Come for the Topic, Stay for the Hosts?

Posted on Nov 27, 2018

I remember hearing Merlin Mann make this statement on back to work some five years ago or so. At the time I nodded my head in agreement, but recently I’ve been questioning this statement a bit.

I initially accepted it as that had been my response with every podcast I listened to, I found them from the topic, but I stayed because I enjoyed the hosts views and the way they talked. In fact, I suspect one of my favorite podcasts of all time had a lot to do with the wonderful timbre of the main host’s voice. As further proof I could point to podcasts where I had tried but stopped listening to because I didn’t enjoy the hosts, and Bionic/bonanza which started as an android podcast but descended (well really ascended) into a podcast about secret volcano bases, Elon Musk’s plans to take over the world, round the world races and saved by the bell.

But lately I have counter points. Podcasts where I enjoy the hosts (as I have/do listen to their other podcasts), but they have moved away from the original topic and so it no longer appeals to me. Or another podcast where I enjoyed these hosts talking about this topic but now they’ve moved into a more generic topic, they don’t seem to be as interesting or original.

While I think Merlin’s statement is a great generalization, I now believe a great podcast is a combination of many factors including the topic, the hosts perspectives and views, their interaction off each other and technical factors like good sound recording.