How to Work with Your Podcast Co-Host
Podcasting is fun. But it’s even more fun when you do it together. Having a co-host, or multiple co-hosts even, can help spice up your audio. Chemistry, multiple viewpoints, different backgrounds and strengths can all add together for an enriching auditory experience. However, creating a successful creative partnership is anything but easy. Finding that shared vision, creative chemistry, and singularness of mind is not something that happens every day.
My advice — if you find it, hold onto it.
Still, even once found, it takes time and dedication to foster your relationship with your co-host and come up with a good work routine. Regardless of where you are on your podcasting journey, here’s my advice for finding and maintaining an excellent creative partnership.
First, a Little Back Story
I’ve been a content creator for many years, and a writer for half of my life. Although I’ve known about podcasting for a while (the first one I ever listened to I think was the Harry Potter Podcast by Pottermore), I never thought it would be something that I’d get into. That all changed when, just over a year ago now, I was invited to speak on the British Broadcasting Channel about social media. It was fun, the people on the show were great, but most importantly for me, listeners thought I did an awesome job. I go the idea in my head then and there that it would be fun to create some audio content myself. That didn’t come into fruition, however, until later that year, when I made three audio recordings about the topic. I uploaded those to YouTube and called it a day.
The Inception of a Show
One of the initial episodes I produced was with my friend and Actress, Sarah Avila (you can find her on Instagram). We talked about her life as an actress and what it was like co-starring on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. After that, I got busy with other things (like traveling to London and Paris, for example). It wasn’t until sometime in late January that I started kicking the idea around again to do a show. I talked to Sarah about it, and she said that she’d be down for doing something once a week. My wife encouraged me to start a website where I could host the show. Soon, that “doing something once a week” turned into a hit podcast.
Now, we have an entire first season recorded and live online. It’s been listened to by people around the world, and we’ve had awesome guests with us including writers, professionals, experts, and friends! Of course, great teamwork helped tackle the significant obstacle of producing a high-quality podcast.
Working With Your Co-Host — Playing to Your Strengths
As with any co-hosts, Sarah and I come from very different backgrounds. Sarah is an actress and entrepreneur, and I’m a writer and content creator. Leveraging our different sets of skills, interests and knowledge, we are able to communicate effectively with a wider audience than we could on our own. This is one great advantage of having a co-host, especially if your podcast is an interview-style one. For example, when we have someone on the show who is very involved with performance arts, I know it’s great to have Sarah’s input – like when we interviewed Christine Lee, an acrobat. Likewise, my history-bent comes in handy when chatting about things like Germanic Myth and Icelandic History.
Have an open channel of communication with your co-host. Discuss what guests might be the best fit given your mutual strengths, and give the lead to the person who feels most comfortable with the topic at hand.
Meet Up Before Hand
Sometimes, Sarah and I will meet up before a show and chat about the topic. Sometimes, really great ideas surface during these pre-interview chat sessions. You can definitely overdue pre-interview sessions. Don’t psych yourselves out. But certainly a little planning and discussing what you’re going to talk about helps.
No Hand-signs? No Problem!
Sarah and I do our podcast sessions remotely. I guess the only disadvantage of this is that we can’t see each other, so we can’t do the whole “make hand-signs” bit that people tell you should do when working with a co-host. However, I don’t notice it hurting us much. We have a pretty good sense of how the podcast should flow by now. Sometimes, we’ll shoot each other an IM if something comes up.
Work Your Co-Host into the Conversation
For us, it seems to work to have one or the other take the lead in the show. As the main host for the show, that’s usually me. However, lately, Sarah’s been running episodes herself. One way to naturally work your co-host into the conversation so they aren’t just awkwardly hanging-on is to ask them questions. “How do you feel about that?” or “do you have any experience with that?” are both questions I’ll sometimes ask in order to push the conversation Sarah’s way.
This is also a great way to get multiple viewpoints on the topic, and create on-air synergy that your audience will appreciate. It also keeps the conversation from feeling too much like a formal interview.
Do the Extra Work Together
Creating a podcast requires much more work than just the hour or so that you spend recording an episode. Research, outreach, question building, brainstorming, sound editing, and eventually marketing each episode is a massive investment in time. I know, with a busy work and social schedule, there’s no way I could do more than one episode a week. However, having a co-host can help. Split up tasks between yourselves when possible. Sarah, for example, has brought guests onto the show before, saving me the time of reaching out manually. More recently, she’s been a great help with planning out the second season of our show.
It’s also awesome if both you and your co-host take the time to market each episode on your separate platform. The more people you share your stories with, the more listeners you have, the more impact you can make!
Lastly, I think it’s important to remember that while you may be very passionate about your show, as busy as you are, your co-host is probably equally busy. We all have day jobs (unless you happen to podcast for a living). That means your co-host won’t be available 24/7 to help you with the show. That’s okay. Respecting boundaries is vital to any creative relationship. Work on the stuff that matters when you can, and always show-up when you say you will. The rest will fall into place.
Follow these guidelines, and you’re bound to have as much fun as we did with our show!