I listen to a lot of podcasts. My categories of choice for my broad-reach podcasts are web / WordPress, media / journalism, startup / tech, politics, and more web.
I’m subscribed to over 30 podcast feeds right now, so I typically have more to listen to than I have time for.
Some of these podcasts are long. Others are short. Some are expertly edited. Others are quite raw. But none of that matters too much (though basic sound quality does).
Of those podcasts that I always tend to make time for, one characteristic stands out: they are purposeful.
Things I don’t like:
- A 10 minute introduction of fluff or talking about your latest conference appearance and what famous people you saw there.
- To know every detail of your personal life.
- Your guest’s life story (unless that’s the only point of the podcast).
- Constant self-promotion or only talking about your own projects.
- In the tech world: constant talk about Apple / Microsoft / Google / Facebook / Twitter is nauseating. There are so many more interesting companies and stories, but they all talk about the same companies.
Things I do like:
- A narrow subject for the episode (or even podcast as a whole). I don’t need to hear about Apple news on a WordPress podcast, for example.
- When the host gets me interested in something I didn’t even know I’d be interested in, versus just opining on what the entire rest of the world is talking about.
- Podcasts that teach me something.
- Podcasts that expand my horizons.
- Podcasts that discover new and interesting interview guests and stories.
- Podcasts that don’t take themselves too seriously.
- Podcasts that are purposeful.
But more than anything, I just wish podcasts would stop with the constant waffle and personal junk and get to the point. I’d like to encourage podcasters to question what their value per minute is. Long podcasts are awesome if they are providing great value for those minutes.
To me, there is a very clear difference between radio and podcasts.
It’s similar to watching cable TV versus watching streaming television. When I’m watching cable, I’m just watching what’s on, and my expectations are low. If I choose something that is available via streaming, I expect it to be good, because I chose it over other options and other activities.
The same goes for (talk) radio versus a podcast. The radio is just on, and my demands are low. But with a podcast, I’m making a choice to listen; and I don’t like making bad choices.