Much like the content heard in many podcasts, people are predictable. Come the first of June, my wife makes the switch from hot black coffee to iced cold brew. She’s repeated this habit annually for as long as we’ve been married. Me? Until the pandemic forced me into working from home, my daily routine was eggs and cheese wrapped up tightly in a fluffy warm tortilla. These days, I’m slumming it up with a boring bowl of cold cereal.

I don’t think that wife and I are the only ones in a food rut. It’s the same on the “other side of the pond”, as a third of British residents surveyed ate the same lunch daily. Half went so far as to say that they’ve been doing so for the past six years.

It’s OK for people be predictable

Predictable people tend to enjoy positive life events more. At the office, you are substantially more likely to get rewarded if you are predictable in behavior. In fact, the vast majority go so far as to desire a supervisor who is consistent and predictable.

In the early 2000’s, Nicholas Sparks’ movie adaptation of The Notebook took the country by storm. Couples lined up in droves to watch as an elderly man and woman shared the story unfold of a romance between a young couple, Allie and Noah. Obstacles including social status and World War II kept them apart, but their love proved to be strong enough to overcome all obstacles.

“When things become predictable, they become boring”.

Actor Hunter Parrish

Spoiler alert: I think it was no surprise to anyone in the theater that the elderly couple reading the story was indeed Allie and Noah.

Groan.

I apologize if The Notebook is a five-star favorite of yours, yet I know you’ll agree that the film was wildly predictable.

Here’s the point: I’m OK with co-workers jabbing me over my breakfast selection. However, I do not want my podcast listeners to find my episodes predictable.

A podcast that’s predictable is the kiss of death.

If episodes become formulaic, the listener can almost anticipate what’s coming next. If you know what’s going to happen next, what is there to encourage continued listening through the episode… let alone the desire to listen to additional episodes?

Predictability in podcast shows manifests can manifest itself in a few different ways:

  • Production elements- Using the same musical elements or produced transitions time and time again. The same “big voice” show opener that rambles on for what feels like eternity.
  • Monotone- Speaking in the same rhythm or vocal tone. Using the same terminology to ask for shares, emails, tweets, etc. Expand your vocabulary and mix it up a little.
  • … and the show template- Big voice opener, followed by host hello, followed by interview, to a cross-promotion promo, concluding with the call out for emails, tweets and shares.

Within the bounds of your show’s strategy or defined goals, step outside of your comfort zone. Try something new. Push your own envelope. Doing so, you’ll keep your listeners from growing tired of the same ol’ same ol’.

Whatever you do, don’t be The Notebook of podcasting.

Author

Rick is a dynamic radio programmer and on-air personality armed with nearly twenty years of progressive experience in commercial radio, digital and mobile strategy, format changes, and research. Rick holds a personal winning scorecard as a programmer and is an expert in Nielsen PPM and Diary analysis and implementation. In 2014, Rick was awarded the illustrious “30 Under 30” award from Edison Research.

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