You may not know what it is by name, but if you’ve listened to radio, you’ve heard it. It’s a staple of talk radio, and comes up a lot in music radio as well. You should know what it is, and why you should mostly ignore it.
The reset is simply a restating of what the listener is listening to. Something like, “This is the Baggy Pants Hour with James Gralian. I’m talking today with Sir Edmund Pantaloons, owner of Slack Slacks in Baltimore, MD.” The reset establishes who I am, what the listener is listening to, and who the other people are.
It’s main purpose is to get people who just tuned in up to speed on what is happening. The listener may not know what show is on, or what the topic is. In podcasting, you shouldn’t need to catch up new listeners. People aren’t accidentally tuning in to your podcast, they are deliberately listening to it. They chose to download your show and listen to it. They should know what the show is, and if for some reason have forgotten, they can look at their iPod. The reset doesn’t have to be compulsory.
This might be a little different if your show is being broadcast or streamed somewhere. If it is, add the full reset. How often you do it is up to you, but maybe try around every ten minutes.
I feel podcasters should use a different kind of reset. When you have two or more people talking on a podcast, and specifically people of the same gender, it’s easy to get confused as to who is who. Rapid fire conversation, people interrupting each other, it can get a little busy for a listener, and hard to keep track of who said what. A simple reset would be to simply address the person you are talking to by name. This tells the listener who is speaking next and locks them back in on what that person sounds like.
The hard part is not sounding awkward and unnatural when you do it. What sounds better:
“But Nathan, doesn’t that mean your pants are too tight to be considered baggy?”
“But your pants, Nathan, are too tight to be considered baggy, aren’t they?”
I would go with the first one, but what matters is making it sound like it was part of what you were going to say in the first place.
I tend to work off of show notes, a simple document with a rundown of things I want to talk about on my show. It’s a lot less formal than a full script, but keeps it me on track. If you do the same, consider inserting a simple -reset- reminder every so often.
And if you every want to get into radio, the reset is something good to know. It’s a fairly universal part of broadcast, and a good habit to get into.
If you want to hear a reset, tune in to Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She resets all the time. Talk of the Nation on NPR did it quite a bit as well. But really, any good talk show on radio should be doing it. You won’t have to wait long to hear one.
Also, if anyone is interested in co-hosting the Baggy Pants Hour…