Does Size Matter?

A veteran radio broadcaster recently shared some criticism with me. He told me he saw I had a guest on that he was interested in hearing from, but when he saw the episode was almost two hours long, he knew he'd never listen. "Nobody's going to listen to one guest for over an hour", he said.

I can't remember the last time I recorded an episode of Toronto Mike'd that was under an hour in length. The professional advice I received was to edit episodes down to an hour. That is, if I cared about mass appeal.

An hour? There have been episodes of Toronto Mike'd that hit the 2.5 hour mark. Every episode with Marc Weisblott from 12:36, for example. Tyler Stewart from Barenaked Ladies and Dan O'Toole from Jay & Dan, as well. And a handful of others.

How many people, like my radio friend, are refusing to listen to my podcast because of the length? I know how many are downloading each episode, but I'll never know how many wanted to but refused to invest that much time. Would I have twice the number of listeners if each episode was an hour? Thrice?

Let's take that Tyler Stewart episode as an example. It's 2.5 hours because, in my humble opinion, the content was compelling for 2.5 hours. I record until I feel the episode has reached a natural conclusion. Sometimes that's 80 minutes in, and sometimes that's 150 minutes in. For seven years, this podcast has been running on instinct.

If I had to edit my conversation with Tyler down to 60 minutes, without sacrificing a sponsor mention, I'd be leaving about 90 minutes of killer content on the cutting room floor. That doesn't sit right with me. But, I could be way off base here. My radio friend holds firm in his belief that nobody will listen. When I point to statistics that show the episode was very popular, he retorts that people may start the episode, but bail somewhere in the middle.

I have more questions here than answers, but I'm interested in your opinion and willing to make changes if it serves the greater good. When it comes to podcasts, how important is length? Would you skip a quality podcast with a guest you're interested in because of time?

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The size doesn't bother me. If it's a guest i'm interested in, i think more is better (as long as it's not filler, which I don't think is an issue with you).

As an idea, look at what Joe Rogan does. His podcasts are generally 2+ hours, but he also has a set of 3-10 minute snips of smaller conversations. I'll explore those if he has a guest I'm only marginally interested in, whereas I'll do the whole cast if I know I'm interested. Maybe this can work for you? Just tossin' it out there

April 5, 2019 @ 3:14 PM


Don't change a thing!!! You have your particular niche of unedited Deep Dive Real Talks and the length of any given interview should be determined organically, unless either yourself or a certain guest
has a time constraint issue (like when 12:36 visits and eventually you need to go and pick up your younger kids!). Folks always have the issue of moving ahead in an episode if they are only interested in certain subject matter (but absolutely no one should ever fast forward through one of your most cherished sponsors!!). And as for SIZE, if it does matter, well, I guess I'm truly & wholly F'ed. And yes, of course, my mind instantly went to the lowest common denominator ghetto upon first reading this
thread's title!

April 5, 2019 @ 3:23 PM


If it's a person I like to hear from I would listen for over 2 hrs. For those that I'm not familiar with & won't for that length or even listen at all.
It's the listeners choice.
Could keep it to 2hr. or so max.

April 5, 2019 @ 3:38 PM

Not Quite Mike

Just my two cents:

The long-form format is a major part of the appeal of your podcast. In a media world where headline-scanning across Twitter is the norm, context can often be lost. Your research is always impressive - allowing you to bring depth and breadth to each of your interviews.

I have listened to many episodes where the guest is unfamiliar to me, but the groove and flow keeps me listening.

As a side note, I often find myself wanting more when I listen to the Hebsy podcasts - which are much shorter in duration.

Keep up the awesome work, sir - be you, not who someone tells you that you should be!

April 5, 2019 @ 3:43 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Toss away. Last year Hebsy wanted me to live stream our recording of his podcast and I thought to myself "why would anyone want to watch a podcast being recorded". To me, a podcast is a podcast is a podcast.

But I've totally warmed up to the idea and have live streamed my last two episodes.

If anyone wants to know when I'm live streaming, subscribe at

April 5, 2019 @ 3:47 PM


Joe Rogan
Marc Maron
Pete Holmes
Chris Hardwick

All popular podcasts that go well over an hour. Sometimes 3 hours. I wouldn't change a thing about your podcast length.
"Nobody's going to listen to one guest for over an hour". Whomever gave you that advice clearly doesn't like listening to interesting interviews.

April 5, 2019 @ 3:50 PM


Long podcasts can be very successful. Look no further than The Talk Show (with John Gruber) or the Accidental Tech Podcast. I don’t recall seeing Howard Stern edit his interviews down in length either. Keep doing what you’re doing.

April 5, 2019 @ 4:11 PM

Urooj Islam

Misguided advice like that is why the radio industry is dying. If the content/guest is interesting and compelling enough than the length does not matter, it's as simple as that.

Personally speaking, the length of your shows has zero influence on the episodes I listen to.

April 5, 2019 @ 4:13 PM


I don't mind when a podcast goes on for hours when the host and guest have hit a sweet spot, and the conversation just rolls.
I find myself more and more having to fast forward through the first 15-20 minutes of many podcasts because it tends to be mostly sponsor spots and the host rambling. I know the spots are a necessary evil, but I wish those hosts would get in and get going.

April 5, 2019 @ 4:20 PM


Personally, I'm fine with any length. My two thoughts about changes:

- if it's a super long episode, you could break it up into parts. Let's say you hit the hour mark, and looking at your notes & based on your experience you know it'll be 45+ minutes more, then do a split. At a good lull I the conversation, say something like "this conversation is going great, I feel this is a good place to end part 1. Does guest have any end of episode things to plug? ... Join us next episode, when we'll be talking about (some teaser topic from your list)." Play out on rosy& grey. Then, right away, start a new recording, "welcome to episode xxx part 2. I'm Toronto Mike, blah blah blah. We just got done taking about (last topic), and now...".

It's the same effort recording wise. You can release them spaced a few days apart. Archive listeners or people who like long episodes still happy. Short-episode people happy.

Maybe even sponsors okay with extra episodes?

- the only time I do get antsy about episode length is when it takes a long time (10+ minutes) to get to the #RealTalk. Usually due to do many ad reads upfront vs. Dotted throughout?

I'd say you have a successful, fairly unique format that has a good following. Not every podcast is for everyone. If people didn't like the drop dives, would you be past episode 400?

April 5, 2019 @ 4:38 PM


Don't change. That's what set's you apart from the pack.

April 5, 2019 @ 4:50 PM

Al The Royal Pain

I'll tell you what every woman in my life has said to me...length doesn't matter, it's how you use it. ;)

In all seriousness, do you know what killed radio before the internet? Focus groups and so-called 'expert' consultants. Don't let them ruin this. It's working.

If you're going for mass-appeal, you're going to have to make many more sacrifices that you won't like even more. Like moving out of your basement and into a 'proper' studio. Interviewing guests—not because they're interesting to you but—because they have something to promote and they're famous and thereby good for ratings. Censoring your language or remaining religiously or politically agnostic to appease larger/richer sponsors.

There are many other ways to sell your soul to podcasting and for what? a few million more listeners?

April 5, 2019 @ 4:55 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I've thought about breaking it into two parts, but then I always hit two roadblocks:

1. I have an obligation to the sponsors to share the love each ep... so if it's Part One and Part Two, I'll be doing that twice.

2. It's a podcast, and every podcast listener knows how to use the pause button. So I don't see why I'd break it up when the end user can control that and break it up as required. The only benefit would be having more episodes, which isn't a motivation for me.

So I always end up deciding against breaking longer episodes into two parts....

April 5, 2019 @ 5:02 PM

m m

My other fave Toronto podcast by Norm Wilner, does break up the episode in two parts if it goes on for long. But the second part just starts off without any new intro or plugs. This might work - you have the guest on mostly only once, you may not want to break up the flow of the conversation. It could give you a chance to take a break if you want to move on to a different topic.

April 5, 2019 @ 5:03 PM


I don't listen to a podcast that is under an hour in length. Part of the reason is because I only listen to podcasts when I am going to be in the car for an extended amount of time and the other reason is that they don't feel deep enough if you will. Half an hour isn't long enough to get to know somebody. .

April 5, 2019 @ 5:04 PM

Jason from Sudbury

Don't change a thing Mike. Just keep doing what you're doing. As I've said before, podcasts that are under an hour feel too rushed. I can honestly say there are guests I could listen to for 3 hours, nevermind 2.

April 5, 2019 @ 6:07 PM


Don't change a thing! Why cut a great conversation? We listen to WTF and those episodes are LONG.. but it doesn't stop us! Why is it such a big deal if you need to stop the podcast b/c your commute is done? Just start it up when you go home again!

I think it's sour grapes on the part of the veteran broadcaster:
(1) did you get this guest before this person did?
(2) is this person upset that he wouldn't be able to do such a deep dive as you did?

April 5, 2019 @ 7:59 PM


I only listen to your podcasts because of the length, I'm somebody who always craves more. I prefer listening to an episode all at once. However, lets say an episode just came out but I'm busy for the next few days but I really want to hear what somebody has to say about something then I wish I could listen to those 5 or 10 minutes.

I'll give you an example, The View is a guilty pleasure of mine and a book was just published in which 11 of the current or former cohosts were interviewed. I'm going to be buying the book but I won't have time to read it cover to cover all at once. About 10 different excerpts have been released that take 5 minutes or less to read. Sure each one leaves me wanting more but at the same it also gives me my fix. I wish you could do this but for your podcasts.

If there's something riveting during a particular podcast, why not edit it down to a specific subject? It may help you increase your listener numbers too.

April 5, 2019 @ 8:00 PM


@Mike What radio/broadcasting school did you go to? Where did you intern? What radio stations have you worked at? Is your podcast in 'last place'? What radio broadcaster has interviewed a few hundred local/regional/national radio broadcaster, athletes, musicians, and media personalities to get their story in full, for as long as it takes?
You are onto something, you are doing what they would not think to do. Why do your guests come back for more if they've already done 1 hour 'more' than necessary?

Maybe your 'veteran radio broadcaster' friend can catch Tyler on a radio station, doing a 4 minute interview where he gets the same 4 questions every other radio interview of Tyler asks, where the host has no commitment to the interview, has done no prep, and has 10 more 4 minute bits of 'content' to get to in the next hour.

Enjoy podcasts while you can people, cuz the 'radio experts' are coming full force with their 'expertise' to turn podcasts into Make Radio Great Again.

Movies should be a 1/2 hour, baseball should be 4 innings, hockey should be 1 period.... Would you listen to that advice?
Try this- take 1 or 2 of your favourote episodes, edit them down to 20-30 minutes. Is that good 'content'?

Radio is always food in a bag passed thru a window to you in your car.
Podcasts can be anything from a snack in a vending machine, an all you can eat buffet, to a reservation booked a month in advance at the 3 star Michelin restaurant.

April 5, 2019 @ 8:09 PM


Forgive me if these points have been made already.

How is the length of the podcast relevant? It's all about content.

I can listen to a 150 minute podcast over the course of multiple sessions. it's not like a movie that's consumed in a singe session.

To arbitrarily dismiss a podcast with a guest you have an interest in due to length is ridiculous. Now if you're are not interested in the guest, sure skip it.

If your veteran radio broadcaster friend was really trying to give you good advice, they would have listened to the episode and offered advice on how to condense it down to a reasonable length.

When your veteran radio broadcaster friend has constructive specific criticisms, listen to them. Until then, do what you think is best.

I will say this, with the volume of episodes being created now, I have started to skip some episodes. Back when you had fewer shorter episodes, I'd listen to most of them. Now, I won't invest the time on an episode I'm not at all interested in.

As an example, I have no small kids but I still listened to the Splash & Boots episode even though I had no clue who there were. I was entertained for exactly 1:19:23. Today with a guest I don't know and an episode of 2 hours plus, not a chance when there are 3 more in queue with guests I've heard of.

April 5, 2019 @ 8:39 PM


Echoing what most others have said above me, I really don't think length matters. Any podcasts I take a pass on are as a result of the guest or subject matter not being of interest to me. If I'm interested in the guest, I'll stick around.

April 5, 2019 @ 9:07 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I actually don't know which episode sparked the comment. I should have asked, but we were having such a great debate!

He did say that even if he had Paul McCartney on his show he'd keep it to an hour.

April 5, 2019 @ 9:16 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


These 5-10 minute bites... would you consume these on YouTube?

April 5, 2019 @ 9:23 PM

twins from bolton

It's not the size that matters it's the ammunition that counts, if you get what I mean.

April 5, 2019 @ 10:18 PM


With quality content like TM, the longer the better!

April 6, 2019 @ 1:06 AM


Keep it organic. If the rapport and content is there keep going.

Loving the Buffery episode.

BTW do you think The Star is unbiased?

I don’t think you answered Buffery.


April 6, 2019 @ 4:01 AM


Don’t change a thing. The reason I listen is because there is no time limit and you can get to all the details without being constrained by time. Hate podcasts that skim the surface leaving the listener feeling that there is so much more to the story that is not being told. Also, the fact that you avoid editing anything out adds to it being real talk. I always listen from beginning to end, no matter how long.

April 6, 2019 @ 4:33 AM


Have you considered alternating shorter and longer shows? I already listen to too many podcasts to drive in to a new long one, but if you did the off 45 min podcast I would totally give it a go.

April 6, 2019 @ 5:56 AM


I echo the comments of LieveFamke.....dont change. I can't recall one of your Podcasts where I felt it was dragging on and wished it was shorter. I think if your "veteran broadacaster" would cap Paul McCartney at an need to consider the source.

April 6, 2019 @ 7:24 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I like your idea, but here's the problem...

The guest essentially dictates the length. And usually I don't know how long the episode will be until I'm playing Rosy & Grey.

And I still prefer to put out episodes right after they're recorded. I know many podcasters can their eps and release on schedules, but I feel it's better to release the episode asap and let the listener decide when they listen. I'm big on letting listeners decide when and how they listen as opposed to forcing a decision on them.

So if I'm to alternate shorter and longer shows, I'd have to schedule accordingly, and right now the guest wrangling and scheduling part isn't nearly polished enough. I need an intern!

April 6, 2019 @ 8:46 AM


Imagine immediately ignoring something because it seems too much??? That's like people who don't do subtitles because they're hard work.

That person should have listened, then stopped when they wanted. It's that simple. I loved your 1236 episode that one time, and just kept listening in the car over and over til I finished. What you're doing works, and the guest dictates how long they stay for and how much they engage with you!!

April 6, 2019 @ 9:13 AM

Caroline j

Two hours is perfect for me. I can’t listen all in one go but durin the course of a day I can. I listen walking my dog, at the gym or vacuuming my house. You need that long to get all the information that you do. Keep doing what you do Mike xo

April 6, 2019 @ 9:55 AM

Caroline j

Two hours is perfect for me. I can’t listen all in one go but durin the course of a day I can. I listen walking my dog, at the gym or vacuuming my house. You need that long to get all the information that you do. Keep doing what you do Mike xo

April 6, 2019 @ 9:55 AM


Personally, 75-90 minutes max is the perfect amount of time for an interview, and that’s with the most compelling of guests IMO.

Not to compare you to Stern, but he had McCartney on last year for 90 minutes and it was the perfect length. As much of a legend McCartney is and I always enjoy his interviews, anything more would have been taxing. I personally hate stopping an interview and picking it back up where i left off and listening in pieces. I try to avoid that situation if possible. This is why I haven’t tackled the Tyler Stewart interview just yet.
Even in my profession where I run workshops, our classes are 75-90 mins tops. We’ve found there’s only so much one can take in that type of setting before they tap out, no matter how good the content is.

Maybe if there’s a lot of content to cover with a particular guest, you have them come back a few months later and pick up where you left off?

Anyway, just my 2¢.
With that being said, I do enjoy your interviews, Mike.

April 6, 2019 @ 11:09 AM


DO NOT change a thing!
Your success speaks for itself.
And yes, there have been some episodes that I haven’t listened to (or bailed on) because I’m not interested.
Like in everything, the 80/20 rule applies.

April 6, 2019 @ 11:43 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


The reason I drain the swamp during a guest's first visit is because I fear they'll never return!

April 6, 2019 @ 1:02 PM

guy Etherington

that's a radio bias to keep it short and concise. There is a demand for longform interviews as well as articles and stories. Hence the popularity of this podcast (and many others) and publications like the Athletic and even interviewers like Howard or Brian Linehan. I miss the "deep dive" that used to be more commonplace and I suspect many others do as well.

April 6, 2019 @ 2:03 PM


Just chiming in to say that I agree with everyone else who says you shouldn’t change a thing about your podcast. The deep dives are one of the things that makes it so great! I’ve learned so much from you & your guests that I never would have learned if you had to keep every interview to under an hour. I never find myself wishing an episode were shorter, and I can’t think of any reason for you to split the episodes into parts. I rarely have time to listen to an entire episode in one sitting, but I have no problem stopping where I am and picking it up later. You’ve recorded almost 450 episodes and still going strong, so whatever you’re doing is obviously working. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it :)

April 6, 2019 @ 3:40 PM

Urooj Islam

I was expecting more Dad Jokes about penis size in these comments given the age of Mike's audience. Thanks to Al and twins from bolton for not letting me down.

April 6, 2019 @ 4:20 PM


To make this decision, you really need to understand the audience, how and when they listen and what content they are interested in.

For myself personally, I tend to listen when I have big stretches in time where I can devote my attention while doing something mindless. So if I have a long drive, or doing something around the house, or getting ready for dinner, I will put on the podcast. I try to listen to all of them, even if I don't know the guest, because I always learn something. I am pretty engaged the whole time too, so nothing wrong with the content.

I am behind right now because I've been busy, and you have been knocking them out pretty quickly. That you are closing in on 450 episodes attests to your ability and approach. And if the quests themselves are willing to talk, then you listen.

The proof is in the numbers. If you have them, then there is nothing to change.

April 7, 2019 @ 12:31 PM


Now if the guy had suggested changing the host, we could have got on board with that.


Elvis interviewing Molly Johnson would have been fantastic

April 7, 2019 @ 5:36 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I would love to visit an alternate dimension just to hear what that would sound like.

April 7, 2019 @ 7:35 PM


I would lean towards keeping format as is. I'll be honest, if I'm not too familiar with the guest and see it's nearing 2 hrs, I will probably skip it. However, when it's someone who I am interested in hearing more from (Tyler Stewart, Chris Murphy, Tom Stephen...basically any music-related guest) then the longer the better! I can't imagine how you'd pare down the Tyler Stewart ep to a tight 60 mins...there was just too much good stuff in it that an edited version wouldn't do it justice.

April 8, 2019 @ 1:05 PM


Firstly, this is your pet project Mike, so you have complete control over every facet of it, but guest(s), length, etc. You have built up a great thing, as evidenced by the number of episodes you've done, the amount of sponsors who have climbed on board, and the quality of guests you have. Obviously you'll always look to tweak things and improve on others, and you certainly accept feedback and quality criticism, but as this is your baby, don't ever conform because of what a handful of people might suggest is a downfall.

Personally, I don't have the attention span to sit through a 2-hour episode. To be honest, the same would be the case if it were 45 minutes. I'd try and bypass some of the segment regardless, especially if I'm not feeling the conversation. And it has everything to do with the guest. I've listened fully to Ron MacLean and maybe one or two other sports personalities. But other guests, especially ones I've never heard of or have minimal interest in, I'll cherrypick. That's just me and by no means a reflection of the podcast.

April 9, 2019 @ 11:00 AM


I drove to Brampton over the weekend and I listened to you and Marc for the trip. I can't even say I know about everything y'all discussed, but it was great company. Anyone who says they're all too long, and to change it up - doesn't really get it I think.

Again, it's like denying subtitles because you only want to hear English (to me, this may not even be a good comparison) - that is just lame.

April 9, 2019 @ 11:18 AM

Mississauga Rob

To properly analyze this, look at who are in your demographics. For me, I look to podcasts as an alternative when driving. Given that my commute one way is about an hour, anything longer than that becomes too much work for me to pause and restart for the return trip.

Here are some suggestions.

1. Continue your recording but do not do any sponsor shout outs during the interview.
2. When you feel that the interview is over, end it... just like now.
3. Look at the length of your finished interview and break it up into equal parts. Try to keep it under an hour for each part to insert your sponsor breaks.
4. Insert into the parts pre-recorded sponsor breaks. Ensure that they all get the time they paid for.
5. Post the finished product as 2 parts (or 3 if it goes over extreme).

April 10, 2019 @ 8:41 AM



Yeah I would listen to the 5-10 minute bites on YouTube

April 10, 2019 @ 7:47 PM

Tyler Campbell

Adding my voice to the "don't change a thing" crowd.

It's rare for me to get through a podcast in one sitting, it will usually get broken up by my commute to and from work, time when I'm working away at my desk and want something to listen to, and periods where I'm waiting for something and need to occupy my mind. I'll hit play and then stop when I reach my destination or need to do something else, and then pick it up next time. It's like reading a book.

If a podcast that I listen to is shorter than normal (most fall between 90-120 mins), I'm usually disappointed and am left wanting more.

It's really about finding the natural end of a conversation, whenever that is. No need to change the way the show is presented, in my opinion.

April 11, 2019 @ 12:48 PM


I listen to the podcasts about music and radio and I like them. I don't care much for 'nort spews' (as the old Tank MacNamara comic strip malapropism used to go), and that's my personal taste.
Length that you do is great, do what you want to do... tell your critic to go start his own darn podcast if he doesn't like it.

P.S. I'd love to hear more stuff on the ole' Spirit of Radio pls.
Be well

April 12, 2019 @ 5:30 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Any particular CFNY personalities?

I love those eps, too... but I think the low hanging fruit has fallen. I'm trying to get Geets Romo...

April 12, 2019 @ 7:51 AM


Geets would be so great Mike! What a cast of characters. I would have to go back through your list and see, but even a past guest returning (ie: Mai Pauts) would be good as well.

That said, Lee Carter would be fun, his London reports were sometimes the first mentions I'd heard of some wonderful bands.

I don't believe you've had one for Liz Janik, not sure what city she's in now.
Hmmm... I'll get back to you on this.

Oh, Brad McNally, who'd gone to Australia, has an email address at Marsden's NYtheSpirit online shows. He was always a favourite.

April 13, 2019 @ 4:41 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I actually talked to Liz Janik about coming on when I met her last summer. She's totally into it, but living north of the city and not in town that often, so I'll see if we can maybe make her appearance coincide with the next radio party Donabie throws.

April 13, 2019 @ 8:28 AM


FYI: Years ago I inadvertently found out from Lee Carter himself that at one particular point in time
he lived above the legendary Matador after hours club, which in its previous incarnation had been
a bowling alley/pool hall owned by my paternal grandparents! My father spent his pre-teen years
as a quite plump keeper of the pre-automated bowling lanes. Wish I had some photographic proof
from those days!

April 13, 2019 @ 9:37 AM


I can totally see where your radio friend is coming from, because I get it from my PD A lot. I listen to a handful of podcasts every week, lots from the video game industry and a sprinkling of others. Most of them are anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours. Really depends on the content for the week. Sometimes I do tune out about halfway through, sometimes I'm out in the first 20 or out with 20 minutes to go. It's all about the content they're bringing and how it engages me. Rounding back to my PD, he actually advised me to stop listening to them as much, because he felt it was teaching me to talk for longer periods of time. His ideal break or bit length is 45-60- seconds. Any longer then that and it's "Costing the company too much money". So in podcast terms, an hour is kinda the ideal mark for some listeners.

April 13, 2019 @ 5:23 PM

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