Garfield At A Little Less Large

Bob Garfield has a problem and he asked me to ask you to help solve it.

Bob's problem is that after being unceremoniously fired as co-host of "On The Media" in May, he's feeling a little less large. A lot, actually.

After working for years at big publishing platforms like "On The Media" producer and New York public radio station WNYC, National Public Radio, USA Today, Advertising Age, and yes, even MediaPost, Bob has discovered that it's not so easy getting the attention of potential subscribers for his newest platform, a podcast called "Bully Pulpit."

And even though it's the same Bob Garfield, albeit on a different bat channel, he's feeling very humbled by the problem of getting discovered in an era of so much choice.

The funny thing is that Bob first identified this problem in a 2014 piece ("The Genius Glut") he wrote for his "Garfield at Large" column on MediaPost.

"So much genius, so little time," Garfield wrote back then, noting: "No gainfully employed American has the time, no matter how many devices he might own, to consume it all. And the foregoing list is just the stuff being produced right now."

Seven years later, Bob concedes: "I'm very good at identifying problems. I'm not so good at solving them."

That's why he's asking you -- the readers of MediaPost, including some of the smartest people in the world at getting people to discover new and improved brands -- to help him solve it.

So we're throwing down the gauntlet, issuing a challenge, and asking that any of you who have ideas for giving Bob the pulpit he deserves, let us know. You can let us know in the comments field here, or you can reach out to Bob directly at, and he promises to publish them in a regular series of dispatches updating all of us on the project.

Think of it as a laboratory experiment, a mental exercise, a way to showcase your own genius, which would most likely lead to vast industry recognition like a Cannes Lions -- or even better, a MediaPost award.

As for Bob's dismissal from "On The Media" -- and charges that it was because he was a bully -- Bob says they are totally unfounded, and that he is optimistic about prevailing in two separate lawsuits against WNYC.

And when I asked him if "The Bully Pulpit" title of his new podcasting platform has anything to do with that, he said, "Joe, that's an excellent question. I can neither confirm nor deny that."

7 comments about "Garfield At A Little Less Large".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, October 18, 2021 at 11 a.m.

    As much as I hate to read, I avoid podcasts even more  (even those featuring Bob Garfield, a longtime favorite of mine, in print) because the time investment to listen is out of control. In an era of shorter and shorter videos (sorry, YouTube but I prefer TikTok because my attention span is shot), the idea of bloated podcasts seems more and more anachronistic. Working from home, I'm not stuck on a commute which was how pre-pandemic podcasts caught on  I suggest some TikTok teasers if Bob is willing to promote his podcast on that medium (where I might actually find him). 

  2. Nicholas Fiekowsky from (personal opinion), October 18, 2021 at 12:06 p.m.

    Podast duration - I listen to a handful of relevant podcasts and videos at 1.5x. Cuts 1/3 off duration, now seems indistinguishable from normal speech. Will soon test 2x, though it may require replay of some complex material.

    Bob Garfield's slow podcast uptake. Many podcasts already cover facets of the progressive viewpoint. It would be challenging to carve out one more niche. The conservative/skeptical side also has its franchises.

    This sharp polarization leaves a gap in the middle. That's a huge market opportunity for someone who can step outside the fray and disregard their own horse in the race. Look seriously at each side. Research and verify the facts - from both points of view. Exclude appeals to authority and ad-hominem rebuttals. Point out each side's "missing information".

    You needn't reach a conclusion. A full perspective, without an agenda, that calls out media hits and misses on both sides addresses a tremendous unsatisfied demand.

    TL;DR - When life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

  3. Jim Meskauskas from Media Darwin, Inc., October 18, 2021 at 1:03 p.m.

    I'm a long-time fan of Mr. Garfield's.  I'll happily subscribe to his new content outlet.  As for atrracting attention to it.  Well, the challenges are the same for every brand, aren't they?  Mental and physical availability to your audience.  WOM and the like will only go so far.  And maybe he's got enough of an installed base of fans and followers to get the momentum necessary from that WOM.  But the biggest challenge content product faces is discovery.  The algorithms for that only operate on tangible, countable input.  The quesiton to start with now is: who's the audience and where are they at?  

  4. Bob Garfield from MediaPost replied, October 18, 2021 at 3:08 p.m.

    Nicholas Fiekowsky, I certainly understand the concept of marketplace evaluation to see where the opportunity is.  But this is one time the cart cannot push the horse. The product is my voice, and that isn't subject to change. If the holes are round and the Bob peg is square, I've got no interest in shaving the edges down. So I guess I have to find me some square holes.

  5. Bob Garfield from MediaPost, October 18, 2021 at 3:16 p.m.

    Jim Meskauskas, presumably my sweet spot is listeners of public radio, where I toiled for 30+ years. Because I've been radicalized as an anti-Republican, I guess there are those who like to hear (or believe they hear) their worldviews validated. Even though I make a bona fide argument on every issue I address, there is probably a significant opportunity in lefties who want to hear their free-floating misgivings articulated in words and coherent ideas. 
    We have thousands listeners now; the trick it to get 10s of thousands.  Our ratings on iTunes are astonishing in their praise (54 out of 59 are 5 stars), but thin on scale (Yes, after 3 months, only 59 ratings)   

  6. Bob Garfield from MediaPost replied, October 18, 2021 at 3:18 p.m.

    Douglas Ferguson,
    Tik Tok teasers.  Hmm. We have video of every recording session. Will investigate!

  7. Michael Giuseffi from American Media Inc, October 19, 2021 at 10:25 a.m.

    Thanks so much for this tip.  I've just gone and subscribed to Bully Pulpit.  I've missed Bob on MediaPost.

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