Are you hosting a podcast? Or maybe you’re just obsessed with some of the awesome podcasts out there. It’s not just the content that captivates you, you love that host’s voice; you just can’t get enough. There truly is an art to great podcast hosting, and by taking a look at some of these famous podcast hosts, we can all learn a lot.
So Many Podcasts
The lovely thing about podcasts is there are so many! There’s a podcast for everyone, no matter age, gender, ethnicity, interests, demographics….the list is long. There are podcasts on education, social injustice, embroidery, true crime, well-being, dog training, history, pop culture, Game of Thrones….you just have to find what you like. And if you want to host a podcast, find what you love.
People love podcasts. In fact, according to PodcastHosting.org, there are over 1,750,000 podcasts and over 43 million episodes as of March 2021. Yeah, something for everyone, for sure! Here are a few more interesting numbers they share:
- In the US, 55% of the population has listened to a podcast and 16 million people are avid fans. Male and female listeners are fairly evenly distributed. 24% of the population (that’s 68 million people) listen on a weekly basis.
- Canada has a close listener base with 23% of the population listening per week.
- People from all over the world listen to podcasts at home, in their car, on public transportation, at work, and working out.
And a big part of what makes a great podcast and keeps those millions of listeners coming back is the host.
What Makes a Great Podcast Host?
If we look at some of the famous podcast hosts (and we will in a few minutes) we will see some similar attributes no matter how different their styles and topics may be. Here are a few of the attributes that make great podcast hosts:
- They show appreciation to their guests and audience
- Authenticity is clear
- They focus on the conversation and their guests
- Their content is sharp and the main focus
- Passion is apparent
- They are always prepared
- Storytelling is a gift they have and use
- They know how to physically use their voice
Does that seem like a lot to think about? Maybe it is, but to be a great host, you’ve got to incorporate all of these things. You want your listeners to be engaged, to be mesmerized, to feel valued, and to come back time and time again. For most people, there is always room to improve. And one of those ways to take a look at some great hosts and what makes them great. Is it simply their lulling, engaging voice, or is it how they interact with the guests and audience, how invested they are in their topic, and how genuine and transparent they are. Authenticity is huge for a host. We’ve got to believe and befriend them. So, folks, it’s all of this.
Okay, to step off topic a bit, it’s important to visualize a host. So let’s look at Jimmy Fallon for just a minute. He is the epitome of a TV host. He’s engaging, passionate, lively, and friendly. When you watch him, check out his body language. Even if his mind is thinking about his laundry or the snack he’ll eat after the show, you’d never know it. He physically leans into his guests, even on Zoom. Jimmy allows them to talk while he actively listens. He makes everyone feel welcomed and makes his audience feel part of what’s going on. And his topics are relevant with wide appeal. His guests are top-notch, he is familiar with them and has personal introductions, and he appreciates them all.
Now, look at the above checklist. He meets these criteria. And the reason I mention him is that to watch him, you can gain a lot. And though we can’t see the podcast hosts, the famous ones are probably doing these same things.
Famous Podcast Hosts
Now let’s switch our mediums. From TV to podcasts, let’s think about the hosts here. So podcasts have many pieces to make them great, but a big one is the host. In addition to that, there’s got to be a great intro, music, relevancy, and even advertising comes into play, but it’s the host that ties it all together. Have you ever tuned into a podcast, excited for the topic, but the host just didn’t work for you? Or maybe there’s a podcast out there you love, it makes you laugh and you think about it later. but you wonder why because the topic isn’t all that interesting. Could it be the host? Let’s take a look…
Sarah is the host of one of the most influential podcasts around, Serial. She basically coined the true crime genre. Her voice is authentic, pragmatic, and trustworthy. She treated the podcast with professionalism and this allowed her demeanor to shine. Listeners trust her and she makes it all sound effortless. She’s like the guru of podcast hosts.
Known as the best voice in podcasting, LeVar Burton has that magical voice we can’t get enough of. Now, his voice is actual magic, and that’s hard to create if you don’t already have it. But he knows the art of storytelling, and that can be learned. LeVar also has that passion we’ve talked about, and many of us know it from his Reading Rainbow days. He is authentic and shares what he loves. That makes him one of the great, famous podcast hosts.
The host of The Paranormal Podcast, Jim embodies many of the characteristics that make a notable famous podcast host, too. He is authentic, sharing his story of braving the world of podcasts. He has a wide variety of guests but the listener can see his connection to each and every one of them. Jim even has a spin-off show where he showcases his listener’s stories. That is true engagement.
Following in the Footsteps of Famous Podcast Hosts
These guys are top-notch. They’ve got it all. And you can learn from them. But even if you don’t have every attribute like they do, you can work on what you do have.
For instance, maybe you have the gift of storytelling. However, you’re not that great at engaging with people you don’t know well. This makes your guest spots a little awkward. So instead of having guests, feature your own great stories. Plenty of podcasts are simply the host talking. But, remember, you’ve got to be good.
Do you have a voice that could read the phone book? Maybe you want to embrace sleep podcasts. People are searching for a good night’s sleep, and many of our beloved celebrities, even Harry Styles, have taken on calming and sleep podcast storytelling and hosting. Think about this:
Think of your grandpa telling you a bedtime story when you were a kid. Or maybe the waves crashing at night on vacation and how easily you could fall asleep. A podcast for sleep does just the same thing. No medication, no supplements, no alcohol, just natural sound to distract you from your busy day and busy mind.
People crave that calm voice. If you’ve got it, share it. Whether it’s storytelling, meditation, or sleep-inducing, use your gift.
Famous podcast hosts are skilled at using their gifts. Perhaps they simply introduce guests and let them take over. Perhaps they set the stage for something serious and because of their authentic voice, they can help people seeking answers. Sure, podcasts aren’t meant to take the place of therapy and counseling, but sometimes they can be a good supplement. Think about this one now:
The mental health genre is hugely important. Men are notorious for ignoring their mental health. Depression and other mental health disorders are prevalent in men. Male suicide is on the rise, and over 4 times as many men than women die by suicide. Men also tend to abuse substances more than women as a symptom of mental illness.
Podcasts can be a place for listeners to get to know themselves. They can know they’re not alone, and that’s a huge relief for a lot of people. Great hosts can create this space. When a host provides a place of no judgment, it’s safe. It can be empowering and freeing. Famous podcast hosts have a knack for this, and you can, too.
Putting a Podcast Together
You can see there are a lot of moving parts to a podcast. There’s the host aspect, the music, the editing, the intro, even the logo and art that comes with a podcast. All of these pieces should come together like a great meal, from appetizers to dessert, perfectly seasoned with a bit of garnish and surprise interlaced throughout. When this happens, the host can take off. If you need a little help putting it all together, let us at Bunny Studio help. Whether it’s editing, adding music, or incorporating a great voice-over, we’ve got you.
The Big Takeaway on Famous Podcast Hosts
Sure, LeVar Burton and Sarah Koenig have it all. They’ve packaged it up and made their podcasts a great product. They have the magic combination of everything. But you can, too. Take a listen to some of these great podcast hosts and see what it is they do. Watch some Jimmy Fallon and see how he engages with his guests. Listen to the cadence of Levar’s voice and Sarah’s professional authority that she shares. Then look at your passion. Look at your voice. You can do this. You can be a famous podcast host, too. Let your genuine spirit, your voice, and your passion have at it. And if you need a little help from Bunny Studio, just let us know.