit from all of Matt's advice. Of course, you would have to cut out contestants' plans for that week. If you are worried about someone leaking it, you can encrypt the files and ID them so it would be hard to leak and would be traceable.

I would love it if you could have the same judges for the whole season. The two finalists are way better at podcasting than most of the guest judges. All of the judges that have bad shows were frustrating because they all seemed to go on and on about things that they aren't even good at. The dream team of judges would be Matt, Scott Saucerman, and Tom Lennon... No doubt about it! Matt Walsh, Nick Kroll, Sarah Silverman, either Sklar and Paul Scheer would be nice, too! Of this year's judges, Jordan Morris, Tig, Doug Benson, Jesse Thorn, Jimmy Pardo (never funny off stage), and Doug Benson were completely horrible, annoying, not funny and talking out oh their @sses! The rest were good to great including Paul F Tompkins actually being tolerable enough to almost make my list of dream team honorable mention! Having said all of that, you could also have two nobody's be judges (me!) via the web, obviously not allowing fans of any of the Smodcasts. Anyways, it would be nice to have consistency and letting people benefit from past performance is a good thing according to educational assessment research (my field).

I'm hoping the final week will be a challenge where the two finalists could do a 10-15 minute montage of their best stuff from the submissions that includes a 2 minute ending that is original material (stolen from a previous suggestion above). Whatever next week brings, I will love it since the two best shows did make it to the finals! (and because Frank and Matt will be there!)

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The fact that you were "fooled" about who was going to eliminated this week, when it was painfully obvious to EVERY OTHER PERSON WHO HEARD THE PODCAST, automatically renders your opinion moot. And that's BEFORE you called some of the best judges horrible and some of the horrible judges great. You MUST be a Totally Laime fan.

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The fact that you were "fooled" about who was going to eliminated this week, when it was painfully obvious to EVERY OTHER PERSON WHO HEARD THE PODCAST, automatically renders your opinion moot. And that's BEFORE you called some of the best judges horrible and some of the horrible judges great. You MUST be a Totally Laime fan.

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Mark, all your posts insinuate that there are two camps of listeners, people who are obsessively in love with Totally Laime and people who despise them (you've made it clear what camp you're in). I know when you dislike something with so much gusto it's hard to imagine, but some people like Totally Laime AND like Left Handed Radio or The Little Dum Dum Club. Truth is, the podcast has a lot of fans. Look at the positive feedback on iTunes or it's frequent inclusion in Splitsider's Top Comedy Podcast lists. I appreciate that you don't like it, but try to keep in mind that it isn't as polarizing for everyone else. There are definitely podcasts I subscribe to and enjoy but I don't go around swearing my allegiance to. Podcasts are a very subjective thing, and when almost every post includes something mindlessly hateful towards Totally Laime listeners, it makes it hard for people to respect what you have to say.

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Mark, all your posts insinuate that there are two camps of listeners, people who are obsessively in love with Totally Laime and people who despise them (you've made it clear what camp you're in). I know when you dislike something with so much gusto it's hard to imagine, but some people like Totally Laime AND like Left Handed Radio or The Little Dum Dum Club. Truth is, the podcast has a lot of fans. Look at the positive feedback on iTunes or it's frequent inclusion in Splitsider's Top Comedy Podcast lists. I appreciate that you don't like it, but try to keep in mind that it isn't as polarizing for everyone else. There are definitely podcasts I subscribe to and enjoy but I don't go around swearing my allegiance to. Podcasts are a very subjective thing, and when almost every post includes something mindlessly hateful towards Totally Laime listeners, it makes it hard for people to respect what you have to say.

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That's a fair point, and for what it's worth, I apologize. I actually do understand that some people like TL AND LHR. I shouldn't have responded to Ron's post at all; I'm just still smarting from the shitty judging this week. Sorry, Ron.

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