So why do you watch Stilgherrian Live?

Image of Stilgherrian from the Stilgherrian Live Christmas Special

Stilgherrian Live is currently on summer break, but will return soon. My question to you today is: Why do you watch it?

My plan is that when Stilgherrian Live returns in 2009 I’ll give you more of what you like and less of what you don’t like. Plus I’ll be getting the marketing sorted out, as well as recording it properly so it can go on iTunes and other places to reach a wider and more vulnerable audience.

So what do you like about it? It’s quite random at times and the production values are, erm, not the highest in the world. Does that matter? Is that its charm?

So far the regular segments are, in rough program order: a cheap and nasty opener, a rant about something that’s annoyed me that week, the “Cnut of the Week” segment, some random TV adverts via YouTube, Stilgherrian’s Street View (a few minutes of random footage in some street), more ranting with the occasional talkback call, a closing song — and then after the “official” program more random crap I’ve found on that Internet thing.

What should stay? What should go? What is the appeal of Stilgherrian Live? What is it that I bring to be small screen which is unique? What else should I know while I’m thinking about this? Over to you…

25 Replies to “So why do you watch Stilgherrian Live?”

  1. It is full of win.
    It doesn’t have any conflicts of interests, and if there are, You are totally slanderous against their name (Telstra). And it isn’t commercial.

  2. Ah, all this praise is lovely, thank you. But I’m trying to figure out why it’s better. Maybe I just need a self-esteem stroking today. Or something. I’m glad that I’m seen as being better than Eddie Maguire, though, that’s quite reassuring.

    Do I want an exclamation mark at the end of the program name? Perhaps not.

    Conflict of interests? Well, I try to declare everything that isn’t obvious from what I say — though I think journalism needs to get over itself and its mythology of “objectivity”. I happily thank Telstra Next G for the free account, and tell people when it works and when it doesn’t. But if they want me to lie and say I think their organisation is wonderful when what I think about Telstra has been documented, well, they’ll need to come up with a much bigger offer. Much. Bigger. Offer. There’ll be at least six zeros on the cheque, OK Sol?

  3. I would like to see some scripted stuff and less ad-lib. You can and should still ad-lib, but a script would give the show more pace. Your tweets are often amusing: work the same magic into a bit of a script and I think you’d see the show move to another creative level. And then the world will be your scallop.

    And have you thought about a news segment? “… and that’s coming up later in our programme. But first, the news…”

    1. +1 on just a tad more prep on the spoken word — top and tail, like the CE run-sheets. +2 on recording it yourself for control of encoding and distribution. Reserve chat, preamble and after-show for the live audience. Slot in five minutes of pre-produced content to give yourself a break and a chance to read the chat. Finally and foremost, I’d live to hear more of your angle on how the world works. That might tie in well with the suggestion of a news segment.

      1. @Garth Roxburgh-Kidd: You are of course referring to Club Escape, the dance music / techno / hip hop radio program I co-presented on Triple J Adelaide with the remarkable Scott Thompson. While it sounded wonderfully casual, it was actually scripted to within an inch of its life.

        While the music was playing, we’d rehearse the next conversation, including the cues we’d use to signal when it was time for the other person to speak. The producer, John Thompson-Mills, gave us a bunch of bullet points which had to be included in each talk break.

        Music programs give you plenty of time to organise on the fly.

  4. in no particular order:
    1. the hot topic of cheap designer handbags has not been covered.
    2. the topic of special fat slimming underwear has not been investigated.
    3. the topic of shonky tradespeople has not been broached.
    4. i LOL when the so-hot-right-now anchor (@stilgherrian) asks for audience involvement and is inundated with requests for videos of things like fat chicks being tasered.

  5. @alphajuliet: I like scallops. [nods] The ratio of scripting to ad lib is directly related to how stressful and demanding other parts of my life are. That’s being addressed in 2009 — and I’ll be writing about that very soon. I will be doing more media work and less geek-for-hire stuff, and there’ll be synergies [ugh!] between what I’m writing about elsewhere and what ends up in the program.

    I have indeed been thinking of a news segment, as it happens. News with my own particular… style. I’d even been toying with doing a daily 5-minute bulletin, though of course that’s a very different demand on my time.

    Still, I once wrote daily reports on the Iraq War for Erisk. A one-page summary for people in the energy industry — so nothing about what kind of helicopters were used or how many civilians were killed, but where the Coalition forces were in relation to key oil facilities and whether the electricity and ports were operating yet. It only took an hour a day.

    @josh909: Obviously there does need to be more videos of fat chicks being tasered. Obviously. But on that point, the live chat is absolutely essential to the program. I love it.

  6. Most TV just infuriates me – anyone being chased by a camera on a current affairs program looks guilty, I’m sick of the usual ‘battlers’, ‘con-men’ and being told what is ‘un-Australian’… I don’t know how people can sit there and just be ‘fed’ that.

    I feel, even on the days I don’t pay constant attention to the chat screen (I might be checking a few emails here and there or whatever), like I’m part of a ‘conversation’ – it’s a natural, honest, amusing conversation.

    With the possible ‘news’ segment – I think it would be great to provide an analysis or a behind the news type of thing. This is because your perspective is an aspect which makes it great for me. I know this can potentially take up a lot of research time for you – but even if it was just asking a few questions that you don’t think the media has asked and see how that evolves. If it’s straight out news – maybe the news issues you feel are both a) important and b) overlooked by most mainstream media. I think your clarity and non-BS view on issues is a reason why it’s better than so many other options out there.

    And I like the fact that during a show I think to myself “yes, they are real and important issues” and at the same time there is a garden gnome’s breasts on the screen or a cat walking past. It’s a great mix!

  7. Stil Live is the best net find I’ve come across in the past year – along with the interactivity which enables sharp comments from the sidelines, I particularly enjoy the Stigherrian rant (priceless) and of course the Cnut of the Week. Vid choices are often hilarious. The unique semi-casual atmosphere and honed bitchiness makes this innovative show a must for viewing in my household 🙂

  8. @yewenyi: Yes, the audience is way too small for talkback to work effectively. No-one wants to be first. Even “mainstream” talk radio sometimes has to kick off the talkback session by seeding it with an opinionated friend.

    I don’t know the RRR program, I’ll check it out. Thank you.

    @Genevieve Robey: Ah, your points about mainstream “news” and “current affairs” are close to my heart. I’ve explored it before in a post about the Hallucinating Goldfish, and will return to that theme more this year.

    Indeed, further ideas are being triggered as I write…

    At the same time, I don’t think the additional research burden will be too great if I stick to some more focussed themes related to my core interests, and maybe get some suitable slaves… erm… production assistants and researchers to help me. I’m told that I should exploit… erm… mentor some students.

    Garden gnome breasts are vital in any properly-functioning modern democracy.

    @Jin: Many people have praised “Cnut of the Week”, so that segment will certainly stay. We may actually get certificates made, to send to the winner, plus some merchandise.

    Generally: I’m starting to see that the personal perspective is an important part of this. Indeed, I am not Alan Jones. Thank fuck.

  9. Why tune in? Why go to the effort of being in front of something with a ‘net connection each time you say you’re going to go live-to-air? For me, it’s the same reason I followed your twitter stream: “You’ve hit the right mix of geekery and [Australian] news & politics.” And the chat is somewhat addictive. I think it’s the interactivity with you as presenter as well as the opportunity to attempt to be witty with a smart, witty audience.

    In terms of future development, I think that you could pre-record the rant/editorial (and any other parts where the interaction would disrupt the flow of the piece). It’d give you a bit of a breather. You mentioned synergies; I’m guessing that you’re thinking of using one of your Crikey pieces as the rant/editorial of the week. If you don’t want to reuse that material verbatim, perhaps getting all meta about it might be an option; talk about the piece, when and where it was published and what feedback you’ve received about it, or how the issue has developed since publication.

    If you want the prerecorded pieces to camera more polished, have you considered using something like Podcast Autocue? Reading from that might work better than a printed paper script.

    I’ll +1 the suggestion of a pre-arranged skype chat rather than rely on the audience to umm & ahh over whether they’ll call. Depending on the interviewee/talent’s availability, that could be a pre-record occassionally.

    I also like the suggestion of PAs. You already have a musical director, why not have regular correspondents in other cities who could be the call-in talent (Stilgherrian Coast-to-Coast or Stilgherrian International perhaps?) to talk about, well, whatever they’ve done that has engaged you (tweet, blog, hell, talk to some photogs whose work you & ‘pong like from flickr); it’ll have to engage you to have any chance at engaging your audience. Invite viewers to submit street views.

    I think the mix of show and ‘after party’ works really well. I think a big part of that is that the post-credits chat isn’t recorded. Please keep that. If the late nights are a killer, would you consider rescheduling earlier to allow time for that part, or is that part not as valuable to you?

    I think that’s enough from me for now. How long do you think you’ll be on hiatus?

  10. @Dean: Wow, linking back to my original program plan was inspired! That’s triggering lots of thoughts this morning. Your related production comments are being absorbed. Thank you for such a well-thought-out comment!

    Last night I was thinking of staying on hiatus until Australia Day like the rest of the media. I have a lot to sort out in my life at the moment. But I haven’t really thought about that yet. Expect that information to change.

    As for timing, the 9.30pm start is negotiable. Heck, the whole thing is negotiable. I’ll do a further brain-dump about that soon.

    Alas, Podcast Autocue is for Windows only. We’re a Mac operation.

  11. Stilgherrian: My comments are included as follows, in context:

    >So why do you watch Stilgherrian Live?

    I watch it because I know you personally and I am curious to know what you are up to. I watch it because you may me laugh, or at least smile … a bit… that’s when I am not wincing about something slanderous remark about some public figure…

    >So what do you like about it?

    At your best, I think that you are funny. 🙂

    >Does that matter?

    Well… in the cosmic scheme of things… space is Big, I mean REALLY BIG. I mean you just can’t understand how mind bogglingly BIG space is… &c… &c… So on *that* scale, what does anything matter? On the other hand… I know you personally. I think that you are witty. You make me smile… I assume that there is an audience of people out there who feel the same way that I do.

    >Is that its charm?
    Yes… Your show is completely “unique.”

    >So far the regular segments are, in rough program order:

    I give my personal ratings out of [0..10]

    >a cheap and nasty opener,
    [7/10]
    Often quite funny…

    >a rant about something that’s annoyed me that week, the
    [5/10] A bit too slanderous at times, for my taste, anyway… I would prefer more satire and less invective.

    >“Cnut of the Week” segment,
    [9/10] (perfection os difficult…)
    Very satirical. Don’t forget to share the joy around. There are so many contenders…

    >some random TV adverts via YouTube,

    [5/10]
    OK… as long as they are really strange stuff that I have not considered before. Do you remember Clive James’ video clips of strange people on Japanese TV? The world is a really strange place and people are funny… &c.. &c…

    >Stilgherrian’s Street View (a few minutes of random footage in some street
    [7/10]
    I might learn how to navigate around Sydney by watching your show?
    The routes to all the good gay bars mught be interesting… I hav efriends in Adelaide who might be interested in this information…

    >more ranting with the
    [5/10]
    I only like ranting when it is satirical or funny…
    I like bathos… 🙂

    >occasional talkback call,
    [9/10] I like these best. Maybe you have found your calling

    >a closing song
    [5/10]
    OK… as long as they are really strange stuff that I have not considered before. See “some random TV adverts via YouTube, earlier…”

    >more random crap I’ve found on that Internet thing.
    [5/10]
    OK… as long as they are really strange stuff that I have not considered before. See “some random TV adverts via YouTube, earlier…”

    >What should stay?
    I like your talkback segments, where you interact in real time with somebody…

    >What should go?
    I am not a big fan of personal slanderous remarks… (Are they slanderous or are they libelous?…)

    >What is the appeal of Stilgherrian Live?
    The fact that i know you personally and you make me laugh…

    >What is it that I bring to be small screen which is unique?
    Stilgherrian is unique… really!

    >What else should I know while I’m thinking about this?
    Please do lay off the slabrer and increase the satire… Sature is funnier… 🙂

    “Cnut of the week” is funny and satirical…

    Have you considered loading your material onto You-Tube?

    >Over to you…

    OK… 🙂

    Regards

    Andrew A.

  12. It’s awesome. Stilgherrian has become known as ‘that ranting guy’ at our house. My 12 year old talks about you with his mates who look at him and scratch their heads!

    Also you recommend a good pizza.

  13. @Andrew Allison: Ah, “slander” and “libel” and “defamation” are quite specific legal concepts, and I’m quite careful to avoid all of them — because they can get you sued. Negative comments, even if strongly worded or angrily expressed, are not necessarily defamatory.

    Perhaps merely knowing me and being curious about what I’m up to doesn’t necessarily put you into the target audience — not that I’ve defined that clearly. Defining an audience and optimising for that audience seems a bit Old Media to me. Evolution FTW!

    I haven’t put material on YouTube because it (currently) has the lowest-quality video compression, the lowest-quality audience and a 10-minute limit to videos. Yes, you can chain short videos into playlists, but that adds another workflow task. I see more value in building the social network to draw people to better-quality video archives. That said, I’m far more interested in the live experience anyway.

    @firstdogonthemoon: Awww… And I like the man who draws the funny pictures. PLUR.

    @zuzu: “That Ranting Guy” is one angle, for sure. Now, how to grow that vital 12yo market… [shudder]

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