The Shortest Podcast

Podcasts are such a varied medium. There’s very few rules or conventions defining what a podcast should be. There’s plenty of trends, so many podcasts are improvised group discussion, many have a specific niche to focus on, but the trends in terms of podcast length are all over the place.

Some podcasts are 20 minutes, some 45, some aim for an hour an episode, many go for 90 minutes and there’s even a healthy number that push three, four and five hours per episode. As someone who often finds themselves giving advice to aspiring podcasters, I usually tell new podcasters that they should aim to make their episodes no longer than it takes their listeners to listen to between episodes. This assumes that they’ve got other stuff going on in their day and other podcasts to listen to also. The bigger podcasters like Adam Carolla can afford to put out 90+ minutes five times a week because he has a dedicated fan base, but for your average podcaster, that kind of quantity is going to see their listeners miss episodes because other attentions take priority.

So that’s my rule for the maximum length of a podcast, but lately I’ve been struggling with finding a similar formula for the minimum length of a podcast. In theory it shouldn’t matter, in fact brevity could help you by making your podcast the go-to filler podcast for short listens. This has the flip side risk that your content lacks depth and therefore interest. It’s a tough line to walk, but recently I took the plunge when I fell in love with an incredible app that is driven by short form content.

For most non-Australian readers, if I mention the Omny personal radio app, you might not be familiar with it, they’re still growing and are slowly launching in new international markets. It comes from Melbourne-based 121cast, the makers of SoundGecko. Omny is a player that scrolls between short podcasts (under 10 minutes) music from your own library, music streaming services and also reads out events from your calendar, weather reports and more. All of this combines to make a highly personal radio experience.

When I discovered this app, I was preparing to launch my short-form podcast The Forgetting Curve. I later made an edited version of another of my podcasts to fit it in with the Omny format. I was nervous at the time about stepping outside of my 30-45 minutes an episode comfort zone, but with a tool such as Omny there, basically providing a shuffle button for podcast content, we have found the way to make short podcasts competitive with longer content.

If Omny is not yet available in your local App Store, then get in touch with them and tell them you’re keen to try it. I’d also highly recommend experimenting with the length of your podcasts. Edit a highlights episode regularly, or just segment your content to allow your listeners to fit you in here and there. Give your audience options and see what kind of length they prefer.

by Jackson Rogers