Shaquille O Neal,
Nicole ’Snooki’ Polizzi,
Ricky Gervais, and now Bernie Sanders.
What do all these people have in common? They all do a weekly podcast. The power of the podcast is vested in its ability to project authenticity and reality without the manufactured constraints of traditional broadcast media. Someone like Alec Baldwin is able, finally, to have conversations with his friends and people he’s interested in, and share them with us. Sometimes they take a political direction, sometimes they’re funny but they’re always honest and very ‘Alec’.
The two names that might surprise you as much as they surprised me are Anderson Cooper and John Oliver – both of whom have successful television shows and well-established brands. They work really hard on their TV projects and still make time to record a podcast – because there is something you get out of a podcast as a listener that can never be captured by any other medium. If you ever wondered what kind of conversation a famous author might have about things other than their books, or what family stories a celebrity might never get to share, or how anyone sounds when they don’t have their guard up – when they have a drink in hand or when they’re shooting the breeze – that’s what a podcast gives you.
I’ve often invited people to join me on my CliffCentral.com show – famous and not-so-famous people who have incredible stories to tell, and they’re often surprised at how much they share, because it’s a warm, friendly, relaxed space… and there’s a lot of openness. In a radio or TV interview, people are rushed to fit the segment length available, often only a few minutes, and so they end up trotting out the same lines and sales pitches. In our interviews we actually talk – and they always find it refreshing and familiar, rather than stressful and rushed.
There are podcasts about everything under the sun – I listened to one the other day about Star Wars. It was terrible, because the hosts stutter and repeat themselves and talk over each other – but I found myself listening to the whole thing because I love Star Wars so much.
Because the barrier to entry is so low, anyone can start a podcast, but that doesn’t mean all podcasts are winners. We do five Gareth Cliff Shows a week, most people do one show a week and some only do one every six months. Consistency and refinement are the keys to making a long-term success from podcasting, and the more people that find content they care about the better. After that comes monetisation, and that’s where you separate the men from the boys. We’ll talk about that next time.