What To Podcast

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Last week, we discussed the steps to take towards starting your own podcast. Now that you have the microphone on and the recorder is recording – what do you say?

Here are some thought-starters on what your podcast can be known for, what it can stand for, your podcast’s unique brand characteristics and what content should go in or not go in your podcast.

There are four ways that we see most broadcast radio shows structuring podcasts:

  • Original content done in-studio that has not ever been on the air.
  • A condensed “Best-of” content from the on-air show with no music.
  • Mixture of both “best-of” and original content.
  • All-music or mostly music, like “Tiesto’s Club Life” or NPR’s “All Songs Considered.”

If you are going to do original content, this gives you the freedom to experiment with new ideas. Being away from PPM measurement, you can hold slightly longer conversations with less concern about tune-out because almost all of your podcast listeners will be P-1s of your show and will be more likely to stay tuned in. You can even use words and descriptions that are not allowed on AM/FM, if that fits the brand of your show.

However, the freedom of podcasting does not mean you can free-wheel an unprepared show and be successful. You will need to prepare more for your podcast than you do for your on-air show.

Listen to the top podcasts on the download charts today, and you will quickly realize that you are not going to compete with This American Life, Adam Corolla or Marc Maron by reading celebrity birthdays from your prep service sheet. (Many podcast listeners say they’ve left radio because of content like that.)

The standards are higher because podcast listeners are more attentive and not listening as much in the background. It is not like AM/FM where you worry about 2-3 competitors. Your listener has thousands of podcasts to choose from. So you might only get one sample listen from most people, who might never come back if they are not impressed.

Our recommendation: do a “best of” podcast with about 10-15% original content. For most shows, the return-on-investment of your limited time and resources will be greater if you are putting your best content forward in this new, super-competitive landscape.

Then, recycle your “best of” original podcast content on your broadcast show the next day. Edit down those longer interviews and content experiments for air, and be sure create awareness for the podcast by highlighting for listeners that it is the source of what they are hearing.

Other thoughts on podcasting:

Commercials? Yes! A quick one-line sponsor mention at the start, a :30 commercial message in the middle and another “thank you to our sponsor” at the end. It works best if the host voices the advertisement in the same conversational, storytelling way one would do an on-air endorsement commercial. However, recorded sponsorships are expected and accepted by listeners too.

Competitive analysis. Just as we recommend you do a thorough analysis of your on-air competitors strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, do the same with their podcasts. How often are they updating? Some update once a week, others update once a day. Would they be better off if they updated better content less often? Make certain that your podcast is better on every point.

Listener feedback. Ask listeners what podcasts they are listening to now. Put it in your current research, and see what your P1’s are digging, Study what they are doing. How long are they? What topics are they covering? How can your podcast stand out in the crowd?

Women, hear opportunity knocking. Most podcasts are hosted by men, most podcast listeners are male and even Aisha Tyler’s “Girl On Guy” podcast covers male topics. Statistics indicate however that is changing so fast that your killer female-targeted content could be in great demand since it is so scarce right now.

If you are brand new to podcasting, here are some successful ones to investigate:

  • KVJ Show in West Palm Beach
  • Preston and Steve at WMMR Philadelphia
  • Kevin and Bean KROQ LA.
  • Almost all of the NPR and PRI podcasts including Car Talk, This American Life, Fresh Air, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Serial.
  • The Late Show Podcast (Steven Colbert)
  • The Nerdist (Chris Hardwick)
  • Girl On Guy (Aisha Tyler)
  • WTF with Marc Maron
  • Adam Corolla

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