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What You Need to Know About Barack Obama's WTF Podcast With Marc Maron

The comedian interviewed the President on Friday, and you'll be able to hear it Monday. Here's a sneak preview.

Marc Maron/Instagram
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

After Barack Obama did a flurry of interviews with websites earlier this year (here’s Kara Swisher’s sitdown; here’s one with our new corporate cousins at Vox), we wondered which digital outlet the President would visit next.

Mystery solved! On Friday, Obama got in a helicopter in Santa Monica, Calif., flew over Los Angeles, landed in the Rose Bowl and drove a few minutes to the garage owned by Marc Maron, the comedian who has turned himself into a podcaster. They talked for an hour, and you’ll be able to hear it for yourself on Monday, via Maron’s “WTF podcast.”

This happened. Listen Monday.

A photo posted by @marcmaron on

Since you’re reading about the interview on this site, you might conclude that the President’s appearance on a podcast Means Something About The State Of Media, and I can’t stop you from heading down that route.

But I can advise caution in reaching any grand conclusions: The truth is that politicians like audiences, and Maron reaches hundreds of thousands of people each week with his interviews. So why wouldn’t Obama want to visit? And really, if you wanted to say something about the President using digital media and humor to find people, you should have done that last year, when he appeared on “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis.” (Actually you should go watch that now. It’s really great.)

But Obama’s visit to Maron’s garage doesn’t have to be a political/media watershed to be interesting. Here are a few nuggets about the event, courtesy of the multiple interviews Maron has conducted since finishing his interview on Friday.

Someone in the White House apparently proposed the idea to Maron and his producer, as well as the notion that the President would visit Maron at his semi-iconic garage:

New York Times: How did this even come together? Have you been campaigning for the President to appear on your show?

Maron: I never assumed I would talk to the President. Over time, conversations started happening, with my producer [Brendan McDonald], from the White House, about general ideas. There were people on his staff who like my show, and somebody within his staff thought it would be a fun thing for him to do. But we never thought it would happen. Then over the last month or so, it became very clear that it might happen. I’m like, “But where am I going to do it? Do I go to the Oval Office? Do I go to his hotel?” No, they wanted to come to the garage. Are you kidding me? Are you telling me the President’s going to come to my house?

Maron, who specializes in interviewing other comedians, with the occasional musician or actor mixed in for variety, doesn’t want to do more political interviews:

Deadline: So, if Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton came calling, you’d say no?

Maron: During the campaign, I think I would have to say no to them.

Secret Service agents who secured Maron’s house didn’t raid his refrigerator. But they did occupy his neighbor’s roof.

Slate: Did you put out snacks for everyone?

Maron: No, I didn’t put out anything. But they could use the bathroom. My one bathroom.

Then at some point the snipers came. You saw these guys pull up, and it was like, “Okay.” These are the dudes with the big guns. Then they went up on my neighbor Dennis’ roof.

Slate: Poor Dennis.

Maron: No, Dennis was thrilled. Dennis is retired. This is very exciting for Dennis.

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