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Three Tips From Basecamp for Launching and Running a Successful Podcast

by Shaun Hildner, Wailin Wong  |  
May 14, 2018

When we launched our first podcast together in 2015, we were a former newspaper reporter and a video producer with a lot of enthusiasm but not much experience in making audio stories. Since then, we've launched an entirely new podcast and learned some things about making a show that attracts listeners and represents a point of view—and is enjoyable to produce.

We often describe our podcast as an unconventional business-advice show. In that spirit, here's some advice for making your own podcast.

1. Know your audience—and what it wants from you

Apple Podcasts and podcast apps tend to organize shows into categories: technology, comedy, business, news, pop culture, and so on. Those broad types are a start, but they don't always reflect the reasons listeners tune into certain shows:

  • Do they want to go on an emotional journey?
  • Do they want direct, actionable advice?
  • Do they want to be informed about current events?

Even within a single category, such as "business," shows can vary dramatically in tone and style and the experience they provide. There are narrative shows, such as Gimlet Media's "StartUp"; practical and niche shows, such as Pat Flynn's "Smart Passive Income Podcast"; and newsy ones, like NPR's "Planet Money."

Figure out what type of audio experience your audience wants from you, and let that guide how you structure your show. We say "from you," because although a large segment of your audience members might enjoy, say, comedy podcasts, they might not be looking for your show to be funny.

Figure out the intersection between your strengths and what your listeners want, and then take it from there.

2. Be about something

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Shaun Hildner is a co-producer and co-host of Basecamp's Rework podcast and a veteran video and podcast producer.

Twitter: @shildner

LinkedIn: Shaun Hildner


Wailin Wong is a co-producer and co-host of Basecamp's Rework podcast. She has a decade-plus of business-journalism experience covering small business, entrepreneurship, startups, LatAm economies, and financial markets.

Twitter: @VelocityWong

LinkedIn: Wailin Wong

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  • by Peter Altschuler Mon May 14, 2018 via web

    This is a primer for the over-stimulated -- that segment of the population with the attention span of a gnat and the need to be constantly reminded to pay attention. Why not just tell a good story? Briefly.

    For too many thirty minute (or longer) podcasts, there are five minutes of usable information that could be easily skimmed in print... or video... in even less time. It's just not possible in a podcast.

    After decades in broadcast journalism, my admittedly somewhat jaded perspective is that, after watching cable news, a whole cohort of eager minds thought that journalism would be easy. When they realized that interviews formed the basis of a story, had to be edited and integrated with relevant related information, and required fact-checking and corroboration, they invented the podcast. If the information was wrong or misleading, they could simply blame the guest and claim they had no time to verify the statements.

    Plus, unlike video where you can scroll through to material that looks more interesting, podcasts can go on forever and still never get to the point.

    So take this article as a starting point and keep going... in the following direction:
    • open with a clear statement about what the listener will hear, why it’s important, and how they’ll benefit
    • hire (or be) the kind of moderator who can keep people from rambling or avoiding straight answers
    • edit the discussion for clarity (and brevity) and use narration to bridge any gaps
    • for people listening to a download version, provide a timeline key, e.g. "10:14 The importance of Plan B”
    • provide a really simple URL for people who want links to more information, e.g.
    • offer a preview at the end of the next podcast
    • do I.D.s throughout — “You’re listening to [host name] on [show] with my guest [name] talking about..”
    • if you’re running audio ads, work them in as opening and closing “bookends”
    • if the ads are visible (in a download’s display window or on a SoundCloud page), put them above or below the audio progress cursor and below your own logo.

    If something goes on for more than 15 minutes, either the topic wasn't specific enough, the speakers weren't wrangled effectively, the editing wasn't sufficiently objective, or someone fell in love with content that no listener would have missed.

    And those music intros and segues? They might be necessary when separating programs on radio, but a podcast is playing on its own to a captive audience of one. If you want jingles and transitions and musical filler, do radio.

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