How Do You Present Ads in Your Podcast?

Audible logoNot every podcast includes ads. Those that do often include the advertisement close to the middle of their episode. The New York Times has an article titled: Ads for Podcasts Test the Line Between Story and Sponsor. It got me to thinking about the way I’ve presented ads in some of the podcasts that I’ve been involved with.

The article talks about advertising in podcasts, and points out that more and more companies are seeking to place ads into the episodes of the most popular podcasts. The thing is, they want more than placement. They are seeking ads that come across as less like advertisements and more like an entertaining story.

This, to me, is problematic, especially when the ad is being delivered by a podcaster who is already known as a serious journalist. How is the listener to differentiate between the advertisement and the true content of the episode, when the person delivering it is someone they expect to provide news and story? The lines are becoming a bit blurred.

One thing that makes this possible is the fact that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has no oversight on podcasts. There are rules regarding how ads are presented on commercial radio. Ads are not allowed at all on public radio. Currently, there are no boundaries in place that limit how ads are presented on podcasts.

It makes me think of the really early days of television, when hosts of children’s programing literally told the children viewing the show to ask their parents to buy them a certain kind of cereal. The kids, of course, weren’t able to identify that as an ad. They just knew that the TV person, whom they liked, told them to get their parents to buy the cereal.

I have been involved in two podcasts that each had Audible as a sponsor. In each show, the audible ad was prefaced by something similar to “Audible is the sponsor of our show”. We tried to make it clear that what we were about to say was an ad.

That being said, the two shows handled the ad differently. The gaming podcast I’m involved in clearly states the sponsorship, and gives details of what Audible offers. That’s it. The music podcast that I was involved in, that has since “podfaded”, did the same, but added more. My co-host and I honestly enjoyed talking about the books we read, and we chose to include a discussion about one of those books into each ad. Each book was available on Audible.

Did we unintentionally make things confusing for our (admittedly few) listeners by handling the ad that way? My co-host really did have an Audible subscription, while I did not. It probably appeared as if I did, though. Was I being dishonest with my listeners? I’m not entirely sure.

Anyway, the point I’m making is that podcasters should be aware of how their ads are being perceived by their listeners. There is a fine line between including what is obviously an ad, and producing what amounts to a “segment” that just so happens to be about a product from a company that sponsors your show.

The Fair Use App Provides Guidance for Media Creators

New Media Rights logoPodcasters are often faced with the challenge of determining whether or not they can incorporate a piece of media into their productions. Most often, this comes with music. But it can extend to things like movie/TV clips or other soundbites. The best rule of thumb is, if you don’t have explicit permission to use a piece of media in your podcast, DON’T. But thanks to the complex nature of copyright law and its Fair Use provisions, many creators believe there are loopholes they can exploit to use the media clips they want without repercussion. The Fair Use App, a service provided by the New Media Rights organization can offer some guidance to creators who are unsure if they’re operating under Fair Use or not.

Before I go any further, I must stress that The Fair Use App is useful. But it can’t give you a 100% bulletproof answer as to whether or not your creative intent can be claimed under Fair Use. The app starts off by doing some simple troubleshooting like asking if the media you intend to use is in the Public Domain or if it’s covered under a Creative Commons license. If you answer no to these questions, the app will ask a series of followup questions in an attempt to advise you what is, and what is not, considered Fair Use. In the end, it’ll be up to you to decide whether or not to proceed with your work and in turn, potentially suffer any legal consequences.

The Fair Use App is geared in its terminology towards filmmakers but most of its test questions can be easily applied to podcasters. So, if you’re feeling compelled (as I have!) to do an in-depth breakdown of the latest Star Wars movie trailer on your podcast, check The Fair Use App first and see what it says about using media clips from the trailer. If Disney/Lucasfilm sends you a cease-and-decist order, relying on The Force alone may not be enough to save you.

Nobody Should Care How Often You Say “Like”

Voice waveThere are plenty of women who host, and co-host, podcasts. I’ve been involved in podcasting since 2005, which means I have more experience in it than a lot of people. When I started, it was undoubtedly a “man’s world”. Today, that is starting to change, but not without some backlash from men who simply don’t want to share the spotlight with women.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has ever done a podcast has received at least a few negative comments. There is a difference between the types of negative comments that male podcasters receive and the types that female podcasters receive. Men might get called an “idiot” because a listener disagreed with their opinion about something they discussed on their latest episode.

Women, on the other hand, are getting negative comments not about what they said – but about the woman’s voice. An article written by Senior Women’s Editor of the Huffington Post, Emma Gray, and Books and Culture Writer for the Huffington Post, Claire Fallon, discusses this. The article is titled: “Want a Lesson In How People Judge Women’s Voices? Start a Podcast”.

Emma Gray and Claire Fallon started a podcast about Season 11 of The Bachelorette TV show. It is a new podcast that has about 10 episodes (including the series preview episode). “We knew we would have some haters– as women who write for a living on the Internet, we’re no strangers to the backlash ladies who deign to have opinions tend to receive – but we weren’t prepared for how much of the critique we received would be centered around one thing: our voices.”

They got comments from men, via Twitter, in which they were told they said “like” too often. They were told that they sounded “immature” for using that word so often, and that it made them appear less intelligent. These kinds of comments have absolutely nothing to do with the content of their show. It is not a critique of the topics they chose or the opinions they shared. These comments are about the way women speak.

Other women who podcast have been told that their voice was too high pitched to listen to, or “whiney”, or that their vocal fry was annoying to listen to. These comments are literally about the voices of the women. These comments are the audio equivalent of judging a woman about her appearance instead of the quality of the work she is doing.

It is not a coincidence that the two comments left on their article came from a couple of white guys who felt the need to “mansplain”. One guy basically told the writers that they were wrong about everything. The other insisted that comments about the voices of women podcasters wasn’t sexism… and then went on to state that the writers were wrong about everything.

Women who podcast should not have to change the pitch of their voice, alter their normal speech pattern, or count how many times they have said “like”, or “just”, or “sorry” while they were recording a podcast. Doing so will not suddenly make a guy who felt the need to leave a nasty comment about the quality of a woman’s voice turn into a fan of that podcast. Don’t change yourself in the hopes of appeasing a hater.

I think the reason why this is happening has to do with power. Guys that pick apart women’s voices are trying to make that woman shut up. Those guys are realizing that women are part of the podcasting world – and growing in number – and they are flat out terrified about it. Keep on podcasting, ladies. Don’t let the bullies bar you from the treehouse. You have every right to be there.

An Open Letter to CEO Daniel Ek: Make Spotify an Open Platform for Podcasting!

spotify logoDear Mr. Ek,

You made a pretty big splash in the podcasting world when, earlier this year,  you announced that you’d be bringing podcasts to Spotify. Many of us in the podcasting community looked forward to having a new distribution channel for our shows. We learned during the announcement that Spotify would be partnering with a select group of content providers at launch. This seemed logical as a way for you to “test the waters” as far as adding a new type of media to your platform. But we assumed that you’d eventually open up Spotify’s podcasting platform to everyone. And that hasn’t happened.

I’ve been a user of the Spotify application since it launched in the U.S. It quickly became my preferred music player. I spent hours discovering new songs and rediscovering old favorites thanks to your platform’s ease of use and wide ranging catalog. That appreciation for Spotify as a music service created some real excitement at the possibility of others finding podcasts thru your platform. But due to the closed nature of Spotify’s current podcast directory, that’s simply not possible.

Surely, Mr. Ek, you can see that, in the way music listeners want more than just a slice of all of the music being made today, they’d also want more than a small fraction of all of the podcasts being produced? During last month’s announcement, the impression you gave is that you want Spotify to become a true world class media consumption platform. But how can that happen if users are clicking away from Spotify to listen to the podcasts that aren’t available on your application?

If making that simple appeal isn’t enough, consider this: Historically, the two largest podcasting consumption platforms have been Apple’s iTunes and the Stitcher app. iTunes has always been a huge competitor to Spotify and Stitcher was acquired last year by Deezer, another one of your competitors. Both iTunes and Stitcher have massive podcast catalogs because they’re open. Anyone can submit a show to these services and usually get listed within a few business days. And it is these services that listeners (i.e. your customers) will go to when they can’t find their desired podcasts inside of Spotify.

I hope I’ve made it clear, Mr. Ek, that the current state of podcasting within Spotify has negative repercussions. Not only for podcasters but also for the Spotify platform. It’s not often in life you can make a true win-win decision. But opening up Spotify to all podcasters would be one of those rare instances. Why not take advantage of the opportunity now and let us in? We’d love to share our shows with you!

Shawn Thorpe
Podcast Producer and Contributing Editor
Podcaster News

Women in Podcasting: Interview With Janet Blair

Two Girls and a Bottle of WineJanet Blair is the host of the Two Girls and a Bottle of Wine podcast. She is joined by an alternating group of co-host guests (some of whom make repeat appearances). Her show is an opportunity for girlfriends to chat about whatever they would like to over a glass of wine.

When did you start podcasting?  What’s your experience in podcasting from then to now?

I started Two Girls and a Bottle of Wine about two and half years ago with my girlfriend, Ashley. When we started we were doing a video podcast in a studio in downtown Denver. When the studio closed, we wanted to continue the podcast so, with the help of my boyfriend, we set up a studio in our basement and continued the podcast in our basement. We found that working outside of a studio and outside of the supervision of others allowed us to have so much more fun and reach a larger audience. As life does, it got busy and Ashley and I found it difficult to make time to record each week. About a year ago, I opened the podcast up to other females in the area that wanted to sit and chat with me each week for the podcast. Surprisingly I had several Facebook friends that were interested. For the last year I have been alternating co-hosts each week and the variety has helped grow the audience and I think each woman has a special story to share. I believe that women feed off each other and sharing our experience can help us each grow and learn as women. A couple of months ago I started having co-hosts that were from outside of the Denver area. I have now recorded two podcasts via Skype and that has opened up our reach.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

My boyfriend, Steve McGrew, had a career in radio for over ten years. When he left radio he started his own podcast, Remasculate. I had dabbled in radio and worked part time at a few stations. I would sit in on his podcast as his news girls but I decided I wanted more. I think that podcasting is a fun hobby that allows me to step outside of my cubicle job each week and tap into the creative parts of who I am. I also love the opportunity to sit down with my girlfriends and chat about whatever over a glass of wine.

How do you do interviews for Two Girls and a Bottle of Wine?  What types of wine do you enjoy?

I refer to each of my guests as co-hosts. Many of them are re-occurring. Most of my co-hosts come to my house and record with me. Skype has opened up the possibility of me having co-hosts that aren’t in the area. I have had Petra from Hillbilly Nerd Talk on as a co-host and Kim Eden, the Tornado Queen from Oklahoma, on as my co-hosts via Skype. I was able to participate in a panel interview Amy Schumer recently and that was a lot of fun. I brought my computer and a travel microphone with me and recorded the entire interview. I am still working on the sound to make it podcast quality.

Wine – I prefer wines that are less than $15 a bottle. Some of my favs are Relax Wines (Riesling, Pinot Grigio) and Cupcake Wines (Moscato and Red Velvet).

What words of wisdom do you have for women who are thinking of starting their own podcast?

Have fun with it. It’s so easy with technology now to just stop and record a podcast. Each of us are experts about different things. There is likely to be someone that is interested in the knowledge you have, so when starting share the expertise that you have about whatever your passion may be and build on that. Passion can be infectious. Also, consistency is key. If you want to build an audience, record new podcasts regularly.

Why Do You Podcast?

Question MarksPodcasting takes a lot of time, effort, and commitment. Every episode requires setting up microphones and recording software, a plan for what topics will be covered, and some editing after the episode is done. More time is spent putting together show notes and posting links to your brand new episode on social media.

Have you ever asked yourself why you go through all this effort? Why do you podcast?

Podcasters tend to spend time talking with other podcasters. This is to be expected, considering that it is natural for people to seek out those whom they have a common interest with. Podcasters, as a group, all “get” why a person wants to start a podcast and why they continue to put in the effort it takes to continue it. Few feel the need to talk about it.

As such, discussion among podcasters can often lead into comparisons of microphones, debates about which audio recording software is the best, and questions about whether or not anyone has used a new podcasting service. At times, a podcaster might ask for advice about how to get their podcast to make money. Each of those topics can be useful, informative, and, in some cases “eye-opening”.

I think it is important for podcasters to question, from time to time, why they are podcasting. This is especially true for those who have been podcasting for years. Why do you continue to put in the time and effort to regularly make new episodes?

For the Money
There are some podcasters who have managed to turn their show into something that generates an income. The amount can vary from a few extra bucks to enough money to pay one’s bills. I suspect that only a small percentage of podcasters are able to “quit their day job” and live off of the money their podcasts earn. It makes sense to keep doing something that is paying your bills (especially if that something is enjoyable to do).

For the Fun
The majority of podcasters don’t make any money at all from their shows. Why do they podcast? It is probably for the fun of it. Those who are doing a podcast with a friend, or a group of friends, can end up having a lot of fun just “hanging out” together and talking about a shared interest. Often, podcasts that are done just for the fun of it have a main subject they stick to. Overall, though, it becomes a fun way for a group of friends to get together.

For a Cause
There are podcasts that were started in an effort to bring awareness to a specific cause. Some of them relate to a certain health condition, disease, or disorder. Others are primarily political. Those who do these kinds of podcasts have something that they feel is extremely important to share with the world. The commitment to the cause drives the podcaster to make more episodes.

There will be times, with every podcast, when things just aren’t working out as well as they used to. A change to a job schedule, a severe illness, or an addition to the family can make it more difficult for a person to put effort into podcasting. When this happens, it is helpful to take a moment and consider why you decided to start podcasting in the first place. That reason could provide you with the motivation to make things work, or to step away from or end a podcast.

Women in Podcasting: Interview With Kim Trumbo

Kim Trumbo Generosity Philosophy podcast Podcaster NewsKim Trumbo is the host of the Generosity Philosophy podcast. The podcast focuses on highlighting heroes who live to give. The show features stories of generosity that can inspire people to get involved, help others, and be generous.

When did you start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting from then to now?

I started my podcast, Generosity Philosophy, in November 2013. In the past year and a half I have done my best to be consistent about putting out an episode each week. When I started I had no past broadcasting experience, so have learned so much over time. I feel having a show with great content is wonderful, but the audio needs to sound good as well. As a newbie podcaster I joined a mastermind group to get advice about getting the right equipment so my audio quality would sound great. Instead of recording into software I record from my Schure SM58 microphone into my mixer and then the audio file is saved to my Zoom H4N digital recorder. This set up has never failed me.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

As I listened to many podcasts in 2013 I thought it would be fun to be a podcaster. I had no clue what I would podcast about though. Once I came up with the idea to interview nonprofits, charities, or anyone else who is making a positive impact in the world, I knew the show would inspire people and I just had to launch it. There was no going back. I felt I found my purpose in life.

How did you come up with the idea for the Generosity Philosophy podcast? What kinds of topics have you covered?

My family would often talk about our desires to volunteer more, and be more philanthropic, but weren’t sure who to contact to help. I was listening one day (while mowing my yard) to Michael O’Neal who was interviewing John Lee Dumas on The Solopreneur Hour and they were talking about how Podcasters seem to always be willing to help one another. I heard those words “help one another” and realized there are generous people and organizations I could talk to and turn into a show! I figured if I interview people who help one another and who make this world a better place, then our family would know who we could help out. If our family would be inspired to give by listening to these stories then I thought and hoped other people would be inspired to be generous as well. I’ve interviewed younger kids, teenagers, small nonprofits, and large organizations who have made appearances on Oprah and Ellen! It’s been a blast. I love each and every story. Some help the homeless, others help animals, and those are just a couple of examples. I do my best to find unique stories to inspire the listeners.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

You CAN do it. Even if it seems challenging and overwhelming, you can accomplish this. Make a list and take it one small task at a time. Before you know it you will have a show you’re proud of!

Women in Podcasting: Interview With Tawny Fineran

Tawny Fineran Podcaster NewsTawny Fineran is a host of the Mommy’s Cocktail Hour podcast and a co-host of the Podcasters Group Therapy podcast. You can also find her on the Vampire Diaries Podcast.

When did you start podcasting?

I started podcasting in 2008 with my husband, Corey. We discovered podcasts and were interested in creating a show that was based on something that we were both passionate about at the time, local independent music. Since our family was growing at the same time, we released only 36 shows over the course of a few years. Although we weren’t too consistent with our new hobby, this show was definitely my stepping stone into podcasting.

What’s your experience in podcasting from then to now?

In 2011, I began my second podcast, Mommy’s Cocktail Hour, with my sister-in-law Krissi and two close friends Beth and Lindsay. Once we started this podcast we couldn’t stop; it proved to be great therapy for us new moms. I feel the same way about podcasting in general. Once I started podcasting I wanted to podcast on everything I was interested in. I’ve co-hosted several TV show podcasts in the past and currently host Vampire Diaries Podcast (total guilty pleasure – no shame!). I’ve also contributed voice over work to The Quantum Leap Podcast and their audio drama Quantum Leap: The Impossible Dream, both produced by Barren Space Productions. My most recent podcasting venture is co-hosting Podcaster’s Group Therapy alongside my husband Corey and Nick Seuberling. This show isn’t just another how-to podcast, it stems from our real life google+ community and we discuss our experiences and ideas on various podcasting topics.

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

Deep down I’ve always wanted to entertain; podcasting seemed like a safe outlet to do this from the comfort of my own home. What inspires me to continue podcasting is the power it has to create a community, have engaging conversations, strengthen relationships and meet new people.

What topics do you cover on Mommy’s Cocktail Hour?

Mommy’s Cocktail Hour is a very honest look into the host’s lives as mothers. Since these conversations happen over cocktails, it gets real and may get explicit from time to time but mostly in a good way. We share our triumphs, struggles, seek advice from one another and our fabulous listeners frequently chime in too. We cover a wide range of parenting topics since our kids range in age now from 3 -13 years old. We’ve talked about the public meltdowns, potty training, tips for traveling with kids, diversity, handling loss, and issues raising a pre-teen, just to name a few.

What’s the story behind how this podcast got started?

At the time I was a new mom of two toddlers 14 ½ months apart so hanging out with friends for a “Girls’ Night Out” was seldom to say the least. The idea of setting aside one night a week to hang out with my other mommy friends to hash out our mommy issues over cocktails sounded like a dream come true. My co-hosts agreed and eagerly signed up for podcasting and cocktails!

What words of wisdom do you have for other women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

1.) Do it! 2.) Be yourself 3.) Your podcast = your passion

Women in Podcasting: Interview With Kaila Prins

Kaila Prins Finding Our Hunger Podcaster NewsKaila Prins is a host of the Finding Our Hunger podcast. The podcast focuses on recovery and discovery for people who have an eating disorder and for those who have a complicated relationship with food. The “life is a journey” metaphor is important to this podcast.

When did you start podcasting? What’s your experience in podcasting been from then to now?

The idea for the Finding Our Hunger podcast was born in December of 2012, but my co-host Ito Aghayere and I recorded and released our first episode in March of 2013. We have a pretty cool origin story (if I do say so myself!): I had met my co-host in 2010, when we were both in grad school in NYC for theatre. I dropped out after a year because I had relapsed with anorexia and exercise addiction, and she and I lost touch while I was in recovery. I started a blog about my recovery in 2012 and began posting about it on Facebook. She saw it and reached out to me. We started talking on the weekends about our experiences with body image, food, and exercise. I had been thinking about starting a podcast for a few months, and at some point (and I can’t remember who suggested it to whom) one of us said, “We should be recording these conversations.” Of course, that’s exactly what we did.

I love podcasting so much that I wish it could be my full time job. I have had the absolute blessing to talk to almost 100 of the world’s most incredible, thoughtful, insightful, moving people so far—and that number keeps on expanding as the years go on. I knew almost nothing about recording, wordpress, or social media/email marketing when I started, and now I successfully record, edit, upload, and publicize the podcast on my own each week—which has actually helped me improve in my 9-5 job in marketing too! I’ve also finally started following my dream of becoming a voiceover artist after so many people reached out to tell me that they thought I should be “doing something” with my “podcast voice.”

What inspired you to become a podcaster?

When I was in recovery for my eating disorder and exercise addiction (and while I was on disability for an exercise addiction induced injury), I had a LOT of time on my hands. While writing and blogging provided me with a great creative outlet and a huge sense of catharsis, I spent a lot of time away from the computer and on my feet, as I started walking again. I found myself drawn first to audiobooks—but those can get expensive quick, especially if you’re on disability. So I turned to podcasts.

I found myself really drawn to the idea of sharing stories and insights; however, most of the podcasts that I listened to were by “experts” who had already “figured things out” when it came to body size, nutrition, and fitness. As someone who has been duped too many times by the world of marketing, I wanted to share a different insight: that there’s no end of the journey, no after picture. Life is a process and we’re all on a journey to figure it out. So when Ito and I started talking about recording our insights into the matter, I knew that this was going to be the best podcast for me to produce.

What kinds of topics do you cover on your Finding Our Hunger podcast?

Finding Our Hunger is all about recovery and discovery—because you don’t have to have an eating disorder to have a complicated relationship with food, your body, exercise, and your identity. While many of our guests have recovered from eating disorders or exercise addiction, we try to balance the episodes with representatives from the fitness, nutrition, health at every size, feminist, etc. communities. Because we’re big into the “life is a journey” metaphor, we have each of our guests “unpack their bags” and “unashamedly air what they have inside.”

The podcast is less of an interview and more of a conversation. Listeners get the chance to hear what’s going on in the guests lives, and they also get the chance to get to know me and Ito and to be a part of our community of people who just want to have a little bit of extra positivity to pack in their bags.

What words of wisdom do you have for women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

Do it. Do it, because it will change your life. Do it, because it will open doors. Do it, because it will give you the chance to meet and connect with people—from influencers to listeners—who will change your life.

Be consistent, and be prepared to do work. Podcasting is so easy that anyone can do it, but it also requires a little bit of blood, sweat, and tears for not a lot of monetary gain (unless you’re super famous with tons of sponsors, and then, more power to you, and can we talk?!). But while it may not be immediately financially lucrative, the things you’ll gain—like knowledge, friendship, the ability to help, inspire, and reach people all over the world, and even a sense of your own identity—are priceless.

One last thing: due diligence. Please…be aware that podcasting is a public forum. The things you say can hurt people if you are not careful. I do my best to vet my guests and to try to facilitate a discussion that will lead to the betterment of my listeners’ lives. I don’t “sell” anyone or anything that I do not believe in, even if it would be smart—for my financials or for my subscriptions or iTunes rank, because I do not want to ever trigger or hurt a single member of my audience. Please, if you pick up a microphone, add some positivity back into the world. I promise that it’s worth it. You may save a life—my podcast has, and knowing that is what keeps me going back to the mic each week.