What makes a good podcast? It could be an interesting topic, a theme that is getting a growing following and popularity, an awesome host, or, ideally, the combination of the three. Now, here is the tricky question: what makes an awesome host? While we can’t give you an exact definition, here are a few characteristics you may want to keep an eye out for.
A good podcast host is charismatic. They can joke, they can be heard, and they can make even the most mundane topic seem interesting. A charismatic host could have an expert on paint-drying and still have swarms of listeners tuning in. Charisma is one of the most important characteristics of a host. Some hosts completely ignore other aspects and focus exclusively on this one, but this is not what we are looking for.
This does not necessarily mean formal education. You don’t need a Ph.D. to organize and have a podcast. However, any host that wants to talk about a certain topic has to have at least some level of know-how regarding that topic. For example, you cannot have a podcast about climate and not believe in climate change. Well, you could, but it would not be credible by any standard. The theoretical awesome podcast host must have some level of knowledge in several different areas. This is important to make the podcast itself informative, but also to keep the audience and the guests engaged.
It’s not enough to have guests. It is important to have guests that are relevant to a specific topic. The host also must know how to engage their guests, how to let them have their say, and ask insightful questions. There are political podcasts that like to invite their opponents only to try and dismantle their beliefs and logic. This is not the right way to do things, regardless of your position. The point of podcasts is to hear different voices and create room for discussion.
As for any big project, it is important to get ready. What does this mean for a podcast host? They have to review the topic of the day, to know what they are going to talk about and what won’t make it into the episode. They must know who their guests are and how to treat them. Now, podcasts are, largely, spontaneous. This is not the same as random. Just because the host and the guests are relaxed and chatting like friends in a cafe does not mean they talk about any topic in a devil-may-care way. Hosts know what lies ahead in their day and the rest of the week as well.