Enough With the Podcast Chit Chat?

Today I went to listen to a new podcast. I was pumped up as it was recommended by another podcaster. It was on the subject of being a better husband. I waited as they did their intro, I waited as they went through their contact information. Then one of the hosts talked about he was going to wrap up the final segment of an exciting story that had been going on for weeks. “Ooh this sounds good,” I thought to myself. Then he revealed the story was about finding his car keys. What? I was bummed. So I'm here to ask you, is it just me or do podcasters tend to spend too much time on “Chit chat” at the beginning of their podcasts? Am I in too much of a hurry?

My point has always been to put this stuff toward the end of the podcast (as your loyal audience who listens that far will appreciate it more than a newbie listener). I would love your thoughts in the comments section below.

No Real Traffic at Blog Talk Radio and Spreaker

I've been playing with “live streaming” of your podcast. This adds an amount of difficulty to your podcast (or more technology might be a better explanation). My point is Blog Talk Radio makes it sound like just being on the site, you will get an audience. I did a podcast every week and you will see with 33 downloads, that their numbers don't seem to translate into an audience. If I had to choose between Blog Talk Radio and Spreaker, I like Spreaker much more.



Light Boxes Don't Cheap Out of On Video Podcasting Either…

I feel dumb. I explain to people over and over that you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on podcast equipment, but going with the “bottom denominator” is usually not the best strategy. I was looking into getting some lighting for the videos that I put on YouTube. Most of the time these kits are around $400 if not $600 (see kit below on the right). When I found a kit that was $105 I thought “Awesome!” I didn't ask anyone I knew about them (my buddy Ray Ortega has more experience with video). I knew they wouldn't be as sturdy as some of the other more expensive systems, but I planned on setting them up in my office and leaving them. They didn't need to be sturdy.

Well, they showed up with zero instructions. Luckily there was a video on Udemy (where I have a class) about lighting and I could see how to put it together. The stands are VERY cheap. The lighting is made of plastic (thank goodness as the stands might not support them if they were heavier. The hinge at the bottom of the stand is made of plastic, and its broken. This isn't from a rough trip. Everything seemed fine, and the boxes didn't appear to suffer any damage. I think that these are just built as cheap as possible. Once again, you get what you pay for. I'm waiting to hear back from the manufacturer to see if I can get a replacement. In the meantim, I would avoid the ePhoto VL9026s 2000 Watt Lighting Studio Portrait Kit.

Nick Seuberling Start Talking and Recording Today

When Nick started Start Talking and Recording Today there were already at least five podcasts about podcasting. This didn't stop Nick and I'm glad. His show has some of the best interviews of podcasters. I met Nick in Vegas at the New Media Expo, and he is just a great guy. The kind of guy you want to hang out with ya know? I always tell people that your experience and history help make your podcast completely different than other podcasts on the same subject, and Nick is now my poster child for this. He took the experience he had, his love of sports, and combined his influences (ESPN< and others) and combined it into a great interview show about podcasters and podcasting.

Some of Nick's past episodes include:

Podcast Your Passion
Money is No Excuse
No One is Perfect
File Saving Basics
Pros and Cons of Garageband

Check out his podcast at http://startpodcastingnow.com/

Also Mentioned in this Podcast

The Super Secret Podcast for Young Husbands

Podcast Covers

Daily Podcast Tips

Daily Podcast Tips! Put Your Inbox to Work

About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.
11 comments on “Is Opening Chit Chat Bad? – Spreaker and BTR – Nick Seuberling from Start Talking and Recording Today
  1. Daniel Sparks says:

    I have unsubscribed from a couple of podcasts because the hosts spent more time talking about themselves than they did talking about the podcast topic. I don’t mind hearing something personal if it relates to the topic–or even a short personal note unrelated to the topic. However, I subscribed to the podcasts to hear information on the advertised topic, and that’s what I’d most like to hear.

    Personal announcements should be kept at the end of a podcast, and, if listeners won’t receive any value from the info, it should be left out altogether. Otherwise, it would seem more helpful to start a separate podcast about ongoing saga of the host’s personal life.

  2. Dave

    I’m brand new to podcasting and really into learning how to do it well. The amazing thing is having the absolute editorial control over everything – content, frequency and audio quality etc. I hope that is never taken away from me or anybody else….. as podcasting would be no more.

    It can also very quickly lead to problems, as that lack of any editorial control can let you wander in all directions. Very creative hopefully but also very boring if unchecked.

    So in my vast experience of 4 weeks I would suggest that the editorial board should be your listener and listener feedback for every episode by whatever means short of begging might just help in keeping the podcaster on topic.

    My apprentice wisdom is down to listening to your podcast, your experience and the other podcasters in your niche. I listen to all five or six of you. 🙂 I’d like to thank you for all the advice.

    If you ever fancy visiting Scotland I might be able to repay the compliment as I travel around my wee country full time on a hobby basis. I’ll be your guide.

    One of your attentive pupils in the School of Podcasting.

    Passing Places

  3. Hi Dave,

    My podcast partner and I constantly have this discussion when we talk about the intro to our podcast. We are highly critical of how long our introduction is because we know that when people tune in, they should expect the show to start off right off from the start. So, we try to keep our chit-chat to a minimum. Sometimes we go beyond what we have allotted for an introduction, but we go back, listen and try to correct it the next go-around.

    By no means are we perfect at what we do, but as radio veterans, we have been trained to focus on attention span and what people might find interesting vs. not interesting. I think podcasters should think of their entire show like a sandwich or essay: Introduction/Body/Conclusion. I could expand on this so much more… but people should just keep things simple and get to the core of WHY your audience wants to listen to you.

    I couldn’t agree more with Daniel when he says that he has unsubscribed to podcasts based off the unnecessary banter that takes place in the beginning. I have a problem with so many podcasts for this reason. Whether they are “comedy” podcasts or “informational” podcasts, I want to get to the meat of why I’m listening. There’s an unwritten expectation for listeners who are trying to get something out of their listening time.

    Just like you said: if they are invested in your podcast, they will listen all the way through and can get to the little bits of personality at the end of the podcast.

  4. Hey, Dave. Great show. I think it depends on your connection with your audience. To me, part of the purpose of podcasting is for the audience to get to know the podcasters (and, to some extent, vice versa). I produce and co-host the Familyman Show with Todd Wilson. We’ll shoot the breeze some, but long before I started working with him, he built his audience with his personality and his encouraging ministry to dads and families. So, I suppose his personality and the chit chat is some of what the audience expects. For a more business-oriented show, I generally expect less chit chat, but I think it’s up to the host(s) to set the tone and the expectations for the audience.

    There’s one show (I won’t mention the name) that I’ve listened to for years, but I skip a lot of episodes because the host sometimes spends over half the show babbling about nothing. I have tremendous respect for the person and what he’s accomplished, but his podcast has not been up to what I’d like it to be.

    Keep up the good work. I really enjoy your show.

  5. Stopped the show at the beginning to come and respond. I like a bit of chat at the beginning but I much prefer getting into the subject at the beginning THEN talking later. I wondered for the longest time whether anyone listened that far as it was after the interview.

    Sometimes I don’t keep up with every episode and hearing a partial story even with recap at the beginning reminds me that I didn’t hear before and makes me want to switch off. But having heard the message then hearing the story I don’t feel that way…strange I know but there.

    Chit chat and catch up after the main topic of the show. It’s taken me a long time to get to that myself. There are few shows I listen to now that to the chit chat at the front thing.

    As a solo podcaster it’s easy to go off tangent even with an outline. I try and keep it predictable and similar at the beginning and can go different after the interview.

  6. I have struggled thru this myself in the last couple years and now really see the value in getting right to the material up front and saving the announcements and chit chat for the end. Since our shows are done live, we save the off topic stuff for just the live audience. It doesn’t make the recorded podcast unless it is really funny or really good.

    So our new format is short intros (we always have guests), meat, announcements, end show, chit chat with the live listeners.

  7. CarrieZ says:

    Hi Dave,
    I agree with the statement that it depends on the show. I am the first and currently only female hosted hunting, fishing and outdoors podcast. I titled it The Wild World of CarrieZ because my life is pretty crazy and I spend a great deal of time in the outdoors. But it’s MY WORLD so in the opening chit chat segment which I title “News and Announcements” I always let people know what’s going on in my world. I chit chat about what happened over the weekend or stuff coming up. I recently had a radio host personally scold me for being “too open and honest” about what’s going on in my life. He sais no one wanted to hear about what was going on behind the scenes especially if it was unrelated to the outdoors. So I asked the question on Twitter and Facebook and was overwhelmed by the response. In summary they listened because they liked me, not just the detailed information I provided. That without the personal touch I was just like any other hunting or fishing podcast. Lots of information but no personality, I may cover the same topics but I ask different questions and insert my own personal touch to the subject matter. Now, on the flip side May 1st I launch my second podcast called “The Business Side to the Outdoor Industry”, there are lots of podcasts that detail the process and end result of the hunting and fishing world, but none that tackle the industry side. That will have no chit chat because it’s of a more serious and business oriented nature. The listener won’t care about my weekend turkey hunting, they just want to know what they need to do in order to sell more turkey calls or drive traffic to their turkey related blog. But on The Wild World of CarrieZ, I’d talk about my weekend turkey hunting and then play the interview with a guy that explains the different types of turkey calls and how to use them properly. So I honestly think it just depends. Keep up the good work and I love your show!

  8. Jeff Roney says:

    We have been crucified on iTunes about the initial banter. We have ripped 90% of the initial banter out, and so now our podcast sounds like (IMHO) and audioized blog post at certain points. I am exagerating, but not too much. Sometimes I stop myself from telling stories and further comments because of the iTunes bashing factor.

    I wonder what TV or Talk Radio would sound like without banter. Sure, people listen for the info, but the more you remove banter, the less important the hosts become. Morning News was banter-less for a long time, and when one station started to be more personable and saw the ratings increase then everyone else jumped on board.

    Yes, there is a balance, but the balance is not robotizing the hosts. :rant over: 🙂

  9. Patrick says:

    Hey Dave! This was my first time listening to the show, and I thought I’d chime in my two cents. I’ve been running a horror movie discussion podcast for the past three years; the twist being is that I’m catering to a gay audience. I normally put my personal stuff at the front end before digging into the reviews. After hearing your show, I decided to at least put the question to my audience whether they’d prefer me to put my life story stuff at the end.

    The answer was a unanimous “No!”

    Given that it’s an entertainment based show, I’ve always wanted to keep a casual feeling to it. While it is structured, it’s been my goal to maintain a feeling that the listener is a guest in my house. “Pull up a chair, grab a beer, and let’s catch up before we get down to business.”

    However, personally, I feel that with instructional podcasts, I personally would prefer you just get to the point. I’ve had the feeling while listening to some podcasts where the host was going on at length about his personal life that I’m back in college trapped in a class with a professor that refuses to stay on topic.

    In other words, while it works for me and my show, it may not work for every show. It would depend on the nature of the podcast as well as the host(s).

    Thanks, Patrick.

  10. I do like a little chit chat at the beginning. It’s what gives podcasting the personal touch over other media. With that said, I have been put off by podcasts that stretch it out too long.

    In our case, we have a “hyper-local” audience and we know many of our listeners and have the opportunity to meet them when we’re out. The goal of the show is to build community and encourage personal relationships between us and our listeners and between our guests and the listeners. We do continue to put in a bit of personal chit chat at the beginning but I think we’ve been good about cutting it down to a tolerable amount, recently.

    Some is good, but keep it to a minimum.

  11. Tina says:

    I like the chit chat, and our listeners like the chit chat, apparently. But we’ve never asked them about the order of things. Hmmmm, time to poll the audience!

    I do think that it depends on the audience, and since our audience is overwhelmingly female (homeschool moms, for the most part, though there are a few dads and not-yet-parents) I think that has a lot to do with whether or not they like the chit chat. I would think females are much more into chit chat than males.

    We’ve had some criticisms for our intro chit-chat, but then once that is revealed, we immediately get a ton of rebuttals saying they LOVE the chit chat, and it makes them feel like they are hanging out with friends and feel like they really know us and PLEASE don’t lose the chit-chat!

    Our show is not just thesubject content, though, but also a peek into the daily lives of homeschoolers. So the chit-chat feels really relevant.

    One compromise we’ve had was to put a time code right at the beginning to let people know what time to fast forward to if they’d like to skip the chit-chat. I am pretty sure, from all the positive responses that we get from people saying how much they love our chit-chat, that most people don’t fast forward…but the option is there and we’ve been thanked for it.

    You really cannot please everyone, though. We tend to go with the majority, and what we ourselves feel. But I’m going to go poll our audience about the order of our show currently….might not hurt to jostle it around a bit. I do feel like our main subject content doesn’t feel exactly right all the way at the end, like we’ve been doing it.

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