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“Sound Judgment” Podcast: Masterclass For Podcasters

How to become a better podcast host and public speaker.


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Frank Racioppi

a year ago | 3 min read

There are some podcasts that are givers and some that are takers. The “takers” use the podcasting platform purely for profit and care little about enhancing the medium. The “takers” include some, but not all, of the larger podcast networks. Then you have the “givers.” Podcasts and podcast networks that work hard to make a living through podcasting, but care about the medium and actively work to improve it for podcasters, society, and listeners. Think Amy Westervelt’s Critical Frequency network or Chris Colbert’s DCP Entertainment.

In the class of “givers” is the podcast Sound Judgment. This is the podcast’s mission statement: “What does it take to become a beloved podcast host? Sound Judgment goes behind the scenes with today’s great hosts to learn how they make their audio storytelling magic. We’ll explore their creative choices by pulling apart one episode at a time, together. Join us every other week.”

The podcast producers tell us that “The term ‘sound judgment’ connotes wise decisions, common sense, and clear thinking. All of which we intend — in the context of making wise creative choices about sound. I’m obsessively curious about the ingredients and methods — the creative choices — that make audio storytelling magic”

The podcast is produced via Podcast Allies, which develops and produces compelling, relevant podcasts for mission-driven clients who believe in the power of storytelling and who are dedicated to quality.

In 2019, writers Elaine Appleton and Lindsey O’Connor founded Podcast Allies. As lifelong journalists, they were devoted to continuously improving our knowledge of the storytelling craft — and passionate about helping others learn it.

They named their company Podcast Allies because people were increasingly approaching them for guidance on turning an idea into a successful podcast. It was clear that what people really needed — and wanted — was an ally who would take them by the hand and transform a glimmer of a concept into something real, a conversation or documentary or a narrative series that would compel people to tell their friends, “You have to listen to this!”

Soon, they began developing and producing podcasts for mission-driven organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (Pediatrics on Call) and the Environmental Defense Fund (Degrees: Real Talk About Planet-Saving Careers).

In mid 2021, Lindsey sold her stake in Podcast Allies to Elaine Appleton, who is now Appleton Grant. She is the host of Sound judgment, and an excellent one at that. Grant is in a tough spot hosting this podcast. Sound Judgment is about being a better podcast host, so you need an excellent podcast host to legitimatize that point. Thankfully, Grant is superb. She possesses excellent cadence, a smidgen of earnestness, a touch of empathy, a dash of clarity, and a heaping of good humor.

In short, if you strive to be an effective podcast host, just listen to Elaine Appleton Grant.

Sound Judgment began in September 2022. In the second episode, Elaine Appleton Grant talks with podcast talent recruiter John Barth, who says he’s “always looking for that blue M&M.”

That’s when a new term is introduced called”hostiness.” for the skills needed to be a good podcast host. If you are interested in starting a podcast or enhancing your existing podcast, do not miss this episode. Barth’s wisdom runs from prepping for the show to sounding natural when you host.

Moreover, Sound Judgment makes a key point in several episodes. “No good host works alone. All hosts rely on their producers, and we will strive to give credit to them whenever possible.”

Other episodes of note are “How Top Hosts Hook listeners in 60 Seconds or Less” and “Finding Your Voice.”

You get the idea. Sound Judgment can help you to be a better podcast host.

Podcast Allies, for all its noble intentions, is still hoping to sell its services to aspirational podcasters. To its credit, the podcast is in no way a hidden infomercial.

Podcast Allies also has a newsletter that offers value for aspirational podcasters. The newsletter discusses show ideas, editorial strategies, character, scene-setting, formats, writing and revisions, hosting skills, and the psychology of this most vulnerable and exciting art form.

Podcast Allies is not afraid of taking a stand. For example, when Bloomberg published Ashley Carman’s article on the practice of some hosts charging thousands of dollars for a single appearance, Podcast allies spoke up against such an unethical practice.

Podcast Allies stated, “Good podcasts serve their listeners first, and when listeners don’t know that what they’re listening to is, in fact, an ad, they’re being swindled.”

Again, the givers and the takers. If you’re interested in starting a podcast or improving your existing one, listen to Sound Judgment. The show will “give” you the skills needed to improve and succeed, while it “takes” the time to help you do it the right way.

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Frank Racioppi

I am a South Jersey-based author who published a nonfiction book on Amazon called The COVID Hotel about the pandemic. After nearly 40 years in the Corporate world, I manage a publication --Make A Connection -- about how to manage more effectively through improved communication. I am also the lead writer for the Ear Worthy podcast blog on Substack and Podcast Reports on blogger.


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