For the majority of my career, I worked in the broadcast realm, where content is meticulously slotted by the second to fit into a prescribed schedule of programming. Many shows were charted out with clocks on paper, rigidly synced to atomic time. In the realm of talk radio, you feel like you’re getting deep into a conversation when the music starts playing and you hear “we’ll have to leave it there, we’re out of time for the hour.”
That’s why I bought in to podcasting from the very start.
I love listening to podcasts because it gives me the opportunity to zero in on the interests and personalities I enjoy, and to do so when and where I want. I subscribe to a couple dozen podcasts on my iPhone, and the beauty of it is I can pick and choose what I listen to. When I listen to linear, real-time radio, I’m at the mercy of what’s on at the time. Sometimes that’s good if we’re talking about breaking news, but I listen to a lot of public radio and not every topic appeals to me. I can pick and choose episodes from the shows I follow and only hear what appeals to me.
As a creative professional, I love talking shop about things that interest me. That’s why I find it so enriching and inspiring to listen to people I admire talk at length about what they do and what drives them. In a world where content is stuffed into bite-size, quickly-consumable packages, I find more value in the long-form media like a podcast. You can get frank, honest and truly in-depth discussions on a podcast that you’d never be able to get in a broadcast medium. Even great interview shows like Charlie Rose are limited by the bounds of a time slot. I regularly listen to conversations that are two or three hours, and I’m endlessly fascinated. I’ve even added new voices to my list of inspirational people by hearing them interviewed on popular podcasts. I listened to an hour-plus conversation with Arnold Schwarzenegger on The Nerdist podcast, and came away with a totally different opinion of the man from it. That’s something I’d never say after seeing him on a pre-interviewed and tightly-packaged stint on The Tonight Show.
That said, long-form isn’t always an automatic good thing. There’s a drastic difference between in-depth and long-winded. There are great interviewers, and there are a hundred times more who can’t move a conversation along to save their lives. A two-hour conversation between intelligent individuals engaged in a tight back-and-forth can be a joy to listen to. But talks that meander off on a boundless array of tangents, or lose focus quickly, will lose listener engagement and subscriber loyalty. Some of my favorite podcasters, like comedians Marc Maron and Chris Hardwick, filmmaker Sam Jones, and actor Kevin Pollak, are natural conversationalists and skillful interviewers. Preparation is key in swiftly moving the dialogue forward and keeping the conversation engaging.
Podcasting is such a liberating and exciting medium, and one too few content marketers utilize. That’s a shame, too. Podcasting has never been easier to do, and beyond the technical stuff, there’s virtually no rules. There’s no clocks. No filters. Anything — literally — goes. It’s such a great way to educate future customers and establish yourself as an authority in your field. In a world littered with stale PowerPoints and infographic after infernal infographic, nothing puts a voice or face to your brand — literally — like a podcast.