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Podcast Pigeonholes: Genres and What Makes Them Work

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Many podcasts are difficult to classify, but that doesn't necessarily hurt their popularity. In this sample chapter Mur Lafferty and Rob Walch list the most popular categories, with some examples of successful podcasts in each, things to think about in each genre, and what makes these particular genres work.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

IN THIS CHAPTER

  • Audioblogs
  • Comedy Casts—Shock Jocks, Skits, Standup...
  • Couple Casts
  • Educational
  • Gaming
  • Godcasts: Religious and Spiritual Podcasts
  • The Interview Cast
  • Music
  • News
  • Politics
  • Radio Dramas
  • Q-Podders
  • Sci-Fi
  • Sex
  • Sports
  • Tech Podcasts
  • The Written Word
  • Others Genres

"Do your research. Know what you're talking about. Act professionally. Find your niche."

Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel

Most podcasts don't fit into any pigeonhole. Michael and Evo's Wingin' It fits under science fiction and comedy, while you can consider The Dawn and Drew Show! to be an audioblog, a couple cast, comedy, and sex/adult. Still, when you consider the kinds of podcasts that exist, most podcasts have one dominant category they fall into.

Does your podcast have to fit neatly into one of these categories? Not really. This is not a bookstore where if the publisher can't figure out where to put your book, you're not going to get shelf space. Podcasts that find themselves unclassifiable, and yet still entertaining, will get listeners. In fact, word of mouth by other podcasters continues to be the best way to get listeners.

Still, the categories help out when it comes to placing your show in podcast directories, most of which allow you to put your show in more than one category or subcategory.

In this chapter, we have listed the most popular categories, with some examples of successful podcasts in each, things to think about in each genre, and what makes these particular genres work. If you're thinking of doing a religious podcast, or "Godcast," you'll want to check out the others in the genre to see what they're doing. You'll want inspiration, but you won't want to copy them directly. And you have less chance of copying the popular podcasts accidentally if you hear what they're doing.

Audioblogs

By far the most popular podcast type, the audioblog, is what attracts most new podcasters. If you search the descriptions of podcasts, most of them contain "talk about whatever is on my mind" or "my thoughts while I sit on my hour-long commute." Like written blogs, audioblogs reflect the personality of the host, discussing either her life or her view on current events.

Most podcasts could fall under the audioblog moniker by default. If an individual person talks about things she enjoys, you can argue that the show is a blog. Dan Klass's The Bitterest Pill (www.thebitterestpill.com) is an audioblog that he uses to tell stories of his life as a stay-at-home dad and actor (see Figure 3.1). However, his stories are so well told and entertaining, the show is often considered a comedy podcast.

03fig01.jpg

Figure 3.1 The homepage for The Bitterest Pill audioblog.

Table 3.1 summarizes a few examples of good audioblogs. Following that, we take a deeper look at what makes each of them worth a subscription.

Table 3.1. Noteworthy Audioblogs

Host(s)

Podcast

Website URL

Robert Keeme

KeemeCast

www.keeme.com

Corby

Twisted Pickle

www.thetwistedpickle.com

Dan Klass

The Bitterest Pill

www.thebitterestpill.com

KeemeCast

Robert Keeme hosts this podcast from his home in Arizona, which he shares with OS1, OS2, and OS3 (his three daughters, OS stands for Offspring). They are often guests on his show, along with his good friend the Abbott. The show is released two to three times a week and has a length that varies from 10 minutes to 1 hour per episode. KeemeCast is R-rated.

Twisted Pickle

Corby ninjacasts from his home in Omaha. What is ninjacasting? Well, Corby has not informed his wife that he is podcasting. Yup, this has "train wreck" written all over it. So tune in to see if this is the episode where his wife finds out and kicks him out of the house. He releases new shows about four to six times a month, with a length that varies from 20 minutes to 1 hour. This show is R-rated.

The Bitterest Pill

This show is hosted by Los Angeles stay-at-home dad/comedian/actor Dan Klass. Dan is one of the icons of podcasting, and his show is one of the favorites among other podcasters. The Bitterest Pill is released between one and four times a month, with a typical length of 25 to 30 minutes per episode. This show is G-rated.

Dan is a master storyteller, weaving his domestic stories effortlessly with his tales of acting auditions. Occasionally he features guests on his show, ranging from his toddler daughter who is refusing to nap to other podcasters. Whatever he's talking about turns interesting with his sardonic and entertaining tone. Called the "Stay-At-Home Father of Podcasting" by Tony Khan of WGBH, Klass's show is a perfect example of how to turn your everyday life into something immensely entertaining.

Keys to Successful Audioblogs

There are several keys to making a successful audioblog podcast. The first is simply determining what stories will appeal to your listeners. Do you commonly tell stories about your life that have your friends laughing at your wit or riveted at the tension you built, or are they nodding politely while checking their watch, or perhaps even actively trying to walk away? Gauge your audience in real life and see. Your presentation is also important here; a knack for storytelling can make the most boring story interesting. You will also want to keep track of whom you're talking about: Are your parents going to listen to this? What about your boss? If you think you're anonymous, will they be able to recognize you?

Then again, if you're choosing to be anonymous, like some podcasters prefer, you can say whatever you like and hope that the people close to you, professionally or personally, aren't digitally savvy, don't listen to your podcast, and aren't terribly bright. Anonymous podcasters have freedom granted by anonymity, but they do not get the bonus of having their name known in the podcast community (or local or national media). You must weigh the plusses and minuses and decide for yourself.

Audioblogging is much like regular blogging: Have something to talk about, make sure your grammar and spelling are good (or, in the podcasting sense, make sure your audio quality is good), don't say anything that would devastate your life if your boss, mother, or spouse would hear it, and attempt to be engaging at best or entertaining at least.

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