Many people think of podcasts as “internet radio” programs. While this is pretty close to accurate, there are a number of things that make podcasts different from radio programs, from style to length to content. One of the big things that make podcasts different is that they aren’t actually broadcast in a live stream over the air for anyone to receive. This means that there are a few things that people do on the radio that are unnecessary in podcasts:
- Even though you may feel and sound like you are on the radio, you don’t have to deal with one of radio’s biggest problems: identification. Your listeners know what they are listening to. They have come to your website, subscribed to your podcast feed, or downloaded an mp3. This means that you don’t have to tell people who and what they are listening to every few minutes — they can always just look at their iPod or the computer screen.
- When you are interviewing someone or playing a recorded piece, you don’t need to both introduce and close out the segment with the person’s info (“That was Astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson joining us from New York”). Radio hosts do this (along with the show ID every few minutes) in case people start listening in the middle of a segment. With podcasts, no-one will never start in the middle of your show unless they choose to. It doesn’t hurt to do this, but leaving it out is a good way to save some time or complexity.
- Text descriptions are vital for podcasts because Google and other search engines can’t hear — they can only read. On the radio, you have your timeslot and your station has its built-in audience. That is not true of podcasting, so you need text to augment your audio — something radio people never thought was necessary.
- Length is a variable, not a requirement. Radio shows must be timed down to the second, whereas podcasts can vary in length. That said, the length of your podcasts should be fairly consistent, and you should never talk about one topic for too long — just like they do on radio. No matter how long your show is, make sure that each component is less than ten minutes long. If it is a long-form interview with one person, make sure you significantly change discussion topics a number of times. People will drift away if you spend too long on one thing. If it helps, try to think of your show as a series of “mini-shows” that all fall under one umbrella.