You Might Work In Podcasting But That Doesn’t Make You A Podcaster

Language is everything.

As a communications major in college, I learned a lot about language that I never thought I’d ever think about.

How women often discount their own opinions while they’re in the middle of stating them. How semantics can be the difference between truly apologizing for something you did or simply being sorry that what you did had an unfortunate consequence.

How inflection on the exact word can either mean you’re insinuating someone is stupid (“What do you THINK?”) or that you’re thoughtfully taking the time to consider someone else’s opinion. (“What do YOU think?”)

I’ve noticed lately that we, in podcasting, have a language problem.

A few weeks ago, WNYC launched a pay survey for women called: Werk It Survey: How Much Do You Get Paid to Podcast?

The survey’s instructions made it quite clear, at least to me, from whom it was they were trying to receive data. However, the language they used ended up to be short-sighted and, frankly, insulting.

To quote:

This survey is focused solely on payment for work making podcasts or supporting the production of podcasts (e.g. as a publicist, salesperson, marketer, etc.). If you do not currently make a podcast or support podcast production, please do not complete the survey.

Let me just start here: every single woman who hosts a podcast “makes a podcast or supports podcast production.” Period. However, the first sentence should have clarified it. “Solely on payment for work making podcasts.”

Let’s discuss how ALL podcasters get paid right now.

Some women have very healthy sponsorships that have made them a living for years and years now. Some women have podcasts that continuously funnel clients right to their business. Some women have podcasts to support their already-huge livings as a lifestyle influencer.

So, who, specifically, did they want to talk to?

The answer: just the women who they think matter. They just didn’t come right out and say so, because saying so would be rude. But they DID come out and say so.

How do I know? Let’s walk through the first three questions.

Press the “start the survey” button and the first question asks, “what is your role as a podcaster?

The options are astounding. Laughable. I laughed out loud.  “Administrative Support” and “Editorial Production.

It’s funny, I don’t recall when administrative support, as vital and noble a profession as it is, became synonymous with the job title PODCASTER. How can editorial production be your role as a PODCASTER, aka one who podcasts?”

How can the answer to “what is your role as a podcaster?” be “administrative support”???

Next question: “What is your employment status?

Thoughtfully, there is a choice for “I make my show independently and do not make money from it.” Hurrah!! They’ve included all women! All women belong. They want to speak to them all!

But then the following question, “Where is your employer located?” Answers: LA, NY, the top 10 metro cities, or “outside.”

Also funny —  last time I checked, women all over the GLOBE, employed or no, are producing podcasts. And some of them DO work for corporations that make podcasts, and some of them don’t.

It left me wondering a very simple question. Well, 2 actually:

  1. Who do these people think they are, and more importantly,
  2. How dare they?

Recently, iHeartRadio announced the “First Ever Podcasting Awards” without checking, mentioning or even nodding to the painstakingly long hours that Todd Cochrane has worked creating the Podcaster People’s Choice Awards or the annual presentations made at Podcast Movement, voted on by an Academy of Podcasters and produced by 2 podcasters themselves, Dan Franks and Jared Easley. That was the first time I looked at corporately-produced podcasting and thought, “How dare they.

But what Werk It did is a whole different bastardizing of the industry and medium that I can’t even really begin to correct. But if they want to talk about traditional media, I’m happy to go there as well.

Podcasting is an industry that produces a product of the same name, much like how the broadcasting industry produces….broadcasts.

You can be an editor, producer, writer, actor, and even a few titles they mentioned: audience developer, fundraiser or executive leader of a podcast. But these things do not make you a broadcaster – or a podcaster.

Podcasters sit behind the mic. A podcaster is the face and voice of that show. A podcaster is a person who is actually doing the CASTING, aka podcasting or broadcasting.

The official definition of a BROADCASTER is this:

A broadcasting organization, one responsible for audio and video content and/or their transmission. A program presenter (disambiguation) of any television or radio. A sports commentator on television or radio.

So, unless you are the presenter of the show, or the company itself, you are not a broadcaster. You are IN BROADCASTING.

The same goes for this industry, too. No one gets to arrive on the scene and rename everything. (If they did, my current title at this company would be CEB, or Chief Executive of Badassery.) You can’t walk into NBC and decide that everyone on camera is a camera guy.

My point is, you can’t survey women podcasters if that’s not who you mean.

The survey was so offensive, so exclusive and so demeaning in that you left out thousands and thousands of women, all over the world, MANY of whom are making money with their podcast and wearing EVERY SINGLE HAT you asked about in question #1.

They are the admin support and the audience developer and the editorial producer and the executive leadership and the digital producer and fundraiser and hose and sound production, AND whatever fits into the “other” category.

That is who the survey SAID they were interested in. Not “just the ones who matter.”

Shouldn’t WNYC want to know what THEY get paid?

Because if not, then they’re not really interested in the podcasting INDUSTRY. They’re interested in what “corporate employees in podcasting” make for pay.

Anyone is perfectly entitled to survey women podcasters. By all means, let me lead you to an infinity pool of women who are dying to be asked about their podcasts. (Over twelve thousand, to be exact.)

My solution to this is simple: we either start including EVERYONE in these conversations about podcasting, or we go ahead and call what corporate shows and the employees thereof are doing, something different.

Like Corpcasting. That’s horrible, isn’t it actually.

Both men and women in this space have been doing this a LOOONG time and have a wide and vast breadth of knowledge that might be useful as you tread your baby feet into the big, wide ocean.

Perhaps asking to learn how to swim would be a better idea than thinking your little legs can walk on water.


Jessica Kupferman

Head of Marketing at Rebel Base Media and the co-founder of She Podcasts. Podcaster since 2013, obsessed with marketing and advertising since about 1986. Twitter: @jesskupferman Instagram: @jesskupferman