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Why I Don’t Listen to Your Podcast

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I’m not a big podcast person. Oh, I think they’re great for blogs to have and I’ve even done podcasts in the past. I just don’t listen to them often. Why? Well, I’m working much of the time and I don’t really like having any noise while I am. I listen to podcasts occasionally when traveling, but since I have no commute, it’s rare that I actually have car time that I need to fill.

Because my podcast time is limited, I only listen to the best of the best. If I listened to one bad episode, I probably won’t be back. It sounds harsh, but my time is limited and there are a lot of interesting podcasts out there.

So what makes me stop listening to yours?

  • Too much “intro” material

It’s okay to introduce yourself and talk a little about what you do, but if you spend tons of time talking about yourself rather than the topic at hand, I’m out. It just starts to get boring. Sure, your mom might be interested to hear about your day, but there’s a line you have to draw between personality and TMI. Make sure you stay relevant to the listener.

  • Too many ads

We all gotta pay the bills. I understand that, my friend, but do we really need a 10-minute commercial break? If you have to fill tons of time with ads, that might be an indication that you’re not charging enough for the slots. Increase your prices, have fewer ads, and stop driving your listeners away.

  • No structure

I’m not a fan of conversational podcasts that have absolutely no structure. I don’t think you need a rigid schedule to follow, but if you have no direction, there’s often a lot of boring crap that’s irrelevant to the listener. Before you start each episode, make sure that you and your fellow podcasters have a run-down of the information you want to cover on the show – and make sure that you (or a co-host) takes a leadership position to keep everyone on point.

  • A face for radio

People often joke around, saying that someone has a “face for radio” (i.e., they’re ugly), but sometimes I think that phrase is relevant when listening to someone. Although you might be looking at something on your computer, it’s not good to include anything visual, even if you do give your readers the link in a show note. If you do, make sure you describe what you’re seeing really, really well. Not everyone has the ability to click a link or type in a URL while listening, since people listen when driving, jogging, etc.

So, those are my biggest four podcast pet peeves – boring intro info, too many ads, lack of structure and relying on visuals during the show. What makes you groan most when you listen to a podcast? What are your favorite podcasts (other than your own)?

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


Feedback

21
  • Gary Bembridge

    Good article! The thing that drives me crazy on podcasts (of which I am a great fan and am learning so much from as I commute to work and workout at the gym) are presenters who chat on for ages about their week, day, what they been up to and so on. Just get into the content. That is why we sign up. Be the expert and share your knowledge….not your life…!

    • Allison

      Exactly! I love when people add stories from their life, but when they are relevant, not just because they want to talk about their day.

  • soultravelers3

    Great post & I’m so glad someone said it! I actually hate all podcasts and have not found one that I can listen to for more than 5 seconds.I’ve tried repeatedly. BOOOOOORING .

    Or perhaps I am just not an aural person, nor do I have time that I need to fill listening.Some people really love them. I prefer to get my info or entertainment fast and visually. I can’t skim a podcast and zoom in on just the little kernel that I may be interested in.

    That said, I think you have good tips for those that are adding podcasts!

    • Allison

      I’m glad I’m not the only one. Maybe you’re on to something – maybe I don’t like podcasts as much as some people because I’m definitely a visual learner.

    • Jennifer Wagner

      Souttravelers3, you took the words right out of my mouth. I don’t like podcasts period for the same reasons you said. I’m glad to see I’m not the only aural learner who prefers to read or skim than to listen.

  • James

    I would like to add that majority of podcasts are just way too long. Who has the time to listen to more than one or two weekly podcasts that border on the 2 hour time length.

    Perhaps if they had more structure and stuck to the topic at hand they wouldn’t be as long.

    • Allison

      I definitely agree with you on that one! I think 30 mins to an hour is optimal length for most podcasts. It’s about self-editing to present the best of the best to listeners. Some can support a longer run time, but if you have two hours worth of stuff to say, I would rather you do two or three shorter podcasts per week. After all, most people work out for an hour or have less than an hour in terms of a commute, so short bursts are better.

  • BenSpark

    I’m part of a couple of podcasts. Geek Dads Weekly and Road to Thin. I can see what you are saying about structure. That would be something to add to Road to Thin but Geek Dads is a conversational podcast and we like it that way. As for the podcasts I listen to they are as follows: WTF, the 40 Year Old Boy, Doug Loves Movies,Jordan Jesse Go, The Nerdist Podcast, Comedy Film Nerds, Cast of Dads, Affiliate Thing and Inside Internet Marketing.

    I have a lot of time each day while at my FT job to listen to podcasts and a long 40 minute each way commute to listen to more.

    The Nerdist is one of the best. Conversational but they have great interviews.

    • Allison

      I think you make a good point – not every podcast has to be the same. If you like how your podcast is and it does well with your audience, you definitely shouldn’t change it! Not everyone has to like every podcast.

      I find that the problem with many conversational podcasts is that they have no structure whatsoever, so it basically is like recording a conversation between two or three friends. It’s pretty boring unless you know the people. I don’t need the podcast to be super, super, super structured, but it helps to have someone on point, directing the conversation so it stays relevant to listeners.

  • Srinivas Rao

    Allison,

    You probably imagined there’s no way I’d see this post and not have tons to say about this :), considering you recently interviewed me about it. Podcasting is definitely a skill and I’ve been interviewed before for podcasts and I’ve listened to a few myself. I’ll try to hit the high points on this.

    Intros: This a tough one. We actually just have a very quick intro. However, sometimes you have to actually add to your introduction if you want to monetize or get a sponsor for the podcast. So that I can live with. I think that if you fill the intro with a bunch of fluff it can be annoying. In fact in my own podcast there’s a 15 minute conversation prior to what our audience hears between me and the person I interview. Amazingly enough the guys at the lifestyle business podcast do have a bit of chatting back and forth but they do a really good job at showcasing their personalities. They’re really enjoyable to listen to.

    Too many Ads/no Structure: I’m with you on this one. If I heard a podcast that had lots of ads that would be the end of it for me. It’s like a blog where every single component is an advertisement. As far as structure goes I think that structure is important and I have a structure. But on the flip side of that I’ve had people who are so rigid in their structure that the show sounds more like an interrogation than an interview. So that’s one thing you really have to shy away from. One thing is that it has to be all about the listeners and what value you can give them. It’s not about you and your show.

    Length/Attention Span: Ironically I don’t listen to tons of podcasts. Part of is my attention span is really short. Some of my friends who listen to my podcast know some of our episodes better than I do. That’s one of the most challenging things about podcasts. In a world where we’re chasing the next shiny thing, it’s hard to keep people focused.

    If people are starting a podcast just for the sake of starting a podcast I think they’re going to be doomed. I thin that a theme, a topic and a direction are essential. The podcasts below are the ones I think are good

    Six Pixels of Separation
    Marketing Over Coffee
    The Lifestyle Business Podcast
    The Smart Passive Income Podcast

    • Allison

      I figured you’d have something to say!

      In terms of intros – when there’s a guest, I like some background. I think you do it well on BlogcastFM (one of the few podcasts I actually do listen to!). What I wouldn’t like is if you spend 10 minutes talking about yourself at the beginning of every show. Some people do that and it rarely is a good idea. You need a few sentences so that new listeners get an idea of who you are, but other than that, it can get boring in a hurry.

      I agree with you about too much structure. It can feel clumsy if you’re worried about sticking to a rigid schedule.

    • Dan

      Thanks Srini! 😀

  • Todd Cochrane

    With twice weekly show and audience that exceeds 150k listeners/viewers that runs 75 minutes, with a full 15 minutes of chit chat before I get into the meat of the show. I can tell you that my audience wants that first 15 minutes of chat because at show #651 I have a relationship with my audience.

    I also have three advertisers and that is how I pay my bills and feed my family. So I disagree with many of these assertions. People complain of the advertising but yet run ads all over their blogs.. I get paid very well for my hard work, ads are part of life until audience members are willing to pay for the content.

    • Alli

      I think it’s all relative. If you have a 75-minute show, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having three advertisers. On the other hand, if your show was only 15 minutes long, spending 3+ minutes on advertising would be ridiculous. My point wasn’t that you shouldn’t have advertising, but that the advertising and content ha to be proportional.

      It’s also a matter of audience. As I said in a comment above: “I think you make a good point – not every podcast has to be the same. If you like how your podcast is and it does well with your audience, you definitely shouldn’t change it! Not everyone has to like every podcast.” Would I listen to your podcast? Probably not, because my attention span isn’t that long. Since your podcast is for geeks, I’m pretty much your target market – but I might be in the minority, since I don’t have a traditional desk job and thus don’t listen to long podcasts while at work.

      Be careful, though, with asserting that what you do is right based on your high stats. Have you actually asked your audience? You might be EVEN BIGGER if you were willing to make some changes based on what they want. For example, maybe 75% of your audience doesn’t like the chit chat in the beginning, but they power through it because the rest of the content is so good. Or, maybe for every 1 person who likes the chit chat and listens to your show regularly, there are three who listen to the show once and don’t come back.

      Or maybe you’re doing the perfect thing for your audience! My point is that you can’t know until you ask. Just something to consider.

  • Chris (Amateur Traveler)

    I remember that the last episode I listened to of one podcast hit the 14 minute mark and had not started to get into their content yet. One thing I like about iTunes enhanced podcasts (like the Amateur Traveler I produce or MacCast by Adam Christianson http://maccast.com) is being able to easily skip one segment of the show if you want to.

  • Nicole Simon

    So let me ask you this way: Why should I as a reader of this site be interested in why you personally do not like podcasts? Reading your self description it is no wonder you cannot stand podcasts – writers rarely do, unless they read to an audience. While your points about making better podcasts are valid, there is a big problem with your statement.

    “I hate podcast” is a consumer mentality point of view. As “the owner of After Graduation, a site for career advice and motivation.” you need to be able to differentiate between you the consumer and you the producer. As a producer, you have to realize that a majority of your audience does not enjoy reading as much as listening and viewing.

    I don’t see that in your ‘article’. I just see some thrown together thoughts which basically just give you a kind of reason to bash something you don’t like.

    • Allison

      While I appreciate your comment, I think you’re changing the thesis of my post, Nicole. The post is called “Why I Don’t Listen to YOUR Podcast,” not “Why I Don’t Listen to ANY Podcasts.” I’m not bashing podcasts at all. I’ve been on others’ podcasts, I’ve done podcasts of my own, and I do listen to some podcasts. If they’re right for your audience, you should do them, and I haven’t at all said that you shouldn’t. In fact, I’m someone who’s recommended time and time again that people consider podcasts and video content because it works in a lot of niches.

      The fact that I personally prefer reading over listening was only a means to explain why my own podcasting time is limited and thus, why I listen to only the best of the best. It could be any reason (maybe I’m a busy parent who only has 30 minutes a day during their work commute or maybe I only have the ability to listen while working out or whatever). Me preferring a different media has no bearing on the points of the post. In other words, someone who loves podcasts probably has some of these same concerns. That’s also why it’s opened up for comments and I specifically asked people to comment with reasons why they don’t listen to certain podcasts and examples of podcasts they think do it right. I’m only one person, and people might disagree with what I like/dislike about podcasts.

      This post is DEFINITELY written completely from the “consumer” standpoint. That was the entire point. For many of the readers here at BlogWorld who do podcasts on their own sites, I am part of the audience they hope to attract. So, from the mouth of a consumer, these are the reasons they might be failing.

      To answer your question, “Why should I as a reader of this site be interested in why you personally do not like podcasts?” – you should be if I’m your target market – if your audience, like me, is short on time and has to pick and choose the podcasts they listen to (even if they LOVE podcasts). If I’m not, that doesn’t mean that the post isn’t valuable. It’s a question all podcasters should be asking their own audience – Why aren’t you listening to my podcast? What could I be doing better? Why, as a producer, do I love that my consumers don’t really like?

  • Michele Price

    Interesting discussion. Here is what I have learned. Everyone uses podcasts differently. Many 30 minute podcasts are too short to give an in-depth view of the topic.

    There is a balance between conversational and idle chitchat. What I have found successful is to tell everyone at top of show who will be on and what we will talk about…then I tell them thank you if it is there first time and who the show is for (so they can tell others, as well as self select).

    Everyone has their strengths and if short pithy podcasts are your strength and your audience likes that go for it.

    If you intention is to give your listeners some meat they will learn from and take actions after the podcast, then a longer interview is necessary.

    Like social media, it is all about: what is the result you are wanting to drive.

    Alli, one thing I share with our listeners that I have learned from brain technologies is that when you combine auditory with a physical activity, you have enhanced retention and learning. That is why I always recommend to our listeners to use their down time:-driving-exercise-walking the dog for their podcast listening. It gives you that combination.

    We live in such a fast food consumption mentality, that we are losing the beauty of powerful engaged conversations by insisting that everything be short tiny pieces that do not allow people to go into anything in-depth – which is where I think the real value is in many topics.

    The art of mastery comes from depth that cannot be duplicated by surface conversations.

  • Art Howard

    My question is: both my friends and this blog have said that a podcast should have video, and that it should be informative and keep personal monologues to a minimum. If that is the case, then how do you explain that the top podcasts are Adam Carolla, Marc Maron’s WTF, Nerdist, and Uhh Yeah Dude, which have no video (except Carolla), have personal monologues, and don’t offer any expert “how to” segments? My friends don’t even know who any of those guys are when I counter with their names, but plenty of other people do. Thoughts?

    • allison_boyer

      @Art Howard I actually think a podcast and a video series are two different things. I don’t think a podcast needs a video and I don’t think any podcaster (or blogger) should do video if they aren’t comfortable with it. (I don’t think we discussed video in this post, so not sure where you’re getting that from? My person opinion is: do it if you like to and you’re good at it. None of the podcasts I listen to include video, but there are some video blogs I do enjoy.)

      As far as the personal monologues go: All of the podcasts you named are by comedians, and at least some of them are famous.

      Comedy is a totally different beast than most niches. Since comedy is all about telling funny stories, of course personal monologues are going to work for those podcasts. The fact of the matter, however, is that most podcasts out there aren’t meant to be comedy shows. If you’re podcasting about gardening or relationships or politics (or whatever), I personally think it gets really, really boring when you go on long tangents about what you’ve been doing since the last time you recorded. The best podcasters out there *do* tell personal stories, but they are always relevant to the topic. I’m not listening to a video game podcast to hear about how your kids were sick last week and your car broke down and your spouse got a promotion. I’m listening to hear you talk about video games.

      The exception to the rule, perhaps, is if you’re a celebrity. People will always be interested in what celebrities are doing, even if those same things would be uninteresting if a no-namer was talking about them. That’s why (in addition to being a comedian) Adam Carolla can talk about whatever he wants and people will listen.

      My advice would be to listen to your friends…IF they represent your target audience well. What works for Adam Carolla isn’t the same thing that works for This Week in Tech, which isn’t the same thing that works for Culturetopia because these three podcasts have very different audiences. So if you want more people like your friends to be listening to your podcast, what they say has value. If they just listen because they’re your friends and the kind of people you’re actually targeting are very different, their advice isn’t as relevant.

      • Art Howard

        @allison_boyer @Art Howard You are correct, video was not mentioned here. As I was browsing this site I came across another author (Daniel Craig, I think is the name) who said incorporating video was a good idea, and since you’re on the same site they got melted together in my mind.Also, yes, I was thinking exclusively in terms of comedy/entertainment podcasts, so I hadn’t thought about someone talking about cabinet building suddenly going off on a tangent about their kids’ braces. Good points and well-written. Thank you! Great site.

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