Buzzcast

What Makes a Good Podcast?

July 03, 2019 Episode 2
Buzzcast
What Makes a Good Podcast?
Chapters
00:00:00
Intro - What makes a good podcast
00:00:47
Story telling and engagement
00:18:40
Audio quality
00:36:53
Being likable
00:49:46
Awkward ending
Buzzcast
What Makes a Good Podcast?
Jul 03, 2019 Episode 2
Buzzsprout

In this episode, we discuss all the aspects of what makes a "high-quality podcast" and why it's not what you're probably thinking.

Have an idea for something we should talk about? Post it in the Buzzsprout Podcast Community on Facebook and tag one of us to let us know!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we discuss all the aspects of what makes a "high-quality podcast" and why it's not what you're probably thinking.

Have an idea for something we should talk about? Post it in the Buzzsprout Podcast Community on Facebook and tag one of us to let us know!

Travis:
0:00
Alright, but testing the test. Oh my gosh, it's going to mess with ours. Yeah. Come on jiggle boy. I've upgraded. I'm good to go.
Travis:
0:13
Welcome to Buzzcast were we talk about all the awesome stuff with podcasting and we all have opinions. Some of them are better than others and some of them are right. I'm Travis helping me in this episode. Kevin, uh, our resident cofounder and Alban person who knows everything about marketing. So in this segment, this episode, we want to talk about something totally subjective, which is what makes a good podcast. Cause that's a question that we get a lot. Like how do I know if my podcast is good, how do I make it better? What makes a high quality podcast actually high quality? And what are things that don't actually matter. So first though, I want to talk about storytelling and engagement cause this is something that really sets apart some podcasts is like, wow, that's incredible noteworthy. Everyone likes to talk about it. Um, but it's not something that happens automatically. And so I'm curious, are there any podcasts that you guys listened to that you think are really good with keeping you engaged through the episode or you know, in, in the mindset of a story or talking about a specific thing, but it's not just like information. Do you guys have any that kind of pops the top of your head?
Alban:
1:23
Yeah. Um, the one that pops in my head when I am trying not to think of just like Serial or something that's overly produced. Um, the first one that popped into my head was hardcore history. It feels like he sits down at a Mike after reading like 30 bucks on a subject and boom, jumps into it for six hours and you are just sitting now like the most riveting person and six hours later you're like, oh my gosh, I know like everything about Genghis Khan now. Like this is awesome. I have not listened. That pocket is really six hours. Yeah. He has episodes that are six hours long and the Genghis Khan one, I think that's like three or four episodes. I mean, he is, it's book level in depth. Talk about, um, historical events and it is so interesting.
Travis:
2:10
Yeah. And he only comes out with like one or two episodes a year. Oh really? Yeah. It's, it's crazy. Um, but yeah, no, I've heard a lot about that podcast where it's like, people that don't enjoy history or aren't history buffs or hate school, they're like, yeah, but I'll listen to six hours about gangas con or like the, the Japanese Chinese war that preceded World War II. I was like, what? Okay. Interesting.
Alban:
2:33
He's crafting this incredible story that feels totally natural. Um, because it's just coming from one person. It's not, there's no like sound effects. There's not doing like stuff in the middle with big clips. It just sounds like it's a straight conversation for all this time or a monologue, I guess. And it's impressive that someone can do storytelling that way. Um, I don't know, maybe, maybe that was me trying to say there can be great storytelling, but it may not always be overly produced. Does that make sense?
Travis:
3:05
Yeah, no, 100%. And I think that's a good distinction. And we're going to hit audio quality here in a second. Um, so I think that'd be good to circle back to. What about you Kevin? Are there any podcasts that you enjoy listening to even if they're not specifically story based that you guys find to be super engaging?
Kevin:
3:21
Yeah, I have a couple of examples that pop into mind. The first one is really story-based and it's the way I heard it from Mike Rowe. Yeah. It's like an homage to the old Paul Harvey stuff. And so he will tell a story and starting, you know, at some random point and he tells the whole story and you don't really know who he's talking about until the very end and the episodes for the last 15 20 30 seconds, he reveals who this person was and it's usually, you know, someone that you've heard of, somebody famous and are significant in one way or another. I really enjoy listening to those. Just try to figure them out ahead of time. Like it's a little bit of a mystery involvement wrapped up in the story. I love listening to them with my children to see if, you know the ones I get they don't get and sometimes they get ones that I don't get.
Kevin:
3:58
Those are a lot of fun. The other one I think about is Conan O'Brien needs a friend. Okay. So I listen to those because they're, they're fun and entertaining. He interviews other comedians but he's not really doing like the story of their life. They go through really specific, like Conan, we'll say hi, interacted with you this one time on my show or we were on a movie set together or you came over to my house for dinner. And they, it's usually two or three specific times that they interacted and they go into depth on those stories. Yeah.
Alban:
4:26
What do you think makes them work? Like the micro one, like what do you think it is that makes those clicks so much? Is it like the teaser?
Kevin:
4:31
I think he has this challenge that he's given himself that, how do I tell this story in such a way that I don't give away who I'm telling the story about? And so that creates a creative process. And a problem in your mind that you're creatively solving the whole time you're telling your story. So I imagine he's not doing these things on the fly. I'm, I, I imagine he writes them out ahead of time or at least you know the speaking points and rehearses it a few times. But I think giving yourself a constraint like that, like when you're telling a story, like I'm not gonna you know, if you're interviewing somebody for your podcast or say or something, listening to other podcasts they've done and say, how can I do something different? I don't want to ask these obvious questions. I don't want to tell this story the same way that it's already been told I'm going to put myself in a box and I'm going to operate within the box. And that's where creativity comes alive.
Travis:
5:14
Yeah. Cause the thing that I think about when it comes to storytelling and engagement is there's a wide discrepancy between engaging podcasts that are shorter and then hardcore history being the other side of the extreme where it's six hours. And I think the thing that I always come back to as far as like, is this a good podcast in terms of keeping me engaged is that I feel like the host is being intentional with the content that he's putting out there or she is putting out there because I've listened to podcast room, like I feel like this is going nowhere. I feel like there's, there's no end to this conversation. They're just making conversation for the sake of recording something. And this hour and a half, you know, dialogue between three co-hosts could really be 20 minutes if they just tightened up their act and had an outline. And so, so that's been the thing that I pick up on when I'm listening, listening to a podcast and trying to figure out is this something that I want to continue to listen to is, do I feel like my time is important to the people that are putting the podcast together?
Travis:
6:12
You know, cause I'm totally fine with going for a two hour ride if it's something that's gonna be really engaging and something that I feels intentional. But if it just feels slapped together, then that's going to be not necessarily a flag, but it's going to turn me off. It's going to be like, well you know, I don't really, if they're a cliff notes version of this podcast I can listen to cause I don't really want to listen to the whole thing. It seems like you're just filling space to fill space, you know?
Alban:
6:33
I mean that's kinda touching on the question. We got this in a Webinar or we did today. Like how long should a podcast episode be? Maybe a good way of giving our answer to that is to say like as long as the story is that long and it's engaging for that long, I mean there's great youtube clip, you know there's great vine videos. There are six seconds and then you've got game of Thrones that's like 70 hours. People engage with good content as long as it is like there's no limit. But as soon as the story is kind of over, you need to cut it off. Like don't let it just ramble for an extra an hour.
Kevin:
7:07
I like the idea. I think a trap that we can fall into when interviewing people in the podcast format is that ahead of time. We can prepare a bunch of questions and then we have this goal of getting through all the questions as opposed to looking at those, that list of questions as those are our tools to dig for the gold. And so if we get through question one question two, question three in question three, turns out there's a really interesting, amazing story here and that goes super long. We have to fight podcast seven more questions. I needed to wrap this up or I need to get back onto my schedule. Like once you find the gold, then that's your focus. And so it doesn't matter if we get through the rest of the questions. Those are just tools to help us find this goal that we're looking for this amazing story, this great content. And if that's where you're going to be questions end and it's totally fine.
Travis:
7:51
Yeah. And that's even just focusing on kind of a 30,000 foot view of what is the reason you are bringing a guest on in the first place. Right. Cause like you said, it is easy to kind of rely on your, your pre your, your questions that you have figured out ahead of time trying to knock everything out without remembering. Like the reason you sign this person up to interview for your podcast is because you want to hear their thoughts, you wanna hear their story and you want to share that. But I know when I was first starting with interviews, like the first time I started doing interview podcasts, um, I was, I was terrified of getting off of scripts even though it was prerecorded and I can edit it to make me sound as smart as I wanted to. I was terrified by the idea that they're going to take this conversation somewhere I didn't expect or anticipate and I'm not gonna know what to do.
Travis:
8:41
So I might as well just stick to the script that I have laid out. Cause at least I know what's coming and I feel prepared as a, as a podcast, you're, it took me a little while to kind of gain the self confidence to try and do something different. And it was actually doing podcasting and real life was the first time that I stopped scripting questions and I started, uh, instead focusing on like broader topics, like what are the things about their show, their journey that are interesting to me that I want to dig deeper into. And then giving myself the flexibility and the freedom to jump in and out of those as I saw fit. Right. And so seeing them more as a safety net instead of like a, like a harness.
Kevin:
9:21
Yeah, that's a good way to explain it. I think oftentimes when you ask a question, someone will start going into the answer and they'll skip over this little detail. That's highly interesting. And you're exactly right. It takes a lot of courage to like interrupt them and stop and say, you know, wait a second. Did you just say, you know, you jumped off this 30 story building with, you know, or whatever. Yeah. And to them it might be no big deal, but to you it's super interesting. So you could imagine that the listeners want to hear more about that too. But it does take a certain amount of courage and self confidence to be able to interrupt the story and stop it there and say, I think this is worth digging into. Let's go for it.
Alban:
9:55
Yeah, I actually can think of a podcast that I listened to a lot and I don't really love because they consistently get these really good, it's a marketing podcast. I want to blast them on our show, but they do a really good, they get a ton of really good guests and they get the guests tell like their process and how they do work. So it's really valuable to me. But when they start like giving their stories, the host, I can almost see him looking down reading as next question say drops in. It's like super interesting. He's, Oh cool. Cool, cool. Yeah, that's awesome. So boom. Next question. And like this, you're not crafting a story here while you're crafting is like a Q and A session. Like, I'll hit you with a question. I've got my second question coming up. It's a survey or something. It's not a story. It's not a conversation.
Travis:
10:43
Yeah. And I've, I've definitely been guilty of that. Guilty of boom, boom, boom, boom doing survey monkey on my podcast. The other thing that's interesting to me about having an engaging podcast is, you know, kind of starting with the end in mind and making sure that the episode is leading somewhere. The podcasts that I enjoy listening to because I know there's always a payoff at the end, is the school of greatness by Lewis House. So he interviews people from a wide range of industries that have totally different backgrounds. Um, you know, he recently did an interview with Kobe Bryant. He's done interviews with people that you know, were on shark tank, like Mark Cuban and Tony Robbins and like the biggest people in the online space. And they all come up from a wide range of backgrounds. But what I really appreciate about his stories is that even though sometimes his guests come on with agendas, like they're trying to promote their new book or their new online course or whatever, he always focuses more on the human behind the, the famous person, so to speak.
Travis:
11:44
Right? So when he interviewed, Kobe Bryant, he didn't just ask him about like, what's your favorite finals? You know, what was your most memorable MVP? He was like, tell me about you, your podcast for kids and why that's important to you. Why is, why is it important for you to create contents that your kids can listen to and that you can share as a family? And then basically digging into people's like internal values. And then at the end he always asked the same question, which is what is your definition of greatness? And so I'm always curious to hear what people's responses are when he asked that question. Right? Because these are people that by any, you know, standard measurement are successful. And it's always fascinating to me is hearing how different their answers are than what I would expect. Lewis does a really good job of digging into the, the human behind the celebrity.
Travis:
12:38
And then also, uh, just revealing things in the interview that you just don't expect to hear in an interview, especially when people are pushing, uh, you know, their new book or their new courses or new products and they kind of have their elevator pitch honed in, you know, and they're just trying to use that as a platform to be able to, to ship some product.
Kevin:
12:59
Yeah. That reminds me when you talk about it like that, it reminds me of how I built this with Guy Roz. Is it Braz or Ross Ross, like Roswell glue around League of shadows Z A Z. You make the call. Okay. So this guy who has this podcast, how I built this, he does, he interviews founders of huge companies like southwest airlines and whatever. You can go check it out and they, they tell the story of how that company was built through a bunch of micro stories.
Kevin:
13:27
And then at the end he always, he always asked them a really interesting question. Like, how much of your success or the success of this company do you think was from your own intelligence and hard work versus how much was luck? I think it's a super interesting question to hear these people talk about, but I love how again on the theme of story, how they interweave the larger story, which might not be interesting if just told from like, you know, inception to completion straight through the way that they tell it is a bunch of micro stories just to kind of pared back to back.
Travis:
13:55
Yeah. I love that podcast. It's easy to, uh, it's easy to listen to that podcast and get lost in it because it's so engaging. And they have teams of audio engineers that make it sound really pretty. Um, I'm a big fan of everything NPR does.
Kevin:
14:08
Yeah. Another one is Akimbo. Do you guys listen to that? Yeah, so he rarely, I don't know that I've ever heard an episode where he interviews somebody. He has his own amazing thoughts on marketing and business and all these, you know, big concepts. He teaches through almost like parable. So he just creates stories on his own that he teaches through. And so I always think, I think that's a really interesting way to do it. So if you don't, you can't find somebody who has this exact story to make this point that you want to make, like create your own story. And he always, you know, phrases it in such a way like imagine you were here and you were doing this and then you had this. And so that's the way he teaches. And so again, weaving storytelling into learning and making complex subject matter, easy to understand because it's like, you know, in parable.
Travis:
14:53
What about you Alban? Are there any podcasts that come to mind? Yeah, one that kind of stuck out
Alban:
14:59
to me when we started talking about it as a consistent type of engagement. It was kind of the way I was hearing. I thought of a exponent. So that's a tech and business podcast. I mean it's Ben Thompson who writes detector [inaudible] and James Allworth and they're diving pretty deep into something in tech. The happened in the last week. The reason I keep coming back is because it's not going to be someone who's talking about like, oh my gosh, you just see what happened with this new apple announcement. It'll be how is this apple announcement showing like the strategy behind this business? How are they attacking the market? How, what are the business implications? What is the longterm vision for this company? And it's very much a business mindset that I don't have. I mean, both of them went to business school and were consultants and stuff. Yeah. There's that kind of what you're hitting on. Like there's a consistent type of engagement that I know I'm going to get. Even if the episode itself, that certain times of the title, I'm like, hmm, that's not exactly what I'm, I'm hoping for, but then I listened. I know I'm going to get the type of engagement is something that will be really valuable.
Travis:
16:09
Yeah. You start to trust the host, you start to trust the podcast that even if the title isn't something I'm super interested in, I'm still going to listen to it because every time I've listened to an episode, it's been worthwhile. So yeah, I think 100% yeah.
Kevin:
16:24
Reply all also does that like I enjoy this because they'll ask the most ridiculous questions and usually they're interesting but they require a level of research and like commitment to finding the true answer that no one in their right mind would really pursue. Like no one's going to go through all the trouble to find out what an episode I listened to recently where like they're trying to figure out why certain Domino's pizza locations are getting these rogue orders for like a large diet coke and then no one shows up to pick up the coke. Like okay, that's like kind of interesting. That's like they spent, you know like a month and you know, thousands of dollars and tons of resources to find the real answer to that question and you have to listen to find out. I'm not going to spoil it, but there's a huge payoff there that sometimes there are questions you never thought of sometimes are questions that you have thought of, but you know like who's going to spend the time, energy, effort and money to actually find the answer? Well they'll do it. And so that's a good payoff.
Alban:
17:15
Maybe what I love about the show is like in life there's always like you see the end of a story and you're kind of like, huh, wonder what the story was behind that. No one could ever figure out why the end of the story was. And a guy ordered a large diet coke. You just don't know what it is.
Kevin:
17:29
Yeah, the, well the benefit's not there. Like the benefit is the story. Right? But the story is, is rarely worth like pursuing for like a big investigative journalist, right? Like I've got to do something that's actually okay at the end I'm looking for $1 billion, right? Somebody's stolen billion dollars. Not who's ordering these diet cokes and never showing up. So there was not $1 billion in the other end of the Diet coke story. No, there wasn't.
Travis:
17:50
So, so just to kind of put a bow on this, cause I do want to move forward with the next part of this conversation is if you're a podcast and you're thinking, how do I make my podcast more engaging? Some of the things we talked about would be like be intentional with each episode, make sure it's not rambly or longer than it needs to be. Feel free to to pursue any kind of rabbit holes that you encounter in your interviews. Even if you're going off script, if you find a gym, makes sure to pursue that gem and then just be consistent with how you structure your episodes and how you bring people into the stories that you're telling because they're going to continue to show up for those even if it's not necessarily a topic that they're interested in.
Kevin:
18:33
Yeah, that's really good advice, Travis. Thank you. You're right on.
Travis:
18:36
I appreciate that.
Travis:
18:40
So I want to talk about audio quality and this is going to dive into what kind of microphone should I have, which I know Kevin, you have plenty of thoughts on this topic, so I want to kick them off to you. You look super excited to jump into this. Yeah. So when somebody says, what makes a good quality podcast in the context of overall sound and audio quality, oh, what are your thoughts?
Kevin:
19:08
I don't think about it like that. How do you think about it? I looked around our podcast studio and I say, what is the most expensive microphone on the table? And then I sit down behind that microphone.
Travis:
19:19
Yeah. So, so you're set up all together is about $600. The one that me and Alban are using is $200. Yeah,
Kevin:
19:29
I think it's quite obvious.
Alban:
19:32
I think Kevin just has a naturally a better voice. So anyone hearing this is probably going to be thrown off by the uh, yeah.
Kevin:
19:38
I don't know. I Dunno that it makes a huge difference honestly. Like the way that I hear my own voice, the way I hear your guys' voice, I think we all sound pretty similar. It's microphones in my opinion, are a very personal personal preference type of thing. So I am speaking into a heil PR 40. It's a really nice microphone. Sounds great to me. For me, I think, uh, I've got a shock mount and a pretty cool boom arm on it. But none of this is required. And up until today, I was not using to set up and just thought it'd be fun to try. Um, so Travis and Alvin are speaking on road pod mics.
Kevin:
20:12
Yep. They looked great. They sound great. I think those are incredible microphones. We also record on the ATR 21 hundreds all the time. And honestly I think at the end of the day when you put a podcast after you record it and you master it and you mix it down and you put it out and then it gets converted down to, you know, 96 k mono or whatever format you choose. I don't know that anybody could tell the difference. Like if we did a blind taste test, I don't, I think it's less than even though to the, uh, like the Coke and Pepsi Challenge, I think fewer people could probably tell the difference than could differentiate between coke and Pepsi.
Alban:
20:44
Yeah, I would a hundred percent agree with that. Um, I think that when people ask about audio quality, what they want to hear is by this thing and you're all set and it's awesome. But honestly it to me is like saying how much money do I need to be happy? Like there are things that can hang you up if like you have no money. Like you're dealing with all these issues all the time. That's a bad situation. But having a bunch of money isn't gonna make you happy in the same way, like audio quality. If you're just recording with headphones, you're gonna run into a lot of issues just like apple headphones or something. But once you get up to like a $65 microphone, I think almost all of the audio quality is almost there. Right?
Kevin:
21:26
You make, when you go from your earbud headphones with a built in Mike to this, like Alvin said, the ATR 2100 which about 65 75 $70 or so It varies. That's the big jump. That's the, you just went from a bicycle to a car. Now you have a car. Now the difference between the Honda accord and you know a Tesla or a Ferrari like there, there's a difference for sure. But if you're just trying to get to work and back the Honda accord worked just fine. Yeah, it's a good car
Alban:
21:54
and like is some point you, you aren't going to have a great podcast because you have a great podcast microphone, you're gonna have a great podcast cause you've been consistent and you're bringing value and you're doing a great job storytelling. And if you're spending like more than a little bit of time thinking about like got to get the perfect setup, you're probably allocating those resources to the wrong spot. That's my opinion.
Travis:
22:20
Yeah. So there's a very intentional reason why this is item number two, this episode and not item number one. Even though typically the first question that you're asked is, I'm starting a podcast, so what is the gear that I need to sound really professional versus how do I become a good storyteller? How do I actually keep people engaged with my podcast? If we're talking about the umbrella of having a high quality show, this is definitely a firm number two if not number three. Um, and you're right, like once you get past an entry level dynamic microphone and know how to use it, the returns on getting a $300 $400 microphone aren't as great as you would expect. Like the $400 microphone does not sound four times better than a hundred dollar microphone. It mindset on 20% better. And so, so that's a trade off you have to make. If it's money you're spending anyways, those nicer microphones will be better, but not in the scheme of creating a high quality episode. And I'm doing a five minute Monday that will come out soon where I talk about microphone technique. So a, so you can make sure you subscribe to that other podcasts if you're not already.
Kevin:
23:27
Yeah, I think there is a certain level in which a personality, whether they be, you know, broadcast or podcast or TV personality where their voice and their sound becomes part of their brand. You know, I think of like Howard stern or Joe Rogan or I can never say her name, right? The girl from Serial Sarah Koenig. Yeah, Sarah, like their voice, their voices of all those people are part of their brand. When you hear that you want to hear something familiar, it's like if, if you go to McDonald's and you order a big Mac, it better tastes the same in Florida as it does in New Jersey. Right? And so there is that aspect, but it's not something that we have to worry about as independent podcasters. Right? We don't have millions of people listening to our show. We're not branding our voice, our sound, we don't carry our microphones around with us everywhere we go so that we can plug in and have the same sound regardless of who show I'm on or where I'm recording. Um, and, and if you do, then $1,000 microphone is probably a very low item on your overall budget. But at this point, I, I, we did, we carry our, um, mobile recording studio around the podcast conferences and we let people come in and record from time to time.
Kevin:
24:36
And Pat Flynn came in, he records on a heil PR 40, which is, what is it, about $400 for that microphone? Yeah. Three $350 $400. And that's, he does a lot of shows and a lot of people know his voice. They know his sound. He sat down and I think that the first time he came in we had ATR 2100 set up, which is quite, you know, modern like as far as how much these costs. It's significantly less expensive up the microphone. And so I, I was a little nervous with him sitting down and like pushing that up to his face and he, the first thing he says, Oh, I love this Mike. They sound amazing. I can't believe like at the price point, these things are out. The quality is so high. Pulled it right up. Did his episode sounded great. Like again, recognizing that what he had to say is a lot more important than what he's saying it into.
Travis:
25:17
Yeah. Now I also want to talk about, uh, audio quality in the sense of how your episode, your final episode mix sounds. Um, cause it doesn't take very long for you to start running into words like normalization, compression, loudness, loudness. Right. So then you start getting to more of like the technical side of producing podcasts and there's a wide range of opinions about what is good for podcasting. Let's produced enough. What is overproduced, what is required, what is like the bare necessity. I'm curious like are there any things in your mind with the podcasts you listen to that are like if they don't do this I just can't listen to it. Is there any, can you think of anything? There are a couple of pet peeves I have when I listen to podcasts and I think they're on either end of the spectrum when someone's recording.
Kevin:
26:12
Like one of the things that you'll hear in audio production is this idea of a noise gate and that is when the volume of audio drops below a certain point, cut it out. And so people can get aggressive with their noise gates. They can, you know, either while they're recording like on their mixer or in post, they can run a noise gate filter on the audio and it will say anytime the room starts to go a little bit quiet, make it silent. And when you're listening to that, especially through headphones or if you've got a good stereo system in your car or something, it's super obvious, right? There's no between, when I'm talking, when I'm not talking, there's no background noise at all. It's it's, it's like unsettling a little bit and so that, that bothers me on one side. The other side is they do nothing to reduce the noise.
Kevin:
26:57
It sounds like they're just recording in the middle of a mall. There's all this background noise. You hear cars driving by and so that can be super distracting as well. The home of a air conditioner running or interference that they're getting or you can see like you can hear the sound of like text messages coming in on their phone, the digital noise that gets and so on either end of the spectrum, I think it's unsettling and disruptive and hard to focus on. What the speaker is saying and you know the story that they're telling or all the different ways that we just spoke about how they're trying to engage your audience. You can't engage because you're distracted.
Travis:
27:29
What about you Alban? Any pet pet audio peeves?
Alban:
27:32
I don't want to be like somewhat, you know, making people to nervous about this but sometimes we will talk for a long time. They start getting kind of that dry mouth kind of sounds. Yeah and I listened to one thanks for the example the guest had that like right in the beginning and I'm like man, let's get a glass of water because of water. And I'm like, I'm doing my best. I don't want to be like picky, but I'm like this is like uncomfortably distracting. Like it was just like, like every, every noise. Don't we don't need anymore examples. They all know like, oh this isn't a good [inaudible] go on as,
Kevin:
28:10
yeah, leveling. I was going to talk about that. The idea that I listened a lot of podcasts in my car and so like constantly changing the volume between the host and the guest is super annoying. So you're listening, you're driving down the road, there's road noise, you get to the volume of what you can hear, the host perfectly, everything sounds great, you're happy, and now the guest starts speaking and they're super loud or you need to crank it up even more because you can't hear them. That can get distracting.
Travis:
28:34
Yeah, that's my, that's my biggest pet fee is leveling. When you, you have your volume set to like the person talking and then you bring in this really nicely produced audio track, which is set much louder and it blows out my ear drums, you know, that is like the quickest way to get me to unsubscribe them. A podcast. Right. And so when we talk about leveling, we're talking about is recording every speaker and every audio track, whether it be a music, bed or sound effects or whatever else you put in your podcast, making them all on separate tracks. So at the end we can set them all to the same, what is it? Loudness. Loudness. The same loudness level in the final mix. Yeah.
Alban:
29:10
So you know that you're, it's not being done right. If you're hearing Kevin talk in a normal voice and all of a sudden I said really glad and Travis and here's Kevin, I get a normal voice.
Kevin:
29:19
See I don't even think it's gonna come through cause we're going to level this episode. So I actually tried to do it all myself so it was like at least they level it, like it'll kind of stay closer. Right. I think the overall goal should be you're, you're trying to make your audio sound is if you're having a normal conversation with somebody, right? Like if you're listening in the car that these are people who were in the car with you and having a conversation. That's what it should sound like. It doesn't need to sound like your, every conversation is taking place in a recording studio or every or it's so highly enhanced that you hear every little mouth noise. Like when I'm having a conversation with someone, if I'm hearing mouth noises, I'm stepping back like I'm not, I don't want to hear all the little cracks and weird noises that your mouth makes. And so the goal shouldn't be a perfect recording. If we were having a conversation in the vacuum of space and I heard absolutely nothing but the sound of your voice, that's, that's not the goal. The goal isn't natural conversation.
Travis:
30:17
Yeah. The, the thing that I think about too is that my expectation for what good audio quality is changes drastically depending on the podcast and listening to like the more scripted a podcast is, the more I expect them to put in the work to really have an audio engineer come in and make it sound amazing. Right. When I listened to how I built this, it's like because it's so well scripted and there is such an intentional storyline, I would feel insulted as a listener, like not to put it lightly if, if, if it, if they didn't have a music bed, if they didn't have audio normalization, if they didn't transition wealth, they didn't make a, you know, space the, the gaps in the silence to read it.
Alban:
31:04
Amazing to promote this episode. I'd be insulted if there wasn't a music bed.
Kevin:
31:08
Travis is a very high maintenance podcasts listener, but on the other, yeah,
Travis:
31:12
and when I'm listening to a podcast that is an purposefully an unedited interview conversation, my expectation changes completely right? When I hear them making mistakes or saying um, or like are these filler words. I understand that the reason I'm hearing those is because this is the kind of podcast I'm listening to and it's more free form. Like this podcast is not going to be nearly as produced as how to start a podcast, which is a scripted online course that is a podcast, right? They're just totally different animals and so when I go to listen to them, it's almost like my internal expectations of what makes this good changes as well. Do you, have you guys noticed that a about podcasts that you listen to? Is that even a thought you've ever had? It might just weird. Yeah. Yeah,
Alban:
31:59
no, I've definitely thought that. So I listened to a podcast called coin talk that's like a bitcoin podcast and it, the guys are really smart but they are just totally having fun with it. There is like, yeah, all this crypto stuff is like a choke and they're just laughing along having a good time. We're all running down rabbit trails and like just enjoying, you know, talking about stuff. There's times that are like coughing off Mike or there's a little noise or something and I'm not distracted by that because I'm literally thinking like I'm kind of just hanging out and listening to some friends talk in the basement and kind of just ramble on about some bitcoin stuff. If it was a super professional podcast type last night, really important, I probably wouldn't have the same. I would just have a different expectation. Um, and again, maybe it goes back to maybe like a level of consistency. If the whole show is kind of, hey, we're just doing this for fun, that feels very different than this is the most highly produced thing. And here's what your expectation is. You just have to meet the level of expectation that you've set from the beginning.
Kevin:
33:10
Well, and I think that's an important point is that you get to set the expectation, right? This is your creation. You're the creator. You get to set the creative direction of your production. And so if you enjoy highly produced audio shows online then and that's your goal, then that's totally fine to do that. I mean, but there is a certain amount of work and time, energy and effort that has to go into that. And so you want to make sure before you commit to creating that brand for your show that, that you're going to be able to sustain it.
Kevin:
33:38
Um, but I don't think you used the word professional and I just want to push back on that a little bit. Like it's not less professional to have a little bit of background noise. Like the idea, like the late night talk shows all the time. They do segments where they do like man on the street and the audio segments is less than, it's less produced. It's the, there a microphone out on a New York City Street and they get a lot of feedback and um, background noise and stuff. It's still works. It's still professional. So I think like, I like thinking about it more in like the creative direction and how you're branding your show, but it doesn't mean just because I'm recording in a sound studio makes it automatically more professional or less professional. It's just a creative decision.
Alban:
34:16
Yeah, maybe. I don't know. I think a different contexts in writing, and I was thinking like if you're doing a brief to the supreme court, you cannot get punctuation wrong. You cannot misspell something that's not okay and any one mistake is going to just scream off of the page. If I'm reading even a very professional blog, let's say Seth Godin, his blog, and he has a Typo, I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to move on. It's not that he's not professional, it's just the context that he's putting it out is saying, Hey, 10 people are going to read this, but you know, here are my thoughts. Right? Versus I'm making a argument about life or death for a person. You need to make sure there that you're getting your punctuation correct.
Kevin:
35:00
Right. You know, I mentioned Pat Flynn earlier and I think he's a good case in point here. He's built his brand. It's a very professional brand, but it's also a very transplanted parent and very honest. He's a family man. He's a dad. He brings his, he lets his children, uh, have a part in what he's building, like a podcast movement last year or the year before, he brought his son out on stage with him. Like, it wouldn't surprise me if I'm listening to an episode of smart passive income or ask pat or something if he just like stopped and made a joke about one of his kids just walked in the room. Right. And like, Hey, do you want to say hi to everyone listening, hi. You know, like that, that's not super professional, but it's on brand. Yeah. And it wouldn't catch me off guard. I wouldn't stop listening because of that, but it's just how he's branded his show and how he's created, uh, the style of his podcast. Now, that said, I've never heard that happen, but if it did, I do. I wouldn't consider him not professional.
Travis:
35:53
So that that reminds me of something his, uh, on my, on my, on one of my podcasts I record in my home studio, which is just a spare bedroom. I don't have like sound panels or anything. Um, but from time to time my very loud hound dog will be on the other side of the house and see something outside and just start banging like crazy. So barking really loudly and even though I have a dynamic mic and I'm like getting set appropriately. It's, it's piercing, you can't not hear it. And there've been times where I'm like, all right, let me stop, let me go let the dog out so I can rerecord that part. And then there were times where I'm like, you know what, I'm just going to keep going. Like it's just not worth it. All the feedback I've gotten has been, it was really funny when your dog showed up in the podcast, right? It was not, why didn't you edit out your dog? Why didn't you redo that segments. Yeah. And I just thought that was interesting cause that's, that wouldn't be intuitively what I would have thought the answer or the feedback would have been.
Travis:
36:53
All right. So I want to keep moving. The next thing I want to talk about is being likable, which again super subjective but also plays a big role in whether someone sees your podcast as being a high quality podcast or a good podcast. Because I know for me personally, there are certain podcasts I listened to because of the person doing it. Yeah. Right. And I mean I even think about youtube channels that I follow. Like I watch youtube channels that talk about things that I do not do. Right. There are a lot of tech review channels that I like and I watch not because I am always spending thousands of dollars on new cameras and lenses and lighting and microphones, but because I just enjoy watching the person, I just enjoy kind of feeling like I know this person. Like I just like them. Like we'd be friends in real life if they didn't think that I was a stalker by approaching them and saying, Hey, I watch you all the time, or at least you all the time. Um, so I'm curious, are there any podcasts that you listened to that the reason you've continued to listen to them is because of the host or because of the people involved? Even above and beyond the stuff that they talk about?
Alban:
38:02
Definitely that I think that a bitcoin one definitely stands out to me cause I'm like, I'm not into this stuff anymore. Like with Bitcoin, it was crazy. I was like, Whoa, I gotta listen to some podcasts about this. And I've stuck with it for like a year and a half. Cause I'm like, these guys are writers and like they're funny. And so I'm like, oh, this is interesting. Or, uh, I listen to one called the knowledge project. I'm like the guy who writes Farnam street and he's just like a really calming, thoughtful person who's doing really interesting. And even if one episode isn't like right up my alley, I'm like, oh this is like a thoughtful, smart person. I'd like to learn from him. What about you Kev, there any host that you really like? Well other than Travis, all Britain.
Kevin:
38:50
Well of course Travis. Yes. Alright. You know, I hesitate to chime in because I think it's easier for me to think of anti examples here like shows where I would typically enjoy the content but the host grates on me for one reason or another. And so I don't listen name names dude... Is that or is that a bad way to answer your question?
Travis:
39:07
Well just tell me why. Like what is it that grates you about them? Because I think that could be also an important part of the conversation.
Kevin:
39:14
Okay. I'll name names cause they're like celebrities. So I think they're not going to be hurt by, yeah, I don't think they're noting them. People that are going to say a lot worse things about them than I would, but like armchair expert, Redux, shepherd. I find the content pretty interesting. I've, I've tried to become a fan of the show, but I can't to me every time. Oh, it's called armchair expert. Like the idea that that Dax has an opinion or a counterpoint to everything. It feels like, again, my opinion, I just want to put that out there. I think he's probably a great guy, but it feels like he is, you know, expressing his opinion on everything that has guest is saying. And I don't love his opinions on everything if, and the way he communicates things again, feels to me like it's like everything he says feels like a Humblebrag, you know? And so as much as I've, I'm like, Oh man, I really liked the guests that you have on your show. You ask good questions, but you talk too much. I just, I just don't know that I would say again, like you said, I don't know that if we rub shoulders in real life, I don't know that I'd choose to spend my Saturday evenings with you. Not because you're a bad person, but just it seems like the way that you communicate and what you're interested in talking about and how you want to express your opinions is just different than I am. And so it's totally fine. I can like him and if I ever met him I probably would, but I don't know that we'd ever be best friends.
Kevin:
40:36
Another one you mentioned youtube, and this happens to me all the time on youtube there I like, I love watching like home improvement DIY channels and there's, I guess the projects that I'm interested in learning how to do myself around the house align with a bunch of videos that this guy created. I don't remember his name, but he's really, he's really good at what he does and he's showing you how to do the exact types of things I'm looking for and he keeps popping up every time I searched for something. So Youtube, you know, a lot of people must watch him, but he drives me crazy and I'm like, I really want to learn this skill. Is there anyone else who's teaching how to do the skill? But it's like this guy, youtube loves this guy. And I think Youtube thinks that I like him because I keep clicking on the videos and trying to like them, but I can't get past it because how do you tell youtube that? I really don't like him. Um, but yeah, so there's two anti examples. I think every podcast probably that I listened to, part of it is that I enjoy the host. Part of it is enjoyed the content and it's like the magic of those two things coming together. So it's hard for me to get specific about, oh, I listened to that one just for the host.
Travis:
41:37
Well, and I like hosts for completely different reasons. So it's not like I, I stick around for a podcast because the host is a certain way and all of my hosts are similar. All of my hosts, like I own them all, all of the podcasts that I listened to, like for me, the thing that I resonate with is when I feel like people are being authentic. When I feel like I'm connecting with the real person on the other side of the microphone. And it's not somebody's putting on an act. You're trying to be something that are not right for me. That's the thing that I find myself gravitating towards is if I have a choice between two, you know, every other instance equal podcasts, but one, I feel like the host is more authentic than the other. That's the one I'm going to gravitate towards. That's the one I'm going to want to continue to listen to because I feel like I'm connecting with a real person, which is something that I think is really special about podcasting is that we have an opportunity to do that. Um, but I know for me, like when I think about being likable, it's not even that there are like quote unquote popular or type a personality or outgoing, but it's more that I feel like I connect with them on a, on a human level instead of just consuming their content. Does that make sense?
Kevin:
42:44
Yeah, for sure. There's podcasting is, is pretty cool in that you're listening, like in an intimate space. Usually, again, for me, I'm listening in my car or I'm listening on headphones. So it's not like you're listening to music with a bunch of friends at a party. Right. And we're all sharing that experience. It's like me and whoever's talking to me, whoever I'm listening to. And so the idea that you're drawn to people who are authentic, I mean I'm, I'm assuming that translates into real life. Yes, yes. I'm sure it would for most listeners. So the type of podcast that you listen to and that's where you get that connection. I think that's why, you know, podcasts are popular in terms of like once you get a subscriber and they listen to your show for a few months, like they're probably not going anywhere unless you change formats or change who you are that you can't hide that stuff too much. You know, you can fake a personality for an episode or two, but sooner or later the real you is going to come out and people are going to connect with that or they're not. That's totally fine. Like you don't have, everyone doesn't have to love everyone, but it makes it super powerful because whatever you're following ends up being, they're going to like really probably not only like your content but probably like you and so very powerful.
Alban:
43:54
Yeah, I definitely thought as Kev went through a few of the podcasts that he doesn't like, I pulled back a few in my, like have listened to episodes but don't subscribe shows and two that like came to mind, one like Joe Rogan gets all these guests but I can't listen to three hours of Joe Rogan every day. And there is a bit of what Kev was saying there like the, you're the expert, but I have equal amount of things to say about this. And so like, you know, like a nutritionist that I sought that out and he's like, yeah, but like what about the all diet? It's like, wait, where is it? I don't know, is that you're not on equal footing on this, right? Like, you know, sometimes he does bring like an interesting bit of like who he is. Um, the quantity is way too much. And then the other one that stuck out to me is like a host I don't connect to in this obviously is not her fault, but Recode Decode like those, every one of those shows I'm like, Gosh, this is going to be so good and then Kara Swisher has this like thing, I think this is what it is.
Alban:
45:05
While she's asked a question and maybe someone is answering it, she thinks out loud and I in the beginning thought she was throwing questions at them in the big, in the middle of quick answers and I was like, oh, that's kind of distracting. Then I was like, oh, she's kind of just saying this to the audience like here's my thoughts on what they're saying and probably in person that's actually, would it be like totally normal. It really throws me off for some reason than a podcast and so I was like, it's not a bad thing about either of those shows like, and I know both of them are wildly popular. There are things for some reason kick me from the like gotta listen to every episode and subscribe to the Hey, check in every once in a while and see if there's a host or a guest or a show that's like, I've gotta listen to it.
Kevin:
45:52
Right. Most people probably aren't very narcissistic naturally. I mean, I know some people, it's like a real affliction that people struggle with, but naturally, most people, the norm is that they're probably not. But the more that we interview people, the more that we do podcasts, the more we get comfortable in this specific type of medium or job or something like that, the more that that, that confidence builds. And I think we have to be careful to not let it cross over into like sounding narcissistic. Right. And so I have, when you mentioned care recode decode, Kara Swisher. Yeah. Yeah. When you mentioned her, I have listened to a few podcasts because she gets amazing people to interview, but it does sound very much like, um, she's like, you know, Oh, I've heard, I've heard you're very funny. Well, so am I. So you have to hang with me. Like that's a direct quote from the last part. And I was like, Kara, come on. Like there's a certain humility that I think that we should remember to bring no matter how much we've done this, no matter how confident we are and no matter how quick you are on your feet now cause you've done interviews, you know, for 25 years, let's still remain humble like to our audience. That builds a lot in my book anyway when it comes to likeability.
Alban:
46:55
It's funny though. I don't think it comes through in her writing. I think her writing, it's like, I'm always like, this is incredible. It's funny that podcasting is a different media so some people you won't connect with and all of them. And uh, yeah, it's, it's interesting.
Travis:
47:10
Yeah. Yeah. And I want to circle back real quick to what you just said Kev. Because just recently, like less than a week ago, you gave me some constructive criticism on an episode that I did where I came off is maybe being more confident than I should have been with the information I was giving. Um, but that, that was good for me to hear, not because, you know, what I was sharing wasn't valuable or not true, but just as a reminder that even when you're like super confident in something, like I was sharing about how to, how to get on the top 200 apple podcast chart based on all the information that is kind of widely available, but it came off as like on this apple insider that has secret contacts that nobody else has, which could be off putting if people are listening and like, dude, like nobody knows this stuff. What are you? Who are you to say that you know, the exact strategy that works to get on the apple 200 charts when anyone who ever figured that out would get sued by apple and, or retire in The Bahamas. And so for me, I know that like, I appreciated that constructive feedback because that was like a mental reminder. Oh yeah. Like I don't have to pretend like I know everything 100% to be able to help somebody.
Travis:
48:18
Right. And I think that's a really important distinction. Yeah.
Kevin:
48:22
Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. That's good.
Travis:
48:24
Yeah. I hope you feel great. Okay, so, but just to kind of put a bow on this conversation about being likable, I think the thing that all of us would stress to any podcasts or listening to this is just to be yourself on your podcast. Because when you do that, you're going to attract people that like you for a wide variety of reasons and the people that aren't really interested in you and who you are and wouldn't necessarily want to go to the bar with you after work, they're going to move on. And that's totally fine because the people that stick around, those are going to be your people, right? And so for them, you are going to be super likable, number one, and they're going to think, wow, this podcast is something I really enjoy. And so when we're really talking about quality, I mean that's, that's really the whole, the whole goal isn't it? To find a tribe of people, a group of people that we can just give to and serve and make their lives better.
Kevin:
49:18
Perfect. Travis, you're amazing.
Travis:
49:21
Thank you, Kevin. I appreciate that.
:
49:24
So I'm really curious if you're listening to this, what your thoughts are on what makes a high quality episode. Uh, so go ahead and jump into the Buzzsprout podcast community on Facebook. It's a Facebook group that we have, which is a great place for podcasters to interact with each other, get their questions answered, and I'm really curious what you think makes a high quality podcast. That's all. We haven't figured out the ending yet, but that'd be up to something that you have to say keep podcasting. Oh yeah. And it will always keep podcasting.
Intro - What makes a good podcast
Story telling and engagement
Audio quality
Being likable
Awkward ending
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