Podcast Blues

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy listening to podcasts when I’m out driving in the car for longer than just a few minutes about town.  It helps pass the time and the miles just fly by.  Plus I never fail to learn something useful.  I download my favorite podcasts onto my iPhone and then plug the phone into my car radio system and listen to it over the car stereo.

Here are my favorite podcasts to date:  A Prairie Home Companion, Kindle Chronicles, NPR: Your Health, NPR: Technology, and Buzz Out Loud.  There are a lot of other podcasts that I’d like to subscribe to BUT I find them almost impossible to listen to.  Let me explain.

I’m discovering that so many of the podcasts out there are produced with terrible sound quality.  There might be several people on the “panel” and one person’s voice might be coming through loud and clear while the rest of the commentators’ sound levels are very low.  So I find myself constantly adjusting the sound levels on my radio.  One minute I’m straining to hear and the next minute the podcaster is blasting over my speakers. I know that some people are interviewed via Skype, which can have “iffy” connections at times.  There’s no getting around that.  But if you are doing a podcast in a room, please invest in the best sound equipment you can find and afford and realize that most non-commercial microphones are not made to pick up voices clearly unless you are close to that microphone.  If you are in doubt at all about how your voice levels are coming across, LISTEN to your podcast after you record it, at a normal playback level.  You might be astonished at what you are NOT hearing.

Other podcasters sound like they are speaking with a mouthful of oatmeal.  I mean, come one, folks.  If you feel that you have something valuable to say, for goodness sakes’ please enunciate.  Have you ever tried to actually listen to yourselves after you record your podcasts?  I’m amazed at the way folks mumble, slur their words, swallow their words, you name it, I’ve heard it.  Now granted, I started out in the Army being trained as a radio broadcaster but a podcast is basically a broadcast and you are using it to communicate.  If you can’t be understood, then you might as well be spitting in the wind.

Closely related to the problem of those who can’t speak clearly, are those podcasters who spend a lot of time in their podcasts “laughing” at inside jokes.  If I want to listen to 2 minutes of conversation followed by 5 minutes of laughing and snickering between the commentators, I’ll just head over to a friend’s house.  There is nothing wrong with the use of humor in a podcast but there is an art to how to use it.  If your audience isn’t participating in the joke or can’t see what is funny, then you’ve pretty much lost your audience.

Another “killer” for me is a podcast that just rambles aimlessly.   I don’t want to listen to someone “read” a podcast word-for-word.  Ugh!  But there should be a logical flow to a podcast with an introduction, transitions between subjects, and a wrap-up, or conclusion.  Just sitting around a microphone randomly picking things out of the air, so to speak, smacks of laziness or sloppiness to me and it definitely says “amateur.”

If you want to listen to a podcast that is the epitome of a professional, well-produced podcast, listen to the “Kindle Chronicles.”  It’s a classy, informative, and well-organized podcast and it never fails to entertain and educate me. 

God bless you if you are considering getting into the podcasting arena.  It’s a fascinating thing to do.  I’m not trying to discourage you.  But there are so many podcasts done poorly out there.  However, if you keep the things I’ve written about in mind and try to produce the most professional podcast you can, you can be an asset to the podcasting community.

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Hot Flashed Funk

  • This is an excellent manifesto on Podcasting, and I am thrilled to have my Kindle Chronicles included as a good example.

    The other exhortation I would add to podcasters who have a passionate mission is this: Don’t Quit. Everyone’s first episodes are embarrassing. If you keep doing it on a regular basis you will learn little tricks, from how to snip ahs and uhms in GarageBand to how to assemble your script in Evernote, that make a big difference over time.

    The rewards are deeply satisfying. You never know when a listener is going to help you understand your topic better, or simply make your day – this blog post being a case in point.

  • With all the time I spend on the road podcasts are the bulk of the audio on my iphone. Ive stopped listenting to MANY a podcast due to poor sound quality!

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