Despite podcasts’ growing popularity, some people choose not to pay attention to them. In Sound’s Profitable’s recent report, The Podcast Landscape, 7% of respondents hadn’t listened to a podcast for more than a year, and 28% had never listened. Considering the vast quantity and wide variety of podcasts worldwide, this seems like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
So, what’s keeping these people away from podcasts?
We know that AI could help fix the podcast discovery problem. But, some people associate podcasts with negative media representation. Since a good use for ChatGPT is top-level, broad research and document analysis, what if ChatGPT could search through the data used for its training, summarize the negative opinions about podcasts, and tell us the big turnoffs? Then, podcasters could examine those negative critiques to improve their shows.
What if ChatGPT’s podcast dislikes can tell us what to avoid or fix?
There’s no “what if” about it. I asked ChatGPT, “Based on Internet text, social media posts, reviews from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Podchaser, and any other relevant data in your training, what is it about podcasts people don’t like?”
In the time it took me to type that paragraph, ChatGPT answered the question with a list of thirteen opinions. Some of the opinions overlapped (for example, “podcasts are too long” and “hosts’ prolonged rambling”). So, I used my human intelligence to condense ChatGPT’s list to eight misgivings. Here is a report of Chat GPT’s Podcast Dislikes: Eight Reasons Some People Avoid Podcasts, for your elucidation. Plus, I’ll show you our human-tested ways to solve those problems.
1. Prolonged Introductions, Rambling, and Not Getting To The Point
You know, like the introduction I just wrote.
ChatGPT reported that people want podcasts to get to the promised topic, and stay focused. Others said podcasts take up too much time. If hosts spend a lot of time introducing themselves and the show, chatting about how their weekend went, rambling and lacking focus, the episode can seem “too long.”
Some helpful resources to avoid or solve this problem are:
- Our podcast intro script template & tips to open with a bang, newly updated for you
- Our guide to how long should a podcast be?
- Our guide to writing an invisible script.
Unstructured dialogue is tiring to pay attention to. It’s hard for people to stay engaged and follow content for long periods of time. Don’t exhaust your audience.
2. Overuse of Ads and Sponsorships
Another of ChatGPT’s podcast dislikes is, “An excessive number of ads or extended sponsorship segments can be off-putting for some listeners. People appreciate when ads are kept to a reasonable frequency and length.”
Podcast sponsorship is a wide-ranging topic. People who complain about ads probably don’t think about how the cost of living crisis is affecting podcasting. However, there are many different ways to cover the costs of your podcast and make money without commercial interruption.
Be wary of reckless self-promotion, though. One of the complaints ChatGPT collected said, “Is this podcast an actual show or just an hour-long advertisement for the host’s products?” Don’t be that podcaster who has to drop “my best-selling book, out now at Amazon” into every response to a guest.
3. Poor or Inconsistent Audio Quality
“Poor sound quality, background noise, or inconsistent audio levels can negatively impact the listening experience and lead to dissatisfaction” is another podcast dislike that ChatGPT reported.
There’s nearly no excuse for having bad audio in your podcast in 2023. All-in-one podcast maker apps help anyone make decent sound, and editing software is improving all the time. But before you publish, it’s always a good idea to listen to your audio with an objective and honest friend, so you know you aren’t listening to your podcast episodes through rose-colored headphones.
4. Host Delivery and Behavior
ChatGPT mentioned several podcast dislikes about host behavior and planning. Many people feel that lack of prep, directionless talk, mouth noises, and profanity are just as bad as biases, one-sided discussions, and unsubstantiated claims.
Mic technique is a skill and an art. How you present your podcast is as important as your show’s issue. For some folks, mouth noises can be as irritating as hearing someone rake their nails down a chalkboard. Be mindful of what you eat and drink before recording, warm up your mouth, and imagine your podcast avatar or ideal audience.
Fact-checking matters, as does honesty. Nobody can physically punish you if you say that Elvis Presley wrote “Hound Dog.” But saying it makes you seem sloppy. If you don’t care enough to do proper research, then it’s clear you don’t care about your audience, and they’ll pay attention to someone else.
Controversial topics, profanity, and uncomfortable statements can fit some audiences, topics, and situations well. For others, they’re the kiss of death. Keep your podcast niche in mind. Just because the FCC can’t stop you from saying it doesn’t mean it’s relevant or what your audience wants. Podcasting is more intimate than other media, so challenging words, statements, or topics can hit harder than in print or on a screen.
Behind-the-scenes chatter, like, “Are we on?” or “Oh, we’ll edit that out,” may make you sound spontaneous, but that kind of chatter wastes time and, again, sounds sloppy.
Your audience chose to pay attention to you. Pay attention to what you’re making for them.
5. Topics and Content
ChatGPT’s guidance for podcasters was, “Content that feels repetitive, unoriginal, or focuses on overly niche or unappealing topics may not resonate with a broader audience.” The report also said, “If podcasts lack a mix of topics, guests, or perspectives, listeners might find the content tedious or biased.” And “excessive technical or industry-specific jargon without proper explanation can alienate listeners unfamiliar with the terminology.”
When planning your podcast’s topic, think less about specificity and more about why you’re making a podcast. Why are you trying to say what you want to say? Purpose raises the stakes and makes your content more vital. Do you want to podcast about fly fishing because you care about travel, the environment, or outdoor water sports? Each of these has a different angle. (You see what I did there. You’re welcome.)
Do your podcast title and description explain what you discuss in the show (and for whom)? “The show that makes science fun” could be anything from a kids’ podcast about chemistry to a discussion of industrial polymers for the construction market. If the audience feels like, “This podcast isn’t for me,” it may be because the signposts were unclear.
6. Repetitive Content or Format
ChatGPT reports that there’s a Goldilocks zone when it comes to format. “When podcasts follow a rigid structure or repeat similar content in each episode, it can become monotonous for some listeners.” But ChatGPT also reports, “Podcasts without a clear structure or organization can be challenging to follow, making it difficult for listeners to retain information.”
Format is like a good soup bowl. It keeps your broth from spilling all over the table but doesn’t dictate anything about ingredients, cooking methods, or temperature. Choose a format and use it as a guide for the content you want to share. Some podcasts have segments, like how newspapers or magazines have sections. You’ll notice, though, that there’s a lot of room in each of those segments for different events, images, ideas, and debates.
7. Limited Scope of Ideas
While one of the podcast dislikes that ChatGPT reported was a sameness of ideas, discourse, and opinions, another was that it’s “difficult to discover new podcasts.” ChatGPT reported that people said, “When podcasts lack diversity in terms of contributors, subjects or views, listeners find the content monotonous or one-sided.” It’s like there’s nothing on the restaurant menu but mashed potatoes, and it’s hard to find a restaurant that offers more variety of dishes.
If your podcast relies on interviews, find guests different from your usual mindset. Practice active listening. Avoid judgmental statements. Try researching information about your topic written or created by someone completely different from yourself for solo or co-hosted shows.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
8. Lack of Interaction
This one surprised me. ChatGPT reported, “Unlike live radio shows, podcasts are prerecorded, which means there is no immediate interaction with the audience. Some listeners prefer the interactivity and spontaneity of live radio.”
Gen X, Boomers, and older generations have solid audio consumption habits. In the US, before radio de-regulation in 1996, radio essentially was social media for most people. Today, commercial radio might not be pre-recorded, but for many radio stations, the programming decisions are mostly made in one office. Call-in radio still exists but lacks the frequency or local flavor it once had.
The Large Language Model that OpenAi used to train ChatGPT stops at September of 2021. Around the same time, podcasting live became easier, even with audience interaction. Podbean Live Stream launched in the summer of 2020, Spotify’s Greenroom followed about a year later, and live streaming events become more commonplace in 2021. Most likely, the LLM didn’t have much in the way of opinion about live podcasting.
Now, podcasters can combine podcast recording sessions with live-streamed virtual events. Podcasters can make it easy for their audience to get in touch in many ways.
Interaction isn’t simply about when your audience reaches out to you. It’s also about your show notes, transcripts, and website. If your podcast has valuable information for your audience to use, cite sources appropriately and give your audience a clear link in the show notes. This shows the audience that you’re a reliable resource, and they’re more likely to share your show with their friends. When you promote your podcast on social media, and people respond, be polite and thank them.
Chat GPT’s Podcast Dislikes Can Help You Steer Your Show In The Right Direction
I’ll admit that ChatGPT isn’t famed for its accuracy. In many ways, Chat GPT is like a collage-maker or a giant game of whisper-down-the-lane. It repeats a version of what others have written or said. However, all of the podcast dislikes that ChatGPT reported feel similar to the generalizations found in other media.
So, could there be any kernel of truth in the above list when it comes to your own content? Could your podcast growth be limited because you’re guilty of one or more of these common podcast dislikes? If so, the good news is they’re all immediately fixable, starting with your next episode. So be sure to hop into the IndiePod Community and let us know what actions you plan to take!