Remember those commercials where a poor sap cannot stop raving about the delivery pizza he is eating, only to be scolded: “It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno”?
That’s how I feel at the beginning of every episode of “You Are Not So Smart”.
The podcast delves into various concepts of psychology, but it almost always opens with a pop culture example that both illustrates and introduces each episode’s topic … not unlike what I just did with the DiGiorno example.
But after host David McRaney lures you in with clips from Mad Men or the Twilight Zone, he provides a beautiful hour or so of discussion and conversation that connects on a much more sophisticated level.
McRaney is my guest on Episode #36 of the Telling The Story podcast.
I reached out to McRaney because I was impressed with both his expertise as a storyteller and his versatility in the field. This is a guy who once owned a pet store (twice!), but he transitioned to journalism and carved out an utterly unique path. He has written for a handful of popular web sites, but he has become most prolific through “You Are Not So Smart”, which before it became a podcast started as a blog and continued as a book. From his home base of Hattiesburg, Miss., McRaney has built an empire that has opened the door to opportunities.
What makes his show such a success? McRaney credits, at least partly, his subject matter. “These are heady topics that appeal to the lowest common denominator,” he says, “in that everybody is interested in why we think the things we think.”
But McRaney did not reach 200,000 Facebook followers thanks to topic alone. He reached it through exposure, likability, and superb storytelling.
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.