Attending Slate’s Live Political Gabfest in Atlanta

Atlanta Political Gabfest

A few week ago, I attended the Slate Political Gabfest – Live in Atlanta. The Gabfest is the one of the longest running podcasts that I know of, and has been the “gateway podcast” for me and many others.

I first discovered the Gabfest in 2007 while driving a bus for Campus Transit. The show quickly became a mainstay of my routine.

Since 2007, Friday hasn’t been truly Friday without the Gabfest. My wife became a listener around 2010 – and the show has triggered regular amazing conversations. The hosts – David, John and Emily are still part of our weekly routine.

But even though I found a way to get mentioned on the show, I’ve never been able to attend a Live show…mainly because they have been held only in New York, DC, Chicago plus a couple shows out West.

It pretty much made my month when they announced they were coming to Atlanta.

Here’s the auditorium before the show.


Here’s a very short clip of the discussion.

Watching a podcast discussion live was very interesting.

The stage itself was minimalist – just a few chairs, a rug and microphones. The Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech gave a brief introduction and introduced each of the hosts individually.

After that, it was just like listening to the podcast…but watching the hosts in person.

Here’s a few things that I learned watching the show live vs. listening to the final audio –

Body language adds a lot to a discussion. My wife listened to the show later and I realized that some jokes, tangents and comments came across differently on audio compared to when you can see the matching body language.

Podcast advertising is a big win for everyone. I knew that podcasts command high rates and advertisers gladly pay them. Listening to the (ad-free) live show, I realized just how integrated the ad segments are.

David Plotz even made a joke about how we’d normally be hearing an ad for Harry’s right now – and briefly touched on the odd-ness of the other advertisers. With host-read ads, advertisers get to purchase an emotional connection that really is not there – but still comes across in the finished show.

It’s fun to watch a team that’s good at what they do. One of the reasons I started co-hosting a (small) podcast was to learn the format. Recording audio for an imagined audience takes real skill and a lot of practice. The Gabfest hosts have been doing the show for a long-time and it was fun to pick up on all the small but important details that make the show so fun to listen to.

If you are considering attending a live version of your favorite podcast or radio show – I definitely recommend it.

Similar Posts