We are continuing our series of conversations with podcasters in the run-up to International Podcast Day on September 30. This week we had a chat with the man who started it all – Dave Lee, founder of the International Podcast day. This was a really fascinating conversation.
For those who don’t, could you explain what international podcast day is?
Dave Lee: International Podcast Day™ is September 30th and is an international celebration of the power of podcasts. The celebration is a great opportunity to connect with fellow podcasters, podcast listeners, podcast enthusiasts, and leaders in the podcasting industry.
We have organized a 30+ hour live event that highlights podcasters from around the world. In 2018, we are proud to have 40 podcasters from 16 countries represented, sharing their knowledge, expertise, and passions with a global audience. International Podcast Day offers a day for everyone in the podcast and podcasting community to celebrate the craft and media that we so dearly love.
Tell us the story of how International podcast day came to be?
Dave Lee: In the summer of 2014, Steve Lee heard a radio announcement for National Senior Citizens’ Day. Thinking that was pretty cool, it begged the question of why wasn’t there a day of celebration for podcasting. That’s when Steve said to himself, “Let’s create a Podcast Day!” So, the adventure began.
A small collective of podcasters (Steve and Dave Lee, Dave Jackson, Daniel J. Lewis, Ray Ortega, Nick Seuberling) put their heads and organized a celebration. In 2014, we celebrated the inaugural National Podcast Day (USA-only). After the inaugural event, we quickly re-branded to International Podcast Day. Since 2015, we successfully streamed live for 100 straight hours, bringing in podcasters from over 50 countries.
Four editions down the line, how has the journey been so far and have there been any surprises along the way?
Dave Lee: The journey has been both amazing and stressful. We have met some amazing podcasters from around the world. Some of these connections have turned into incredible friendships in which we can share ideas and bounce concepts around. We’ve learned how massive the podcast demand is worldwide.
Often times, we get trapped in our bubble of listening to our podcasts and living in our space. This journey has opened our eyes and ears to how truly international the podcasting community has become. To be honest, the biggest surprise was how quickly and proudly the podcast and podcasting community embraced International Podcast Day. If others thought it was a bad idea, it would’ve died on the vine. I’ve been surprised how many meetups and social gatherings have been organized worldwide year after year.
This year you have 2 Indian podcasters as speakers. Do you follow podcasting in India? If yes, what are your thoughts on the Indian podcasting scene?
Dave Lee: We are very pleased to have Chhavi Sachdev and Bjiay Gautam on our schedule as speakers, and honestly could have invited 3 to 4 more. In 2015, we featured one Indian podcaster but he appeared to be only one of the few.
Over the past three years, it is obvious that the podcasting scene in India is growing and thriving. Knowledgeable podcasters are hosting podcast workshops for the first time on content development and production tips. Podcasters are being invited to the conference to share the benefits and value of podcasting in business.
Podcast networks have been created and continue to deliver quality content and stories. The rise of independent podcasters in the genres of the arts, business, education, finance, and politics are expanding the interest in podcasts. All these elements demonstrate that India is primed for significant growth over the next few years.
You yourself are a podcaster and Waves of Tech, the show that you host with your dad (which is so cool) crossed 400 episodes. How has the journey as a podcaster been so far?
Dave Lee: Yes, my dad and I have been podcasting for over 10 years and it has been a truly amazing experience. What started as a way just to stay connected and talk about tech and life over Skype turned into a project that has taken us to multiple podcast conferences and technology expos around the United States.
The podcast has been a finalist in the Podcast Awards four times, something we never dreamed of. We have reinvented the podcast a few times as we learned what worked and didn’t work. My relationship with my father has grown tremendously as well. Not only that, I have personally grown during the process – being comfortable with sharing my opinions and in front of large crowds. The podcast eventually led to the creation of International Podcast Day, too.
You’ve been podcasting for a while now. How would you summarize the current state of podcasting and what are some developments that excite and worry you the most?
The state of podcasting is strong and vibrant. We are seeing incredible growth in the demand for podcasts and the consumption rate of podcasts across all demographics. Whereas radio corporations are making major splashes in the industry, I am also incredibly excited that independent podcasters still push the media forward both in creativity and download numbers.
We are seeing podcasts becoming more of a community event with the advent of podcast listening events around the world (think Podcast Brunch Club and others). I am excited about this development because podcasts have historically been a very personal and intimate media where some don’t share the podcasts or talk about the content.
A worry I’ve always had is the low barrier of entry to podcasting, it’s both good and bad. The quality of audio and content can suffer and creates a poor image for the podcasting industry. I get very concerned when podcast hosting companies offer free hosting with no control over an RSS feed (the lifeblood of a podcast). Companies capitalizing on the growth without providing the proper resource and information to podcasters is worrisome.
Are there things holding podcasting back from hitting its growth stride in your view?
I don’t think podcasting is being held back, in general. People want to listen. Podcasters want to produce. There is no issue there. We have seen consistent and incremental growth year by year since 2004. Google has entered the game which is very exciting because it commands 50% of the mobile market, the largest segment of podcast consumption.
The addition of podcasts into automobiles, set-top devices, and voice command devices are pushing content into the hands of listeners. Perhaps the only thing holding podcasts (not podcasting) back is our own reservation about sharing, discussing, and talking about podcasts. That’s why we have a tagline of “Start the Conversation” and talk about the power of podcasts.
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to wannabe podcasters and podcasters?
- For every hour you plan to record, plan on spending 2-4x more in editing, research, posting, social sharing, testing, formatting, etc
- Choose a topic that you can talk about for hours upon hours
- Don’t be afraid to ask the questions and reach out to others in industry
- Prepare and plan your format, title, audience, and focus
- Be consistent with your release; be realistic with your release schedule
- It’s okay to reorganize, redesign, reinvent your podcast format
- Do not do podcasting on the cheap, spend the money on quality equipment, media hosting, and other items
- Your first 10 podcasts will not be perfect, so do not expect perfection