Recently, I have noticed a trend in the short-form video content the algorithms have been pushing my way: Fake Experts on Pretend Podcasts. People are setting up a camera on themselves, with a mic, some headphones, and a dark curtain background, and are creating what is intentionally supposed to pass for highlights from podcasts like The Joe Rogan Experience.
The Joe Rogan Podcast set the style and format that most people are used to seeing and hearing on podcasts. An expert is brought in and seated in front of a dark curtain backdrop, with a radio microphone, given headphones, and allowed to share their expertise, informing the host on a topic, the host giving his validation through his “uh huhs” and “wows”.
This format and look has permeated down into the rest of the podcast production community. It makes sense, of course, if you want to replicate someone’s success, many times you borrow their strategies and methods. So, this look is commonplace now. It has become a way for experts to get their ideas out and establish themselves as the people the audience can turn to for that knowledge.
In order to promote these podcasts, a common strategy is to take clips and repackage them as short-form video content for reels, stories, shorts, and TikTok. By dropping little chunks, producers aim to get people interested in the guest, topic, and ultimately the main podcast.
This is where the con begins. Along the way, some people realized that by stealing the look, language, and feel of these short-form promotions, they can pull a little production magic and make themselves the experts in any topic they want.
But there is no podcast. There is no interviewer.
They create clips to make them look and sound like they are cut out of a longer podcast. They will get the same style curtain backdrop, headphones, mics, set the camera up in a similar way, look off to the left of the screen as if a podcast host is there prompting them with questions, and they will do their spiel, pushing their narrative. Experts on topics like parenting, fitness, lifestyle, talking heads for politics, fashion, history, all trying to fake credibility.
They copy every cue they can, even small details like the font, color, and positioning of subtitles. I have seen some go as far as splicing in “uh huhs,” “yes,” and “wow” from Joe Rogan himself, all in an attempt to trick us, the viewers and listeners of the original properties, and lure us into following their channels, signing up for their classes, and buying their products.
When a show you like tells you someone is an expert, you trust them, you don’t feel the need to go look up and confirm it. They want to hijack this and use it against you. If you believe they were on your favorite podcast, then you will believe what they say, let them influence you, buy their product.
They are roleplaying as podcast guests, building the sets, putting on the costumes and reading the lines. But they haven’t done the real work to be experts, haven’t gotten the results, haven’t field-tested their ideas. They are trying to fake their way into your trust by putting on a costume you recognize.
Taking medical advice from any random person on the street because they happen to have on a white coat and a stethoscope is the same as listening to these experts just because they have the right costume on.