My review philosophy
As this blog has grown, I’ve received requests from podcast producers for me to review their shows. First off, let me just say that this is an absolute honor. I’m very proud and flattered that creators have wanted my input on their shows. However, I want to be clear about what this blog stands for and how I plan on carrying those standards out.
Here are, what I consider, my standards and purposes for this blog:
- The purpose of my reviews on a large scale, is to help legitimize the podcasting community through serious critical review. In providing genuine, multifaceted critique, I hope to help creators strengthen their weak points, help the listeners know what to look for, and highlight exemplary podcasts.
- This site also exists to help lift up the indie podcast community. While larger podcasts, usually those that exist in networks, get plenty of press from old media, indie podcasts (and especially audio dramas) are almost always ignored. This blog exists to shine a light on smaller podcasts while showing the flaws in the bigger podcasts, both of which are ignored by traditional reporting. High-profile shows will be reviewed, of course, but I want it to be known that any podcast, regardless of listener count, can request a review.
- This blog does not exist to routinely say negative things about any podcast. If the show is from a large network, I will likely write a review of why I stopped listening. If the show is an indie podcast, I likely will not. I do not see a purpose in writing negative reviews for small shows.
- Please note that this means if I write a review for your show, it still will have criticisms. While I won’t write a purely negative review, I’m also not going to say only nice things and gloss over any of what I would consider flaws in the show. This also wouldn’t be helpful for you or the podcasting community. My reviews of smaller shows will be honest and direct, but I try to make sure they are not unkind.
My review ethics
Here is a quick run-down of common reasons I will not review a podcast:
- The podcast is offensive, harmful, violent, or unnecessarily and pointedly unkind towards any group of people
- A creator on the podcast has a history of abusive, offensive, violent, etc. behavior towards others
- I already know a creator outside the realm of podcasting (e.g., if a personal friend makes a podcast)
- I have consulted on the show in the past
- The podcast is a small, independent podcast that I do not enjoy (see the last bullet point up above)
Becoming one of my supporters on Patreon will not gain you advantage when requesting reviews. Patreon support should not be seen as a way of buying my favor; it won’t work.
What I’m looking for
I’m looking for podcasts with a defined sense of identity. I’m looking for podcasts that will surprise me. I’m looking for podcasts made by creators who are serious about what they do, who are willing to put the work in. Here are some of the things that excite me the most to see when I get review requests:
- Creators and casts that are diverse in race, gender, orientation–characters and creators with disabilities (including invisible disabilities)
- Actual play podcasts that are produced to sound more in line with an audio drama than a conversation podcast
- Nonfiction podcasts that have a unique specific single topic or novel structure
- Audio dramas that strive to innovate within the medium
When it comes to podcasts, I don’t know what I don’t know. If you think your podcast will surprise and excite me–which, if you’re here, I’m assuming you do–I encourage you to send it my way.
What I’m (usually) not looking for
I don’t turn any podcast away simply because it doesn’t seem like the type of podcast I’ll like. I listen to at least three episodes of any podcast I receive before deciding not to review it. Here is a list of common reasons why I do wind up turning down review requests, though:
- The podcast is meant for kids. Honestly, I just don’t really know what to do with these. I’m obviously not the demographic, as I am neither kid nor mom.
- The podcast has fewer than five episodes. I write my “First Impressions” review based on five episodes, so I can’t really give reviews until a podcast has hit five. I do listen to advance copies if you’d like your show reviewed before they’re released–more on this in the “how to request a review” section.
- The podcast is conversation-only with minimal to no editing and no very, very specific topic of discussion (good examples for specificity in topic: Spirits, Most Important Meal, etc.)
- The podcast is an actual play with minimal to no editing
- The podcast does not do anything novel or unique, and the discussions/plot/characters/structure/etc. could be found in several other shows
- The podcast takes 10+ hours to “get good”–unless there is a moment past those 10+ hours after which anyone could jump in and miss nothing, or very little, from those 10+ hours (if this is the case, please also send the episode I should start listening on in your review request)
- The podcast has multiple Podcast Problems or does very few things on my “10 Things I Wish Every Podcasts Would Do” list
How to request a review
Review requests must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org between the 14th-21st of every month. Review requests received outside of this timeframe will be deleted, unless it has the following:
- A full press kit (see Love and Luck‘s as a stellar example)
- An upcoming important release date (e.g. a season finale, a season premier) and/or an upcoming Kicstarter, IndieGogo, etc. that the review could potentially help your podcast find supporters–please make sure to include all important dates in the body of the email
- A subject line formatted as such: “Review Request: [Show Title] [Explanation of Urgency]” (for instance, Review Request: “We Made a Podcast,” Upcoming Kickstarter)
- The rest of the requirements for a standard review
Review requests must be sent with:
- At least one header-sized image to be used on a potential review (a press kit would be preferred)
- A description of your podcast
- A link to your website (can be a Libsyn, Soundcloud, Tumblr, etc. if a full site has not been made yet)
- If applicable, advance copies of the episodes you’d like me to review (if you have released fewer than five episodes)
- Any additional information you think would be relevant before I listen
- Confirmation that you have read my review policies
This may seem harsh, so I want to put it into perspective. In my first year of running this site, I received so many review requests that I could not discover new podcasts on my own. Many worthy podcasts got their potential reviews sidelined due to deadlines for review requests. Having a specific timeframe in which I receive requests, plus specific requirements upon sending the review, means I get to discover more podcasts and showcase everything exciting I’ve listened to.
What to expect
In about 48 hours, you should receive an initial email response from me confirming I received your request. If you don’t receive an email within 48 hours, absolutely feel free to send me another email or hit me up on social media.
If I do not plan to review your show, you will receive a stock response letting you know. Please take this as me tacitly letting you know that your show was not for me. If you would still like feedback on your show, you could take this opportunity to use me as a consultant, should you so choose. I will never turn down a review request for more potential work as a consultant.
Once I have let you know I am going to review your show, I will send you an email with the hard deadline I have set for the post. Your review may take up to a full month to be posted; I’m just one person, and I also work full-time on top of doing reviews. If more than one month has passed and you still haven’t gotten a review, please feel free to contact me again. I will try my best to take any important dates included in your review request into account.
Thank you for your work!
Thank you all for the work you do. This community would not be nearly what it is without such incredible creators. Please know that even if your work isn’t my taste, the fact that you make it at all is something to be so proud of.