Podcast Guest Selection Isn’t Neutral. It’s Everything.


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PodMov Daily: Tuesday, February 1

Episode 581: Testing, One Two-sday

Guest Selection Isn’t Neutral. It’s Everything.

Yesterday Jody Avirgan (30 for 30, FiveThirtyEight, Radiotopia’s This Day) shared a brilliant takeaway from this whole Spotify saga. No hot takes in this Twitter thread, just insightful advice on owning your choices as a creator. 

“One thing every host learns, sooner or later (in the case of Rogan, yesterday?) — you may think the show is about you, or your angle, or your format, but it's about the guest. Guest selection is everything.

of course there's nuance here and I am not saying that people with objectionable views should never be invited to interviews. But for a long one-on-one show this is particularly important.

For these kinds of shows, no matter how critical or probing your questions, it's very hard to overcome the fundamental endorsement that comes from This Is Our Chosen Guest For Today.

… I think in Rogan's case, he's actually more of a go-with-the-flow interviewer, so guest selection is particularly important. But there's a power in simply having someone on as your guest that is hard to overcome no matter how probing/critical your questions are.”

Wherever You Stand, Consider the Listeners

Wherever podcasters stand on this recent dustup, listeners should remain top of mind. In Podcast Pontifications, Evo Terra offers helpful questions for those that are upset, those that support Spotify’s actions, and those catching up. “I’m not here to tell you what to think. But I am here to give you things to think about.”

Before taking action that may affect your listeners, consider a literal cost-benefit analysis. “Will removing your show from Spotify’s directory of podcasts cause a financial impact on Spotify? To be blunt, will they even know you left?” Depending on your personal goals, it may still be worth shaking up how you podcast.

No one knows how or when the dust will settle, Terra says. Individuals’ choices are unlikely to have much impact (unless they produce Spotify-exclusive content, like Brené Brown or Science Vs host Wendy Zukerman). Big change will be driven by financial pressure. For listeners, a small change may not feel small.

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We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think.

Here's what else is going on:

  • Ghost stories: Today at 4:00 pm ET, Aaron Mahnke will appear on Twitch for “The Power of Lore.” The acclaimed podcaster (Lore, Bridgewater) joins Aaron Sagers for a chat on the power of story and the frightening history behind folklore. Free to join and hosted by Den of Geek.
  • It follows: SXM Media has rolled out AudioID, an adtech tool that tracks listeners across SiriusXM, Pandora, and Stitcher. SVP Chris Record says the tech “can identify listeners whether they are consuming audio on mobile, their browser, through a smart speaker or in the car.”
  • Learning curve: “How to Produce a Podcast Like the Pros” is next Tuesday, February 8. Podbean’s live talk with MouthMedia will focus on improving production value, audio quality, and brand message. Attendees can ask questions in real time on YouTube and LinkedIn. Free RSVP.

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