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It's the time for end-of-year lists, so here - in no particular order - are my five favourite podcast episodes of 2019. Let me know what you think...

WTF with Marc Maron - Episode 989 - Allison Janney

I love WTF. Marc Maron is a brilliantly funny and empathetic interviewer who always makes me laugh and rarely fails to draw out interesting stuff from his interviewees. As a big West Wing fan, it was a real pleasure to listen to Allison Janney talk about her life. I hadn't really heard her talk much before and she was just as warm and witty as I'd hoped.

Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin - James Caan: Last of the Tough-Guy Movie Stars

I could listen to Alec Baldwin talk all day. His voice is a reassuringly silky presence in an uncertain world. In this episode he talks to movie legend James Caan, whose voice is now as gravelly as a rucksack full of rubble, and whose stories of growing up in Queens and later working with the cream of Hollywood make for a riveting listen.

RHLSTP with Richard Herring - Episode 195 - Joe Lycett

Richard Herring is hilarious. Joe Lycett is hilarious. Esme, a judge on the Great British Sewing Bee who is revelling in the afterglow of a day on the booze with Joe and pipes up from the front row, is hilarious too. The funniest podcast episode of the year by a mile.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day - Series 4, Episode 2 - John Crace

Elizabeth Day is a deceptively brilliant interviewer. She lets her interviewees talk for ages before cutting in with a perfectly judged question that takes them even deeper than you - and probably they - thought they would. This episode, with the Guardian's political sketch writer, John Crace, is a perfect example. John's story is often a tough listen, but Elizabeth guides him - and us - through it with a beautifully sympathetic ear.

The Adam Buxton Podcast - Episodes 104 & 105 - Chris Morris

This was definitely the podcast I was most excited about in 2019. I spent much of the 1990's and early 2000's obsessed with Chris Morris's output, especially The Day Today and Brass Eye. The man is, frankly, a comedy genius and he rarely gives interviews so as soon as Adam Buxton announced he was putting out two whole episodes of his interview with him, I couldn't wait to listen to them. Fortunately, they did not disappoint.

If you're thinking of starting a podcast there are three big things you need to think through and decide upon before you even think about recording any audio.

First, you need a clear concept. What is your podcast about? Define that in a sentence and you’re most of the way there.

Second, you need a strong cast. Who are your key voices going to be? Are they experts in their field with an authentic voice and a passion for their subject? Lively, entertaining and credible voices will make your episodes stand out from the competition.

Finally, you need to define who your audience is likely to be and what value they will get from listening. Identify the type of people whose interest will be piqued by what you're offering and tailor your content to their needs.

Take the time to clarify those things and your podcast has a big chance of success, and you and your brand can become well-known and trusted within your sector. Hook listeners in now and create customers in years to come.

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

Thinking of creating a podcast for your company?

Good news. There's never been a better time to get started.

Just remember one crucial principle and you'll give yourself a much greater chance of building an audience.

Nobody wants to listen to a podcast about your company’s products and services.

However, thousands of people will listen to a podcast that gives them insight into an industry, or tells an interesting personal story, or outlines how to take the first steps into something new.

Being clear in your mind that your podcast is there to add value to the listener – not push your products – is the secret to success.