Practice Makes Podcasts
I don't know everything. And this newsletter proves it! My first Podcast partner Will Rutherford guest writes this week. I'll let him introduce himself:
I like podcasting. I would pretty much have to, considering Iâ€™ve been doing it for somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 years now. Iâ€™ve been a part of The Wrestling Mayhem Show for that stretch of time and I also started my own show, Panel Riot, one year ago. I like it. It gives a voice to the voiceless. Not that everyone didn't have a voice before, but now you can hear people's opinions without all that pesky reading stuff. Podcasting is a wide open medium. It can be 10 minutes or 2 hours. It can be funny or informative or opinionated or historical. It's all on the table for podcasting. The only restrictions are the ones that one places on oneself. It's all on you. You want to start a show? No problem. Record it. Figure out what to say. Edit it. Find hosting. Tell someone about it. Tell lots of people! Make them tell people. None of this is going to happen if you donâ€™t do it yourself. A podcast will rise and fall ENTIRELY on your own merit.
A brief clarification: Iâ€™m not talking about the REALLY big podcasts out there. The shows on The Nerdist Network or Earwolf or Maximum Fun. Those are top notch shows, no question, but those shows have famous people on them. They have interns and producers and sponsors that pay them real American style money. They have amazing celebrity hosts but they also have incredible guests every single week. They are stacking the deck, as far as I'm concerned. What Iâ€™m talking about is your average person, just like you and me, with a microphone, a recording program and little else. Whose wit and gumption are all that stand between themselves and pod-fading into silent oblivion.
For this reason, this form of podcasting is a very pure art. There's a line in Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain that I love and itâ€™s â€œMale, female, gay, straight, legal, illegal, country of origin â€” who cares? You can either cook an omelette or you canâ€™t.â€ Itâ€™s the same with podcasting. You can either produce a quality show, or you canâ€™t. If you can't, you can still produce content, sure, but no one will listen to it. All you can do is keep putting out show after show until you start producing something that people want to hear. Practice makes podcasts, after all.
If youâ€™re putting out a shit show every week, no one else can help you. If it's all terrible recording quality and poorly thought out programming, you're in trouble. The only person who can save you at that point is you. I'm going to say that again but in bold. The only person who can save you at that point is you. You can either adapt, or get crushed under the same terrible wheel as everyone else. iTunes, TalkShoe, Stitcher, Spreaker, Soundcloud and even YouTube are absolutely choked with dead podcasts. Vague audio corpses of half baked, poorly thought out projects. 3 or 4 episodes released and then abandoned. Itâ€™s happened to some of my very favorite podcasts and let me tell you, when the day comes that you realize that one of your favorite shows isn't coming back, when you realize that the thing you've been waiting for is dead and gone and the lifeblood behind it has moved on, it's a sad day. When you delete it out of your podcast feed, knowing that itâ€™s creator bailed on it long before you did, it's heartbreaking and unfortunately very, very common.
I respect people who make it to their episode 10. I have nothing but love for podcasters who re-brand halfway through. The content creators who listen to the feedback and make adjustments. Who reach out and give the people what they want or even give them what they don't know they want yet. These are people to be admired. They put in the work and get results and in podcasting, nothing matters more. Putting in the work and never, ever, giving up.
So, will you start a podcast? Sure you will. Everyone does. There are literally MILLIONS of podcasts for you to wade through. But before you do, consider: will you keep it up? Will you work at it? Will you adjust and adapt? Will you kill your audio darlings? Wipe out the segments that only you think are funny or informative? Examine every aspect from the way you structure your show to the way your friends pronounce words to the way you BREATHE with a microphone in front of you?
Making a podcast is the easiest thing in the world. Making a good one, however, is something else entirely.
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