When Podcasters abuse their RSS feeds

Many may know that for the last few months I’ve gotten heavily into listening to Podcasts.  What started with a friend back in December recommending the Catholic Insider/Daily Breakfast, has grown into a steady stream of Podcast enjoyment.  Currently there are 35 podcasts that I subscribe to, and I do a pretty good job of keeping up with most of them.  Two reasons I love Podcasts: because they are asynchronous, on-demand content – I listen when I want to; the content is as specific as I want it to be. 

I listen to a few general interest podcasts, but most of the ones match up with my interests: technology, music/drumming, business, football, Catholicism and now cycling.  For those who do not know, Podcasts distribute & promote their podcasts through RSS feeds, where a user "subscribes" to and can instantly see whether changes are made to a feed – meaning a new Podcast has arrived.

Pocasting is a relatively new form of media, and with it come new ways to misuse and abuse it as well.  At Issue: The 24 Podcast, and the host jerking with the listeners through his RSS feed.

I love 24, and when I began getting into the show it was to my delight that there were numerous 24 podcasts available for my listening pleasure.  I really enjoyed 24 the Podcast when it began.  The host was excited about the show, he offered  insightful commentary, he had great rumors and spoilers, and did an excellent job of processing each episode. Unfortunately over time I grew frustrated with the show’s content – the Podcast wasn’t as much about 24 anymore as it was about Podcast’s host and the Podcast itself.  Nonetheless, I appreciated his efforts in providing a great Podcast about a show that I love.  When the 24 season ended in May, I naturally was going to expect less frequency in episodes (during the season the show was produced twice per week) and probably not any meaningful content until the show returns for the 6th season in January.

However, the host in his growing interest in podcasting, has begun producing other shows.  There were a few episodes presented in a general radio show format, and tonight in my aggregator I received the second episode of A COOKING SHOW?!?  Are you kidding me – a cooking show in my 24 Podcast subscription! 

Look, I understand if the host has other interests and endeavors. I understand if he wants to Podcast about them – more power to him!  Joe in particular is a great Podcast host.  However, I don’t understand when he jerks with his 24 audience by providing irrelevant content over his feed.  I continually subscribe to his RSS feed because I want to hear more about 24, not to listen to a cooking show!  This is a big danger when hosts create a topical show, when people tune in for that topic.  If they want a general interest show, then they need to change the format and let listeners know.

The host has developed his podcast audience because we all have one thing in common – we love 24.  We enjoy the host’s efforts, but not everyone that subscribes to the 24 feed wants to hear a cooking show!  I understand that the host wants to capitalize on the show’s popularity, but continually throwing stuff on the RSS wall and seeing if it’ll stick is only going to alienate the listeners – me included.  Now I’ve wasted the show’s bandwidth and I have downloaded a file that I’m only going to immediately delete.

Some suggestions on how to effectively promote additional podcasting endeavors: 1) Start a separate podcast for that subject; 2) Create a separate blog, URL and RSS feed for that Podcast; 3) Create a promotion to advertise your Podcast and put that on the 24 feed, something short and sweet:

"Hi, I’m Joe and I like 24.  I also like cooking, and would like you to check out my new cooking podcast at…"

4) Sit back and watch worthwhile subscriptions into your new Podcast roll in, while your current 24 audience has the invitation.

So just some suggestions from a podcast listener.  I really want to see all podcasts, especially 24 the Podcast, succeed.  The host is very personable, and goes out of his way to connect with the listeners.  Please don’t let this behavior force me and other listeners to unsubscribe from your feed.