Jacob Salamon is the Co-Founder of WISECRACK, an LA-based media collective of podcasters, artists, filmmakers, comedians and academics who share an endless curiosity for exploring and questioning the world around us.
At WISECRACK, Jacob fuses his passions for design, education, broadcasting, and technology by serving as the Creative Director and Producer for all its projects. WISECRACK’s content, including numerous podcasts, reaches more than 50 million people per month.
He's also a judge for My RØDE Cast 2020!
My RØDE Cast is our annual podcasting competition. Submit a 1-2 minute mini-episode for a chance to win a share of $150,000 in prizes. Find out more here and enter now – entries close Tuesday, June 16th.
Looking for inspiration? We asked Jacob to tell us the five things that he looks for in a great podcast. Get going!
Creativity of the Concept
Given the sheer number of podcasts available today, I typically start by looking at how fresh, inventive, or unique a show concept is.
Is there a new spin on a traditional format? Are there interesting hosts or noteworthy voices being featured? Is there a social impact component of the podcast that shines a light on a topic or idea we’ve never paid attention to? There are many ways a podcast can be creative and differentiated – and they don’t necessarily require creators to reinvent the wheel.
As with almost any creative project, an element of storytelling is required to draw listeners in and make an emotional connection with the audience. Whether for narrative or non-fiction podcasts, elements of intrigue, surprise, or character transformation make a show fun to listen to. What elements can you employ?
Clarity & ‘Sign-Posting’
I often see great podcasts fail here! You’ve spent a lot of time creating a fun and engaging concept, but unless the content is clearly laid out, your audience won’t be able to follow along.
Through a combination of straightforward structure and ‘sign-posting’—explaining to the audience what you will explore and providing light recaps of what you’ve already covered along the way—you’ll ensure your content is easy to follow. Since podcasts are audio-only, listeners like me require this sort of guidance to keep concepts articulate and understandable.
Delivery & Performance
Sometimes a great concept is missing that little something – the charisma and rhythm that gives a show a pulse. Remember that podcasts are a form of entertainment, and as such, we want performances to draw us in.
Ensure there is strong chemistry between hosts (if there is more than one), and consider recording a few takes of important lines to give yourself options during the edit. You’re looking for a magnetic personality or energy in your show, and I often find the best way of gauging a strong performance is to share early versions with friends or colleagues to get honest appraisals before committing to any one direction.
This one might be a bit obvious for a RØDE competition, but production value is crucial for differentiating amateur productions from professional ones.
Given the vast tools and resources available for producing great-sounding audio, there are no excuses for not getting this right. Ensure your recording environments are as quiet as possible. Clean up background noises during editing when necessary. Use tools like compression and EQ to give vocals the presence and clarity they deserve. Edit down any unnecessary moments. And incorporate tasteful sound cues or music with the appropriate volume levels and fades to take productions to the next level.
Entries to My RØDE Cast close 12 PM (AEST) Tuesday, June 16th, so get going! Find out more here.