Want To Use A Fake Name For Your Podcast?
There’s not as much reason today, but some still do it.
I’ve used a lot of different names over the years.
That happens in a 30-year radio career. I was George Matthews for many years, Robert Sanchez, Bryan Emerson, Crash Carter, and a lot more I no longer remember. Why did I do this? And how does it relate to podcasting?
First, some history.
In radio, they’re called air names, and people used them for two different reasons. For the rating services years ago, like Arbitron, listeners were forced to write down what stations they were listening to. Well, no one did that as they listened, they usually waited until the end of the day, or more likely, the end of the week. It was important you have a name that was easy for these folks to remember, and they also had to spell it correctly for you to get credit for them listening. This is why too many air personalities (haven’t used deejay in years) use two first names, or even one name.
Another reason creative people use a different name has to do with the entertainment unions.
They don’t allow two people to share the same name. This is why David Jones changed his name to David Bowie, because Davy Jones of the Monkees was using it first.
So how does all this apply to podcasters? What’s wrong with using my real name?
There’s nothing wrong with your real name, but we’re still in a time where it’s helpful if people remember it.
Is your real name memorable? People like Zach Galifianakis have bucked the system, but I dare you to close your eyes and spell his last name. I can guarantee he ain’t had it easy. (Although as long as they get it right on his royalty checks, he likely doesn’t care.)
An incredible number of musical artists use stage names, but again, is what they’re using memorable? If you’re an entertainer, it’s easier for people to find your creative endeavors if they know your name. It’s easier to find you on social media. It’s just easier. So that’s one reason you might want something different.
Another reason is that it can be great if the name is used to create impact, to set a tone, to instantly give people a sense of who you are.
Rappers do this all the time. Intentional misspellings add to the mystique. And maybe you enjoy pretending to be someone else.
It’s not helpful if someone big, or in your field uses the same name.
We already covered Bowie. Do a search for your name, see what comes up. I learned there are more than 60 people with my name on LinkedIn. Apparently I’m also a policeman, ran a title company, and was arrested recently. And I learned I died three months ago.
Another reason to use an alias? Maybe you hate your name.
I know I do. George? Blech. Maybe you hate it because kids are ruthless on the playground. Georgie Porgie, Georgy Girl, George of the Jungle; all annoying. (And yet, if you look at my profile, George is still there. I’m trying to get everyone on board with “Ace,” but so far it ain’t happening) Take a little extra time deciding what to name your kids.
So are there reasons to NOT change your name? Of course.
Business reasons, usually. If you’re a lawyer doing a podcast, keep your name. Anyone in medicine. CEO’s probably should (but don’t have to). Anyone who has spent a lifetime building credibility in a field. Your mom doesn’t want you to change it. You get the picture.
This info isn’t going to apply to most people. Heck, it doesn’t even occur to most people. But for some (and you know who you are) this could be the affirmation you need to make the change.
One last thing. Should you change your name legally? That’s up to you. Most celebrities don’t. It’s the one time using your real name will keep you somewhat hidden, and it makes a difference with contracts.