Everyone has thought about starting a podcast at least once in the last four years. This might not be a real statistic, but I am pretty confident in my statement. 

With podcasts just getting more and more popular, it is natural for more and more people to consider stepping in behind the mic. If that is not you, then you have to have at least wondered about the planning and management of it all. 

It is only natural because podcasts interest people! 

That is why media update's Alrika Möller asked Rusell Grant from The Video Store Podcast the podcasting questions we’ve all been wanting to ask. 

Can you walk us through the early stages of launching The Video Store Podcast? What were some initial challenges that can come up?

So, The Video Store was born out of The Bioscope, which is a cinema in Johannesburg. We've been screening films practically every day for 14 years now. So we can do a long-term marathon project! 

I wanted The Video Store to be a long-term thing, just like the cinema, so finding the team and establishing our plan of how we could record and release an episode every week was the long and tough thing at the start. 

I know I could make an episode quickly and easily enough, but if we were to do this long-term, we had to have the right people, and the right way of working established, if it were to last!

What is your process for planning and preparing for each podcast episode release?

We like to keep things relatively casual. This is important for me. We want to be able to venture down tangents and be comfortable to go where the conversations take us

But the Tuesday clerks episodes all start with us mapping out the things we want to talk about, and how we might lead from one to the other. 

The Thursday guest episodes are thankfully guided by our structure of getting them to tell us their four great film loves across their life:

  1. The 'Puppy Love' film

  2. The 'High School Crush' film

  3. the 'Getting Serious' film, and 

  4. the film they would marry or settle down with. 

This helps guide the chat and unlock each section of their life in their head. I try my best to do some research beforehand to help prompt certain conversations to unlock.


How important is having a clear niche or target audience for a podcast’s success?

Knowing your niche is absolutely critical. If you manage to break out into other markets and gain some mass appeal, that's just a bonus. 

One look at the number of podcasts on offer, and you will quickly realise how much there is to compete with. So knowing your lane — where you can at least launch from — is very important in finding your perfect early fans

Podcasting is typically about a much longer form of chat, so you are wading into much deeper waters and staying there for longer than other types of content. Having those moments be the ones that enrich and deepen the connection with your audience is key!

How can podcasters go about finding their audience and niche?

To me, podcasting — or at least the type I'm finding myself naturally drawn to — is one of authenticity

You are being authentically yourself, even if that means being somewhat honest and vulnerable with your listeners. 

If you are true to yourself and your passions, those with similar feelings and passions will find you. That and obvious targeted and carefully planned marketing, of course! But once in front of the audience, your authenticity will drive it home!


How do you stay motivated and consistent with your podcast schedule?

So, as I mentioned at the start, we have built a pretty incredible set of systems to keep our little cinema ticking over day after day. It's never been a sprint to the finish line where we burn ourselves out. 

We're running marathons over here where we need to wake up the next day and do it again. So it's a different approach, different training and team building. Once we established our team and our groove, we have been able to keep it going.


Can you provide any insights into the process of content planning and finding topics for discussion?

So the wise Nick Hamman from 5fm — who is a dear friend — once gave me two pearls of wisdom. 

Know how to link your topics together so that they might be naturally organic in the middle, and "know your out" to bridge to the next thing you want to discuss. 

Always have one person "do the heavy lifting," which is to always tie the discussion down to why whatever you are discussing is important. This can be to give it a sense of humanity, a purpose — a bigger meaning

[This is] so that someone who might not know or care about what you discussing gets to see why this might be something important to know.


How important do you believe the guest format is to a podcast’s success?

Funny enough, I have come to see it's not the be-all and end-all. I have loved our guests and thought initially they were the crux of our show. But I have since come around to see that our internal team discussions are a better aspect of our show to focus on so we can be more in control of our own show’s success.

How can podcasters go about finding guests to appear on podcast episodes? 

So I'm lucky enough to have been surrounded by lots of my potential guests in my everyday business of running the cinema. So, be it comics, filmmakers or musicians, I get to meet them and convince them to come on the show. 

But for those I don't know, that I have had to cold call so to speak, it has been a struggle, and needs a careful balance of persistence and patience.

What role do you see podcasts playing in the broader media landscape?

The biggest role for me is the depth you get from a longer conversation. When talking about something as complex as a film that might have taken years to make, or an album, you need more than a few minutes between songs on a radio show to explain yourself and your intentions

So, although your audience might be smaller than a radio station broadcasting across the country, I'm far more likely to seek out someone's work after 40 mins hearing them explain their creative product in a meaningful and authentic way.


What equipment and software do you recommend for beginners looking to start a podcast?

We got started with USB mics and garage band. But ultimately, getting a Zoom Podtrack did the trick. We found some nice deals on Takealot for sets of mics and mic stands, and have never needed anything else since in terms of hardware.

Software-wise, it's not too important. It's more important to have a good editor — someone who does the editing, regardless of the programme. We love and value Graeme in our team who handles that!  


Looking ahead, what trends do you see emerging in the podcasting industry?

I'm not sure hey! I should maybe look further ahead. 

I love being invited to film media screenings and getting to talk about this love of cinema with my friends. I need to keep our show fun and exciting. That's all that matters.


What advice would you give to someone who's considering starting their own podcast?

I went in with a large audience already established with The Bioscope itself. So, I was grateful to have a crowd to talk to out of the gate. 

This still didn't prove to be the immediate catapult I thought it would. It made me realise that podcasting on its own is still a niche avenue, and it will take constant and continuous work to build brick by brick. 

So you have to have the energy for that. If you are having fun, then that makes this building a lot easier!


Did you enjoy this Q&A? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. 

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Inspired to start your own podcast? We have A guide to podcast formats [Infographic] that will help you get started. 

*Image courtesy of Canva