Last night, public radio’s comedy nerd king Jesse Thorn, host and producer of popular shows The Sound of Young America and Jordan, Jesse, Go!, announced that podcast WTF with Marc Maron will get the public radio treatment.
We’ve taken the hundreds of episodes of the WTF podcast and boiled them down to what we think is ten hours of exceptionally compelling radio. We’ve chosen the best stories and the best guests and made a ten-episode public radio series, produced by Marc, [TSOYA editor] Nick [White] and me.
This is exciting news for me, as someone who supports any respectful dissemination of quality comedy content. More importantly, its great news for Maron, who now has the opportunity to reach hundreds of thousands more audience members (adding to the few hundred thousand that download his podcast each week) as well as Thorn, who, in 2007, became the youngest host in Public Radio International history and who has been earnestly championing comedy on radio since 2000.
“Our goal was to transform a long form comedy nerds’ paradise to a still-pretty-long, but to a little-tighter tour for people who weren’t already comedy nerds,” Thorn tells Punchline Magazine.
So here’s how it works: Ten best-of-type episodes of WTF with Marc Maron are now available for public radio stations to broadcast, once they’ve been licensed and paid for. WBEZ, part of Chicago Public Media, is the first station to make a firm commitment, although they haven’t officially announced their WTF scheduling plans. WCAI in Cape Cod will likely be the next to pick up WTF.
Hardcore WTF‘rs who have already heard the uncut, unedited versions of these episodes at wtfpod.com or on iTunes can mosey on over to prx.org to hear all 10 episodes now. You’ll notice Maron has recorded public radio-customized intros that fully explain who he is and what he’s doing. (We pasted the first part of the Maria Bamford/Bob Odenkirk episode below for your sampling pleasure).
Some of the other episodes include Maron’s chats with Conan O’Brien, Judd Apatow, Louis C.K., Margaret Cho and of course the famous Carlos Mencia throw down, which has been singled out by This American Life‘s Ira Glass as a great piece of investigative journalism. In fact, Glass, who’s become sort of the walking symbol of all good things on public radio, has been ultra supportive of both Maron’s podcast as well as Thorn’s desire to get WTF on public radio. By the way, Glass is even writing the liner notes for Maron’s new album– tentatively slated for a summer release.
Like Thorn, Maron is excited about the prospective additional exposure and the opportunities to reach a different audience. “Stand-up comedy is pretty close to the gutter as far as art goes. My whole life I feel like I’ve had one foot in the gutter — and I don’t mean gutter in a negative way — but then past the sidewalk and up the stairs is NPR,” Maron, a former Air America radio host, tells Punchline Magazine. “I’ve just been straddling the two worlds. It’s exciting that I could take the world I came from and bring it to public radio.”
The 10 episodes of WTF will be scheduled at the discretion of each station who licenses the show, but more than likely, stations will decide on a 10-consecutive-week run.
“There’s kind of a punk rock element to all of this,” Maron says. “Because these are the same shows I’ve recorded in my garage or in my car. And now they’re going to be heard on public radio.”