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By Jonathan Howe

In the past two weeks of the Rainer on Leadership podcast, we have experienced two of our top three days ever on the show in terms of downloads. For this, we are obviously grateful to our listeners.

As we begin year five of Rainer on Leadership, it feels like the proper time to look back over the past four years at what has made the podcast (and other popular podcasts) work. The “Religion and Spirituality” section of iTunes is by far the most populous category in the app, and Rainer on Leadership is consistently in the top 150. I’ve identified four elements of the podcast that I believe contribute to this.

  1. Content. I jokingly called Dr. Rainer a content monster earlier this month. After working with him daily on the blog since January 2012 and the podcast since April 2013, we’ve never run out of content. That’s 325+ podcast episodes and nearly 2,000 blog posts. That’s a lot of content. And while there is some overlap from time to time with posts or themes, we’ve published volumes of original content in the past few years. And that doesn’t include the hundreds of books, speeches, sermons, and video resources Dr. Rainer has created content for during that same timeframe. Content matters. If you have good content—content that interests your audience—you can sustain a podcast.
  2. Consistency. If you listen to Rainer on Leadership, you know the schedule. You’re going to get a new episode every Tuesday and Friday. If you’re like me, you have a routine of when you listen to podcasts. And when one doesn’t drop on time, you find yourself confused. Dr. Al Mohler’s podcast, The Briefing, is another example of the importance of consistency. His audience expects—and receives—new episodes daily. Consistency has been key to The Briefing’s rabid popularity. Consistently providing good content creates fans who are hungry for your podcast.
  3. Chemistry. Rainer on Leadership is fun for Dr. Rainer and me to record. We tell jokes, share stories, and cover church leadership lessons—all in around 22 minutes. Often, those recordings are the most fun we have at the office all day. We truly enjoy talking about church leadership. That comes across to listeners. It’s taken some time for us to figure the chemistry out, and it will take time for you to figure out for your podcast, but it makes a difference. There is a better flow to the show when the chemistry is good, and it creates a more enjoyable listening experience.
  4. Quality. Podcasts are audio mediums. It’s imperative that you have good quality audio. When we started the podcast, I was using a different audio editing program than I do now. The audio was poor, so I found a way to improve it. We also invested in quality microphones early on. Our audio quality isn’t to studio levels (because we don’t have one yet), but it’s not distracting to the listener. If your podcast audio quality is distracting to your listeners, they won’t be listeners for long.

Again, thanks for those of you who listen to Rainer on Leadership. And for those of you who have a podcast or want to start one, these are four most important things to focus on with your show.

What would you add to this list? Do you have a podcast and if so, do you struggle with any of these?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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