Turning Off Tight & Bright Mode For Podcasting By Andy Meadows

When we all started on-air one of the first pieces of constructive criticism we received likely contained these two words, ‘tight’ and ‘bright’. I know I heard it quite a bit over the years because I have a low voice and I’m not a natural performer so I can be low energy, meaning I have to turn on the switch. For terrestrial radio on music-based stations tight and bright is understandable advice, less is more in the beginning, and we want to match the energy of the music, not bring it down. Plus, sounding like we’re smiling and having a good time is contagious and more likely to appeal to someone looking for a happy distraction as they drive into a job they’re tired of while listening to someone doing what they perceive to be a dream job. But, there’s one place that ‘tight and bright’ doesn’t translate well to, podcasting. For radio talent to find success on that front it’s critical that they learn to turn off tight and bright mode. Here’s why and a few thoughts on how.

For the most part people consume podcasts a little differently than they do traditional radio. That’s partially because podcasts are recorded so they’re not actively trying to engage their audience in real-time with contesting and phone topics like radio does, especially when it’s live and local. According to Pew Research, 81% of podcast listeners say that ‘simply having something to listen to in the background while they do something else’ is the main reason they listen. Because of that, a high-energy, fast delivery isn’t necessary and is likely to turn listeners away. Podcast listeners tend to prefer a more natural delivery that sounds real and a little more laid back than most of us do when we use our ‘broadcaster voice’. The good news is that it never hurts if the host has a pleasant voice, which is a big plus for most radio broadcasters. As for ‘tight’ mode, while it’s certainly good to have a plan, structure and strategy when podcasting, economy of words isn’t nearly as important as it is on terrestrial radio. According to two studies, the average length of the most popular podcasts is just under 39 minutes and many of the most successful podcasts are an hour or longer. That being said, as I mentioned in my eBook From Broadcast to Podcast: Applying Radio Rules to Podcasting, it’s still important to start with a hook, tease across segments, and talk as long as the content warrants without needlessly filling.

I have however, come around a little on the importance of editing podcasts. As broadcasters we’re trained to move breaks forward, only go down rabbit holes when necessary and have finely tuned internal clocks (that are actually very hard to turn off). Because of that, once they get the hang of it, most radio broadcasters who jump into podcasting will quickly learn how to self-edit in real-time as they’re recording. Plus, podcasts do NOT have to be perfect. So, there’s no need to take out every imperfection. It’s also not the end of the world if people don’t listen to the entirety of every podcast as long as they’re listening to a good portion of it and feel like they’re getting something of value out of it, so they come back. Additionally, there’s a MASSIVE benefit to going long-form. It makes it MUCH more likely for guests that we interview to relax, open up and say something un-scripted that leads to a potentially viral moment when it’s clipped down to 90 seconds or less for a reel on social (which can be done by AI now using Opus Clips, Spikes, VidyoAI or directly in RiversideFM or Streamyard). That’s part of the reason I think radio talent should podcast first, so they can use the best clips on-air and social to drive traffic to the podcast. As of now, most radio personalities who are ‘podcasting’ are just sharing clips from their show after the show, which isn’t podcasting that’s just repurposing the show which is better than nothing but unlikely to get much traction.

What do you think? Would it help radio talent translate better to podcasting if they turned off ‘tight and bright’ mode? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.

Pic designed by DC_Studio for Envato Elements.

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