What Makes Podcasts Fun To Listen To?

Filed as Editorial, Features, Guides on June 26, 2008 10:41 am

I’ve been listening to a lot of blogger podcasts lately covering a wide range of subjects. Most have a fairly standard format of introduction, preview of the show to come, then news, interviews, and a summary, but some just jump right in and wander all over the place.

Well-written blog posts tend to have a single objective which is supported by about three solid points. It includes links to more information or supporting evidence, images and screenshots, and typically encourages comments to continue the conversation.

A podcast is a multi-level conversation that happens within the podcast itself as well as within the blog and back again. A podcast typically covers many objectives, often repeated features with each episode, making a podcast into a combination multiple blog post and link list.

Some podcasters use very little music on their shows. Some use a lot. Some incorporate ads and promos from other blogs and online businesses, just as blogs do, and others do not. Some feature multiple voices led by a single host or many, with interviews, live or recorded questions and answers, and commentaries. Many more feature a single voice.

With so much diversity in podcasting, which podcasts do you enjoy the most and why? What elements do you look forward to in a podcast, and which ones do you wish would go?

As more and more bloggers are discovering how easy podcasting is, adding an audio element to their blogs, what do you think about podcasting? Will you soon be adding one to your blog?

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  1. By Fern R posted on June 26, 2008 at 10:54 am
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    I really prefer podcasts that are AAC feeds (which allows the podcast to have “chapters”). It makes it a million times easier for me to go back and listen to a particular part of the podcast again.

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  2. By Amber in Albuquerque posted on June 26, 2008 at 1:55 pm
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    Most of the podcasts I listen to are knitting related (but you probably knew that). The ones I like best are short (~30 to 45 minutes) with episodes that have a theme or a reasonably standard format. There are a couple of really popular ones that are much longer and more chatty, but I find they go off topic a lot and often are not as entertaining as the podcasters think they are.

    Basically, what goes for blogging probably also goes for podcasting…it’s fine to have an informal tone, but you still need to remember you are providing content for an audience. You should know who your intended audience is and what meets its needs/wants. There are a lot of good podcasts out there, so it’s hard for me to choose to listen to one, hour and a half long, rambly podcast (even if it happens to be informative and entertaining) when I can listen to three others in the same amount of time that I KNOW are going to be informative and/or entertaining. I’ve recently unsubscribed to one such podcast because over the year or so that I’ve been listening, it went from 1 hour to regularly over 1.5 hours and rarely stayed on topic. After listening to (too many) of the long episodes, I decided it was either 1) lazy editing or 2) I’m not in their target demographic. Either way, I bailed.

    I’m a writer (with a face for radio and a voice for mime), so I have no intention of adding a podcast to my blog…but I have been planning to provide a re-cap of some of the many podcasts available to knitters because I really like the podcasting medium and think many people are missing out it (just like many are missing out by not reading blogs).

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  3. By gin davis posted on June 27, 2008 at 7:28 am
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    I really prefer podcasts that are AAC feeds allows . It makes easier for me to go back and listen to a particular part of the podcast again.i also agree

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  4. By Mark Boudreau posted on June 27, 2008 at 10:26 am
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    I have both a podcast and a blog with The Rock and Roll Report and I really feel the future will be more integrated and less “I’m a blogger” or “I’m a podcaster.” The tools are there for anybody to integrate a blog (either in a traditional or magazine-style format) with an audio or video podcast to create a multi-media destination that better allows them to say what they want to say.

    Whether they want their “new media” site to be formal or informal, the lines that seperate blogs from podcasts are blurring and that to me is a good thing. I think that eventualy the words blogging and podcasting will disappear to be replaced by new media publisher or something like that.

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  5. By Andrew G.R. posted on June 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm
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    I’ve been podcasting since 2005 and am always curious as to what listeners are looking for and expect.

    I always appreciate feedback on the Working Podcast. Check it out:

    http://www.jobacle.com

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  6. By Amber in Albuquerque posted on June 27, 2008 at 12:42 pm
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    “New Media Publisher” I like that! One thing I just realized after reading the new comments, is that the podcasts I like (or that I feel are well done) have a written script at least to some extent. The podcaster may be improvising a little, but there is at least a coherent idea/topic and something resembling an outline or a finite set of (I really hate to use this phrase, but I will because I’m in hurry) “talking points.”

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  7. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 27, 2008 at 6:38 pm
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    @Amber in Albuquerque:

    Great point. I always go through the outline of the show to see if there is something specific of interest. What do you feel about transcripts?

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  8. By Amber in Albuquerque posted on June 27, 2008 at 7:52 pm
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    For me, there is more content (blogs and podcasts) out there than I can keep up with, so transcripts, at first glance, seem like overkill. I really like the idea of “show notes” and have occasionally used them, but I think podcasters should think of the podcast as a self-contained entity and not rely on transcripts or show notes. That said, I can see where making a transcript available to users would be helpful…especially if the podcast is meant to educate (rather than entertain) or contains an interview that someone might want to reference.

    I’m talking as a ‘loyal subscriber’ to several podcasts though…and as a relatively casual listener. Podcasting for more general traffic might be well served by posting the transcripts for download.

    I just realized that a researcher could use a podcast (new media) as reference material instead of for entertainment only. Talk about a duh! moment. This speaks to another point I wanted to mention…

    I’m reasonably tech savvy, but far, far ahead of many of my friends (who are far from computer illiterate). It is really important for “new media publishers” not to take for granted the average user’s comfort level and knowledge of the various types of new media and ways to read/subscribe/access them. What is everyday to us is leading edge (if not still cyber fiction) to many of them. If your intended audience is a general one, it will be important to consider this when providing content.

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  9. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 28, 2008 at 1:09 am
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    @Amber in Albuquerque:

    I’m glad you answered this way, as it is actually the law that transcripts for audio and video must be provided per the ADA and equal access within the United States, and many countries around the world recognize the same laws. But few do it. I will be looking into machine and human transcriptions processes as part of this ongoing article series over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more on this.

    For the hard of hearing or deaf, they have no access to the content on video and podcasts and they need to know what is going on.

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  10. By Amber in Albuquerque posted on June 30, 2008 at 8:09 am
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    Wow! That makes perfect sense, but seriously, how many of us have even thought of that!?

    Your article sounds like a good one because I’ve been blogging (where I guess it isn’t as much of an issue?) and listening to podcasts both for over a year and the ADA thing was never a blip on the radar. It would be interesting to know how widely the law applies (only to “broadcasters” using public airwaves, which the internet, iTunes, even cable TV are NOT? or to anyone with ‘content’ for public consumption?).

    Even if it’s not required, it’s an excellent add on for anyone wishing to be a ‘serious’ new media publisher and finding some good machines/software to do it would be a valuable resource.

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  11. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on June 30, 2008 at 8:14 pm
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    @Amber in Albuquerque:

    The ADA applies to “public access” which is pretty wide ranging. Television and cable are required to provide subtitles, and websites have been sued for not providing or meeting web accessibility standards. Podcasts and videocasts are not exempt. I’ll be writing more about this soon, so stay tuned.

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