Tiresome Podcast Clichés and Tropes

Let’s face it, podcasts are more interesting than AM radio. They can be on virtually any topic or niche you could think of, and if it’s not out there yet- YOU could start your own. They are portable, digital, and 99% are free.

That said, after listening to hundreds if not thousands of podcast episodes over the years, there are a few podcasting clichés, tropes, and other things which frustrate me about the nature of podcasts. (Please note: these observations do not apply to ALL podcasts, ALL of the time, and there are exceptions.)

The Slow Start

You know how in fiction, the rule of thumb is to start a novel, movie, or TV show with and exciting hook? Even non-fiction journalism does that- they try to start off with a line to get your attention. AM radio is known for having opening monologues (usually the highest rated segment).

Yet with podcasts, it seems like the host or hosts have to babble, ramble, or spend the first 10–25 minutes “getting warmed up” before getting into the main topic of the podcast. They are usually snarky, unprofessional, or laid back.

Yes, I know, this mimics real life conversation when you meet a friend or co-worker, and it can help listeners “get to know” the hosts, but please do me a favor and cut the small talk if you are publishing a podcast. It seems as if I could safely just skip forward for the first segment of any given podcast and not miss a thing. What a waste of time, bandwidth, and space.

Technical Difficulties

The number one complaint I’ve run into on forums is about podcast audio quality. Apparently, speaking like you have a fish bowl over your head is no longer acceptable in 2018. However, I am much more understanding about this, especially for podcasts who do not make a living off their work.

What is not cool to me is when the hosts have to spend 15+ minutes discussing their technical issues. All of that stuff should be edited out. I don’t care about your set, microphones, audio files, or VOIP connection issues.

Lack of Diversity

Yes, I’m sure you could name me dozens of good podcasts featuring non-white male Generation X’ers (who are usually amateurs with no broadcasting experience), but I am talking about the vast majority of podcasts. A similar cliché is when an older Baby Boomer celebrity/public figure has to have a younger co-host handle all the technical stuff, promoting, and legwork.

Softball Interviews

You could be rest assured when a podcaster’s guest is somewhat famous or important, that the questions will be light and the host will promote the person’s book, project, or legacy. It’s win-win for both podcaster and guest, but the problem is if you are a truth seeking listener who wants critical analysis of something, instead of a fanboy host. Even worse is when the host gets exposed by the fans for not giving tough questions so criticizes comments made by the guest on the next episode (not face to face).

Inside Jokes

Long running inside-jokes are great Easter eggs for long-time listeners, but a huge turnoff for me if I am a first-time listener. I get it: memes are cool, but they could also be excluding. Rule of thumb: always assume your latest episode is someone’s first.


Yeah, I know everyone has to be paid (except I don’t really get paid for all the creative stuff I do for some reason) so advertisements are part of the necessary evil (I guess). I hand it to podcasters who do not run commercials or who offer an ad-free experience to paying customers. But the standard vanilla podcast has way too many repetitive, long commercials for some very weird products. Yes, I know radio is like that too, but the style of commercials needs to be different. Thankfully, some podcasters have creative commercials or act them out.

Directory Listings

I am still protesting smart phones for as long as I can. So I do my podcast listening on desktop PCs. So let me tell you, some of these podcast directories are not user friendly. They start off with the latest one on top, and you have to keep scrolling down or click on multiple pages of archives, and sometimes they don’t have descriptions. I feel like I am trying to fish around a Blogspot or Wordpress blog archive. And I don’t want to use iTunes to download/save episodes just to try a new podcast out.

Winging It

Also heard on AM radio, I don’t like when hosts talk with no show preparation. Do your research. I’m not suggesting the shows be scripted, just that if you are going to discuss a topic be knowledgeable and factual about it. I don’t want to hear instant reactions to news stories or historical events without the host knowing the real background. I do not support the spread of misinformation. Have a well-informed opinion before making a snap judgement rant.

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