A Lab for New Podcasts About Work: Introducing The Maker Channel
“It’s a long time to spend on something that means absolutely nothing. But that’s what I do.”
This is how Jerry Seinfeld explains his development process for a bit in his act. As a standup comedian, you might think that Seinfeld is great because of this innate gift to articulate something in a funny way. I suppose that is indeed his gift — but I’d argue it’s not what makes him truly great. Instead, it’s the process he uses to test his material that makes him such a legend — and it’s that same process we should copy in our work as podcasters and content marketers. Namely, Seinfeld and his peers will present his material to small comedy clubs as often as they can to see what works and what doesn’t. After each small performance, they make improvements to their act. Early on, this might mean radical changes. As they continue to practice, they might realize they have a winning act on their hands. Then and only then are they ready for their Netflix or HBO specials and multi-city tours.
That’s the power of the small comedy club. It’s a place to launch, learn, and iterate so that, eventually, you can be a star.
Today, I’m thrilled to launch the small comedy club of podcasts: The Maker Channel. Rather than comedy, we’re focused on making shows about work — business topics, career ideas, industry shows, you name it. Together with mission-driven, audience-first B2B brands, Unthinkable will test new podcasts inside this channel. In that way, this is our public “incubator” for new programs — our underground club for developing better acts.
Like standup comedians, we’ll use this club to launch our work and improve things using real-world audiences (including you!). With that in mind, I invite you to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or elsewhere. (You’ll already find a teaser episode inside the channel to explain things in more detail, plus the pilot episode of Project Showtime — a show about creating shows.)
Unlike the usual podcast feed, The Maker Channel won’t contain just one podcast. Instead, you’ll get multiple shows still in development. They’ll be named according to their theme with a placeholder word (“Project”) to convey that they’re a work-in-progress.
I’ll be there to greet you as the channel’s curator and presenter. Periodically, I’ll be a show’s host too. With each new episode, I will invite you to offer your feedback directly to me via email or Twitter. Using what we learn, we’ll make radical improvements to these shows early on, then focus on smaller refinements over time. In the end, the goal with this podcast incubator is to “graduate” refreshingly entertaining shows about work. That is the goal of everything we do at Unthinkable Media, and this one feed is central to those plans. I can’t thank you enough for coming on this journey with me!
Seinfeld believes that standup comedy is about putting in the reps. People are there to see the act, not the individual, and so you better be prepared. In his mind, even his own legendary status earns him just a few minutes of meandering before he has to make people laugh. In this way, standup comedy is the ultimate level playing field. Similarly, I think podcasters face a more level playing field than most other forms of content. With voice, you’re laid bare. You have to hold attention and get people to the end of the show (the Golden Rule of Podcasting). Yes, it’s nice when people recognize a guest. Sure, it’s a bonus that you’re a well-known thought leader or work at a company people already know. But that only buys you a few moments. “Talking Topics with Experts” is NOT a show idea worth launching. We need more rigor, more testing, and more audience involvement. That’s how you deliver the goods. And it takes lots of reps to ensure the goods are, yanno, good.
Your podcast is going to improve organically anyway, both from practice and from feedback. I think that process is far too important to leave to chance, so I want to be more proactive and strategic about it. In the end, if you want a build anything big and special today, you need a strong show concept, a great episode structure, and an amazing host. To nail all three, you need to find that venn diagram overlap between what you as the creator feel will be great and what the audience tells you is great. To help our clients find that overlap, I’m launching The Maker Channel. To ensure the world gets better, more enjoyable shows about work, I’m launching The Maker Channel. To better serve YOU, I’m launching The Maker Channel.
I’m excited for where this journey takes us — emphasis, of course, on the us.
Remember to subscribe (Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play) and give me feedback along the way! You can also hear the channel trailer below…
Founder of Marketing Showrunners, host of 3 Clips and other podcasts and docuseries about creativity, and author of Break the Wheel. I’m trying to create a world where people feel intrinsically motivated by their work. Previously in content marketing and digital strategy at Google and HubSpot and VP of brand and community at the VC firm NextView. I write, tinker, and speak on stages and into microphones for a living. It’s weird but wonderful.
Get in touch anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org // Speaking inquiries: email@example.com
I have a series for your consideration. Time and time again I discover how difficult it is for people to be comfortable shooting/casting and start within their own four walls. Customerville-like, but Radiate-hitting (C-suite wow factor) this would tackle the fear of self-publishing and inspire leaders to model good video/casting behavior.
What do you think?
Hey Jamie, there are some terms I’m not familiar with there, so tough for me to give an accurate opinion. My real take regardless: You seem passionate about this – enough to leave a comment in public – but I’d redirect your investigation into the worthiness of the show towards your actual target audience. Start by tweeting or sharing smaller pieces of content with that audience (or having actual 1:1 conversations with them) to see if your opinions and ideas resonate. If you get strong signal (a few people outside your network reacting in big, passionate ways), then lean in and start “up-leveling” the content, from a tweet to an article to an episode — or similar.
Bottom line: Like the post above discusses, gotta involve the actual audience to verify ideas. Get out of Theory Land and into the Real World with all ideas as fast as humanly possible.