How Podcast Producers Tackle the Hardest Episodes


PodMov Daily: Thursday, May 6

Episode 423: Your Thursday Podthoughts

How Podcast Producers Tackle the Hardest Episodes

“The reason that the title ‘producer’ is so vague is that the default in the medium is to do it all from start to finish,” according to Jody Avirgan of FiveThirtyEight Politics. To better understand podcasting’s catchall experts, Becca James of Vulture asked 16 of them about their hardest episodes. They’re impressive.

Traveling from India to Mexico on back-to-back assignments, 30 for 30 producer Julia Lowrie Henderson ended up sick from a combination of malaria pills and food poisoning. Alix Spiegel of This American Life, delirious from prayer-induced insomnia, was told by Ira Glass that he never wanted to speak to her again.

Of course, not every story involves trauma or the threat of a lawsuit (though that comes up, too). Some are subtle problems with surprising explanations. For Brendan McDonald of WTF, producing an interview with Fiona Apple was “much more challenging, honestly, than having to coordinate with the Secret Service.”

Fickle Listeners and the Fear of Missing Out

“We’ll never convert every — or even most — fickle listeners to becoming rabid fans,” writes Evo Terra in Podcast Pontifications. The conversation around them tends to overshoot the goal. Fickle or seasonal listeners, who dip in and out for various reasons, need to be met (and how) they are with clever hooks.

Terra details two tools that can pull in the autoplay crowd: the title of your episode and a cold open. As he so often does, he puts realistic behavior in context: “Remember for a moment that these listeners of yours are busy, and they might have a little FOMO about what else they could be listening to today.” 

A well-prepared cold open is much more than an intro. It’s a tight value proposition that taps into that very FOMO. What will they lose by skipping your episode? “A good percentage of your listeners don't and will never listen to every single episode you publish,” Terra says. Here’s how to make the best of it.

Dynamic Content: A Powerful New Tool from Buzzsprout

With Buzzsprout, it’s faster than ever to keep your podcast fresh — and your listeners up-to-date. The new Dynamic Content tool lets you easily add and remove short pre-roll (intro) and post-roll (outro) content to your episodes. It's the perfect solution for timely messaging.

Whether you’re promoting a virtual event or giving a special shout-out, Dynamic Content makes it simple to swap, automatically add content to new episodes, or apply it to your existing catalog with a click. Old files are removed and replaced, so there’s no clean-up.

For podcasters, this new tool offers more than flexibility. It benefits your audience in more ways than one: Buzzsprout respects your listeners’ privacy. Unlike most Dynamic Ad Insertion, the Dynamic Content tool includes no tracking or targeting. Ready to make the switch?

A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night.

Here's what else is going on:

  • Wise words: According to Mark Asquith, “trying everything, sticking to nothing” is one of five main podcast growth mistakes he sees. (“A $97 course on podcast marketing is not the way.”) On Twitter, the CEO offers fixes for episode titles, content overload, and more. 
  • Show me: The new Apple Podcasts iOS 14.5 app has changed the way it displays episode notes. Podnews reports that “It no longer supports HTML links (or, for that matter, bullet points).” They’ve updated their research and recommendations page for episode notes in every app.
  • Snack time: The third annual My RØDE Cast competition is “looking for tiny podcasts with big ideas.” Submissions must be 1-2 minutes in length, on any topic. Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway is one judge deciding where to send 100 prize packs of gear. Entries close June 23rd. 
  • Warp speed: Clubhouse is funding 50 pilot audio shows, reports Jon Porter of The Verge. Participants get $5,000 a month over the three-month period. Clubhouse says it’s not taking any ownership of piloted content. For example, a game show called “Serial Killer Speed Dating.” 

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