While radio broadcasters are routinely critiqued and coached by their program directors in aircheck sessions, podcasters usually don't have the same opportunity to get feedback from professionals. For the past several years, I have hosted the Podcast Makeover panel at the Podcast Movement conference. In this session, we invite a panel of broadcasting professionals to critique up-and-coming podcasters. Now, for the first time, we're also conducting the Podcast Makeover as a series of blogposts.
Victoria Moran hosts the Main Street Vegan podcast. I invited three broadcasting professionals to listen to the first ten minutes of one of her podcast episodes and offer feedback. You can hear the episode here:
Here's what our aircheckers had to say:
- I can hear the happiness in Victoria’s voice. It’s clear that she is passionate about plant-based living and sharing those stories with others, and that enthusiasm is a wonderful quality to have in a podcast host.
- Victoria booked a well-spoken guest for the podcast who was knowledgeable about the subject and personable throughout the conversation. Added bonus that he mentioned his excitement for being on the podcast!
- I appreciate the flow of the conversation. Podcasting is a two-way street: it’s talking, but it’s also listening in a considerate manner. Both the host and the guest show such respect in the podcast, allowing for a more fulfilling dialogue for listeners to enjoy and learn from.
Ways to Improve:
- I enjoy the scene-setting of Victoria when introducing the episode’s guest (around 0:47-1:40), but as a first-time listener, I would love to hear Victoria introduce herself and the podcast prior to introducing the guest (and the related anecdote). This can be something as simple as, “Hello everyone, and welcome to Main Street Vegan, the podcast where we [blank] so that you can [blank]. I’m Victoria Moran, a [insert titles/accolades/experience here] and your host for today’s episode.” This way, listeners can be properly introduced to Victoria’s voice, personality and background (i.e., why she is an expert in facilitating the conversation as host) before she begins her introduction of the guest (and how she may know them).
- There’s a drop in audio quality between the podcast opening (around 0:33) and Victoria’s introductory remarks (0:47), which could confuse listeners’ ears as they’re directed from one audio setting to another. More than the difference in audio equipment (it sounds like the podcast opening was recorded in an established broadcast studio with a volume boost vs. Victoria recording her part in a home setting with different equipment and audio/ambient levels), the tone is disconnected between the two pieces. The podcast’s opening resembles a commercial radio advertisement or the introduction of a late night talk show host (with a personality that is very poppy and excited), whereas Victoria’s voice and story-setting is more soothing, soft-spoken and conversational. For a seamless listening experience, I would look into creating a consistent tone and sound in this section of the podcast.
- The podcast’s theme song (Eazy V’s “Vegan Girlz) is wonderfully catchy! As someone who works in-and-around music rights (particularly as host of a music podcast), I’m equally curious and cautious about podcast music since one small misstep could lead to some major legal headaches down the line. With that in mind, I would double-check on having the podcast rights to sounds, clips and songs (like Eazy V’s “Vegan Girlz”). Here’s a quick-and-easy guide to some sound considerations.
—Joni Deutsch, Podcast Manager at WFAE in Charlotte and host of WFAE’s Amplifier podcast
- I truly enjoyed the concept and execution of this podcast. I am not vegan, but my wife is, so I found the conversation to be interesting and suggested that my wife check it out.
- I thought the intro was fantastic, the “help animals” line was a great way to set a fun tone to the show. I liked how the host didn’t waste time before getting to the show and had an excellent personal story to share about her guest.
Ways to Improve:
- I would have trimmed out a lot of the “official” intro to the guest. There was a great story about the guest, and then transitioned into a long introduction that listed all of the guest's accolades, which was being read from a script. I started losing interest during the intro, as listening to her read for an extended period of time was tough. I would have went straight to the guest and found ways to weave those other accolades in at different times of the interview (if at all).
- I thought the audio quality was distracting. I think it’s great that the guest is not over a phone — I’m guessing they were on Skype — but the guest's audio had an echo to it.
—Steve Migs, co-host of “BJ & Migs” on 99.9 KISW in Seattle
- The host did a great job with her introduction, saying she was taking me back in time and recounting the story of meeting the guest for the first time. She painted a vivid picture that really grabbed my attention, sucking me in to the episode.
- It was also great that her first question was about the conference he had just attended. Too many interviewers feel the need to go back to the beginning, talking with their guest about things from the past and proceeding in chronological order instead of diving in to a current, timely discussion.
Ways to Improve:
- Her first question however was very general. Instead of asking something specific about the conference he had attended, she just alluded to it vaguely and trailed off. This gives the guest carte blanche to say nearly anything about the conference allowing him to direct the conversation and essentially control the show. Being more specific will lead to better content.
- She also could have abbreviated the guest's list of accomplishments. Following the great intro she lost momentum by reading off a long laundry list instead of narrowing the focus to the most relevant titles and accomplishments.
—Mike Stern, Radio Consultant at Jacobs Media Strategies
Thank you so much to Victoria for participating! This August in Orlando, I will once again host the Podcast Makeover session at the Podcast Movement conference. This is a rare opportunity for up-and-coming podcasters to get feedback from broadcasting professionals. If you are headed to Podcast Movement and would like your podcast to be considered for the panel, go here:
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