Three podcasts we can learn from

 Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland

At the recent Podcast Day in London, I was asked to share three of my favourite podcasts, and as always I decided to slightly subvert the brief to really be three podcasts that we can learn from.
Reasons to Be Cheerful, with Geoff Lloyd and Ed Miliband, (produced by Emma Corsham) was my first choice. Ed Miliband used to be the leader of the Labour party in the UK, and he came across as a deeply awkward, barely human and really quite unlikeable person. But the intimate nature of podcasting has changed all that to me – he’s good fun, nerdy, self-aware, and endlessly inquisitive, and the podcast itself is a great listen.
Perhaps that’s why most of the US presidential candidates are doing lots of podcast appearances at the moment: it’s easy to overlook what podcasting has to offer to help really get to know someone. They’ve just launched a spin-off, Cheerful Book Club, where Ed interviews non-fiction book authors: that’s worth a listen, too.
Podcast number 2 – is, well, mine: the Podnews podcast. I know, shameless. Now I don’t actually want you to get it – the newsletter is better – but I’m mentioning it for two reasons: first, great advice for any podcaster is to keep things simple. There’s no interviews, no features, just a quick rundown of the news every day: it works well and is very scalable – you can even record it on a phone. So, resist the temptation to chuck everything in.
Second, it highlights the power of news briefings. This podcast gets at least half of its total downloads from Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa’s news briefings services. They are a massive and relatively untapped market for podcasters and broadcasters alike. You should look into them.
And the third podcast? Death in Ice Valley – it’s a true crime podcast – is awesome. It was a podcast I was genuinely excited for every single episode release. I didn’t even want to read the episode titles in case they had a spoiler in them. Wonderful thing.

There are maybe three things we can learn from this – first… the space it gives its subject. It’s gloriously unhurried, in a way that radio typically isn’t.
Second… they COULD have recorded all ten episodes at the same time: but they didn’t. They spent time and energy on a community on Facebook, and built in feedback from the audience in every episode. It made a real difference to the series, and it’s something I’d highly recommend.
And third – for those of you working in public radio, this just goes to show that a collaboration like this, between two big public service broadcasters, can actually work. The ABC in Australia and the CBC in Canada are also working together on cross-promoting their podcasts. There’s plenty we can do if we work together. If you’re a fan of this, podcast, they’ve just taped a new, live, show, which is released on June 24th.
There’s plenty we can learn from podcasting. I’d love to hear more that are worth learning from.

About The Author

James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at

Contact James at [email protected] or @jamescridland