Lou's Views

When I tiptoed into podcasting five years and 150,000 listens ago, I had plenty to learn on many fronts. In fact, it felt like starting over as a media professional because podcasting demands a wide set of skills. Let’s see: How’s my on-air presence? My audio recording and editing skills? My ability to make the subject matter sound interesting? The list goes on and on and on, much like a host (or Qwoted columnist) who can’t keep his gob shut.

But here’s where the success of every interview podcast hangs in the balance, the one essential that tops them all: guests. Popular ones draw the numbers. Fascinating ones propel the flow of the show. It’s all about the guests. Ah, but unlike the reporter who can tap a single source repeatedly, or write based on research alone, an interview show like mine (the financial services podcast “Bankadelic”) demands new guests, different guests, diverse guests. Guests who light up a mic like nobody’s business. 

Recognizing the unique needs of podcasters, Qwoted has decided to add another feature to its platform, one I’m in the midst of trying out for myself even as I write this. And here’s the thing, hosting comrades: Between the opening sentence of this column and the point where I am now, I’ve already fielded one outstanding pitch. Even by the standard I’ve set of inhaling three New York-style pizza slices seconds after they hit the table, this constitutes blazing speed.

What it is, how it works   

We won’t need much time on this facet–maybe because Qwoted overlord Dan Simon, knowing I’m a bonehead, made this bonehead simple. For reporter users, the drill will feel familiar. When you go to put in a source request,  you select “Guest Request” on your Reporter dashboard. The handy microphone icon points the way, and here I’ve highlighted what that looks like in orange:

Podcasters, let’s land those A-list guests
Podcasters, let’s land those A-list guests

You click there and simply fill in the type of expertise you need. Qwoted asks for other information that can help excite potential experts–the number of of subscribers, for example–but none of it’s required.

Now here’s where it gets fun. Yes, fun. Because many experienced podcasters, myself included, fall into ruts where we either take whomever is offered to us by a random pitch or trawl for someone with a pulse and voice box. Using Qwoted turns the dynamic around in a lovely way. The logic is simple, but like many a simple thing, beautiful in how it changes perspective. Here’s what I mean.

Let the (great) guests come to you, just like me

This is the actual query I put out before I started hammering out this column:

Lou Carlozo, host of the financial services podcast “Bankadelic,” is looking for podcast guests to fill a select group of vacancies for the first half of 2022. In your pitch, please address the following: 1) The proposed guest’s personality in front of a mic. 2) The following the guest has. 3) The subject they’re an expert in. 4) What you are prepared to do to promote the show.

Notice here how I’m not merely asking for guests: I’m screening them, too. I want to know how their PRs will promote an episode. How well the guest interacts in a conversation. More details about following (and hence my possible listenership for that episode). This allows me to evaluate pitched guests multi-dimensionally.

It also lets me to hit up PRs in multiple numbers (just as I’d do in my reporter role) and collect all the replies in in one convenient place.

Can I afford to be picky? Absolutely. I also added that I want to speak to executives, people who are making great things happen. Thought leaders. I’m laying down very specific guidelines–and if I come up empty handed, it’s taken up maybe 45 seconds of my time.

But I didn’t. Within 10 minutes, Jordan Bieber, Associate Vice President at 5W Public Relations, offered me Marwan Forzley, CEO of Veem. Frankly, it would’ve never occurred to me to shoot that high on a single cold-call pitch. Can you say “green light”?

This is you, rocking your podcast

Experienced podcasters, myself included, cannot stress enough how much high-quality guests can send a podcast soaring towards success. I’m thankful that my chief sponsor, the esteemed William Mills Agency, takes so much of the guesswork out. The mistake many novices make is to simply fill the pipeline: a task on a punch list and not much else. I’m proud that Qwoted is making a more nuanced approach to booking possible.

What’s even better is that I got to see this in action for myself. I feel even better in encouraging you to check it out because dang, this thang works. A podcaster’s life is tough enough. Is my mic cable shorted? Is my voice steering clear of Omicron? Is my guest prepared to have a conversation instead of recite answers off a sheet of printer paper? Any chance to take the guesswork out of this medium I’d welcome in a podcaster’s heartbeat.

And as I get notices of more pitches, my heart will be beating. For “Bankadelic,” this will be a game changer. I hope it will work out just as well for your podcast. As they say when the red light goes on in the control room, “We … are … rollllling.”

Lou Carlozo is Qwoted’s Editor in Chief. All opinions expressed are his alone, which is why he’s eager to get some infinitely more interesting podcast guests. Email lou@qwoted.com or connect on LinkedIn.