In this chapter, we talk about the importance of being consistent with your show. People, for the most part, do not like change. When it comes to keeping your core listener base, consistency in your release schedule, your format, and your sound levels are all very important.
Because with podcasting there are no set rules, technically you can release your show whenever the mood hits you. One day you could release four shows, not release another show for a month, and then release shows every other week. There is nothing to stop you from releasing on a random scheduleunless, that is, you are looking to grow your audience.
A recent survey conducted by Peter Chen from Monash University of over 300 podcasters showed that roughly 50% released a new show once a week. Given the strong TV culture in the U.S., this is not that surprising a number. Most people have been conditioned from an early age to expect their favorite shows once a week. They have also been conditioned to expect the shows they like to be available on the same day of the week and at the same time of the day. So if you are releasing a show once a week, you want to pick a day during the week to release the show on and then stick to that same day every week. During your show, you also need to communicate your schedule to your listeners.
Many prominent podcasting networks long ago realized the importance of keeping a consistent schedule. For example, the Tech podcasters require members to release on a regularly set schedule, sticking to a regular day of the week as well as a rough time of day that those shows are to be released.
And this is not just about weekly shows. This goes for daily shows and shows that are released a couple of times a week. If your listeners are expecting shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays, then make sure those are the days when the show will be released. According to the Monash University survey, only about 25% of podcasts are released more frequently than once a week, with about 7% releasing a new show daily. Keith from Keith and the Girl talks about doing a one hour-long show every day:
If something comes up that causes you to have to skip shows, you should let the listeners know. Even if that means releasing a 1-minute show with you saying that the show will not be released as scheduled. Just let them know why and when the show will be back. In December of 2005, Chemda from Keith and the Girl was on a musical tour in the Northwest region of the U.S., and it was difficult for them to do a show every day. One week they only put out two shows. Normally, their fans are extremely vocal about such things. Keith was asked what the feedback was from their fans on not doing a show every day while Chemda was away. Here is what he said:
Because they took the time to explain to their listeners what was going on, they received very little negative feedback for missing the shows. Yes, their listeners were disappointed that they would not get a "free show" every day, but they remained listeners.
Podcasting is about time-shifting audio and making it such that the files are downloaded to the listeners' computers and/or MP3 players in the background without any additional effort from the listener. However, podcasts cannot grab the listeners, strap headphones on them, and make them listen to your show. They still need to check their computer or their MP3 player to see what shows are available. This is where having a set schedule helps. If a listener knows your new shows are available for their drive to work on Wednesdays, they will look for it each Wednesday. As we move forward with podcasting, there will be more and more ways to listen to podcasts, but one thing that will not change is your listeners' expectation of when your show will be available. So whether they are listening to you every day, week, or month, make sure when that mental timeslot set aside by the listeners to play your show comes up that your new show is already downloaded on their computer, MP3 player, cell phone, or other new media player.