What makes a good podcast host? That’s a question many of us ask! What gives a Podcast its “hostiness” and makes you want to come back for more again and again?
“There’s almost nothing about hosting and really by implication producing and that, that quality – I did not coin the term ‘hostiness,’ that comes from I believe PRX many years ago – but it’s, it’s this ineffable quality that makes us go ‘oh, I love listening to Ira Glass,’ or Jad Abumrad of Radio Lab, or Anna Sale, or Brené Brown, or whoever we connect with, and different people obviously connect with different hosts. But what is that makes us connect?”– Elaine Appleton Grant
My next guest has actually been on this podcast before. She’s an award-winning journalist, audio producer, and on-air talent who worked for three NPR affiliates before founding Podcast Allies, LLC in 2019. She hosts the podcast Sound Judgment, a master study in great podcast hosting, and I’m certainly honored to have her here. In fact, you might have heard her review of this podcast read out on a recent show. Her show features today’s best hosts, and producers, including Glynn Washington, host of Snap Judgment, John Barth, founding producer of Marketplace, Ann Bogel of What Should I Read Next, and Stephanie Wittels Wachs of Last Day. Her production company, Podcast Allies, develops narrative and conversation podcasts for social impact organizations, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the American Academy of Pediatrics, so her background in audio is pretty extensive.
Her name is Elaine Appleton Grant, and I’m looking forward to sharing her take on what she feels makes a good podcast and a great host. With all the interesting people she’s interviewed, she has a very informed opinion!
As always, if you have questions for my guest, you’re welcome to reach out through the links in the show notes. If you have questions for me, visit www.audiobrandingpodcast.com where you’ll find a lot of ways to get in touch. Plus, subscribing to the newsletter will let you know when the new podcasts are available. And if you’re getting some value from listening, feel free to spread that around and share it with a friend, along with leaving an honest review. Both those things really help – and I’d love to feature your review on future podcasts. You can leave one either in written or in voice format from the podcast’s main page. I would so appreciate that.
The Voice of God
As we start the episode off, the discussion turns straight to podcasting, its storytelling strengths, and the powerful role it plays in audio branding. We talk about her work with John Barth, developer of the famous Moth Radio Hour, and Elaine and I discuss audio trends in everything from television commercials to movie trailers, and how modern audiences have outgrown the classic “voice of God” Hollywood voice-overs. As Elaine puts it, “it’s like the end of the newscaster voice.”
Ways to Get Attention
Our conversation continues with a look at how multi-tasking and our always-on-the-go lifestyle have changed the tone and purpose of advertising. “We’re all trying to find ways to get attention,” she says. “There are effective ways, there are good ways, there are ways with integrity, and there are ways that you and I might argue are less so.” We talk about how this very podcast got its start and the audio trends, both good and not-so-good, that helped inspire its focus on sonic branding.
An Ineffable Quality
Elaine tells us about the start of her podcast Sound Judgment and her search for the true meaning of “hostiness,” a word she borrowed from Jay Bear to describe that perfect chemistry with a host that brings the audience back week after week. “It’s this ineffable quality,” she explains, “that makes us go ‘oh, I love listening to Ira Glass,’ or Jad Abumrad of Radiolab, or Anna Sale, or Brené Brown, or whoever we connect with, and different people obviously connect with different hosts. But what is it that makes us connect?” How can we be a good podcast host? We talk about some of the common pitfalls new hosts encounter, and how that personal link between the host and their listeners can make or break a podcast.
Finding Your Voice
We talk more about how hosts can tap into that wellspring of sincerity and authenticity, from relating to the material in a personal way to rewriting it to better suit their performance, and how many newly successful voice talents with a gift for impressions have to work to find their own distinctive voice. “What’s interesting about that,” Elaine says, “is that there may be many you’s in a way.” As she puts it, voiceover is about “learning the range of who you can be sincerely and convincingly.”
- Defining audio branding and its relationship to commercial podcasting
- Marketing, movie trailers, and the new advertising rule of “show, don’t tell”
- How a lifestyle podcast paved the way for The Hidden Gem of Marketing
- The early days of Sound Judgment and how Elaine defines “hostiness”
- Podcasting’s unique ability to foster a relationship between host and listener and how to be a good podcast host
Stay tuned next week as Elaine and I talk about the challenges companies face as they enter the podcasting world, as we hone in on the secret of hostiness and how it empowers the host, guest, and listeners alike, and how a more diverse voice industry has helped transform advertising.
Connect with the Guest
Follow Elaine Appleton Grant on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elaine.a.grant/
Connect with Elaine Appleton Grant on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/appletongrant/
Follow Elaine Appleton Grant on Twitter: https://twitter.com/elaineagrant
Listen to Elaine’s Podcast, Sound Judgement. You’ll be glad you did!
Get your complimentary mini e-book and learn how to put your best voice forward and create the best sound impression as a podcast guest with my Tips for Sounding Your Best as a Podcast Guest.
Do you need a voice talent for your next project? Visit my voice-over website to find out more about how my voice can help you with your audio brand. You can also subscribe to the Audio Branding Podcast on YouTube to watch the show’s latest episodes.
This interview episode was very skillfully made to sound beautiful by the talented Humberto Franco.