Matching Podcast Length with Audience Preference

One of the benefits to listening to podcasts is the freedom to listen on your time schedule. iTunes saves your progress (unless you accidentally touch the forward arrows), so that you can pick up where you left off at your convenience. A little over a year ago, I started two podcasts: AudioTim, and the Holy Worlds Podcast. I’ve tinkered with different formats, and modeled them after my favorites (Dead Robots’ Society, Get Published, I Should Be Writing), all of which can post podcasts beyond 45 minutes in length.

Everything about this picture makes me impatient, including the word "Loading."

Six months ago, I stepped away from HWP to focus on getting more AudioTim episodes per month. HWP has found people to step up in my absence, but recently someone from the Holy Worlds forum suggested I cut the length of the show down from an hour plus to just a half hour.

The argument for a half hour show is because people have less time, and shorter attention spans. She suggested cutting the show in half if it is going to be an hour long interview. This is a pertinent question to ask myself as two of my last three interviews have been 90 minutes long. I haven’t cut them in half, partly because it would require me to interrupt the flow of the conversation as well as record an ending that explains why I cut the episode there, and then another intro for the next part. If someone is able to listen to an hour or more in one day, then I don’t want to make them wait till the next day to post the other half.

It’s impossible to account for all the ways in which people listen to your podcast. Many of the people at Holy are home-schooled, so they might not leave the house all day, or when they do, are with their parents and therefore not listening to a podcast while they do errands. This means they are probably sitting at their computer or listening during short breaks, and might not have the full hour or more to listen. I’m not really sure what my demographic is for AudioTim, but does this mean I should change how I interview people?

I always do one or the other after jogging, don't you?

Personally, my favorite times for listening to podcasts are my commute and while exercising. In the summer, there is nothing better than a writing podcast to inspire me as I jog. As my endurance improved, I was jogging for about an hour, and it bummed me out to have to listen to two different shows. For that reason, the hour long shows became my favorite for jogging, and shorter shows like Dragon Page Cover to Coverfit in with lawn mowing or split between morning and evening commutes.

I would love your opinion on this. I won’t hold it against you if you are turned off when you see 1:30:00 pop up in my podcast list. I need to know this. It is especially pertinent as I go to edit a recent interview with Robin Sullivan of Ridan Publishing. The thing about her interview (regarding the current dispute with Amazon vs. IPG) is that I fear breaking it up will hinder listeners keeping up with the train of thought. I suppose I could plan ahead and create a smooth stopping point, but when informed people like Robin are on a roll, I don’t want to interrupt their flow of thought.

Some shows like Writing Excuses have the Audible book of the week advertisement in the middle. I could insert a promo in the middle, but that could further distract you from the flow of thought.

So, the question for you is whether you’d prefer two 30-45 minute episodes or leaving the whole conversation in one episode is better.

About Timothy C. Ward

Timothy C. Ward is a former executive producer and Hugo Nominee of Adventures in SciFi Publishing. He has been broke and lost on the other side of the world and now dreams of greater adventures from his keyboard in Des Moines, Iowa. This summer, he released his second Sand Divers book, Scavenger: A.I., where two parents use an ancient technology to fight a reproducing A.I. while trying to resurrect their deceased infant, and a new series that begins with Godsknife: Revolt, an apocalyptic battle for godhood in the rift between Iowa and the Abyss. Sign up for his newsletter for news, sales, giveaways and more:

0 Responses to Matching Podcast Length with Audience Preference

  1. For me it’s got more to do with how interesting the content is than how long it is. I don’t listen to interview shows much since most guests/hosts can’t hold my interest for 15 minutes, much less 60. So as long as it’s long not because you rambled but because it was a genuinely interesting conversation I’m down.

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      Good point, Scott, and thanks for your comment. If you ever stop listening to my interviews, I’d really appreciate your thoughts on why. I’m in a vacuum where I’m the only one critiquing my interviews, so your thoughts would be most beneficial. Sometimes the content just doesn’t resonate, but if I do something as a host like ask a dumb question, I’ve got thick enough skin to hear about it.

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          Thank you. And, in kind, I thought you and Zack did a great job on AISFP. I came away with a more personal interest in Flying Island Press’s success. I think the monthly production schedule is a good idea. I laughed when Shaun asked if you had anything else up and you said “No.” I’m glad Zack chimed in for you. I haven’t forgotten about having you on my show to give you some time to talk about your projects.

          • Thanks. Zach and I make a good team.

            I look forward to coming on! I didn’t want to pimp my own stuff too much since it was supposed to be about FIP.

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