A podcast in the making: iterating on the idea

Last year, I said I wanted to create a podcast. I called it the Department of Bad Ideas.

I did a lot of preparatory work for the podcast last year. I built a website, and I got the RSS feeds listed in the Apple Podcasts and Spotify listings. I also recorded a teaser episode that you can listen to already. What I didn’t do was actually record the main episodes.

This year, I want to get this thing done.

I’ve been thinking about what held me back last year. I’ve also taken some time to think about the concept for the podcast, and how it can be improved. So I’ve made some changes.

Fewer people to arrange

I think I made my learning curve a bit too steep. The original idea for the podcast was to record a head-to-head between two people with me adjudicating; but that has been a logistical nightmare.

People want to get involved, but they haven’t been able to always source someone to pair up with. It means actually recording each episode is more difficult too, with microphones everywhere.

So I’ve changed the format.

Each episode will have one guest, and we’ll have a league table for all contestants as we go.

Changing the structure

The original format, with two guests, would have provided roughly 45 minutes of airtime: 15 minutes for each guest. As I’m changing to having only one guest, I’ve needed to change the structure of the show too.

I’ve added an additional round — The Big Idea — and made changes to the final round so that it’s a bit more straightforward.

For the Big Idea, the guests get to pitch to solve a policy problem of their own choosing. Just like in the first two rounds, they get 5 minutes to pitch their solution, but this time it has be both workable and popular.

The final round is still going to be a quick fire round. Guests will now be challenged to come up with a solution to each problem on the fly, talking for a minute without repeating themselves or hesitating. They gain a bonus point for every second they do that successfully.

These changes should make the episode last for 30 minutes in total. This is slightly shorter than it otherwise would have been, but I think 30 minutes is probably the sweet-spot for a podcast episode.

Clearer guidance for guests

I created a PDF guide for prospective guests last year, trying to explain all the various bits they needed to do.

I wasn’t happy with the end product. It was bloated, didn’t really guide people through what they needed to do, and contained a lot of typos (I keep finding them!).

I decided to redo the guide and place them on the podcast’s website as a series of ‘Guest Guides’. Hopefully these are clearer and will be more useful for guests.

Over-thinking it

The main thing I need to stop doing is over-thinking the podcast. The infrastructure I put around it will never be quite right; so I just need to wade in to the goop and hope I don’t get too messy in the process.

I’ve got one confirmed guest already; someone I work with. I have a list of about 10 others that said they’d be up for it. So now time to crack on!

All posts in this series

  1. I’m making a podcast
  2. Getting started
  3. Setting up a website
  4. RSS feeds and hosting
  5. Iterating on the idea

You can find out more about the Department of Bad Ideas on the podcast’s new website.

You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify. Just search for “Department of Bad Ideas”.