Podcasters "feeble-minded?!?"… well guess what…

It seems a latest buzz of the Internets is the reaction to an email written by “Radio Daddy”, which somehow has ties to the “professional radio industry”.  Podcasters are basically offended by being called amateurs and “feeble minded children”.

The exact quote (spelling errors and all): “Unfortunately with the ease of producing low quality podcasts and internet stations, children and the feable minded have become the majority operators of these.”

People are up in arms, there’s some interesting comments on Digg, and casters such as Todd Cochrane called people like RadioDaddy “the old guard [that] are not ready for change and the feeble mind that wrote this looks down upon podcasters.”

As a podcast listener and as someone who has subscribed to over 50 podcasts, I have some feedback regarding the Radio Daddy comments: most podcasters are children (or act childish) or are feeble minded.

I don’t mean to be blatantly insulting, and don’t get me wrong – I love podcasts and will choose podcasts over terrestrial radio virtually all the time.  However, podcasting is definitely in an infant stage and still has a long way to go before they can duke it out with “traditional radio professionals”.  I look at my feeds, and with the exception of 1-2 podcasts all of my 1st tier podcasts are either podcast ports of terrestrial shows (ESPN’s PTI & Around the Horn, the Glenn Beck Program), as well as people who have a background in (or backing of) professional broadcasting (Laporte and TWiT, CNet & Buzz Out Loud).

I look at my second tier and notice that they’re all made up of amateur podcasts – people who don’t broadcast/podcast for a living.  And the reason why many of these people will be grouped with the “children and feeable minded” is because they can’t do what it takes to come across professional – things such as:

  • Put your ego aside.  I cringe every time I fire up a podcast and the first thing I hear is an update on the host’s personal life and things that have no relevance to the show or it’s subject matter. “Amateurs” need to understand that listeners don’t want to hear about them, but rather hear about their topic.  How many times have you heard Brian Williams lead off NBC Nightly News with “Good evening, my wife and I had a great weekend, blah blah blah.”  If you feel the need to talk about yourself don’t lead off the show with your personal life.  Bring it up in the middle or towards the end.
    • This especially applies in interviews.  A friend once paraphrased NPR’s Terry Gross’ reflection on being a great interview: to make yourself (the host) seem as uninteresting as possible.  Too many times “amateur” hosts won’t get out of the way of their interviewee and will end up talking more than that person.
  • Organize your show, and tell your audience what to expect right away.  It’s surprising just how disjointed podcasts can be.  There are no smooth transitions and unless you read the show notes, you have no semblance to the flow of the show.  Here’s an idea: lead off with your most interesting topic, followed by the second most interesting, etc.  Then at the beginning of the podcast start with “We have a great show. Today’s topics/interviews…”
  • Don’t ramble. Podcasters often take the “no time limits” for granted, thus many podcasts often digress into mindless banter. I’ve heard many podcasts wonder out loud about the length of their podcast.  The length isn’t the issue: if you can provide good, relevant content, then I will listen.  But if you get off on too many tangents, listeners will delete the episodes
  • Accept your personality/voice limitations.  Not all of us were destined to be in radio.  Broadcasting and communications degrees help weed out the amateurs – but just as there are those who have natural talent and don’t need formal training, there are those who simply just don’t have the talent for professional radio.  That doesn’t mean podcasters can’t be any less passionate about it, and can’t embrace amateur status.  I love football and would love to play in the NFL, but the reality is that I don’t have the body, training or talent to play any organized football – but that doesn’t stop me from loving it any less, being a fan, and playing at the park with my friends.  Most importantly, I shouldn’t be resentful of those who possess that talent, training and experience.

If you want a good example of what it means to be a professional host, listen to Jim Rome, especially to how he lays out each show/hour and conducts his interviews.  Through his years of schooling and experience, combined with his personality, talent and presence –  Rome is the epitome of a professional broadcaster.

I love podcasting because it provides topical, on-demand content.  Because I’m hungry for that content I’ll often look past the “amateur” limitations, but whoever can find a way to blend the professional presentation & production with the topical and on-demand distribution will have the Silver Bullet of broadcasting that will take over all forms of radio.


Technorati tags: podcasting, podcasters, listeners