Getting right to the point, I get inundated with story pitches, many of them requesting that I write about new podcasts. Some of the pitches are from left field and have nothing to do with LGBTQ+ — not that they must. I got a pitch a while back wanting me to plug an electronics podcast. Clearly, that PR person wasn’t paying attention.
Ironically, as a long-time PR professional, my job was to pitch to cover an eclectic array of product and program launches throughout my career, like the hottest summer toys from Toys “R” Us, holiday gifts from Macy’s, eco-friendly washers from Sears, and new-fangled tools from Kmart. I’m sure I’ve sent thousands of pitches, and perhaps that’s why I just do not like to be pitched – about anything.
Raven-Symoné needs no introduction, but here’s a quick overview. She got her start in television 33 years ago — which just boggles the mind — on The Cosby Show and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. She starred in popular Disney Channel movies like The Cheetah Girls and Cheetah Girls 2. And many will remember her five memorable seasons on the ABC talk show The View.
Her wife of three years, Miranda Maday, also worked in the entertainment industry as a writer’s assistant and personal assistant managing and overseeing talent. Then, she went into PR — oddly we didn’t get to talk about that commonality — where she worked developing campaigns and narratives for clientele – and sent pitches to the media, I am sure.
Subjectively, their podcast is called The Best Podcast Ever, with a unique spin — they spin a wheel at the beginning of the show with random words, and what word it stops on determines where the conversation with their guests starts, and where it will go.
Check out some of our fun conversation below.
courtesy iHeart Radio
Advocate: Uh-oh, a married couple starts working together. Are you fighting constantly?
Raven-Symoné (RS): Yes, all the time (Laughs)!
Advocate: Who wins?
Miranda Maday (MM): We try to split it up. Raven wins half the time, and I win the other half. It’s all about compromise.
Advocate: Ok, so who came up with the idea of the podcast?
RS & MM: (Talk over each other.)
Advocate: Oops, did I start a fight?
MM: Maybe! It was my idea initially. Raven isn’t too wild about podcasts, so she wanted it to be something different, and she came up with the game element.
RS: Spinning the wheel at the start and landing on a word to build the show around.
MM: It’s sort of modeled after our “Teatime” concept on our YouTube channel.
Advocate: So many podcasts go cringe worthy. Is that what you want to elicit from your guests who maybe land on a provocative word?
RS: While nothing is off-limits, the show is definitely not about trying to be cringe. It’s entertainment, with some education, some gossip. I think if you go to cringe first, you can burn out on that. We really want to show love, respect and empathy. I think that’s the way to win hearts forever. Anything can lead to cringe, but that’s not what we do.
Advocate: What I worry about – see I’m already worrying about your show – is that you land on a word, and you eventually run out of gas because you’re limited to that word, and then you need to strain to keep up the conversation. Take a word like, pencil, how do you talk in-depth about that?
MM: Ok, so here we go. Say it lands on pencil. That takes me back to elementary and my ERB tests where we had to fill in those little dots with the #2 pencil, and that leads me back into my traumatic childhood, which we could spend a great deal of time talking about.
Then we go to Raven. She sketches with a pencil, so we could talk about her artistry and all of her cool drawings and artwork.
RS: I was stabbed with a pencil. Have you ever been stabbed with a pencil?
Advocate: Probably somewhere along the way…
MM: Pencil dick! We could talk about pencil dicks.
Advocate: I’d know nothing about that. Ok, I’m going to change the subject before we get cringey. How do you come up with guests? I imagine you're sitting on the couch together, and you see someone in a Netflix series or movie, and you look at each other and go, “They’d be perfect!”
RS: Well, we also have a little help. We have a booker, and my wife had no idea what a booker was, but we generally ask our friends, friends of friends, anyone who we think is interesting.
And I need to add something. When we book them, we don’t talk about hyping their latest movie, or if it’s Tom Cruise for example, we don’t talk about how he does his stunts. In other words, we talk about things that might be a little off the wall. For example, I want to know what shampoo Tom Cruise uses.
Advocate: He does have pretty hair. So once you have them booked are you more concerned with them being silly or serious, or is there a balance about the sentiment?
MM: Yes, we do both, but again, we’re not having intentional conversations. The word that comes up starts our journey. It can be funny like pencil dick, or about my childhood trauma from that word pencil. And Raven, well she likes it to be more fun.
RS: A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.
Advocate: I’ll be singing that song for the rest of the day, so thanks for that. Ok, since you both come from an entertainment background, does that give you an edge on providing more creativity as the journey of your discussions go forward?
RS: Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s all about entertaining. Yes, our background is definitely an advantage. At the same time, at least for me, it’s more comfortable. It’s not like a sitcom, where you have to learn lines, rehearse, and shoot an episode. But having said all that, we want people to come back, much like a weekly series, to keep people wanting to know what’s next. And it’s just developing those common circles, like pencil, because everyone has held a pencil so there’s all kinds of connections to that. That’s why having that word come up on the wheel is a great place to start.
Advocate. Do you think you can do a podcast around the word persnickety? That word has haunted me all my life, and I want to find a way to write about it.
RS: I think you just found a way to write about it.
Advocate: You’re right! You will see that in my column. Thank you for finally giving me that opportunity! Ok, here’s a real brain teaser. It’s a you are stranded on a desert island question. If you were, who is the one guest, dead or alive, that you’d want?
RS: I would have to say Napoleon, and I’d want to ask him if it was true that he wrote to one of his partners once and said don’t wash when I come home. It sounded like he liked the smell of funk, and I just want to know if that’s true.
Advocate: Well, he was up to something because I think he died of syphilis, so you never know.
MM: Joaquin Phoenix, and when you listen to the first episode, you’ll know why.
Advocate: I think he’s a pretty tough customer, so good luck with that. Ok, the reverse, who would you never have on the show?
RS: I have a name, but if I told you, it would cause a shit show.
Advocate: Oh my God, I want a shit show.
RS: Nope, not going there.
Advocate: Off the record?
RS: Off the record, but not over Zoom because this is being recorded.
MM: When I was 12, I met a horrible woman, with really bad energy, so I’d never want her.
Advocate: That does sound like you had a traumatic childhood. Who was it?
MM. Her name is Dolores, and you can say she’s from Bakersfield, California.
Advocate: Raven, do you know Dolores?
RS: (Laughing hysterically) I can’t. I can’t.
Advocate: Miranda, I think for your next show, you’re going to have to put the word Dolores on that wheel.