What makes a good podcast?

Hi, Everyone,

TWiT has been doing an amazing job with podcasting for many years, but I would love to understand from both TWiT hosts as well as community members, what goes into a great podcast?

Is it the content? If so, what kind of content? How much content should be on each show? How deep should the content be?

Is it the hosts? If so, what kind of attributes in hosts do you like? How many hosts make a great show? What kind of discussion?

How about production? What elements of production are important to you? How visual should shows be? What is the role of video in a show, and how should it be used?

It could be fantastic to get a god sense of what makes your favorite shows great.

Thanks!

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Yes - those things!

But bottom line - hosts. Their ability to relate, be a approachable “friend” - while being a subject matter expert. A tall order - but at the end of the day it’s the host. Great content delivered poorly goes nowhere.

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I agree, personality is everything on a show, and as you say, having someone who you can really relate to. What elements do you think go into making a host truly relatable though, @Stefbauer? Is it just primarily personality, and what do you think are the most interesting personality traits in a great host?

I would add to that, hosts/cohosts and guests, need to have the ability to relate to the audience that the podcast reaches. When you have individuals that are enthusiasts, practitioners and/or professionals in the topics the Podcasts cover, the audience notices the value they get in listening. It helps to have enthusiastic and passionate people be in the show too! :slight_smile: Plus, hosts/cohosts need to be comfortable in their seats because it does show, and the audience will notice if they are not. The cohosts on TWiET are some of my favorite people and are true professionals in all things Enterprise and IT Pro tech, so it truly provides value to the audience.

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There’s a theme here thus far and I agree with it. It starts with the host being likable and trustworthy. I listen to a few podcasts that are absolutely about nothing. Just chatting. And I love it because of the hosts. They’re not pros or anything like that. I watch TWiT because I trust the hosts. Production quality has been an added bonus.

Although, there are people that have better “voices” that can get people to listen. I’ve turned off a show because the voice didn’t work for my attention span. Just my two cents.

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While this may not cover all of the things that make a good podcast, in my opinion I equate it to good web design.

Meaning, if I open a website and it takes forever to load the content, the color scheme isn’t pleasant to look at, I have to use a slideshow to view the content, the navigation isn’t immediately clear…I’ll typically immediately leave that website.

Same goes for a podcast. If I start a podcast and the audio is unclear, the music and mics aren’t levelled properly or the host sounds clear but the remote guest sounds like their on a walky-talky I’ll immediately shut it off. It first and foremost has to be appealing to my ears before I’ll even get into considering the content.

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I hope others will agree with me that video re-defines the show, and not always for the better. The audio is the intimate connection. Video is what makes a broadcast feel “broad” and less personal.

Of course, more choices are often better and good production coupled with audience-aware talent like Leo can balance the two, but if a video podcast is unappealing when muted, or if an audio podcast is unengaging without the video, then there’s work to be done.

Personally, I’m glad that TWiT focuses on the audio.

I think a lot of what I look for comes down to trust.

  • Hosts who are subject matter experts and know what they’re talking about. This is something TWiT does really well.
  • Shows where there are good discussions rather than reading off predefined points. This goes back to requiring hosts who have the knowledge to talk around a subject. 3 hosts feels best for having a variety of opinions while still keeping everyone involved in discussions.
  • Hosts who can keep an open mind and are not too focused on pushing a certain narrative. Windows Weekly is really good at this - Paul and Mary Jo certainly aren’t afraid to criticise MS when they deserve it.
  • I appreciate the video and studio sets. It adds a level of professionalism and trustworthiness.
  • I know it’s difficult to do, but having all guests in studio takes the chemistry to the next level.
  • A topic I’m interested in. TWiT is good with this having shows for the major tech topics and ecosystems. I outlined in the future shows topic that I’d love to see some wider subjects such as science and gaming covered.
  • Finally I love it when shows have occasional ‘special’ episodes to change the pace. Chris Capossela on WW. The TWiT Christmas Specials. Live events etc.
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Good people and good topics, and a good sound engineer…

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The role of video is interesting to me. I think it can make a show actually a lot more personal: I can see the host and guest’s facial expressions, body language, and more. I think the key here is that the video needs to contribute something to the discussion, such as images and diagrams to reference, or to shoot the show from different perspectives.

What I think is less interesting is a video of someone streaming their webcam. It just looks like a videocall. Sadly, I appreciate that from TWiT’s perspective, they are dependent on remote hosts so they can have the breadth of programming.

I wonder if it could be interesting (or feasible) to provide all remote hosts with some basic equipment to make the remote feed as pro as possible, such as professional lighting, a high quality camera, or even a standard background set piece (such as the TWiT logo) to make it look a little more like a studio. Again, this might not be feasible, but I think it could help make video feeds a little more cohesive.

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for me video is a must, as am hard of hearing and seeing the host helps greatly in the comprehension of the subject. Subtitles are not an option as I can not read that fast.

Knowledgeable/personable host that are not blind to different views and are willing to change there opinions if warranted.