Podcasting Before Podcasting Was Easy
Wheeling, West Virginia (the hub of the Ohio Valley) has joined the podcasting world. Over the last several months, I’m seeing social posts from community leaders sharing their newest podcast channels and networks. The Ohio Valley is starting to download and subscribe. Even my 60-year-old mother listens to podcasts.
I was a few years too early with my first podcast.
A Little Podcasting History
I hosted my first podcast in 2012. I probably listened and subscribed to my first podcast a year prior. At this time, podcasts were almost a century old. I currently listen to several shows that tout their early beginnings in 2004. These audio files were downloaded from websites and forums. It was still years away from the dedicated app that streamed your show.
I imagine the big boom in listenership came when Apple released the Podcast App on their iOS devices. Since I was working at AT&T, it was my job to know about the newest apps and features of the phone. Thankfully, my brother told me about podcasts a year or so earlier. It’s a vague memory, but I imagine I was playing podcasts through Stitcher on my Blackberry. I was able to explain the concept of a podcast to many new iPhone users.
With a new iPhone and easier access to playing podcasts, this became a huge part of my entertainment consumption. Early podcasts were about Fantasy Football and Comedy. It didn’t take long before listening turned into a conversation about recording.
I would commute to work daily and listen to my fantasy football podcast. I would arrive and talk to several co-workers that were in my league. Often conversations linked to the information I learned from the podcast. Next thing your knew, I had others talking and listening to similar fantasy football podcasts.
I made a really good friend, Dusty, while working at AT&T. We had a similar sense of humor and spent most of our shifts goofing off. We would riff for hours, often confusing our co-workers with our inside jokes and nonsense. These made awful retail shifts fun. That is an accomplishment.
To add to the equation – in comes Neil.
Neil was a unique individual. He was in his 40’s. Neil was married with children. He worked retail for years and could speak of the glory days of mobile phone sales. Neil had a ‘take’ on everything and many of his thoughts were just outlandish. He was gullible – which Dusty and I had a field day with. Neil also didn’t have a filter.
Every day we would convince Neil to do something outlandish. We would purposely bring up topics to get him fired up and ranting. If you saw a shift with Eric, Dusty, and Neil – the coworkers planned to be entertained.
Clip ‘Em Neil Podcast
One day, Neil came to work with a binder. It looked like Neil was collecting trading cards. Instead of cards, he had coupons. They were systematically organized. Obviously we had to run with this.
Turns out Neil was a very passionate coupon expert. He bragged about how he managed to claim tons of toothpaste for free this week. Neil told stories about his couponing expeditions and the number of items he picked up for little to no money. I was intrigued.
At the time, popular coupon shows were airing on cable television. Extreme couponers were showing up online and on Facebook. Websites dedicated to the craft were popular and plentiful.
Neil was not your typical coupon mom stereotype – but should be the poster child.
The idea was pitched to do a comedy podcast with coupons being the focus. Neil would give out his deals and we would do our normal – poke the bear and ask dumb questions. It’s basically what we did at work. Let’s just record it. Thankfully we didn’t overthink it. We made a date to record at my house later that week.
Early Episodes – Great Content, Bad Equipment
Sometimes you get in your own way with too much planning. Many of my early projects were over planned to death and I never took action. Although a little additional planning could have helped Clip Em Neil, we did get a product out on the web.
The comedy was great. We had planned segments and the chemistry worked. 90% of the show was a comedy and 10% were actual tips. It’s the balance we wanted.
The problem was recording. We did it in a very open basement with kids running around upstairs. We sat my iPhone down in the middle of a coffee table, hit record on the Voice Memo app, and talked. I would try and keep track of time and would wrap up the segment when it seemed to run long. Yes, we were rookies.
I took the raw audio and clipped together I Adobe Premiere (I used the video editing software in high school and college). We added sound effects and exported the audio. I would take that mp3 file and upload to my website. Users could then pull up the direct link and listen from their browser.
Why Podcasting Didn’t Work – for Clip em’ Neil
If you want me to listen to your podcast, you need to pass the Eric Hersey Podcast Test.
Unless it’s part of the gimmick (which it usually never is), you have to sound clear. Studio quality is an absolute must. My quality test – can I hear you while mowing my lawn? If I have headphones on and can still make out what you’re saying – you pass the test.
Clip Em Neil was bad audio.
The topic matters. I have a ton of options out there and chose your podcast because you showed up in the search. If you don’t deliver the goods based on your title, you won’t be getting my download again.
Clip Em Neil delivered. We gave good advice. The main issue was we were super niche. The target audience for couponers were 30+ females. We delivered comedy for 21-year-old males.
Length and Pointless Chatter
I do subscribe to several podcasts that are lengthy, but that’s not the norm. Most podcasts are 30 minutes to 1 hour. The length isn’t as important as what you are doing during that time. If you and a cohost go on and on about personal topics that I’m not interested in, it’s likely I will either skip or stop listening. There is a difference between chatter around a general hot topic and you tell us how your weekend went.
Clip Em Neil had moments that went on a bit too long. I tried to shorten the episodes, but we went 40 minutes on average and should have been 20-30.
Too Many Ads
I get it, this is free and you are putting in work. You deserve to be paid. But if the episode is 15 minutes of ad read and 15 minutes of content, you won’t have my listen long. Some hosts have the right idea and make the copy creative and entertaining. Conan OBrien has great ads that I hardly ever skip.
Clip Em Neil didn’t have ads.
Being consistent is fairly important. As my subscription list grows, I tend to get rid of podcasts that don’t provide consistent content. You don’t have to be daily or weekly, but if you post twice a year – you better provide content that no one else is covering. I would rather be invested in a person or brand than to download one random podcast a year.
Clip Em Neil was a few times a month but no set schedule. Recording the podcast became difficult with schedules and locations.
The Biggest Downfall and My Biggest Regret
We recorded over ten episodes. They were hosted on my website and I used the backend analytics to count ‘pageviews’ as listens. When the show folded, I found no reason to continue hosting these files. When I transferred hosts, I didn’t bother transferring the audio files. As of my knowledge, there are no saved Clip Em Neil Podcast files on the internet.
Apple Podcasts was a thing when we recorded – we just didn’t do the research to figure out how to get it on iTunes. If we did, people might be stumbling on our podcast to this day.
I’m pretty sure we still hold the niche for Coupon Comedy Podcasts.