The Guardian: How to successfully launch a podcast

The Guardian’s head of audio Nicole Jackson explains why it’s about more than just hitting record

The Guardian is a media organisation with a long heritage when it comes to podcasting - in fact, it was while writing for The Guardian that journalist Ben Hammersley that first coined the term ‘podcast’ back in 2004. Not only did it christen the format, however, The Guardian has also fully embraced it. With shows including Today In Focus, Comfort Eating with Grace Dent and many more besides, The Guardian is extremely active in the podcast space across a number of categories, including a newly launched pop culture analysis podcast with Chanté Joseph. 

On this week’s episode of PodPod, Adam and Rhianna sat down with Nicole Jackson, The Guardian’s head of audio, to find out more about how the organisation approaches new launches, why sound design is so important, and how to approach sensitive subjects appropriately, as well as what makes a podcast really stand out among the crowd.

Key takeaways

Find the right balance in structure

“We’re trying to take you somewhere basically and we structure [the podcast] quite carefully, it isn’t just sort of free wheeling,” Jackson says. “We definitely go into the records having a sense of what we’re trying to get out of the interviews.” 

“Having said that, I think Chanté really likes to be able to feel like she can free range within the interview,” she adds. “We know we need to, say, hit points A, B, and C, but if someone raises something really interesting, she’ll go down that path and follow it with them, it’s not rigid.”

Create content that is meaningful 

“I think we definitely think about quality over quantity…  but not just like chasing the numbers for the sake of it,” Jackson says. “And so that doesn’t mean just saying to ourselves ‘right, we have to do eight shows this year’, it’s really thinking about what we already have and can we build on that? And can we make it better? And how can we tweak it?”

Think about the real aim of your show

“Sometimes it’s just the numbers, isn’t it? It’s like you really want to launch something and get huge listener numbers,” Jackson says. “But I think other times it’s also thinking about impact; is this a subject area that’s been underserved or is it reaching an audience who are being underserved?”

Read the full transcript