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Oct 21, 2016

Demystifying Podcasts

podcast-logoA woman in her late 70’s or 80’s, from a highly regarded national publication, was seated to my left at the Women’s Media Group lunch event this week. The topic of the hour was: The Future of Media is Podcasting. There was an exceptional panel of women qualified to speak on the subject.

I was impressed that my neighbor was there to learn. A lot of people dismiss this relatively new phenomenon out of hand. I’ve been listening to podcasts for about six years. They have continued to attract my time and take up space on my iPhone. I wasn’t sure I had much knowledge to convey to her, but engaged in a discussion to share what I knew about the medium.

What I like most about podcasts is the intimacy of the format. Longer than a typical guest visit on a TV or radio talk show – usually 8-16 minutes, the listener gets an in-depth experience between the host and the talent being interviewed. I believe the quintessential moment in podcast history was made when President Obama flew to California to be recorded live in Marc Maron’s garage studio (June 2015) for an episode of WTF and spoke with Marc for an hour.

Instead of entering a bricks and mortar company, most podcasts are created in small spaces with minimal equipment. The interviewee relaxes into the privacy and immediacy of the conversation. We, the listener, become privy to stories not heard elsewhere. We feel that we can come to know the host and his or her guests in a way not available to us in any other format before.

A new friend of mine, Margaret Dodge, has a fun series called Dodge City. In one program, I got to learn some very personal details about another friend whom she was interviewing. It startled him when I revealed what I knew the next time we saw each other. There’s this feeling that no one is really going to hear your conversation, and there’s a freedom to share stories you might have edited out in the past–a win for listeners.

During my pre-panel conversation at our table, my neighbor there informed me that a 40-something male friend of hers wanted to start his own podcast, and did I think that was a good profession for him to begin. I shared that I did not think very many people, Marc Maron being the exception, were earning ANY revenue yet from this medium.

When the panel spoke, they underscored what I had reported from my own experience and more. Here are the highlights I want to share with you:

  • Podcasting is seen as a secondary activity – something you listen to while doing the dishes, riding the subway, knitting, etc.
  • Podcasting builds intimacy.
  • Listeners get value from the relationship.
  • Starting a podcast is “a ton of work”
  • There are usually 3 formats
    • Finite series
    • A season of episodes
    • Weekly

I’ll leave you with some of the recommended podcasts the panelists shared. Most of them are brand new to me. Let me know if you have heard any of these and/or share your faves with me and my readers.

Enjoy! I’ll be listening to these as I walk the streets of Manhattan and hope to share what I learn along the way.



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