Best Podcasts with Nick Quah
What makes the best podcasts great is a subjective question with no real answer. In this episode of the B2B Lead Gen Podcast, benevolent journalist Nick Quah – who has been covering the business of podcasting in 2015 – talks about the elements of the best podcasts, the search for niche podcast audiences, the basics of podcast marketing, his opinion of Clubhouse, the benefits of podcasting, whether or not he’d work for Courtney Holt at Spotify if they made him an offer, and the differences between Boise, Idaho and Kuala Lumpur.
Nick Quah, is founder and publisher of the HotPod newsletter, which is syndicated by Harvard’s Nieman Lab, and covers the latest developments in the podcasting business. HotPod Insider is a twice weekly paid version of his newsletter that you can subscribe to here. He is also host of Servant of Pod, a podcast about podcasts that he does with LAist studios, as well as a contributing writer to New York Magazine’s Vulture.
Creativity, globalization disparity, and underrepresentation
Born and raised in Southeast Asia, Nick had the opportunity to come to the United States to study for college, first at Wesleyan, and next at the University of Chicago. Over the last 13 years, he’s gained some interesting perspectives on business and life from both sides of the world.
On the subject of the abundance of cutting edge Southeast Asian talent on gig sites for visual design, Nick mentions the status of developing countries as emerging growing economies, an increased interest in getting into the creative arts, and of course the reduced labor cost of outsourcing. “There are deep, deep, inadequate inequities, and severe criticisms and questions about globalization,” says Nick. “But that is the world that we have.”
The Best Podcasts
As for the question of what makes the best podcasts great, Nick had this to say: “There are the shows that are built for mass consumption, and there are shows that are for niche consumption. I think the core idea is the same: It’s that you’re making something that should be worthy of somebody’s time, and that can be expressed in many different ways.”
According to Nick, a podcast worth listening to needs to either solve a problem in someone’s life to justify its existence in someone’s stream of the day, regardless of length or subject matter. “We only have 24 hours in a day, only so much of which we’re awake, only so much of which that we are free to consume media experiences or do whatever we want to do, as opposed to we have to do so. On a very fundamental, elemental level, it is the thing that needs to justify its existence and give some value to the person listening to it, whether it’s information or it’s a good story well told.”
Nick also stresses that there’s no “one size fits all” strategy behind the best podcasts. “If the goal is the audience size, there are multiple strategies to achieve that outcome. And the strategies are just what they are, which are plans and ‘we’ll see whether that works out’. What you could have executed, tactics — that’s a strategy.”
For Servant of Pod, Nick works with a small team of producers at LAist Studios who get together and figure out interesting hooks or topics to discuss. If you’re interested in the business of podcasting, it’s a great podcast. I’m a regular listener and he gets amazing guests. Nick and his team come up with a target list of who to get as guests. “We’ve gotten almost everybody that we wanted to get on the show,” shares Nick. “And you know, people are generally nice, and people will generally want to talk about their work, which is nice.”
As for what makes a great podcast great, Nick share this nugget of wisdom: “The thinking is always like, ‘Who are you serving, and can you just keep serving those people?’ And in whatever form that means, whether it’s through a podcast or whether it means a podcast newsletter, just being able to maintain that relationship and being thoughtful about the relationship tends to be pretty good.”
To hear more of Nick’s insights, including his thoughts on living in Kuala Lumpur, underserved markets in podcasting, and the one thing he would change about the podcasting world, make sure to listen to the full episode.
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