While radio broadcasters are routinely critiqued and coached by their program directors in aircheck sessions, podcasters usually don't have the same opportunity to get feedback from professionals. In this blog series, we invite a panel of broadcasting professionals to critique up-and-coming podcasters.
Josh Cary hosts The Hidden Entrepreneur podcast. I invited three broadcasting professionals to listen to the first ten minutes of one of his podcast episodes and offer feedback. You can hear the episode here:
Here's what our aircheckers had to say:
25-year radio veteran and creator of The Upside With Callie And Jeff Dauler podcast
- The hosts enthusiasm was compelling. The first minute of the show was outstanding. Despite my suggestions below, this was a really strong setup to the rest of the interview. I also like how quickly, after the introduction, the host got right into the interview.
- The audio quality was perfect.
- At the five-minute mark, the host shared a brief personal story and connected that to the next question to the guest. This made the interview more conversational/friendly but also allowed a connection between audience and host. Always a good thing.
- If I was assigning a grade to what I heard of this show, I would give it an A- with an A+ in easy reach, simply by making the show friendlier for non-fans.
Ways to Improve:
- The host needs to do a better job of establishing himself and the show, and giving both some credibility. A year ago, I wouldn't have made this comment, as it could be assumed his listeners know those details from his show description and bio, but times are changing. People are going to discover new shows via social shares and AI bots at Spotify and Pandora. We have to start assuming that a listener might hear the start of the show with no context around it. 15 seconds of,
“This is the Hidden Entrepreneur show and my name is Josh Cary. Every week, I spend an hour sharing my passion: small business marketing. I'm a small business owner and I want the world to know about my business, but I don't want to go broke doing that. So I'm hacking the system, and what I learn will also help you!”
That's 20 seconds, tops, and it sets an expectation for a new listener. Then go right into, “Does this sound like you? Your product is great …”
- The facts shared at [8:30] about the guest would have made for a more engaging intro. As a general rule, the book/business/whatever someone is promoting is not what qualifies them to be on a show. The project is why they are there, but the skills and knowledge that allowed them to write the book is what is interesting to the audience. Lead with those facts, and almost make the book an aside as part of the intro. Then hard-sell the product at the end because the guest has proven themselves as knowledgeable. If I were a casual listener, I would be much more intrigued to listen to someone who has been a guest on 1,000 shows talk about that experience and how that lead them to become the king of interview marketing than an author who is trying to sell a book. Hook me with his personality, not his resume.
- Also, something to consider with any guest or segment is telling the audience clearly what they will get out of it. “Tom is joining us today to explain how you can market your product to thousands of people, absolutely free … and have fun doing it!”
— Jacent Jackson
Former Program Director KFOG/San Francisco
- The intro is fantastic. It gives us an immediate insight as to who the host is, what he is about, and the mission of his podcast. It does all this, but music and humor and sets the stage inside of one minute.
- The transition from the intro into the episode sounds pretty clean. Having nice, clean technical edits will prevent your listener from being distracted. One doesn't have to overthink this. Perfect audio won't matter if the message isn't sticky.
- It doesn't really come out until about 30 minutes into the podcast, but Josh really starts to get into Tom's personal story and manages to pull out some great moments and tie his personal journey and subject matter together. Really well done.
Ways to Improve:
- More resetting/reframing: Resetting is used frequently in broadcast media to keep characters straight and build familiarity. Watch your favorite TV show in its third or fourth season. Chances are the characters are still referring to each other intermittently by name. It will feel a little unnatural at first, but it is great for separating characters and making your conversation easy to follow with a focus on content.
- Listen and react. This is a case where you have an experienced podcaster speaking with an experienced guest. As a result, the early topics start with softball questions to jump start the conversation and get in some talking points. The softball is fine, but once you have an answer make sure you listen and react to those comments. From there you should be able to have a conversation about that topic. When you are ready to switch topics, reset and reframe.
- More storytelling upfront. Josh may well be great at this, because he does certainly get into some good personal storytelling with his guest. This deepens the content and relates to the topic at hand. Move some of it earlier in the interview.
Programming Consultant, Jacobs Media Strategies
- There’s good rapport and flow between the host and the guest and the host did a good job setting up the guest. Tom, the guest, also seemed to be prepared and have a good handle on the subject matter. Additionally, Josh, the host, came prepared with facts about the guest to help gain the listener’s trust that he is an expert in the field. I also liked the anecdotes used to give real world application so that it’s more than just a pile of words.
Ways to Improve:
- I didn’t love the host’s voice quality (the guest sounded much better, sonically). While the setup for the guest was good, it also felt a bit too scripted, like he was reading it right off a card. I think the top of the show could be more interesting as opposed to, “Hey guys, thanks for joining us.” Instead I think it could get off to a more exciting/interesting start by adding some banter from the conversation to set it up with some music of some kind (licensed, of course). And though I only listened for ten minutes, the host should do a recap of important points after each section of conversation.
Want to have your podcast critiqued?
Seth Resler is the digital strategist at Jacobs Media and 20-year broadcasting veteran. He worked on the mic and behind the programming desk at radio stations in New York City (WXRK), Boston (WBCN), Seattle (KNDD), St. Louis (KPNT), Providence (WBRU), and Silicon Valley (KEZR) before crossing into online marketing. Having produced and hosted six podcasts, Seth is a passionate advocate for the podcasting space. He helps broadcasters and other organizations develop and launch podcast strategies. He routinely speaks about podcasting at conferences, including the National Association of Broadcasters Show, the Worldwide Radio Summit, the Nielsen Audio Client Conference, and Podcast Movement.