I have long been a proponent of short podcast times. If you can say what you need to say in 5 minutes, don’t take 20 to do it just because you can. I have subscribed to podcasts (and subsequently dropped them) because it was obvious that they wanted to have an hour long show but only had material for 20 minutes.
There was a podcast launched this summer that runs about 3-5 minutes. It has grown since it’s inception in July to have over 1,000,000 downloads. This is the insanely popular Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing.
Why is it popular? It could have to do with her nice voice. Also it might be due to the professional quality. There also might be something to the fact that she has promoted herself well.
Content? I am not sure that the content alone is a drawing factor. She certainly makes grammar more interesting than I had in my school. But really, how many people would subscribe to a podcast about grammar if it were 1 hour long? Or even 10 minutes? I think what she has done is realized that some things are best consumed in small chunks. Grammar is certainly one of them. But the biggest draw to me is the fact that it is very short.
I think many podcasters could learn from this. Obviously there are podcasts that need to be longer. An interview based podcast (of which there are many) would be kinda rough listening to 3 minutes of an interview at one time. Also there are those which tell stories and have commentary on certain subjects. Those can certainly be longer.
But there are a great many podcasts that are tips and tricks. If released 3 times a week at 5 minutes each, or even 5 times a week, I think the podcast would gain many more listeners and keep them longer than sticking to a 30 minute show and having a lot of filler.
Podcasters will do what they want, but I think there is some magic in a shorter show. I certainly would not listen to Grammar Girl if she tried to teach me more than one thing or took 10 minutes to do it. Though it is a great show, 10 minutes would be too long. As it is, I eagerly await each new show she produces.