Podcasters – One to One

This blog post is pretty much just for podcasters. I just wanted to address this in a public forum in an effort to help podcasters get better at what they do.

One thing I’ve noticed recently that really sticks in my craw is podcasters who step out of the “one to one” connection with their listeners. One of the things I was taught very early on in my radio career was that you never break this connection. The one to one connection is simply put this: Always speak in first person. Never say “you guys” or “the listeners”or “all you people out there” or anything like that. When you are on a podcast, just as on the radio, you should be speaking in the first person as if you are speaking to a friend in conversation – looking them in the eye.

Why is this so? Well – consider how an audience uses audio entertainment. They either have their earbuds jammed in their ears – which is isolated with your show, or are in their car, or at their desk, or wherever. At most – maybe it’s on in house with a few people listening while doing something else. Typically audio entertainment is a solo medium – that’s why it’s so important to stay in the first person – you are talking to that one person.

Taking this one step further – what you talk about when you do your podcast and you talk in a one to one manner is also important. I’ve listened to a lot of new podcasts lately that play podsafe music – but they’re boring. Why? Because the hosts don’t take the time to become a person to their audience. Not only do they not talk one to one – but they don’t talk about anything that makes them a real person to their listener.

When I worked in radio I worked with a talent coach named Jay Trachman. Jay is the guy who instilled this philosophy in me – and is why I want to pass it on to podcasters. He encouraged me as much as possible to bring to the table glimpses of my personal life to my time on the radio. Believe me – when you’re a Top 40 DJ who is given 4 index cards to read an hour – and has to do contests and other stuff – it seemed like an insurmountable task. But here and there I was able to talk about a concert I went to or a place I’d been – so that I would seem like a REAL PERSON to the listener and not just a bodyless voice.

So now I’m hearing some podcasters being bodyless voices and front and back announcing podsafe music and just generally talking about nothing of value, and it’s frustrating. I know podcasters may still be learning the audio medium – but I’m offering this as a way to hopefully jumpstart the collective podcaster brains into creating compelling content – even when you do a music show.

You may have heard the term “it’s what’s between the records that counts.” In Podcasting I think this is just as true. The records might count a little more because they’re indie artists and it IS important to get them heard through any avenue possible. But at the same time – take the time to talk about how a song affects you – or if the topic of the song is of interest to you. Or – say the lyric talks about something specific – expand upon it as it relates to your life. Talk about these things and make sure – make sure you never break that one to one connection.

The best podcasters I hear are the ones who reveal things about their lives. I like it when Jersey Todd talks about his kids. I like it when Michael Butler talks about a fight with his wife. I like it when Jen and Corey from Bucket do their Potty segment – because those things make people REAL.

Finally – I do realize there are exceptions to this. Two person shows break this rule more readily because the listener is essentially eavesdropping on a conversation between two people. Some podcasters can break this when they are talking in meta about podcasting Adam Curry for example – because his show is about the subject of podcasting. But even a two person (or more) show can maintain its connection by not being overt about stepping out of the podcast and talking to the listener – instead of saying “let’s see what the listeners think – call in your comment to our comment line…” they could say “well maybe we can get some feedback – if YOU have a comment call our comment line…” Can you see where the second way of saying makes it more personal – it asks the listener DIRECTLY in first person to contact the show.

If you want to connect with your audience – maintain your one to one connection. It’ll do wonders for you, and your audience will love you that much more.

–*Rob