Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thoughts on How to Improve My KALW-FM Show

Losing my KGO show has motivated me to look afresh at my KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco) show.

Half the show has been three-minute career makeovers on callers. Candidly, in our jobless recovery, I'm feeling less confident that my advice will turn out to be helpful, so I'm inclined to cut back on the time I devote to three-minute career makeovers.

I most enjoy, and thus perhaps my listeners most enjoy, aspects of the show that I've heretofore devoted less time to :
  • Conversations with leading public intellectuals about how to improve the world.
  • Expanding on my tweets, which are my best thoughts of the week.
  • Doing take-both-sides debates: A guest or I present best arguments for one side, then best arguments for the other side, and finally opine on which side is stronger. I also like a variation of that: My wife, Dr. Barbara Nemko and I debate a topic for 20 minutes. For the next 20 minutes, we switch sides. Then we discuss which side we think is stronger.
What do you think?


Jeffrie said...

This might be something to take directly to the listeners. Ask them on your next show.

I like the career makeovers. It once helped me with a job interview when I called. Other than that, I like the conversations & the debates, both the take-both-sides & the take-one-side types.

There were also a couple of shows you did quite a while ago, including one on race in the workplace, that just included regular people & not experts. I thought it was nice to have some plain working people on the show to hear what they had to say. You might try that again, not all the time, but once in a while.

Justin Wehr said...

I agree that the other areas you mentioned are more provoking and valuable than the career makeovers. I sometimes tune out during the career makeovers, but never during your interviews.

I'd also add that it doesn't matter to me one bit whether the interviewee is a leading public intellectual. I might even prefer a lesser-known who is more motivated to make a name for themselves. Most of all, I want someone who is trying to communicate some idea(s) that could dramatically improve our lives. And you, better than any other interviewer I know, efficiently pry out all the bullshit and get straight to the point. That, I believe, is your greatest strength.

Marty Nemko said...

I like interviewing leading public intellectuals for two reasons:

1. While some of them gained prominence because of their PR machine, I wouldn't have those on my show. The "
public intellectuals" I've had on the show and to have more of on the show really ARE unusually smart AND have the ability to communicate well to a mainstream audience. What more could I ask?

2. Their being well-known makes listeners want to tune in. The show gets promoted all week. If, for example, the station's listeners know Craig Venter will appear, many more people will listen than if I had someone that no one has ever heard of.

Anonymous said...

Marty, do what only you can do, which has historically been CAREER ADVICE (among everything else you
re wonderful at: politics, etc)

But JEEZ...can you stop writing about how you have become less adept these days at giving career advice? I really had all the intention of hiring you to help in my career path, but now that has been put aside because if even the master doesn't believe in what he has to say...

Okay, we get it, you've had trouble landing jobs for your people. But must we hear you say it for the 50th time? Please take a look at your past posts and see how defeatist you sound.

Definitely not what I'm going to pay a mentor for, I'll tell you that...

In the meantime, it's good to be a realist, but I'm unsubscribing...hopefully soon the old Marty will come back.

Marty Nemko said...


Yes, perhaps you need a career coach who's more optimistic and/or perhaps superior in helping clients succeed in this tough job market.

I am well aware that by publicly expressing doubts about my own efficacy as a career coach, I lose potential clients but I value being candid so much, even when it's to my detriment. I really do believe that the truth shall set you (and the world) free.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to hear your new and improved KALW show!

I've listened to your show online and on the radio, and I like these things best:

1. The career makeovers: short, sweet, and effective (at least to me).

2. The eminent people you've hosted: You've got some real thought leaders in your "bullpen" of experts, that's for sure.

3. The debates. 'Nuff said.

Now, for ideas about how to improve:

1. To provide a counterbalance to the experts you host, consider "people in the street" interviews and stories, such as how someone bounced back after a big career setback, etc.

2. Despite all the bad stuff that's going on, there is still a lot of good news out there. Perhaps a "good news" story, such as the one above, might make sense.

-A loyal listener

Grace said...

I like listening to Barbara. You two balance each other and the flow of the conversation is natural and thoughtful.

I also like the 3 minute career makeovers. It's spontaneous and practical. A career coach doesn't have to find a job for someone - the career coach has to be the observer who compares the client to the market and points out any obvious incongruencies. A career coach provides encouragement and focus and is willing to keep trying new things with a client, even if it means giving advice that goes against the advice given previously. Sometimes things don't work out - that's life. Sometimes, success doesn't come with job offers but in helping a client see themselves more clearly. The career coach can plant a seed that may take years to bloom.

Dan said...

I think Marty should play his piano more :)

Anonymous said...


A study (I don't have the citation) found that bright people more frequently change their views when exposed to a debate airing both sides of an issue, rather than to a straight lecture giving the opposing view only. (Lower IQ people do the reverse.)

Consequently, I recommend you host more debates with noted intellectuals.

Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

I love all the practical career advice you and your guest are dispensing today .... just exactly what I need to help me in my job search NOT!


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