Alec Baldwin has been hosting Here’s The Thing since 2011, becoming one of the first big-name celebrities to embrace podcasting at a time when most Americans were not even really sure what a podcast was. The series may not have ever happened if his television talk show was not put up against NFL Football games on Sunday nights.
“I wanted to work from New York, and I had pitched a TV show that was a disaster,” recalled Baldwin. “I think the entire audience for my show could fit in one elevator at Saks Fifth Avenue,” he said in an interview with iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman on the latest episode of Pittman’s Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing podcast.
But Baldwin did not let go of the idea, despite the setback. Soon he was in conversations with WNYC Studios about producing a show. “I had different ideas, and the people I was working with finally said to me, ‘Let’s just try you talking to people,’ and that’s what we did,” said Baldwin. At the start of the year, he moved his show from WNYC Studios to the iHeartPodcast Network, but the premise of the series remains the same as it was a decade ago.
“It’s not really an interview, it’s a conversation. [Fresh Air host] Terry Gross keeps it all about her guest and that’s her show. And I love that show, but that’s an interview show. But I thought to myself that isn’t interesting to me,” said Baldwin. Instead, the conversation on Here’s The Thing is more of a two-way exchange of ideas. “If I bring on people who are actors or performers and talk to them about either something we have in common, they’re peers of mine, or they’re somebody like Debbie Reynolds who I could have talked to for six hours about her career,” he said. “We’ve done pretty well, and now we’re on iHeart.”
A decade’s worth of shows featuring stars and celebrities makes the inevitable question about which shows were his favorite even more of a potential landmine. Instead, Baldwin told Pittman, “Podcasts are always divided into two groups for me – ones I like, and ones I love. I like them all. There isn’t one show that we did that I regret, ever,” he said.
From hit movies like “Mission Impossible” and hit television shows like “30 Rock,” at this stage in his career Baldwin, 62, has a lot of creative outlets. But beyond the ability to record close to home near his wife and his seven children, Baldwin said podcasts also offer a different creative outlet.
“I always say that music has a significance in people's lives, that theater and film and TV don't have, because you can consume it anywhere. You can be in the shower, you can be in the gym, you can be in the car, and podcasts offer that,” he said. “It’s that availability and I love that. And I listen to a bunch of podcasts.”