Today’s post is going to serve a couple of different purposes: primarily, I’m going to talk about where I think podcasting is today as a medium; and secondly, I’ll be discussing some of my own thoughts and plans about where I might take the idea.
I’m a big podcasting fan. I’ve been doing it since 2003 which was right at the beginning when the whole thing started. In fact, my podcast I was doing at the time was one of the first group of podcasts that Apple had in the Podcast section of iTunes when they launched that feature.
Over the years I’ve had a number of shows and have appeared as a guest dozens of times for other people. I ‘ve always enjoyed recording the shows and covering the issues, but eventually, I always got bored.
And that’s the problem that I have with podcasting at the moment – I find much of it just incredibly repetitive and boring.
Let me say, there are some people that are absolutely doing amazing things with the medium of podcasting.
The massive success of Serial has had an impact not just in podcasting, but also in television and popular culture – there’s probably no way that Making A Murderer gets made unless Serial comes first to pave the way. Now, this kind of investigative research documentary is moving back into the mainstream – less about a “cause” and more about finding the truth.
On a smaller scale, listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” podcast is unbelievable. I sometimes find myself not agreeing with the way he’s presenting the context of the story, but the storytelling and how he views his topic through a slightly different lens is excellent. It’s a unique show, very cerebral.
Speaking of history, I have always enjoyed what Dan Carlin has done with Hardcore History. As a podcast, it is just brilliant – he makes listening to real history incredibly interesting and entertaining.
I like listening to Joe Rogan as well, but in some respects, he’s started to represent everything that I think is wrong with podcasting. While I was thinking about this post I started listening to the latest Joe Rogan Experience episode – the entire first five minutes were ads. I’m not kidding, like five minutes and nine seconds were ads for a variety of products that sponsor the show. Adam Carolla is the same, the first four minutes of the show were ads.
These guys have massive audiences and the best they can do for monetization are boring, beat you over the head ads for five minutes? I’m not interested in Quicken Loans or Stamps. Then there are the various mid-roll ads, product shout outs and outro ads that now end up infiltrating the experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against capitalism or advertising, but these guys have just taken it way too far. I’ve never liked Carolla, so it’s not a problem ignoring him, but I like Joe Rogan and I’ve largely stopped listening to his show because I’ve just found the ads and product spruiking to be over the top.
I’m not a fan of either show, but I do think Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas get the balance of ads right – they do enough to get the bills paid, but they don’t bombard you with ads.
It reminds me of the stories about the early days of commercial radio where eventually in the US the government had to step in and regulate it because at times you were effectively listening to advertorials. The listener didn’t know where the entertainment ended and the ads began.
Aside from the over the top advertising though, right now, I think podcasting is incredibly stagnant and as I mentioned earlier, boring. I used to listen to a bunch of business and marketing podcasts, but honestly, that genre is a wasteland. It’s like the merry-go-round of the same guests appearing on each other’s shows, saying the same cliche things repeatedly and then spruiking their stuff.
I think the problem is even deeper than that though. While the content is boring, the discussion mundane, the underlying problem to my mind is really the format.
There are three main formats:
– Person A has a show and they have a revolving door of guests.
– Person A and Person B co-host the show and they have banter amongst themselves.
– Person A talks for the entire show.
And just about every show is the same. In fact, these formats haven’t really changed for talk shows since the 60’s. The guys like Carolla and Rogan have evolved their shows slightly to be a bit more like Satellite Radio type shows, but again, that’s just a minor variation on a theme.
When you pull all of that together, you probably get a picture of where I’ve been struggling with creating a new podcast. I find listening to the overwhelming vast majority of podcasts that follow the formats above stupidly boring. I can’t bring myself to listen to them for the most part.
It was only recently that I came to this realisation, so I’ve been giving some thought about how to get around that. It’s hard. I don’t want to do a standard style show and “put my own spin on it” because it just wouldn’t interest me.
I want to do something a little bit different.
My thoughts are right now that I probably will start a new podcast in 2016. I’ve got a couple of very early ideas on potential formats for the shows I’m thinking of, but nothing fully fleshed out just yet. The three ideas that I’m thinking of are all a bit different and I’m enjoying playing with the ideas to see how the shows would play out.
I’m interested in your thoughts. What kind of podcast would you like to hear? Is there a format you think I should explore? Just reply to this post with your feedback and let me know what you’re interested in.