I'm allergic to most forms of platitudes and marketing speak. Phrases like “Crush it!” and “Fake it until you make it!” top my list of eye-rolling phrases that have lost all value because they are uttered so often. The same for “dropping knowledge bombs” or “dropping value bombs”, both of which rank up there as well.
Except when it’s warranted.
Finding Value In Harsh Podcasting Realities
What Mike Carruthers of the podcast Something You Should Know said during the live taping of Podcasters' Roundtable last week is worthy of that label, no matter how much I don’t like the label. And no matter how much you may not like the bitter pill you’re about to hear.
For the uninitiated, Podcasters' Roundtable is exactly what it sounds like: a group of podcasters gathering ‘round for an extended chat session, discussing various things related to podcasting. Last week marked my fifth appearance on Podcasters' Roundtable where I joined longtime podcasters and co-hosts Dave Jackson and Ray Ortega for a conversation with Mike.
Now, Podcasters' Roundtable can be called a lot of things, but it’s certainly not a contest where the hosts and guests try to one-up each other. But even though it’s no contest, all of us agreed that Mike won the episode with this reveal:
20% of the interviews he conducts for Something You Should Know don’t make as a published episode. They’re never heard by the audience of the show.
Why? Because they aren’t good enough for Mike.
And that’s after a lengthy discovery, vetting, and screening process that even includes a video from Mike himself that tells the guest—in great detail—what is expected of them during the interview. They know that they need to bring their A-game and be engaging, energetic, and entertaining during the interview.
And yet 20% don’t cut it.
That’s one in five.
Imagine if every fifth week the guest you had lined up for your released-weekly interview-based podcast wasn’t up to snuff and you had the intestinal fortitude to not to air that episode.
Paraphrasing what I said during the taping, I wish more podcasters cared so much about their show that they too would only allow the highest quality episodes to be heard.
Making Room In Your Podcasting Process For The 20%
I know it’s hard to make the gut-wrenching decision to not air a guest. I know it feels like you’re cheating the guest out of their time. And I know how much you do not wish to view your time as a sunk cost.
But that’s what it is.
It’s also hard to make this choice if your recording schedule mirrors your production schedule, which in turn mirrors your release schedule. If you, like far too many podcasters, squeeze recording, producing, and releasing all in the same week, you’re kinda stuck when a guest sucks.
Without building in a buffer, you don’t have the ability to care as much about your show as Mike does his.
So… maybe rethink your process and build in some buffer time? If Mike’s tossing out 20% after all that screening to ensure his popular podcast continues to meet his high standards, how many low-quality episodes are you publishing?
You're the quality gatekeeper for your show. Or someone on your team is the gatekeeper of quality for your show. The reality is that not every guest you interview is going to be great. Not every script you write is going to be great. Not every topic and angle you come up with for an episode is going to be great once you start to work it.
And nobody wants to listen to not-great episodes.
No, I mean that. Literally no one wants to listen to not-great episodes.
Sure, your loyal fans will forgive you for the occasional not-so-great episode. But if every four or five episodes is not-so-great, then that occasionality becomes a pattern. Perhaps an unforgivable pattern.
Now think about the all-important first-time listeners. Do you really want their first experience with you and your show to be with a not-so-good episode? No, no you don’t.
At least I don’t think you do. I know I don’t want that. But only you can determine your tolerance is for subpar quality.
I'll just gently (?) remind you that every day, podcasters in your niche are seriously stepping up reinvesting in the quality of their shows. Every day, professionals with years of media experience are tirelessly making their shows more attractive to their listeners, as well as drawing audiences away from subpar shows. Every day, listeners are finding amazing podcasting content from podcasters that do not truck with subpar episodes. And those same listeners are finding they have less and less room in their media consumption diet for shows with inconsistent or sub-par quality.
Don't let your show be a statistic. The best way to control the quality of your podcast is to actually start controlling the quality of your podcast.
Are You Going To A Podcast Conference in 2021?
Podcast Movement ‘21 is coming up in just a few days and no, I will not be attending in person. Instead, I've blocked the days on my calendar and will virtually attend from my own living room. I'll be engaging and interacting as much as I possibly can, so I hope to “see” you there.
But I will, however, attend the ShePodcasts conference live and in the flesh this coming October. So if you're coming to the event in Scottsdale (which is only about 20 minutes from my studio in mid-town Phoenix), I would absolutely love to meet up! We can do it at the event, get breakfast before, have drinks after… you name it! Drop a note to me—firstname.lastname@example.org—and we shall find a time to meet.
And finally, if my retelling of Mike Carruthers’ value bomb was valuable to you, please consider lending me your support by buying me a virtual coffee—or maybe 12 virtual coffees—on BuyMeACoffee.com/evoterra.
I shall be back tomorrow with yet another Podcast Pontifications.
Podcast Pontifications is written and narrated by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy, corrected the transcript, and edited the video. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.