Aren’t podcasts great? That’s not sarcastic, I genuinely mean it. The current boom in the industry gives listeners more choice and creative freedom for creators. Plus, healthy competition raises the bar, but there are common pitfalls podcasters can fall into, particularly those new to audio production.
Here are some of the things that tend to make me wince, my podcast pet hates.
“We’ll cut that out”
Most commonly found in interview or discussion formats. A guest may say something cheeky or rude and admit that they shouldn’t have said it, no big deal so far. The host will then say “oh don’t worry, we’ll cut it out” often leading to a discussion about whether or not to leave in what the guest said. This is a problem. Audiences aren’t stupid and know that if there’s anything the guest genuinely should not have said they won’t be hearing it and a protracted on air editorial discussion with the guest or among the hosts is self-indulgent and dull.
“Time to pay the bills”
I used to hate the idea of ads on radio and podcasts, but they’re a necessary evil. If you’ve got to do an ad then get on with it, making a point of saying; “sorry, time for the ad”, “time for the boring bit” (that’s a real one) or “time to pay the bills” takes away from what you’re doing. People are used to ads and expect to hear them as an old trope of radio. There was once a DJ who would play a comedy ka-ching sound effect before every advert who didn’t keep their job for long.
Stop talking about the podcast unless the podcast is about your podcast.
Slightly falls into ‘we’ll cut that out’ but similarly, naming people we don’t know or hear without context. Saying things like ‘this’ll take forever to edit” and discussing how you make the show. Unless your podcast is about making podcasts, people probably won’t care. People like audio because it’s personal and intimate. Podcasts can build up followings really quickly because everyone feels like they’re in the club and that’s great, but as soon as you start to deconstruct the world around your club that spell can be broken. To quote Danny Baker, one of my favourite British broadcasters “don’t let daylight in upon magic”.
“You Should Be a Guest On My Podcast”
It’s cringeworthy and corny, keep business chat off-air. A guest plugging their podcast is fine, just don’t tout for contributors while on someone else’s show.
"Out There In Listener Land”
Anyone who says this phrase should not be legally allowed within 12 meters of a microphone. Too harsh? If you’re referring to listeners, try and remember that a majority of the audience are listening as individuals. It’s quite common to say ‘you’ or ‘what do you think?’ when directly asking the audience a question or referring to them. You’re lucky to have anyone listening, respect them.
“Time to pay the bills again”
“I’ll tell you later”
Don’t allude to an anecdote, person of interest or event that you can’t explain or reveal. It's extremely frustrating. It’s even more annoying if you say you’ll ’talk about it later’, it sounds like you’re deliberately excluding the listener. In scripted storytelling, reveals are used for dramatic purpose and if they don’t pay off, they seem pointless.
"This'll work well on a podcast"
Usually when referencing something that needs to be seen like a picture or the way someone looks. While in the discussion someone says 'this is great for an audio podcast', trying to make a joke out of the audience being unable to see the person or thing in question. The people listening know they can't see it so why draw attention to it? It's much better to be descriptive, painting a picture so that everyone can understand what's going on. As well as maybe putting a picture on your Instagram, Twitter or website.