Less Than Half Full Podcasts

In preparation for next week’s series of demos on podcasts, I’ve downloaded likely more than I have in the last 10 months. The sheer number of them is turning out to be more staggering than I thought. Content varies, production quality varies, all according to typical distribution curves.

I am listening to a bunch flying on the plane from Austin back home to Phoenix, cringing while looking at the pretty clouds. Why cringing? I am listening to one that is supposed to be one in more than 100 of a series of tips in a particular subject (I am not specifying the feed as it really does not matter). I guess this one has some sort of following because there is a whole lot of upfront stuff that is hard to swallow as a first time listener.

Out of a podcast that is a shade over 10 minutes, it is nearly 4:47 before we get to the content. That is almost 50% intro fluff. We get cool hip music. We get an announcement from a sponsor. We get a long ramble about the tribulations of the podcaster’s job situation and efforts to make a change. We get some stats on how well this podcasts ranks are doing. We get zzzzzz….

Worse. There is almost 1:30 of closing music, more reminders about the URL for the show’s web site, etc. We end up with about 37% of the show being actual content.

And even more. Out of that sub four minute portion, about one minute are tips that refer to external sites, and the bulk of the rest are details about the value of one of the sites run by the podcaster!

Hey, it’s all about me! ME! M-E!

maybe if I was a frequent listener to this channel, all of this would be as important as getting a raft of clues about Lost, but c’mon- even a one hour TV show is only 30% full of commercials. If you are getting up to 50% of fluff before the content, 15% at the end, and swiss cheese in the middle, I think it is time to stop podcasting in front of a mirror.

Again, audio is an art. Maybe I no nothing about radio, the art of recording, etc, but my hunch is 63% of your content not being content is not the greatest design.

On the other hand, I am listening now to Willowcast, a podcast from an Omaha elementary school where kids make podcasts for kids- On a 13 minute cast, the content comes at 0:23 into the play. Well done, Willowcasters!

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Radio is an art. And a strange craft. I think there’ll be some interesting times ahead when folks who can really make a theatre of the mind begin to emerge from the audio cloud. There’ll always be room for the rank amateurs–few-to-few is one of the glories of this medium–but folks with an ear and a sense of theatre will be in hot demand by and by.

  2. You *must* be referring to “Tips from the top floor”. Gah. The show’s got promise, but the last FOUR episodes were drivel. I’m just getting back into photography for really the first time in 10 years or more and looking for information that just wasn’t *there* back then. The whole ‘net revolution, and all. Anyway, this guy’s a bore. I hope it picks up for the next 100…

  3. Ouch, too many clues! You nailed it. I may have just picked a bad batch to survey as I hit number 100 (gag) and maybe 95 (yecch).

  4. I’ve listened to probably 10 so far. Well, “downloaded” would be more accurate. I find myself wishing I could script iTunes to cut off the first and last minute of each of his episodes. There have been a couple “photoshop corners” that were interesting (although I don’t listen in front of a computer, typically). Er, actually, that’s all I can remember. The worst one was when he actually did a podcast to say he wasn’t going to do a podcast because he was sick. Still got the plug in for Podcast Alley, of course.

    I’ll give him another try, but I’m not holding my breath.

    If you’re looking for a really good show, check out White Roof Radio; it’s a podcast about MINI Coopers, so that might limit your interest, but it’s well produced and has three pretty entertaining hosts.

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