On the last episode of Analog, #76 Well, I Drive a BMW , there was continuation of a previous discussion about creating a new fan community for Relay FM using Slack or some other tool for creating communities. Initially, I thought how much fun it would be seeing the various Relay FM hosts communicating with each other and also with fans. After listening to the entire discussion on the podcast and then thinking about it for a few days my opinion changed. A community would provide some new content and might allow me to interact with the hosts of the podcasts I listen to everday, but at what cost to those very podcasts and the hosts who have spread themselves out very thin across many different projects.
You have to look no further than Upgrade co-hosts, Myke Hurley and Jason Snell, to see an example of podcasting work horses with a lot on their plate. Mr. Hurley, co-founder of Relay FM, appears on at least 8 different podcasts and as far as I can tell handles the marketing and personnel for the network. Mr. Snell, founder and writer at Six Colors, runs The Incomparable podcast network and is a host on at least a half dozen podcasts across both networks. On top of all that work they are always replying to tweets, chatting on Slack and oh yeah, then having their regular lives too.
Asking them to also converse in special forums with fans will not only be more stuff on their plates, but it runs the risk of taking time away from projects which push the network and the medium forward. If given the choice I would much prefer Mr. Hurley work on another special series like Behind the App than see him rehash the same topic from a podcast in some chat room somewhere. The hosts only have a limited amount of time and creativity to work with and it shouldn’t be squandered.
My other concern is how the podcasts themselves may suffer if the hosts spend time disussing topics in a community forum. As soon as podcasts start referencing these online discussions during the podcast it is going to alienate any listeners who haven’t been following along online. Right now any tweets or feedback from listeners is always shared during the podcast and everybody is kept in the loop. I would also be concerned about the hosts getting burnt out on a topic from discussing in a community forum off air. Keeping these discussions mostly limited to podcasts helps keep them fresh.
It would be great to hear my favorite podcast hosts chatting away in some community forum, but not if it prevents them from working on new creative projects or improving their existing ventures. I would rather them focus on what they are great at and keep moving the podcast brain ball down the field.