Podcasting has become one of the most popular media platforms on the planet. As of 2022 there are over 2 million podcasts worldwide, up from around 500,000 just three years ago. Here in the U.S. 41% of the population listens to at least one podcast each month. And the numbers continue to grow.
How to Find a Good Podcast
I’m an avid podcast listener, as well as a podcaster myself. Most of my personal podcast consumption occurs during my relatively brief daily commutes back and forth to work. It’s crazy what one can learn in the span of less than 25 minutes! Sometimes I tune in to a podcast enthusiastically, certain I’m going to enjoy it only to find myself disappointed. Like when I tried out a show recently about summer camps thinking I’d have fun reminiscing about my own happy camp memories. Instead it turned out to be a deep dive into camp cliques and intra-cabin conflicts, a bit too dark for my morning drive! Another time, I pressed play on an episode I wasn’t sure I’d like, only to find myself taking a trip into one woman’s life experience as she navigated the choppy seas of career and motherhood. That show’s realistic portrayal has stayed with me for quite some time.
What Makes a Podcast Stand Out?
What makes a podcast compelling to me is its ability to encapsulate another person’s story in a way that makes it universally understandable and relatable. Even if I haven’t experienced anything remotely similar to the podcast guest’s story, if the program is really well done, I often come away feeling a strong connection to the subject.
Some of the characteristics I look for in my favorite podcasts include:
1. Decent Production Quality – With so many people communicating remotely these days, it’s more important than ever for podcasters to produce programming with high sound quality and clean editing. No longer are folks “coming into the studio” for a recording session like we did a few years ago. With so many virtual recording platforms available it’s possible to find just the right combination of features to keep costs down. Here at the BSuite we have been using riverside.fm and find it to be pretty user friendly for both hosts and guests. We pay a little extra for the premium service so that we can capture transcripts from our sessions. The small increase in cost more than pays for itself in the time saved by speeding up the editing process and giving us a head start on repurposing SEO-friendly podcast content into blog posts.
2. Structured Format – I’m a linear thinker and a big fan of timelines and outlines. I’ve translated that behavior into my podcasting by designing a clear start-middle-end format for all of our episodes. While researching and preparing for an upcoming show, I brainstorm a list of potential questions. Depending on how the conversation goes, I don’t always end up leaning on my original questions, but it’s nice to have them there just in case. The same is true for my favorite shows. Knowing the episode has been planned out in a deliberate fashion lets me relax and ride the wave with the storyteller.
3. Let it Flow – I know I just said I was super organized with my podcast planning, and that’s true! But it’s also worth mentioning that I tell every one of my guests that I welcome tangents and that my goal is to follow the conversation wherever it leads. I might start with a prepared question but decide, in the next moment, to give my guest a chance to expand upon a certain idea which inevitably brings us down an unexpected and entirely unplanned path. These types of episodes are a bit more challenging to facilitate, but I find them to be the most fun!
4. Strong Host – Whether the host of a podcast is a famous celebrity or news reporter or a lesser known individual who is simply podcasting for the love of it (like me) the host’s personality is a big factor in making a podcast come to life. A few of my favorite and more recognizable podcast voices include: Ira Glass from This American Life, Lulu Garcia Navarro from First Person, Kelly Corrigan from Kelly Corrigan Wonders and Dax Shepard from Armchair Expert. Each of these people offers audiences a genuine sense of curiosity along with a real concern for the well being of their subjects. Compassion is hard to fake when you are at the helm of a podcast conversation. You either have it or you don’t.
5. Local Voices – Sometimes I prefer to listen to the voice of someone I can relate to locally. Fortunately I’m not the only New England entrepreneur who produces a podcast, not by a long shot! Hearing familiar voices talk about things that matter to me like the ups and downs of running a small business, health & wellness issues, recent trends in marketing and advertising, ways to give back to the community or the journey to becoming a certified B Corporation is time well spent. Check out these local voices on any of your favorite streaming channels: Dirigo Collective’s Responsibly Different podcast unpacks what it means to be a certified B Corporation, fellow brain injury survivors (and friends) Mariah Morgan and Eryn Martin sort through life after traumatic brain injury on their Making Headway podcast and I always gain a deeper spiritual perspective with Susan Gorman’s Everyday Intuition podcast.
The BSuite Podcast Hosted by Anne Richardson
As we continue to record new episodes for our third season of the BSuite, I’m inspired by all my fellow podcasters mentioned in this article and by so many others I have yet to discover who are doing the hard work of producing podcasts on a regular basis. Kudos to my team at Richardson Media Group for making the BSuite dream possible: Bethany, our social media manager and podcast researcher, Abbie, our account manager and all around positive spirit, Jason, our Senior SEO who makes sure our episodes and blog posts get found online and last but not least, our stellar editing team of Alison and Steve at Podcasting for Creatives who smooth out the rough edges and make it sound so sweet.
The BSuite is just one of the channels our team uses to connect, share ideas, communicate our mission, explore new relationships and get inspired by those who are also taking a purpose-driven path to doing business. Podcasting is truly a labor of love and sometimes I wonder if we should keep it going. But I always come back to that feeling I get at the end of a recording session. It’s a cross between an adrenaline rush and a deep sense of accomplishment and it keeps me going. I can’t wait to share what we’ve been planning for season three. Thanks for listening!