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As part of our ongoing work to launch a few ministry-specific podcasts at LifeWay, I’ve been working with Barnabas Piper (of the Happy Rant Podcast) on some guidelines and best (and worst) practices for podcasts. Here are a few that fit all podcasts, not just what we are working on here at LifeWay:

  • Get the right people involved as on-air personalities. When the wrong people are on the air, the podcast will struggle regardless of the quality of the content. Podcasting is an audio medium. Make sure your personalities are easy to listen to and come across as experts on the subject.
  • Pick your sweet spot but be flexible. Regardless of the main thrust of your podcast. different topics may lend themselves to different formats, guests, or content types. Don’t be so rigid that you can’t branch out for a different style of show from time to time. Consistency is needed in your style, but mixing things up keeps the show fresh and energizes those creating the show.
  • Only the spectacularly gifted should have a monologue podcast. There are few people who can pull off a monologue podcast. The main reason is that it’s really hard to be engaging by yourself. Even Fallon and Letterman have jokes that bomb during their short monologues. If they struggle from time to time during an 8-minute bit, imagine how you might sound for 30+ minutes without a studio audience.
  • If you are planning an interview-based podcast, the guests must be A-list. Interview podcasts rise and fall on the guests—especially at launch. If you have people no one knows, listeners just won’t tune in.
  • Include advertisements in the podcasts even if unpaid. This is all about having the audience used to hearing ads in the show. Without it, they will get whiplash when you start dropping in ads. It also lets advertisers know that space can be purchased.
  • Production value needs to be good quality, but not over-produced. Production value is important but not to the point where you over-produce or over-spend on production. Rarely do high-dollar production tricks add listeners, but low-quality production sure will turn listeners away.
  • Have hosts and personalities be themselves. Unless it’s the purpose of the podcast, they are not performance pieces. Think of podcasts as audio versions of 60 Minutes. News, commentary, insight, and wit. That’s what people listen for. So be yourself.

What would you add to this list? Do any of these surprise you? 

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