The importance of dialogue
I have been podcasting in English and French now for nearly a year now. For those of you who don’t know it, I call my podcast the Minter Dialogue radio show. I use the term “radio show” thanks to the advice of Alan Stevens because the word podcast is just too geeky a terminology. On my French “Minter Dialogue” podcast, I am up to my 30th recording and on the English one (click here), I have done nearly a dozen shows. It has been a fabulous journey, meeting many wonderfully interesting personalities along the way. These podcasts, which are focused on the internet, digital marketing and new technologies, range in length from 5 minutes up to 45 minutes, with the bulk coming in at around 30 minutes.
The reason why my interviews last up to 30 minutes is based on the fact that I want to allow for a conversation to develop with enough leeway for tangents and serendipity, all the while providing sufficiently interesting content and, where possible, a site or two to visit (i.e. something actionable). At thirty minutes, however, I fear that I do not really fit into a ‘proven’ model. I’d love to have your perspective?
What’s the right length for a podcast?
It strikes me that there are three types of successful podcasts out there:
- the byte size 2-5 minutes
- the commuter special (15-20 minutes)
- the long tale (45 minutes and over)
My observation has less to do with the content per se and more with the way that we consume the podcast.
The byte size podcast
The byte size podcast you can fit in on small walks (walking the dog!), waiting in line to buy your coffee or on the can. It is hardly a commitment in time to click on a 2 minute podcast, so you are open to more risk taking, maybe listening to more off-track subjects. Worst case, you lost 2 minutes. Best for me: Geek Beat (Cali Lewis- no longer up), Best of YouTube and CNN In Case You Missed It News.
The commuter special podcast
The commuter special needs to fit within that average travel time, reportedly around 20 minutes. TED, with its 18 minute videos, of course is the perfect ‘commuter’ length. What counts when listening to a 20-minute recording is having enough time without interruption. In this category, you have to add TED talks, but I also like to listen to Marketing over Coffee (John Wall and Christopher Penn) and NPR Technology (more like 30 minutes).
The long tale podcast
The long tale — wink to Chris Anderson — or the jogger’s cast is a podcast that goes on for up to 2 hours and that provides for a very different hear & feel. The longer podcast is clearly for a different kind of audience and consumption. I like to think of the jogger doing his or her 10km (6 miles) run. Unlike watching YouTube for example, when you listen to podcasts on the ipod/iphone (etc), iTunes automatically bookmarks where you are so that you can come back to it and start up where you left off. The long tale is typically a rather longer journey, with multiple participants and/or subjects. My favorites would be Susan Bratton’s Dishy Mix and Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation.
So here’s the question for you: What do you think is the right length? Should I shorten my interviews down to 20 minutes? Lengthen them out to 45+? I welcome your suggestions!
Further resources for the Minter Dialogue Radio Show:
You can find my other English-speaking interviews on the Minter Dialogue Radio Show here on:
- Megaphone (to listen on your desktop)
- or via Apple Podcasts (to listen on your mp3 or iPhone etc.)
And for the francophones reading this, if you want to get more podcasts, you can also find my radio show en français over at: MinterDial.fr, on Megaphone en français (desktop) or in iTunes.
Commuter special is good – even extending to 25 mintues. It works well in long cab rides, airports, sitting in cafe between meetings or lunch breaks.
If you've got extended interviews or topics, then perhaps do two – a long and a short version.
Minter – I like your take on the different consumption habits for radio shows. Riding the New York City subway, and the length of my commute (25 minutes) determines that my radio shows should be between 12-25 minutes. As long as the content is good, I'll keep listening, but I personally prefer more focused, targeted discussions, rather than the amiable, meandering ones…
Thanks for popping in your thoughts Ted and Michael… I think pulling it in under 25 minutes is indeed probably the best … to keep the interview on task!