Podcast Hosting Skills Podcaster Spotlight | 5 min read

What Is "Too Personal" For A Podcast?

Dave Jackson has been podcasting since April 2005 when he launched one of the first podcasts for musicians, Musician's Cooler. In 2018, he was inducted into the Academy of Podcasters Hall of Fame.

In June 2005, I launched a broadcast radio show for musicians and others in the music industry, Music Business Radio. It's because of my relationship with Dave and watching what he was doing with Musician's Cooler that Music Business Radio was also released as a podcast.

Since that time, Dave Jackson has gone on to help thousands of people get into podcasting, launching a variety of other podcasts and podcasting-related projects, including one of the top podcasts for podcasters, School Of Podcasting. He can be heard weekly on the podcasting Q&A show, Ask The Podcast Coach, and offering podcast critiques on The Podcast Rodeo Show.

In 2006, Dave started a personal podcast, Building A Better Dave. On this podcast, he talks about topics many podcasters would shy away from, from dating, to his living situation, to family issues. He shares his personal story, as it's happening, which has included meeting the woman he later married (and eventually divorced).

I asked Dave about his decision to "get personal" and his advice for other podcasters considering doing the same thing...

Why a "personal" podcast?

I was going to start online dating and figured fun stories would be coming my way. This podcast (and this is what probably helped shape it to be so unique) has absolutely no goal.

I hope it makes people laugh, cry, or think. It might educate them in some cases.

I think the people that like the show get pulled in as I'm revealing what I might call "third date" thoughts. I'm done talking about the weather, and sports. Let's talk about what makes us tick. What I can learn. I'm an aging white guy who's doing his best not to turn into his father (not that he was a bad guy). 

How has your goal and the podcast itself changed since you started?

The original idea of dating stories went down the tubes when I ended up marrying the third person I went on a date with. I then followed the ups and downs of what turned into a horrible relationship. That relationship has since ended, so my focus now is to come up with something that will make you laugh, cry, and think.

Building A Better Dave is my outlet to talk about whatever I want. At times it's my therapy (at a much cheaper price). It's me talking to the universe.

More and more episodes are just what it's like to grow old. Weird things like you realize that one of the benefits of being in a relationship is having someone to cut that weird skin tag under your armpit that you can't quite see. 

I feel it's a very strange podcast. I think it's funny that, of all the podcasts I do, so many people say "Better Dave" is their favorite. To me, it's like the early days of David Letterman in that nobody's listening, so I can do whatever I want.

Do you have "rules" what what you share about yourself? About other people?

Personal

My weakness, my Kryptonite (not that I'm Superman), is I'll throw myself under the bus if I feel it will help somebody avoid the same mistakes I've made. If I can share a story about my life to illustrate a point (i.e. you need to passion of a 16-year-old boy trying to get his driver's license to start a podcast), that allows me to connect with those in my audience who have, "been there - done that." We can bond over something in addition to podcasting, which is the topic I'm most known for and how the majority of listeners find Building A Better Dave.

Family

I have to be very careful when talking about family members as they didn't ask the be on the show. Most of the time those stories don't paint them in a bad light. The other thing that helps (at least for now ) is that none of them listen to the podcast.

My ex-wife had no problem with me telling the world how much I loved her when we were dating. You'll also see a very, very, long space where episodes were few and far between as our relationship had serious struggles that she didn't want me making public.

"Sensitive" Topics

I have an episode in my head that I'm going to politely throw some shade on organized religion. That probably won't gain me any new listeners in the church I attend.

In theory, most of what I say on the podcast is just me telling a story, or sharing an opinion. The problem with today's environment is you can get fired for having an opinion. 

Have you ever crossed the line and shared something you later wished you hadn't?

I made an episode about "Amish Porn" and how in theory it shouldn't exist. It was my attempt to be edgy or blue.

That episode did make me laugh, but when the daughter of the woman you're dating finds it and then shares it with Grandma, it definitely makes you consider pulling it.

I once did an episode called "The Truth About Teenage Boys," and I told the story of my best friend getting into the pants of a girl. I named the girl and that was a mistake, so I went back and re-recorded it. 

What's been the most surprising thing about doing a personal podcast?

The most surprising thing is that people listen! I've woken up at 4 AM and just spewed my thoughts into a microphone with no script. I've then published the episode, gone back to bed, gotten up later to listen, and thought, "This is horrible." Then I'll see comments on Facebook like, "I love this episode - please do more." 

What's your advice for somebody considering doing a personal podcast?

The Internet writes in ink. Your podcast (or other content) may be entertaining to your audience, but they don't live with you.

Your family may not agree that this is just "your therapy." On that note though, I once lived an hour away from my family and friends and talking into a microphone just so I felt heard somehow made dark days tolerable. 

Listen And Subscribe

You can subscribe to Building A Better Dave via Apple Podcasts or RSS.

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