The other day. the NY Times had good piece on podcasting. There was a great quote from Dave Winer (one of the creators of podcasting), “I love podcasting because it turns us all into investigative journalists of our own lives.”. Here is Dave’s elaboration on the statement. One of the main things in the piece is the spectrum of investment people make into equipment for podcasting. There has been a bit of discussion going on online about production quality in podcasts. Dave Slusher has also written about it in response to to this piece posted by Steven Hill on Steve Gillmor’s blog.
Essentially a lot of traditional radio types are saying podcasting sucks because of bad production quality. This is bullshit. Production quality is not irrelevant, after all if you can’t understand what is being said, the content doesn’t mean much. But regular radio generally has what most would consider great production quality. But 90% of what you here on radio is shit content. I believe that the quality of the content is vastly more important than the production quality. I don’t care how good something sounds if there is nothing worthwhile to hear. As long as I can hear what is being said, I am fine with some background or ambient noise or the occasional umh, ahh or cough as long as the podcaster has something interesting/funny or relevant to say. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of podcasts out their with awesome production quality, check out Digital Flotsam, Bob and AJ, the Zedcast and Accident Hash for just a few examples. But there are plenty of podcasts with what many pro’s would consider poor production quality that are vastly more listenable than almost anything on the radio. Morning Coffee Notes, Evil Genius Chronicles and Dawn and Drew all qualify here. None of these are edited, all contain what would be considered flaws and I listen to all of them because they are real and have something to say to me. I have heard quite a few podcasters over the past year buy more elaborate gear to try get better sound quality. Frankly once they reach a certain point, the extra tweaks are only marginal improvements at best if they are even noticable. In many cases I have heard people talk about new mikes or mixers and frankly can’t tell any difference from the previous shows.
You don’t need a lot of expensive studio gear to make a great podcast. But you do need good content. If I can hear the content, that is what counts. Entertain me, inform me, make me think, make me laugh, introduce me to new music. This is what counts. the rest is just icing on the cake.