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Steve Goldstein: What every podcaster can learn from Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy

Steve Goldstein’s Amplifi Media works with media companies and podcasters in developing audio content strategies. Goldstein writes frequently at Blogstein, the Amplifi blog. Steve can be reached directly at 203-221-1400 or sjgoldstein-at-amplifimedia-dot-com.


Podcast intros are way too long, and audiences are increasingly frustrated.

In podcasting’s early days, there was something quaint and even charming about show starts with hosts and guests rambling about their pets, dinner, clothes, and which microphone they were using. Today, most listeners are past that. Sadly, too many podcasters are not.

It Is Not Uncommon For Three Or Four Minutes To Pass Before A Podcast’s Actual Content Begins. 

It’s become increasingly evident that audiences make content decisions fast. Often, they are ruthless about it. Think about your habits. Within seconds of flipping on a streaming or TV show, you know whether you are engaged. If not, you are likely to use the remote as a weapon and move along. The internet equivalent is scrolling and clicking. How many YouTube videos have you judged in mere seconds?

Between pre-roll ads, content clips, theme music, sponsor messages, host banter, and rambling introductions, it is not uncommon for three or four minutes to pass before a podcast’s actual content begins.

Podcast listeners have their own weapons: the fast forward and delete buttons.  Many use them to bypass ads and chit-chat or abandon the podcast altogether.

A Risky Approach In A “Don’t Waste My Time” (DWMT) Culture With Millions Of Podcasts Clamoring For Attention. 

Coming from years of audio brand development, working directly with radio stations and podcast hosts, we know what happens at the beginning of a podcast is more critical than ever. Talking for minutes before the actual content starts is an increasingly risky approach in a “Don’t Waste My Time” (DWMT) culture with millions of podcasts clamoring for attention.

Listeners quickly determine whether they will stick around. The first :60 seconds (really the first :30 seconds) need to hook and engage the audience and set the table by laying out the benefit for listening to the episode.

This is where TV shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy excel. “Wheel” has the crowd famously chant the show’s name as the iconic theme music plays. Hosts Pat and Vanna walk on stage, introduce themselves and the players, and :45 seconds later, the game is being played. During his 37 year-long tenure hosting Jeopardy, Alex Trebek was almost as efficient as “Wheel,” with a similar rundown, leaving a little more time to directly talk to the audience about recent contestant news and the current episode. The game was underway within :75 seconds.

Of course, not every podcast episode needs to be as streamlined as a legacy TV game show, but the main takeaway for today’s podcast producers and creators is to create a flow that respects and recognizes an ever-more fickle audience.

Cut the bloat. Your audience will thank you, or at least they might not leave.

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Steve Goldstein

2 Comments

  1. 100% on board with this. I’ve been looking for new podcasts, and I’ve bailed on so many because their first 5 minutes or so of each episode were peppered with inside jokes, random comments or other things that were either irrelevant or not amusing to anyone but the hosts. There are so many ways of establishing rapport that don’t involve wasting my time.

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