My Podcast Pet Peeves: Revealed!

I love podcasts. I used to host, record, and edit podcasts. These days, I’m just a listener, but I still burn through a lot of podcasts during idle moments in my car and on my smartphone.

Over the years, I have developed a lot of opinions about podcasts. Opinions that I haven’t always shared before. That changes today.

There are a lot of great podcasts out there. I know that because I listen to many of them. However, there is an equal number that falls short of greatness because of some simple mistakes.

Here are five reasons why some podcasts need to do better.

1. Abusing the Feed

Let’s get this one out of the way. My number one podcasting faux pas is directed at podcast networks that desecrate the feed you subscribed to by dropping in episodes from other podcasts they want to promote.

I get it. You have a very successful podcast. You have other podcasts you would like to elevate to similar heights of greatness. But putting a random episode into a podcast feed that has nothing to do with the one I subscribed to is unforgivable.

It’s like a spam email that somehow found its way into your inbox. I don’t want it, and I didn’t ask for it. I always delete those episodes.

I don’t want your trash cluttering up my nicely curated list of podcasts. Give me what I subscribed to. Nothing more, nothing less.

You know who I’m talking about.

2. Video First Podcasts

Let me know if this sounds familiar. A popular YouTuber has amassed a sizable number of subscribers, and they decided to start a podcast. Everyone’s doing it, so what could go wrong?

Quite a lot. Now, I know that podcasts can technically be audio or video (or both), but they are primarily audio. This is the format that started the podcasting movement, and it’s the one that continues to dominate it.

So, when a YouTuber creates a video-first podcast that often relies on visuals, it alienates the audio listeners.

Have you seen the design of this new EV? Can you believe that this is what the design team came up with? What were those guys thinking?!”

I’m trying my best, but unless you want me to look up a bunch of images on the internet while listening to your podcast, I won’t get much out of this experience.

So, here’s a suggestion. If you can’t think of ways to cater to both audiences, don’t. It’s lazy and condescending to assume that stripping the audio track from your video and making it into a podcast will work. It doesn’t.

3. Lack of Chapter Support

If you have ever listened to an audiobook, you will have noticed that the book is split up into chapters, just like in a paper book or on a Kindle.

Can you imagine how chaotic it would be if the only indication you had of your progress was a time stamp? Unfortunately, that’s what most podcasts are like, which drives me crazy.

Sometimes, I want to skip entire podcast sections that are irrelevant to me. Sometimes, I want an excellent place to stop until I have time to listen to the rest of the episode. That’s what chapters are for.

What’s more, I can tell you from experience that chapter markers are not hard to make. You might need some additional software, but apps like Forecast are free and do a great job creating chapters on audio files.

To add to this argument, most modern podcast players support chapters. That list of apps includes Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, PocketCast, Castro, and many more.

For me, there is no excuse not to do podcast chapters.

4. Too Many (Repetitive) Ads

Everyone’s got to eat. I understand that. Podcasts are just one of the many ways people make a living today. However, the more popular a podcast is, the more ads the listener has to endure.

I don’t dislike ads. I want to support creators who do things I like, but more often than not, it’s the same ads repeatedly. You know who I’m talking about. If I mention BetterHelp, ZipRecruiter, HelloFresh, ExpressVPN, or Squarespace, you probably have flashbacks.

I literally roll my eyes when I hear one of these ads, and it’s getting to the point where I’m not sure I can listen to some of those podcasts anymore.

Thankfully, help is at hand. There is a skip button included on almost every podcast app. You don’t have to listen to the same ad reads over and over if you don’t want to. But, it’s still annoying.

Many of the podcasts I subscribe to are now adding listener memberships to their monetization strategy because podcast ads just aren’t generating as much money and are not as effective as they used to be.

It’s time to rethink advertising on podcasts. The current system is broken and listeners are tired of it.

5. Bad Audio Quality

There’s some research out there that says people will watch bad videos with good audio, but they won’t watch good videos with bad audio.

That says a lot. Audio is very important. Podcasts are a personal and often intimate experience. They are being played directly into our ears, and no one else can hear it. The quality has to be good.

Nobody will hear those sirens in the background. I will. What about the neighbors’ dogs barking outside? Yes, I will hear those too.

You must minimize distractions if you want your listeners to be truly immersed in your content. I don’t want to hear people sneezing, bumping mics, or eating while others talk.

Good audio is not as hard to achieve as you might think. You don’t have to have NPR recording studios to produce a good listening experience. All you need is the right type of microphone and some forethought about the space you are recording in.

If you are in a big empty room with no carpets or soft furniture, there will be a lot of reverb. If you are using the mic on your laptop or the audio from a Zoom call, it will never be amazing.

Fix those two things; if you still have problems, the software can take care of the rest. Auphonic has an excellent free plan, and Adobe has a fantastic option with Adobe Podcast.

So, no more lousy audio, please. Your listeners deserve more.

What About You?

Okay. Rant over.

Do these pain points resonate with you? Am I being too harsh because I know how the sausage is made?

How do you think podcast producers can provide a better listening experience for their audience?

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