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Host AMAsAMA with Joni Deutsch, On-Demand Content & Audience Engagement at WFAE
AMAs >  Joni Deutsch

Joni Deutsch

organization WFAE
When November 4 2019 @ 11:30AM (EST)

Joni Deutsch is happy to call Charlotte (North Carolina) home as podcast manager for WFAE (Charlotte’s NPR station). In addition to leading the public radio station’s podcast productions (including the Apple Top 200 investigative podcast She Says), Joni is also the creator and host of WFAE’s Charlotte music podcast Amplifier, recently honored for excellence in arts and music podcasting by the local Edward R. Murrow Awards and The Webby Awards (called “The Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times). Joni is an NPR Music contributor and has previously acted as guest host of the legacy NPR Music program Mountain Stage.

A supporter of innovative media and a mentor to digital women leaders, Deutsch’s work has been highlighted by NPR, Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Poynter, Current, Online News Association and the American Press Institute.

Twitter | Instagram | Company Website | Podcast Website

Questions now closed.

15 Questions
15
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Tom Slack Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Hi Joni, we really appreciate you doing this AMA, so thank you for that. I’ll kick things off: What do you think the key to a successful podcast is?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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“Success” is a tricky word when it comes to podcasting because it’s dependent on your goals. Needless to say, everyone’s podcasting goals can differ:
– Is your goal to engage communities and amplify stories/voices typically not heard on radio?
– Is your goal to hit a million downloads or a certain number of subscribers/ratings and reviews?
– Is your goal to make money and gain sponsorship (in which case, is your goal to make podcasting a full-time career)?
Confirming your goals can help clarify the keys needed for podcast success (including how much time, energy and resources you should devote to the project).
With that said, I would say that a general “key to success” is authenticity. It’s knowing who you are, knowing how your podcast differs from the rest, knowing who your audience is (and why they will turn to you over the million+ podcasts out there), and knowing that… at the end of the day… you are putting your heart into the podcast and connecting with your listener.

Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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(Whoops! My first sentence was not included in the post. So let me just say… Thank *you* Tom for inviting me to this AMA and creating a community for podcasters. Happy to be here today!)

Tash Kiely Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Thanks for doing this AMA Joni. I want to know whether there are any genres of podcasting that you think offer untapped opportunities to launch and grow a successful show

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Tash! What a great question.

If podcasting were a brewery, I would say that listeners and podcasters love to “tap out” politics podcasts, true crime/serialized podcasts and talk show/interview-based podcasts. That’s not to say that those types of shows are bad or unoriginal; rather, the market is so saturated with those topics, it can make it difficult to differentiate your podcast from the others.

Which is why I’m very interested in the growth of two “untapped” genres: audio-drama/fiction podcasts (similar to “Hello from the Magic Tavern” or “Welcome to Night Vale”) and children’s/youth podcasts (similar to “Wow in the World” or “Molly of Denali”).

Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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With that said… I would recommend not only looking to underserved podcast genres, but underserved podcast audiences and communities.

Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Edison Research’s “The Podcast Consumer” survey (https://www.edisonresearch.com/the-podcast-consumer-2019/) found that audiences do not listen to podcasts because they feel that podcasts are not for them, not to mention that podcasts do not cover the topics they’re interested in. If you’re looking to “untapped” genres or topics for your podcast, I would recommend surveying potential audiences/listeners to determine the genres and topics they need/want (and, for that matter, don’t need/want).

Sean D asked this question 5 months ago

Hi Joni – I’d like to know how long you think you should give a podcast project before calling it a success or failure? How many eps should you release and what type of traction should you see before you can make that call?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Sean! That’s a great question.
Prior to starting/launching a show, I would highly recommend writing out your goals and timeline for the podcast. Is the goal of your podcast to…

– Build listenership (in which case – measure the steady growth of listeners through downloads/streams and subscriptions)
– Make money/revenue (in which case – measure success by income/sponsorships)
– Connect audiences/build an engaged community (in which case – measure success by social media chatter, ratings/reviews of the show, listener comments/emails, attendance at live events)
– Release a consistent show (in which case – keeping deadlines to fulfill a promise to your audience that they’ll always be able to listen to the show at X time on X day)
– Have fun! (in which case – enjoy yourself while booking guests, finding topics, and generally making the podcast)

If you feel unsure (or unhappy!) with the podcast production or aren’t seeing growth in the way that you had hoped, it’s a good time to reevaluate your goals and resources. Perhaps it’s also a good time to survey your podcast audience and see what they like about the podcast and what they may like to see (or hear) changed for future episodes. At the end of the day, are you getting out of the podcast what you’re putting into it. That should help determine whether the podcast continues or “takes a break.”

Geoff Roly Staff asked this question 5 months ago

How do you save time in production? Any hacks you can share?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Geoff! Thanks for dropping by.
I have a few tricks for saving podcast production time. This includes…
– Creating a “template” for my podcast (with a set intro, theme music, mid-roll section and outro). When I record and edit interviews for podcasts, I simply plug the episode-specific audio into the pre-existing podcast session template (on Hindenburg, Audition, etc.). Just make sure your audio levels and microphone placement are set at a consistent level for interviews/episodes.
– For booking guests and marketing the show, I would recommend creating a template email where you can plug-and-play with the episode-specific information (for example: “Hello Jane Doe! Thank you for appearing on X podcast, where we spoke about Y and Z. The episode goes live on ABC date, and you can share about it with your friends and fans with these handy-dandy links below”). Just make sure the email is being sent with the right information to the right person!

Matt Chamber Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Hey Joni thanks for doing this. I am interested in knowing what equipment I should buy to start my podcast and how much I should spend in total on production equipment and tools?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Matt,
Let me just say that you should not need to break the bank to have the best audio quality/equipment for your production. Your budget really depends on your goals for the podcasts (and whether your goals involve long-term podcasting and audio quality).

With that said, I started my audio career with Adobe Audition (which has a variety of audio-editing tools and user-friendly interface), and Hindenburg and Reaper (both affordable!) have been used along the way. Blue microphones have become a standard in audio recordings, and they are pretty cost-effective. Yet again, some really great apps and devices have come out that allow for great audio at

Depending on your recording space and budget, I would recommend checking out NPR’s guest to microphones (https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2019/04/02/705579879/tiny-tech-tips-microphones) and headphones (https://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2018/12/18/676559970/tiny-tech-tips-finding-the-perfect-headphones). I’d also keep this FAQ bookmarked for additional questions and audio set-up ideas: https://training.npr.org/2017/05/19/audio-production-faq-headphones-levels-mics/

Cassie Houston Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Hi Joni I’m thinking about launching an interview podcast and I wondered given your experience what tips you have around interviewing and even getting guests to agree to do your show

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Cassie! Thanks for the question.

Here are some interview tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past decade:

– Research is key! When a guest comes to the studio, I have about three pages of notes and questions typed out about the guest, their background, their work, quotes from their previous interviews, etc. Sometimes this research involves a heavy Google search; other times, the research involves me chatting with the guest in advance or asking their friends/colleagues for information. At the end of the day, this research makes me feel confident as an interviewer and makes my guest feel happy that I took the time to learn about them.

– When booking a guest, I always send an email weeks (if not a month or so) in advance with information on the show, the awards/accolades the show has won, why the guest would be an excellent fit for the show, when I would like to record the show, and when the show would be broadcast/posted online. You could also include a list of similar guests that have appeared on past shows, just to give them the reassurance that they are the best fit for this interview.

Good luck!

Tom Slack Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Another one from me: What does the planning process for a new podcast look like in your world? How long, what planning is involved, etc.?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Great question!

It really depends on the type of series (interview-based versus serialized storytelling) and frequency (weekly versus bi-weekly versus seasonal). With that said, I would give four to six months for pre-production (including brainstorming episode ideas, audience development, piloting audio, creating a trailer, commissioning/finding theme music etc.), and an additional couple of months for launch preparation (including branding/designs, website, sponsorship marketing, launch event, etc.).

Sham Si Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Should I abandon my show after 10 episodes or so if I have barely any listeners outside of my family and friends?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Sham! Thanks for the question.

I mentioned something similar in my responses to Tom and Sean, but I would just say that the continuation of the podcast depends on your goals and how you feel while making the podcast. If you “geek out” while making the podcast (and if the podcast sparks some joy in your life, regardless of listener downloads), then feel free to continue making it! We all deserve a creative output that makes us happy. But if your goal is to build an audience and sponsorship and the like, perhaps it’s time to look at the podcast’s production, its purpose, its resources and its goals.

Hope this helps!

Sham Si Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Also, do you prefer hosting or producing shows?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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I love it all! Hosting, producing, project managing, editing, selecting music, marketing, encouraging community engagement, planning events, etc. I really am a nerd for all things podcasting.

Jess Kiely Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Thanks for participating here Joni, it’s great to bounce ideas off other hosts and producers. I’d like to hear your thoughts around the secrets to your own success. Having read your bio above it’s clear that you’re very good at what you do and I am very interested to hear what you know to be your strengths and how you’ve developed (and continue to develop) them. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Thank you for attending the AMA, Jeff! And thank you for the kind words.

If I could whittle down the reasons for where I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing, I would say that…

– I grew up with a passion for media, music and storytelling. Learning how a show works, reading up on case studies and surveys and reports on the latest media findings and trends, and listening to just about every type of genre of audio and music. It made me appreciate the breadth of work out there, and what I could do to contribute to it.

– I have always been someone to ask questions, make suggestions, and lend a hand to whatever is going on. In doing so, I have been given opportunities to work with different teams, brainstorm on different projects, and create events and podcasts that have resonated with myself, my community and my podcast/audio-loving peers.
All of that to say: I’m lucky to be in this line of work, and I’m thankful to so many individuals along the way (from volunteer opportunities to internships to part-time jobs and full-time careers, not to mention friends, family and colleagues) who made it possible.

JB Baker Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Hey Joni. What are your top three tips to save time in the production/editing process?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hey JB!

Great minds think alike: Geoff asked something similar in this AMA. See above for that answer. And I could add a third tip/trick to the list, I would say that the less raw audio you have to edit with, the less time you likely need to edit. Set an expectation for how long the interview/recording will last and keep that promise! You’ll thank yourself later when working through (and editing) heaps and heaps of tape.

Caped Crusader Staff asked this question 5 months ago

What are your favorite podcasts and why do you like them?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Batman!

My favorite podcast changes on a weekly (if not daily!) basis. Currently, I’m listening to “You Must Remember This” and “Up First.” In both cases, I appreciate the hosting ability of the individuals involved, the beautiful sound-design that fits with the tone of each episode, and the flow of the storytelling that encourages “driveway moments” (where I sometimes stop whatever I’m doing so I can listen to the final moments of the episode).

Tom Slack Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Hey Joni, just a follow up question after your response to my question 1: What do you think audience research/development should look like in the podcast planning phase? How detailed do you get, what does the process look like, what signs are you looking for to know that your show will genuinely serve an audience and connect with a group of listeners? 

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Thanks for the follow-up, Tom.

I could easily spend a few hours walking through an audience research/development session for a podcast production. For those wanting to get a sense of what that entails (and how detailed we can get), I would recommend this case study documenting how we designed our award-winning Amplifier podcast with the audience in mind: https://itsalljournalism.com/better-news-amplifier-highlights-charlotte-through-its-diverse-music-scene/

And if you want to plan your own audience development session, NPR has an excellent blueprint for mapping out your podcast’s story, marketing and audience: https://training.npr.org/2018/05/07/a-blueprint-for-planning-storytelling-projects/

Wendy Serrino Staff asked this question 5 months ago

Hey Joni other podcasters go on other ppl’s shows and wanted to hear your thoughts on if that’s good use of time to grow listeners or if you should focus elsewhere for promotion? 

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Wendy,
One of the biggest ways to grow a podcast audience is through cross-promotion with other podcasts. It’s easy, and it’s a great way to bring another podcast’s audience into your own. Whether you’re interviewed on another person’s podcast, the podcast host includes one of your episodes in their podcast feed, or you swap mid-roll promo language with each other, I would recommend including this sort of tactic into your promotion strategy.

Rob Stevenson asked this question 5 months ago

Hi Joni, how do you see “Podcaster” developing as a career option as more companies begin investing in podcasts and typical ad sales models aren’t as crucial?

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Joni Deutsch replied 5 months ago

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Hi Rob! Good question.

In my mind, podcaster is synonymous with storyteller, audience engager, and community builder. Whether it’s a media outlet, a non-profit organization, or a Fortune 100 company, everyone could use someone like a podcaster to creatively share their company’s story and connect audiences to such a mission/vision statement, thereby building brand awareness, brand affinity, brand advocacy and/or brand sales.

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