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Role of the host

Podcasts are fabulous for personalities. You ca be a host of a podcast with very little media training.
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OK. So the way that we make podcasts aren’t all the same. Some, as you said, first person radio, some fiction. You know, list goes on. What’s the role of a host in a podcast, and do you need a host in every episode, every podcast that you make? Podcasts are a fabulous breeding ground for personalities to really find their feet. And you can be a host of a podcast with very little media training. So that’s the great news. Because as a host, you can be pretty well 100% yourself. As a radio broadcaster, we always used to say you have to be yourself plus 10%.
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You had to project a little bit more to speak out into that room that you’re broadcasting to. But as a host, you can just be a friend, a companion, a normal person. Do you always need a host? Not really. There are some very good crafted podcasts that don’t have hosts. I’m thinking of Kathy Tu, the one about the fighter pilot. It’s a little six-minute piece where she wanted to take us inside the head of this guy as the adrenaline’s pouring and he’s getting ready to bomb people in Iraq. And she did that very well. There are other ones.
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I listen to one called Promise from BBC Radio 4, and it’s about a young man talking about how he came through a brain tumour. And in a way– like somebody interviewed him and then cut their voice out and just brought his story together so there’s no barrier between him talking and you listening. But most podcasts benefit, I think, from having a host. Because we tend to identify with the host and we tend to trust the host. And we tend to think, OK, Malcolm Gladwell is the host. He’s always good. He’s pretty smart. He’s going to give us something worth listening to. Or Jad and Rob in Radiolab, I love the way they interplay.
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Having two hosts gives you a chance to get yin and yang in there. Jad’s a little bit serious on his own. Robert sends him up a little bit and teases him and that gives a lovely light atmosphere. So having a good chemistry between two hosts is great. But the main thing with being a host is that you have to actually be authentic. You have to be really passionate about what you’re doing because we can hear insincerity. I think it was Groucho Marx who said, “If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.” Well, podcasting will pick out the insincere. So be natural, be authentic, and we’ll love you.
Authenticity and sincerity

Qualities of a host

Be yourself, be respectful, be authentic, be sincere
See how Richard Baker, host of Wrong Skin, describes what goes into hosting a podcast compared to writing for a newspaper.

Getting creative

Take some time to decide who will host your episode. You may host the episode yourself, or perhaps you can think of somebody who is lively, respectful and has great knowledge of your chosen subject matter. Perhaps you won’t use a host at all.
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