Podcasts: skip intro

Something occurred to me as I binge-listened to the excellent BBC World Service podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon.

Podcast makers might want to consider changing the grammar, the format, after a podcast has been initially released – or change it from the get-go.

Leaving aside whether a podcast exists purely as a podcast (like Backlisted for example) or as a way of listening to a broadcast radio programme (with podcast extras, like Wittertainment), podcasts fall into two main types:

  • Ones that cover a different topic or topics each week, whether in discussion or documentary format.
  • Ones that cover the same topic over many weeks (such as Serial and the aforementioned 13 Minutes to the Moon).

13 Minutes to the Moon was ‘event’ radio, and an event podcast: one story arc, broadcast and released a week at a time. As such is made sense.

The problem I had, binge listening after its initial release, was that some of the content was overly repetitive. The same opening montage and specially-commissioned Hans Zimmer theme, setting the scene beautifully a week apart became, frankly, quite annoying when listened back-to-back. And after 12 episodes I found that I’d be very happy never to hear JFK’s ‘we choose not to do these things because they are easy’ archive clip ever again.

What’s the answer? Tricky. When you listen to these things a week apart, the repetition, the scene setting is probably needed (although some programmes & podcasts do this within individual programmes, which drives me nuts.)

Perhaps a post-broadcast release is needed. Once the last episode has been out a week or two, remix / re-edit all but the first episode to make it work better as a binge-watch. Or could technology provide an equivalent of the Netflix ‘skip intro’ button? What do you think?


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