What’s in My Buds? With Podcast Digest

On this edition of What’s in My Buds?, we chat with Dan Lizette, founder of The Podcast Digest. Dan is podcast-obsessed, and has been producing his show for three years … a long time in the life of the podcast industry.

From Dan:

I feel as if I’ve always had a microphone in front of me. I began my career as a mobile DJ in 1999 when another DJ heard my voice making an announcement at a bowling alley. He said I should consider becoming a DJ. From that moment on, I fell in love with the microphone, and for 17 years, I’ve worked hundreds of weddings and parties and truly love it!

Sometime around 2007, I discovered podcasts. They’ve been my constant companion while at my day job, working out, or watching TV. I fell in love with This American Life, Snap Judgment and many of the technology shows from the 5by5 network. I was hooked!

In 2013, after relocating to Pennsylvania from Virginia, I needed a hobby. Something to sink my creative teeth into, if you will. One evening in the summer of 2014, I popped an earbud out of my ear and said to my wife “You know what? I think I want to start a podcast,” and I was off and running! The Podcast Digest was born.

Debuting on Sept. 1, 2014, the show began with the simple idea of recommending great shows to my listeners. After the first few months, it evolved to an interview-based, weekly show. I’ve been fortunate enough to feature some of the best independent and professional podcasters from across the world. I’ve spoken to some of my favorite hosts from shows I’ve listened to for years, trying to embody all the listeners out there and ask the questions we’ve all wondered about.

Now, over two years and 100 episodes in, The Podcast Digest has been recognized as one of the premiere destinations for hosts to share behind the scenes tales of their wonderful shows!

What is your go-to podcast, and why?

My go-to podcast would be one with a consistent release schedule, a rich back catalog and that rarely, if ever, disappoints! I love shows that both entertain and educate, so I’d have to award my go-to podcast to both Stuff You Should Know and 99% Invisible.

I always come away from both shows feeling highly entertained and having learned something new. I constantly find myself hopping over to Google to dive deeper into episode topics. Both shows are great distractions from the day-to-day concerns of life, temporarily concentrating on a completely unique topic for 30–45 minutes.

What is your favorite listening environment?

I am fortunate to have a day job where I’m able to listen for most hours of the work day; it certainly makes the hours fly by! I love to sit on the deck in my backyard with my dogs and Bluetooth headset, enjoying the weather with some of my favorite shows in my ears.

Who is your favorite podcast personality?

There are so many wonderful personalities in podcasting! It would be very difficult for me to narrow this down to one, so instead I’ll mention a few.

I’m a huge fan of consumer technology-based podcasts, and have been for years. One of my favorite commentators from the technology world is John Siracusa (Accidental Tech Podcast, Reconcilable Differences, The Incomparable). John offers up his opinions, takes, and input on a bevy of topics that are always eye-opening, intriguing and bound to get you to think more about the topic he’s covering.

Next, there is a group of independent podcasters from a show called Couple Things Podcast from Cincinnati. Molly Mendenhall, Ben Mendenhall, Ray Lofflin and Michelle Von Hirschberg are the hosts, two couples in their late 20s, who tackle four topics each episode in a ‘bar room’-style discussion. These are wonderfully honest, open, and hilarious people whom I challenge anyone to listen and not start counting as “friends.”

What do you think makes a great podcast host?

A great podcast host supports the goals of the show they are running. If it’s a comedy show, the host should be pretty good at making people laugh. If the show is interview-style, the host needs to bring out responses from their guests that are interesting to the listener and keep a conversation going. If a host is looking to shed light on a particular topic, they should be well-read and well-prepared for the subject matter. Generally speaking, a host should be entertaining to listen to, maintaining the audience’s attention throughout the episode.

What can the podcast medium achieve that other media forms like broadcasts cannot?

Without a doubt, the podcast medium has several advantages over broadcast. First and foremost, it’s an accessible delivery vehicle for almost anyone. If you have a message or topic you want to get out, for a minimal upfront investment, you can launch a podcast. That’s terrifically empowering for all of us.

Also, there are no standards or limitations. There’s nobody who has to approve your content — its message, length, how often you release it, etc. Again, completely empowering! From a listener standpoint, it’s on-demand audio.

We now live in a Netflix world, where the consumer has the power of choice. What they want to listen to, when they want to listen to it, and for how long. The Apple Podcasts (or Google Play, Spotify, etc.) catalog is a huge, virtual audio buffet catering to every single taste and preference possible.

Unlike a broadcast radio station, where a program director has made those choices for their audience, podcasts enable the listener to be their own program director for an audience of one. From both sides of the equation, podcaster and listener, the medium offers a sense of choice and freedom that simply cannot be found in broadcast.

How do you envision the future of the podcasting landscape?

Growing! Soon, it seems that most media properties will have a presence in podcasting. We’re seeing anyone with a message to convey coming en masse to the medium, from political figures to authors to branded content from non-traditional media sources. I expect this trend to grow exponentially. But we, the listeners and fans, will be all the better for it: more selection, more sustainability for the medium and more high-quality audio entertainment, no matter what your preference.

Subscribe to The Podcast Digest on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic or wherever you get your podcasts to hear more recommendations and interviews from Dan Lizette. Also, hear Dan’s interview with Radiotopia EP Julie Shapiro in his latest episode.

Originally published by Maggie Taylor at blog.prx.org on Oct. 10, 2016.