Tim Wohlberg is a 25-year-plus broadcast veteran who's spent most of his career in talk radio. He's done everything from news-talk, to sports, and "all-guy-radio" as well as female-focused formats and comedy.
He's an award-winning producer and presenter, directing top major market radio talent (and their egos). He knows how to deliver compelling content regardless of the topic or format and shares this knowledge via his podcast for podcasters, Just The Tip.
I asked Tim about lessons his own hosting experience, his transition to podcasting, and for his advice about how podcasters can improve their hosting skills.
What's the best way for somebody to get comfortable behind the mic?
I suggest doing three things to start.
First, record yourself at least a half a dozen times. This allows you to get familiar with your equipment too.
Second, tell a childhood story you’ve told a million times. It will force you to pick your words more carefully.
Third, record yourself interviewing a parent or other family members about their first jobs. You’d be surprised at what you didn’t know. More importantly you’ll learn how to listen, ask a question, move on, and wrap it up. It’s fun too.
When you're done, listen to the recording you've made. You’ll notice your strengths and recognize the things you need to improve. It’s the best way to hone your skills.
Oh, and forget about what your voice sounds like - unless you’re prepared to take up smoking three packs a day - get over it.
How long did it take you to feel comfortable behind the mic?
We’re going waaaay back here, but I remember the first time was frightening, intimidating and nerve racking. Luckily I learned my craft in broadcast college where I was taught the right techniques and the right strategy of how to structure a break and show.
Knowing what to say was the first step in building confidence. Confidence quickly turned into comfort. The more time you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be.
What makes a good radio host? Is it the same as what makes a good podcast host?
Without a doubt, knowing your audience is what makes a great host. It doesn’t matter if that’s on the radio or a podcast. Understanding what your listener wants and expects when they tune in is everything.
Think of the last time you stopped listening to a show. Either you reached the end because it was entertaining or valuable, hence the sign of a good host delivering what you came for, or you bailed because it was boring, irrelevant or offensive.
A good host keeps asking themself, "Will my listener care about this?" Keep asking yourself this question. If the answer is no. Skip it.
The primary purpose of your show is to serve your audience. And that’s exactly how the radio team I worked with kept our show at the top of the market year after year.
Why transition from radio to podcasting?
In 2010, after 20 years of radio, my wife and I both left our media jobs in Vancouver, BC for a smaller city to start a content creation company. Within six months, I found myself back in radio part-time while still working on our new business. What can I say? I still love radio.
Shortly after, a new client wanted to start a podcast. Because of my background, I hosted it and instantly fell in love with the medium. It was exactly like radio but better because there were no rules, but a lot harder because there wasn’t this big machine behind you doing all the work.
At the same time I started listening to more podcasts. This wasn’t as enjoyable for my wife. She grew tired of hearing me get frustrated with what I was hearing. Her idea was for me to start my own podcast to help podcasters. And since I had previously taught broadcasting, she thought sharing what I had to offer made perfect sense. That’s when I started my podcast for podcasters, Just the Tip.
What's the difference between a good radio show and a good podcast show? Is there a difference?
Good content is good content. The difference is radio has limitations, so it’s easy for a podcast to outperform a radio show quite easily. No time restriction. No content restriction. No format restriction. But that doesn’t mean you can or should go wild on these.
A well produced radio show can deliver great content if it’s produced and hosted well. A podcast without structure or a plan can easily turn into a commercial or an hour of inane conversation. Longer or more controversial doesn’t make a podcast better. Having a goal going into every episode will keep you focused on delivering a great show.
What "non-podcasting" skills are essential for somebody producing a podcast?
Marketing. You can have the best podcast in the world but if nobody knows about it, nobody knows about it. Just like with any business, product or service, you need a strategy.
A podcast takes a lot of time and effort. In most cases, you’ll spend more time promoting your show than producing it. And if you’re not good at marketing, get some help. It’s crucial to the success of any podcast.
If you only had $100 to start a podcast, how would you spend the money?
You can start podcasting without spending a dime. Record using your phone, host your audio on a free host like SoundCloud, then pass it along to Apple Podcasts. BOOM, you’re a "podcaster."
Now, take the $100 and go buy a t-shirt with #podcaster on the front. You’ll have enough to put it on the back too.
But If you’re serious about starting a podcast, $100 isn't enough money. There’s a lot more that goes into creating a podcast than just buying a microphone.
Is $1000 enough money to start a serious podcast?
Now we’re talkin’ and you’d still have enough left over for that t-shirt!
But first, just make sure to ask yourself why. Why are you podcasting? Who are you talking to and how are you going to serve that audience?
Starting a podcast is one thing. Maintaining a podcast is another. You’ve gotta play the long game. Be prepared to do it for at least a year.
I heard a stat that most podcasts don’t make it past 27 episodes. So if you’re committed, spending around $100 will get you a decent mic. I’d also invest some cash into making your podcast space sound great and feel comfortable. That might mean some acoustic wall treatment, a proper mic stand, and headphones.
You’re going to need a domain and website, a podcast media host ($15/month), graphics, social media support, and marketing. Some of those will be hard costs that are ongoing.
You can save money if you do your own editing with free software like Audacity or GarageBand. You can outsource this but you’ll run out of cash quick, so the more you can do yourself, the longer that money will carry you.
I believe people’s time really is worth money. It will take you a minimum of four hours to put together an episode at the beginning and that doesn’t include promotion. So, ask yourself, what’s that worth?