So You Want to Start a Podcast…

New podcasts are like those baby turtle hatchlings in nature documentaries, crawling desperately towards the sea. A few make it through and swim away, but seagulls devour most before they make it to the water.

There are a lot of radio and television presenters crawling towards the ocean of podcasting. Podcasts are experiencing dramatic listener growth and advertiser investment. Public radio WNYC in New York City now captures more audience and more revenue from podcasts than they do from AM/FM. Now everyone wants a podcast.

If you are a considering your own original content podcast, you will find more success if you give careful consideration to your premise long before you ever plug a microphone into a laptop and press “record.”

Here are some of the clarifying questions that I ask when helping launch a new podcast.

What are your passionate interests? List them. WWF wrestling, animal rescue, bird watching, dating in a big city, mental health, women’s soccer. When you find something that you cannot stop talking about it is a good indicator that you have a podcast. Remember that a radio or TV show is broad but a podcast is deep. Do not be afraid to geek out about a niche topic.

What is your experience and expertise? In which topics do you have a lot of contacts, knowledge and access to excellent guests? Perhaps you have zero expertise in a subject, but each episode involves you interviewing experts in that field and your listeners learn along with you.

Which topics lead to great storytelling? I advise hosts to do “stories, not stuff.” Sprinkle in statistics, facts and information and give your opinion, but winning podcasts focus on telling stories about human beings overcoming conflicts. In sports, the best hosts focus on the players and their backstory, not scores. More stories = more success.

Which topics will attract advertisers? What fans might your show might attract and what businesses would want to reach them? There are specialist podcast agencies placing advertising on shows with topics that line up generally with the interests of users of those products. Hal Trencher of WNYC predicts sports and finance podcasts will see big revenue in 2018.

Plan! Sit down with a calendar and work out your first 5-7 shows. This exercise will reveal tons of ideas for some topics and brain block on others. This will help focus your content. You will also begin to see if you realistically have the equipment, manpower, time and resources to produce a successful show.