What Is A Podcast?

podcast studio, table with microphones and headphones
N with sound waves and audio cord, Nootka Sound logo

Written by Nemanja Koljaja

Let’s start with the basics, a podcast is an interview-based spoken word digital file that’s usually formatted as a series of episodes. The word itself is a combination of the word iPod and the word Broadcasting. They are usually presented as an audio file, but over the last couple of years, especially with the rise of popularity of video platforms like YouTube, people started doing video podcasts as well. The best thing about the podcast as a medium is its accessibility, because you’re able to consume it across a variety of platforms and devices, as well as in different circumstances – while driving home from work, while working out, reading, etc. The only thing required is actually the internet access, because distribution of podcasts is done digitally across most streaming platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts…).

How is it formatted?

In general, one podcast episode is usually comprised of the opening sequence (intro), the interview and the closing sequence (outro). You can include some other stuff as well, like messages from your sponsor or ads, and they are usually named after their position in the episode. For example, a pre-roll ad comes before your interview or even before the intro, or you can have a mid-roll which is aired in the middle of the episode. Mind you, the position of the ad is going to affect how much it’s going to cost you to have it there. Moreover, mid-rolls are usually the most expensive type of ad when it comes to podcasting.

A podcast series usually covers a specific topic, which means that one show can cover a specific sport for example, or sports in general, or whatever the area of interest is. It is very important to settle on a topic or a theme of the podcast before the actual production starts. The reason behind that is because ideally you would want to find a target audience in regards to the topic that’s being covered. And then you can take that target audience into consideration when you’re creating your intros and outros or when you’re formatting the show.

The main body of the podcast is actually the interview, which is usually presented as a dialogue between the host of the show and the guest, although it’s not uncommon to have it as a monologue, with the host narrating the content throughout the whole episode. The host is the real celebrity in the world of podcasting and they have to be on top of their game when it comes to the subject of the podcast, while being “radio-friendly” at the same time. An ideal host would be a cross breed between a radio personality and an investigative journalist. It’s very important for the host to be well versed in the topic that’s being covered and to be able to look up the information on each of their guests. This is important, because in a non-scripted podcasting scenario, the host is the one asking the questions, usually from the top of their head. Some shows have a host that’s recording all of the episodes, and other shows have multiple hosts covering different episodes or they’re simply recording each episode together. You should take into consideration the theme of the show when picking the number of hosts. For example, if you’re going for a comedic show, it’s great to have at least two hosts, because the humor is expressed exponentially more through their interaction.

When it comes to the guest, their job is to answer the questions that are being asked to them. Again, the host takes up the main role and it’s up to him or her to make the interview interesting. It also depends on the host if the broadcast of the message that the show’s trying to convey is successful, which is the ultimate goal of a podcast – to convey a message into the world.

Let’s get back on track… Intro and Outro are comprised of the background music and a voiceover that are mixed together. The music used is usually the same for the intro and the outro – sometimes it’s just different sections, but it’s not always the case. In the intro voiceover you can mention the podcast name, as well as the name of the host or you can say a word or two about the show itself. The outro is used to thank the listeners and usually includes a call to action (e.g. like, share and subscribe), and it’s also used to list affiliate links or any other links that can be used to contact the guest or the host or anything like that. The outro voiceover is usually recorded by the host at the end of each episode, while for the intro it’s not uncommon to outsource the creation of the voiceover to a professional voice-over artist. The thing that’s very important and has a lot of impact on the show’s success is the choice of music that’s playing underneath the voiceover. The music has a huge effect on the style and the quality of the show, and it should be appropriate in regards to the content that the podcast is covering. In general, the opening sequence is very important, because it’s the first thing that the listeners hear and depending if they’re into what they’re hearing they can immediately tune out and look for some other shows or they might stay for the podcast even if the actual interview is not that interesting.

What is the goal of a podcast?

Well, the goal, as we already mentioned, is to convey some sort of a message to any listener in the world. The message, of course depends on you and what are you trying to achieve with the podcast. However, the important thing to realize is how valuable the podcast can be as a medium. Because of the way it’s consumed, it can become an amazing marketing tool. If you’re looking to scale your business or just form a community with your users, the podcast is a perfect tool you can use to accomplish your goals. In this case, marketing plays a big role and it’s crucial to come up with a bulletproof strategy and a well-founded target audience, which you can use to curate your content for.

Another big aspect of the podcast as medium is the educational aspect. By consuming a show, listeners are able to learn about the subject, whether they are amateurs or professional experts with a long lasting experience in that field of work. The whole human history and culture at the start of our society was being communicated orally, by exchanging stories from person to person. Therefore, on the subconscious level, the podcast is bringing us back to the roots of our civilization. Today, with the modern technologies, such way of exchanging information is represented in a tiny, portable format such as the podcast. Because of the exchange of information between Industry experts, podcast has become an amazing tool for mass education, without any expense for the consumer. Except time, of course, as listening to “just one episode” can quickly turn into binge-listening the whole series!

To sum up, one of the goals of the podcast can be to make more sales or to get more leads. Moreover, the exact goal you have is not that important, but the important thing is that the goal is clear, concise and direct. It’s is of utmost importance that the message is clear. And the podcast is an amazing tool to make sure that message is delivered.

If you’re looking to start your own podcast, but you have no idea where to start or what do you need, make sure to check out our show – The Nootka Sound Podcast. The first few episodes cover some of the basic things you need when starting a podcast. If you’re unable to access our podcast or just don’t have the time – continue reading the blog where we cover the 4 key things you need when launching your own show. If you have any questions about the text you just read or you’re just interested in podcasting in general, say hi at info@nootkasound.online.

If you’re interested in learning more about the services we provide, make sure to write to nemanja@nootkasound.online and we will contact you ASAP.

Let's get that episode live!

© Nootka Sound 2020, All Rights Reserved.