If you look at a list of the top podcasts, like Edison Research's Podcast Consumer Report, you'll see a couple of different groupings emerge. One Very Big Bucket encompasses all the podcasts of the news/talk variety, comprised of people talking about politics, comedy, long-form interviews, current events, and more. Everything else—from true crime to storytelling to documentaries—we can place in another Very Big Bucket that I'll call high-concept podcasts.
While some listeners certainly do have a preference in which bucket they choose from, a lot of the people listening to podcasts today consume shows from both.
However, most podcasters only produce podcasts that fit into one of those Very Big Buckets. And most of them fit in the news/talk bucket.
Why is that?
At first blush, it's tempting to make the blanket statement making a high-concept podcast is too difficult for most podcasters. And while I won't argue against the effort required—because high-concept shows are difficult to pull off—I'd offer a slight change in perspective:
It tends to be easier to make news/talk podcasts than high-concept shows.
Because of that, it's easier for an experienced podcaster to take the learnings and skills acquired to make their current news/talk show to make another news/talk podcast. Rinse and repeat.
It's not that news/talk podcasters don't have the skills to make high-concept podcasts. Many certainly do. It's just that, like gravity, it's a strong pull to keep doing what you've been doing in the style and format you are comfortable within. A style and format that has enabled you to make a high-value show. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Well... what if you want to fix it?
Making a high-concept podcast can be incredibly rewarding. Applying your skills (or acquiring new skills) in a different aspect of podcasting makes you even more versatile. And that makes you more valuable and in-demand as a producer.
Producing a high-concept show can also expose you to a brand new audience. A brand new audience who might be interested in the full compendium of your podcasting prowess if you impress them.
But how do you keep your current news/talk podcast train running and devote the time necessary to make a new high-concept show? I have two tips to help reframe your thinking as you take the plunge.
Think Big, Start Small
High-concept shows tend to be big concept shows, so you need to think big. However, staring a big high-concept show in the face is daunting. So as with the proverbial elephant meal, start small.
Remember: you already have a news/talk podcast that's already working for you. Assuming it's a high-value show, you probably want/need to keep it going. And you'll almost certainly have a lot of learning, research, and trying out of new things ahead of you as you start down the path on your high-concept show.
Your new high-concept show is very likely going to be a nights-and-weekends project. A prospect made all the more complicated if you already use your nights and weekends to make your high-value podcast.
That's reality. So just portion things out wisely. Don't sacrifice your bread-and-butter show for your high-concept idea. Podcasting isn't going anywhere, so you have plenty of time to get out your high-concept show without burning out.
A lot of what you know about production, releasing, and promoting your high-value news/talk podcast will need to be changed—either slightly or a lot—as you tackle your fledgling high-concept podcast.
It's very likely that the order of operations for how you produce an episode will be completely different. High-concept shows aren't usually linear.
The release schedule for a high-concept podcast is less predictable too. Some drop all episodes at once. Some as they come out. Yes, it's always a good idea to give your audience an idea of when they can expect new episodes. But that's often a different expectation than you're currently setting with your news/talk podcast.
Likewise, the promotional schedule for a high-concept podcast will probably be different from a news/talk podcast. High-concept shows are a lot less time-sensitive. And they can often be "resurfaced" when today's news cycle is germane to a high-concept show that came out months or years ago.
Many high concept shows take years to produce and encompass less than ten episodes. That's it. Yet they can—and often do—have huge staying power as new audiences discover them year after year.
High-concept podcasting is not for everyone. But if you'd like to give it a shot, there's a lot you can borrow from your current high-value news/talk podcast. But plan on learning a few more tricks, so give yourself room to do that.
And if you try your hand at making a high-concept podcast, be sure to let me know about it. I'd love to listen.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.