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?