Last week we talked about some of the different kinds of podcasts your church may want to consider. The sermon and Bible class podcasts are pretty straight forward in terms of content and how to do them (though I’ll give some tips in a future post “Podcasts – Techy Stuff for Geeks”), but studio podcasts are a little less obvious. So, I thought I’d give some tips for how to plan and produce a good studio podcast. This week I’ll focus on the planning and next post I’ll look at some production tips.
As I start to discuss the planning, producing and technical aspects of podcasting, I wanted to give some credit to Rob and Matt from the Geeks and God podcast. I got a lot of useful info from them about podcasting at the Interactive Church Conference. Thanks guys!
Despite the fact that “studio podcast” sounds somewhat professional, they actually tend to be quite casual. The idea of studio podcast is to create a podcast that is similar to a radio show, not the highly produced radio shows of the 1940’s and 50’s, but rather the talk radio shows of today. The target audio is usually a casual audience usually listing to the podcast in the car during their commute.
Planning is very important for a studio podcast. Just as you would prepare a sermon, you must prepare your podcast; however, studio podcasts have a few additional variables to address.
- Why are you podcasting? Are you trying to inform people, evangelize, teach, or just create something fun (and clean)? It is important to decide your purpose for the podcast as it will determine many of the other decisions about the podcast.
- Who is your audience? Are you targeting men, women, or both? Do you want to reach the youth, college kids, young married couples, or older folks? Are you targeting the inner city, country folks, or suburbanites?
- Is the point of the podcast in-reach or outreach? In other words is the podcast intended primarily for church members or primarily for non-church members?
- What is the topic or style of the podcast? Some podcasts may have the same topic each week (church doctrine, pop culture, etc.) and others may have different topics each week. Even if you have different topics each week, there should probably be a general overriding topic and a style that you have decided on. People want new content each week, but they also tend to want to get the same format and general topic.
- Who will do the podcast? In most cases I would suggest the pastor not do the podcast, they have enough to do and if you’re already podcasting their sermon, it might be good to have another voice out there. The one exception is if you’re doing something like an “Ask the Pastor” podcast. In most cases, I’d also recommend having more than one person involved to allow a “conversation” in the podcast. Even solo talk radio hosts have guests and calls.
- How long with the show be? The podcast doesn’t have to be very long. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to keep it between 15-30 minutes. This is good both for keeping people’s attention and making the podcast fit within the typical commute time.
- How often will you do the podcast? You don’t have to do a podcast everyday, but I recommend doing one at least once a week. Regardless of the how often you do it, be consistent. People like to know that every Monday (or Tues, or Wed, etc.) morning they can know that the church podcast will be waiting for them.
Focus, Focus, Focus:
It’s important to choose a specific focus for a studio podcast. You can target everyone, you can’t discuss every topic, and you can’t have a different format every week. You may think that being broader will allow you to reach a much bigger audience, but what you really end up doing is creating a product that doesn’t really appeal to anyone. I like political talk radio. My wife, a third grade teacher, could probably listen to someone talking about teaching methods. If you create a good podcast about politics, I may become an avid listener. If you create a podcast about teaching and education, my wife may become an avid listener. If you create a show that sometimes talks about politics and sometimes talks about education, neither of us would listen. I’m not that interested in methods of education and my wife always falls asleep 5 minutes after I turn on talk radio.
If you have a couple of topics you want to discuss or a couple of audiences you want to target, do more than one podcast. It’s more work, but a more focused podcast has a much better chance of getting and maintaining an audience. It’s better to have 10 different podcasts, than one podcast that tries to be ten different podcasts.