Given that podcasts are an audio experience, it isn’t a given that a TV Show centred around solving murders and documenting these adventures as a podcast doesn’t seem like an instant hit. 

Only Murders in the Building is proving that wrong. With a wry take on podcasting, murder, theatre, celeb cameos and New York residential building life, it’s a hit on Disney+. 

So what, if anything, can we learn about podcasting from the TV show? 

Getting the Chemistry Right

Mabel, Oliver and Charles are an unlikely group of friends, but they all bring something different to the table and ultimately they work well together. 

When thinking about who might be on your podcast, it is worth thinking about how each person will come across, as well as how they work with others who are being featured. It’s important that you have a host and guests who know their stuff, but if they don’t sound like they’re having a good time then it’s unlikely that your audience will. 

You can think about content for your podcast, and make notes around what topics you want to cover etc. but sometimes nothing can cover up for a lack of enthusiasm between the group you’ve got together to record. 

Know Your Audience

The audience for the podcast in the TV Show is small and pretty niche, there’s a lovely string of episodes featuring the podcast’s ‘super fans’ in season 2 which takes a humorous look at what fans are expecting from their favourite shows vs what they sometimes feel they get.

But the real knowing touch here, is around the audience watching the TV show, and their knowledge of podcasts, specifically true crime podcasts, and specificially Serial – arguably the podcast that sparked the true crime podcast genre itself. Tina Fey plays a character who is a satirical version of Sarah Koenig, the original host of Serial. 

Now if you’re wondering who is in this niche of a niche, well, firstly me! Whatever it is that you are into, having a show or podcast that sees that interest and makes knowing jokes about it is going to win you loyalty from the start! 

I’m not suggesting that you need to go that niche, or try your own satirical take on an existing genre, but knowing what your audience want, and how to make them smile goes a long way. Content that is relevant to them, speaks to what they know and what they want to know, let’s them take a peak behind the curtain and shows a lighter side of their favourite things is always a good place to start. 

Getting the set up right

In the show the podcast is highlighted in different ways. There is the episode name at the start which is made to look like a podcast, a narrator whose voice we hear at the start of an episode and now and then we see Oliver, Mabel and Charles recording parts of the podcast. 

They use different set ups depending on where they are, recording on their phones when something is happening in the moment, and using scripts and mics when they want to review what’s happened, or record more background for an episode. 

These are all great options. A mic is a good investment, but you don’t need all the kit to get started. As shown in the TV show, most smartphones are able to record high quality audio and if you are recording somewhere with minimal background noise you’ll still get a quality recording. Sometimes, when it makes sense, outside noises are also a bonus adding atmosphere and giving the podcast a feel of being recorded in the middle of the action. 

A little bit of scripting is a good thing. Having a flow to the conversation and knowing what is going to be covered is helpful to ensure that you cover all topics as naturally as possible. It is also good to think about having an intro / outro for episodes. An introduction, letting people know what you are all about in a nutshell is a good start, and then a short outro with a call to action to subscribe ‘wherever you get your podcasts’ is a good way to bookend your content. 

When it doubt, merch is always the answer! 

One of the little touches that the show has is that the super fans have merch for the podcast. They have tiedye hoodies (one of the suspects they are looking for is ‘tiedye guy’ in season 1) with the show’s name across them. 

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a big fan of a hoodie! So as a light-hearted final thing to learn from this show and it’s homage to podcasts, when it doubt, get some merch out! 

If you’re thinking of starting a podcast then we’d love to chat to you. We create podcasts for corporates, actors, creatives and have worked with the UK Government, Dulux, BBC Sounds and Cardiff City Football Club to name a few. Get in touch today and let’s chat about how we can make your project come to life. 

This blog was written by Laura, our podcast production manager.