written by
David Hooper

Q&A: My Podcast Guest Wants Me To Remove His Episode

Podcast Interviewing Skills Podcast Production Q&A 4 min read

I got this question from a podcaster in Los Angeles...

Have you ever had a guest from a couple years back ask to have their interview removed? I have a guy who is asking that of me. He’s worried about cancel culture. He didn’t really say anything traumatic or bad in our episode, but he’s really freaked out.

I’ve had a couple of similar situations:

1. I’ve had people ask for promotional videos to be taken down.

There was a time when I would get a quick “promo video” of guests in the studio, usually after we taped an episode, where they’d say something like, “Hey, I just finished taping an episode of ____________ and here is what we talked about.”

I’d then create a “doughnut” (front and back segments to attach on either end of the video) to give a proper introduction and let those who watched know where to find the episode.

YouTube is second only to Google in terms of search volume and is also a high-authority site that often shows up at the top of Google search results pages. If somebody was searching for the guest’s name, depending on who it was, the video was likely to come up.

This created a problem for some guests, either those who had moved on to different jobs or wanted to be known for something other than what we’d talked about, or those who didn’t like how they appeared on video.

Either way, I’ve always removed published content, whether audio or video, when possible. With that said, once something is online, it’s very easy for people to make their own copies or distribute those copies themselves. I’m unable to remove that content because I’m no longer in control of it.

2. I’ve had people say something during an interview that they later regretted, then get in touch with me about removing it before their episode went live.

I always remove this without question, if I agree with the person that what was said could be harmful. For example, if a guest mentioned that he thinks “Mr. X is a jerk” and I agree that a comment like that may come back to bite him later, I’ll remove it. But if I think the guest has nothing to worry about, is being too cautious, or is trying to change (not clarify) details of a story, I’ll let these things be known. Most of the time guests feel better after talking to me about the situation and we keep the content, but if a guest is still worried, we’ll do our best to remove the offending content from the episode. If that can’t be done well, or the guest is trying to change (not clarify) the story, we’ll drop the episode entirely.

Why not just remove everything?

It’s a risk any time you’re a guest on a podcast. Regardless of what you say on a podcast, there’s going to be somebody who hears it who will disagree with you.

If you want to go over everything you said during our interview or have “final approval” over an episode before it’s released, it’s not worth the effort that it takes me to go through that process with you – there are too many great guests who understand the risks of being a guests and are willing to work with me without micromanaging everything.

The Podcast “Guest Contract”

I do my best to be very clear about the process of recording with me and what can be expected before, after, and during that process. To help this, all guests agree to the following three rules before an interview is scheduled:

  1. Not all interviews on [PODCAST NAME] are published.
  2. My interview will be edited. [PODCAST NAME] does not send edits for approval.
  3. Audio quality matters. I'll be using a good mic (NOT a built-in computer mic or mobile phone headset) and I’ll be talking to you from a quiet place.

Rule #2 is the one to pay attention to in this situation – I don’t send edits for approval.

All guests with any traditional media experience should know this. Nobody would go on a national show, like Today, Face The Nation, or The Tonight Show and expect to have any editorial control of what was taped. Yet it happens all the time with podcasters.

Why?

  1. Inexperienced guests
  2. Easy accessibility to the production team and decision makers

I love that podcasting can open up opportunities for guests, regardless of experience, who have something important to say. In many ways, we are the “farm team” for major media outlets, doing the important work of building up the media skills of new and upcoming guests. That doesn’t mean we aren’t “real” media though or that our rules are any different from traditional media outlets.

Do what you can to work with people, but don’t let that work be at the expense of the job you need to do for your listeners.

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