Serial: Different To Other Podcasts?

Serial listeners will understand.

Not cereal listeners.


It's a podcast.  With twelve episodes.

It's not a podcast designed to give you the luxury of 'Listening Again' in a catchup kind of way.  And it doesn't rely on a big comedy personality to draw a crowd.  No.

Serial is presented by journalist Sarah Koenig

It's a podcast in its own right.  It stands alone.  On its own merit. Letting the content drive its appeal. And that's what, perhaps, makes it different from the general offerings we've been used to in the past.

Over the last eleven years there have been plenty of examples of Podcasts standing alone without needing to be complementary to a more established conduit of entertainment, information or personality.  Certainly in the early days you couldn't move for podcasts of varying quality - from low in production and high in passion to those podcasts lifted almost directly from an established radio channel.

Serial is a well presented real-life tale of love, anger, betrayal, innocence, mystery and suspense.  The potential injustice is too tempting to speculate upon.

So why is Serial different?

We hear the convicted maintain he didn't kill Hae Min Lee
Well, in so many ways it isn't different. It uses an RSS feed to deliver an mp3 file to subscribers interested in the episodes.  It has a web site where episodes and show notes are hosted.  It's free and is easy to download.  What DOES make it different and helps it stand out from the crowd is that it has a parent podcast with its own already-established following and radio play - I'm referring to This American Life.  But that's not all.

If you like the sort of radio documentary that, say, Jon Ronson is famous for on BBC Radio 4 then you're going to like This American Life.

Yes there's immediate audience potential with those listeners but what really makes it special?  Content, of course is king.

The team behind Serial
It's an engaging and addictive whodunnit delivered via the real voices of court witnesses, the accused [now the convicted via telephone from Prison], the police, the lawyers and the family members.  And not just through interviews after the events, no, Serial uses original recordings from Police interviews and court sessions.  And of course it's well written and well paced, delivered in a very personable style that seems to hear-easy with all English-speaking cultures.

In short: it has an audience, addictive well-delivered content and it is easily obtainable.

A blend of qualities that makes it stand out from most other podcasts, yes. Maybe that's why it feels different.

Find out for yourself here:

LittleSmasher Studios: Magic

Music production from LittleSmasher Studios: Magic

LittleSmasher can produce professional grade music recordings for you or your band - if you can't get to a studio then we'll come to you.  Magic is the first song written by eleven-year-old Louis who needed to record it for his Summer school project.  Hear the results here.

Know Your Audience And The Message You Want Them To Hear

When planning your podcast strategy always keep your target audience in mind.  Think of the type of message you want to push to that audience.  Each episode thereafter, or tweet or image or Facebook/Google+ post, makes up the content of that broader message you want them to hear or see.

When LittleSmasher gets involved with a client, the first thing we do is sit down and listen.  We want to know who they are, what they do and who it is they do it for.


It may seem obvious on the face of it but when you think about it and try to articulate it, it becomes a fascinating focussing function.  Let me faff on further.

In coming to understand what your podcast output needs to be, we need to understand your audience and your desired message for that audience.

Bazillion ... Spewing Forth

For us, it's a bit like letting the sheep out of the pen and then gradually herding them back in.  A bazillion things that you do comes spewing forth and as we understand each and every one of them we get closer to knowing exactly how your podcast episodes should run.  In fact, it serves as a great 'team building' process.  

Team Building Exercise

One particular client in the Education world wanted a podcast to focus on one of their internal departments that provided their students with career-focussed services.  It involved three people.  None of them truly knew what each other did nor how they all fitted into the bigger picture of their department.  By the end of the process they knew exactly what they and their colleagues were all about and they had a new, much improved and clearer way of articulating what it was they all did for their clients.  

Recording the podcast was like a perfect little team building exercise for them.

And it started with understanding their audience.  Not what their bosses wanted to hear.  Nor what they thought was the safest way of promoting themselves was.

The result was a very clear and concise, and very useful, podcast episode.

So, first and foremost, who is your target audience?  Is there a peripheral audience you would like to be sensitive towards?  And what do you want to tell your Target Audience?

Sounds simpler than it actually is.  Which is why everyone feels so much better after the initial podcast series consultation with us.


Podcasting for law firms

Having recently been asked to discuss the podcasting potential for a local law firm we've found that there's a definite market out there for it in the legal service... an example from our forward thinking Canadian cousins can be read on just search for ..."Podcasts: way for law firms, lawyers to develop ‘strong bonds’ with listeners" by Luigi Benetton.

In spite of "appropriate attribution" LittleSmasher wasn't allowed to show you any of it here but it was all about how great podcasting is as a tool reach out and form strong bonds with clients and partners.

Worth a read, I'd say.

As long as you read it from the appropriate digital space of course.

A 'Live' Podcast? No such thing.

There really is no such thing as a 'live podcast' no matter what people might offer.  It's a marketing term trying to repackage a live stream. Internet Radio, if you like. Or an event that's been recorded 'live' and added to an already established Podcast feed.

But it's still not a live podcast, is it?

Firstly, a podcast is a podcast if it has an RSS feed that uses 'enclosures' to push the mp3 files to the listener.  Too technical already?  Maybe.  That's OK.

Juice: a simple podcatcher
for your computer
I'll bluster on for just one more paragraph about RSS if you do't mind...  a user subscribes to the RSS feed and downloads/catches the audio when it becomes available - using iTunes, Juice, your browser's feedreader or maybe Android's Google Listen for example.

So a user, 'a member of your audience', can use their computer or their mobile phone to 'catch' the audio as and when it becomes available - without you having to drag them to your webpage or 'mail list' them.

You provide the content and the listener can decide when to listen to it. Not the other way around.  And it's designed, thanks to the RSS feed, so that listeners don't have to keep returning to a web page to check if there's a new episode available.  That's the beauty of podcasting.

So, if it's you providing the podcast series, it's a chance to put your messages, the key points of your business or website maybe, into the ears of your target audience.  The art of creating an effective podcast is therefore making it engaging and encouraging for the listener to then spin off back into the website past your front page.  Or to push a telephone number to call, or an email address to message.

Yes, yes, I suppose video can also be 'podcasted'.  It's sometimes referred to as 'vodcasting' but it's nowhere near as flexibly engaging as audio [and was never part of the original definition, so there *rasp*]. It still requires an RSS feed of course - the user needs to download the media and take it away with them without having to visit a webpage, don't forget.  But I won't go into RSS feeds again.

The mp3 file:
ubiquitously playable
And if the self-proclaimed social media gurus are to be believed then the average length of video watched via YouTube is around 2 minutes. Not really much time to push your point, inform or educate.  And it's a bugger to get a format right for a whole range of mobile devices.  And where are they going to watch it?

People do not watch their 'automatically downloaded' video whilst driving.

What do you mean why?

It's generally harder to watch video while moving about in the outside world overall, wouldn't you say?  That's just asking for a raft of Darwin Award nominations.

So, yes, Audio is, by far, the superior medium for podcasting. With the mp3. An audio compression format that may have been superseded by other compression formats but never in ubiquity.

Every personal entertainment device can play an mp3 file.

When asking someone if they use podcasting I often get the response that they've moved on to video.  Which almost invariably means that they have a YouTube clip embedded in a web page somewhere.

It's certainly not podcasting. And it's certainly not 'moving on'.  If anything it's a step back.  And it's understandable, too, that people should do this to themselves.  It's a comfort zone thing.  People limiting themselves to what they understand.  And that's OK.
iTunes/iPhone have podcatching
capabilities built in to their software

As far as I'm concerned I'd rather that situation than one in which the internet is flooded with really badly written and produced podcasts.  All those seminars you see advertised on how "You too can podcast" ...? Bit like telling you that you too can create your own promotional video.  On your own. Using free software. Your own script and that HD Camera you got for Christmas.

Have you tried making your own video?

One that other people would watch?  One that wouldn't embarrass you and your business?  One that adds value to your website?


Talk it over with a professional first.  You'll feel really pleased you did when you get your first podcast series up and engaging your target audience in the interesting things about your business.

Event Podcasting: a great way of promoting & remembering your event. "It'll be like having our own radio station"

This is another great way of using podcasting. And this example is being carried out by experienced podcasters who know how to make an engaging podcast for their target audience.
Amplify’d from

Fairport and FolkCast create Cropredy Festival podcast

The founding fathers of British folk-rock, Fairport Convention, have teamed up with the UK's top independent folk music podcast, FolkCast, to produce a special online event for this year's Fairport's Cropredy Festival.
A series of audio podcasts - sponsored by Wadworth brewery - will look at the annual festival's four-decade history through the eyes of the members of Fairport Convention, as well as previewing this summer's event with profiles of each of the bands and artists set to appear, including Seasick Steve, UB40 and The Coral.
Then, during the festival itself, there will be a daily podcast featuring interviews and items recorded “live” on the festival field.
Gareth Williams, Cropredy's Festival Director, said: "
It'll be like having our own radio station, broadcasting all round the world, and it'll be a must-listen for all Fairport and Cropredy fans
The podcasts - titled Fairport's Cropredy FolkCast sponsored by Wadworth - will be released weekly from June 13th, with daily shows during the festival, and will be available for free download from via and through Apple iTunes.

Those crazy Swiss and their radio porn...

Along with clocks, chocs, banking and illegally gained cash stashing, is this about to join the national stereotype landscape?
Amplify’d from
Radio porn versus internet porn - Swiss get rocks off and roll to five hours of erotic beats
Radios - so hot right now ... in Switzerland. Picture: Jeff Darmanin
A RADIO porn show that aims to inspire Swiss couples to make love has been launched by a Zurich radio station.
Swiss newspaper 20 Minuten reported that couples in Zurich looking to put a spark back into their late night love-making can tune into the audio porn show and listen to "erotic music and sounds".
The show, described as "acoustic porn" by producer Oliver Scotoni, airs for five hours from midnight on radio frequency 104.1 or 88.2 megahertz, aims to be a "countermeasure to the internet porn culture".
The show will play soundtracks from 1970s porn movies - which according to Mr Scotoni have more "value" than the "cheap music" in modern porn - along with disco classics such as Love To Love You Baby by Donna Summer.
Mr Scotoni told the paper: "With me, there are no pictures, but only selected acoustics which inspire the audience.
"I hope that as many Zurich people as possible will make love, this would bring a nice energy to the city."