Principles of Podcasting

With First Crack #16 out in the world and 20 subscriptions in my iPodderX client, a couple of podcasting principles/core values are developing from where I stand.

  1. Produce Local, Distribute Global.
    There are a million artists, musicians, stories just down the block from you. Stories unique to your situation, your location, the moment you’re in right now. Share them with us, will you? We won’t get them any other way. Not from Viacom, Clear Channel, or even NPR, it’s up to you.

    Deep inside this principle is the non-RIAA music vibe. An excellent defensive strategy. But it is just that defense. Our offense game is focusing on the garage band next door and the interesting characters in our neighborhood.

  2. Strive to accurately, honestly, and authentically capture people.
    This is Adam spilling tea all over his desk, connections cutting out, phones ringing in the background, voices crackling, and general unpolished-ness.

    After describing podcasting to Greg Beale, he asked, “When do you edit?””I try not to,” I replied.

    In the interests of full disclosure, though I did not edit the recording, I did stop the recording at a couple points.

    Yes, I’m conflicted on this point. Nicco & Tim are as well. The professional side of me says we shouldn’t expose our listeners to our off-stage behavior. On the other hand, the most compelling podcasts and weblogs always give the impression of eavesdropping on friends-of-friends: Slightly removed, yet familiar and approachable.

    As such, I lean on a couple of principle I learned in improvisation theatre training:

    1. Honesty is the most entertaining.
      (transparency = honesty = entertainment?)
    2. Trust each other to create something good, out of thin air.
      Everything that’s supposed to happen will.
  • How often should you publish a podcast?
    Some shows publish weekly, or every couple of days, or even monthly, some of my favorites publish even more infrequently. Because podcasts are automatically received by your audience immediately, you should publish when you have something to say. Listeners probably won’t be listen to your latest show immediately. It might be a couple days – even a week. The timeshifted nature of podcasting means it’s not good for time-sensitive information everything else is good. This is also the reason why it’s not a good idea to start your show saying the date. If you want some notion of linear sequence, number your episodes. Keep in mind, the best way to find something to say, is to say something. By that same token, episodes should be as long as it takes to say what you have to say – no longer, no shorter.
  • Does voting for a podcast matter?
    Only if you want press, and unless you’re in the top 10 at PodcastAlley.com, the press already has everything they need. Podcasters need to know which of their episodes are good and which suck – so they can make better episodes. Ranking the entire podcast doesn’t help them, ranking a specific episode does.

    I’d recommend installing the Votio plugin for WordPress to help your audience rank specific episodes.

  • Recently, I had lunch with a producer at MPR talking about the evolving radio landscape.

    Here’s the gradient I see:

    1. The Cathedral (satellite radio)
      Highly professional, country-specific niche audience, somewhat risky
    2. The Old Standby (AM/FM)
      Professional, region-specific general audience, very risky
    3. The Playground (podcasting)
      Amateur, worldwide audience of one, very low risk

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