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Monday Memo: Podcast Best Practices

| November 25, 2019

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI –Google “podcast tips” and you’ll find plenty, most for newbies (“State your name and the name of your podcast at the beginning”).  Since you’re a pro, we’ll skip to Advanced Placement stuff:

Understand how-users-are-using, and package accordingly. 

  • Visualize the listening context where your download or stream will be heard. Assume that listeners are on-the-go.  Segment the show so in-car and smartphone consumers can pause and re-enter at logical break-points.  Doing so won’t turn-off listeners sitting-stiller at computers.
  • Format the show. No, it need NOT conform to the on-air clocks that play-to ratings methodology and accommodate stations’ heavier commercial load.  Example: Note how HBO’s successful “Real-Time with Bill Maher” is formatted:
  1. Mercifully-brief produced open;
  2. Well-written-but-not-too-long monologue;
  3. Interview segment: Well-prepared questions asked of intriguing people, some-of-whom you’ve heard of (who often say things you weren’t expecting to hear), others-you-haven’t-heard-of (and you end-up wanting-to-know-better);
  4. Panel, participants of-differing-viewpoints, led by the host’s fact-based bullet points and outspoken take;
  5. Then a featured guest, at first interviewed by the host, then interacting with panelists;
  6. “New Rules” is a scripted comedy segment, a half dozen quick edgy bits that play-off the week’s news and the societal observations that are such rich fodder for comedians. The last New Rule runs longer, and is the host’s scripted byline think piece.
  7. Then comes an invitation to join the after-show, online, where panelists respond to questions and comments viewers submitted during the show’s first live airing.
  8. Closing credits billboard next week’s guests.

I’m NOT saying that’s your format.  My point is that it’s necessary to HAVE a format.

“You can’t wing it.”

TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison joined Fred Jacobs on my TV show recently, and both offered valuable guidance on for podcast topics and techniques.  You can watch the video on my home page at


  • Avoid “random thoughts,” a phrase I actually heard used to describe a podcast by a seasoned radio talent who should know better. Presume that nobody has time for random thoughts.
  • Plan each segment, so it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • Shorter is better than longer.
  • Ask listeners to forward your podcast to their friends, and make doing so easy. And explain how-to-subscribe, for those to-whom your subscribers do forward.
  • Remind ‘em that you archive all episodes, so they can pick-N-choose at their convenience.

Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page for an instant download.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Read HC’s Monday Memo each week at, and follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice