written by
David Hooper

4 Rules for Podcast Guests

Podcast Interviewing Skills Mindset 3 min read

"Tammy the Biker Chick" invited me, my girlfriend, and another couple over to her house for a cookout. It was in a rough area of town and, as we were eating outside, a police helicopter flew overhead searching for somebody.

Tammy went inside to get something. My friend Becky's boyfriend followed to help.

Seconds later, Tammy’s husband, Ricky, gave Becky a look and said, “Your man is alone with my woman."

There was no question about what he meant. Becky immediately went inside to get her boyfriend and bring him back to the table.

Ricky had rules, most of which would classify him as a real douche bag.


  • Women always rode on the back of the bike — they never drove it.
  • He always had the final say in the relationship.
  • You never ever were to be alone with his woman. Never.

Sounds a bit extreme, doesn't it? But it made sense in his world.

You have similar passion (and rules) for you podcast. When non-podcasters hear these rules and the goals you have for your podcast, they also think, "That sounds a bit extreme."

4 Rules For Podcast Guests

I have four "extreme" things that people agree to before I'll interview them on RED Podcast:

  1. I understand not all interviews for RED Podcast are published.
  2. I understand my interview will be edited and that RED Podcast does not send edits for approval.
  3. I understand audio quality matters. I'll be using a good mic (NOT a built-in computer mic or mobile phone headset) and be talking to you from a quiet place.
  4. I agree to this interview. I understand RED Podcast has the right to reproduce and distribute this interview (in whole or in part) to the public using any current or future technology.

Why Have Rules For Your Podcast?

I don't have rules to be hard on guests, I have them to keep guests informed about the process of working with me, so they know what to expect when they do.

I don't release every interview that I do. The reasons are numerous. Sometimes it's because guests slip through my vetting process and aren't able to deliver the information they promised or the people who listen to my podcast want. Sometimes it's because I'm not "on" or able to get the interview I want.

For this example, the end reason why an interview doesn't come together doesn't matter. What matters is that not all interviews I do are published and Rule #1 makes this absolutely clear, so there are no surprises should an interview get dropped.

I edit interviews. Every. Single. Time. This is for brevity, but sometimes for content. Rule #2 lets people know ahead of time that not everything they think is important to say is guaranteed to end up in the published version.

Why? My loyalty is to the people who listen to my podcast, not the guest. And sometimes the people who listen to my podcast don't want to hear a rambling story, an attempt at humor, or a sales pitch.

The people who listen to my podcast also don't want to hear from somebody calling in his interview from a speaker phone in Starbucks. That's why Rule #3 is there — it wastes everybody's time when a guest shows up for an interview in a place with so much background noise that anything recorded would be unusable. This rule, in theory, eliminates that.

Finally, I have Rule #4 there to make it crystal clear that I have the legal right to use the recording being made in any way I wish. I'm not trying to get one over on anybody, I'm simply letting guests know that technology changes, and we don't know what "podcasts" will look like in the future or how a recording will be distributed.

Are You Making Your Podcast Guests Jump Through Too Many Hoops?

Maybe. But like Ricky the biker, you can’t worry about what others think. You’re not playing by their rules — you’re playing by your rules.

It's your podcast. You have your reasons. Don't apologize to guests or make excuses for doing what you need to do to make it great.

YOU DON'T NEED ANOTHER NEWSLETTER! But since you're here, how about one to help you grow your podcast audience?
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