The Great One-Star Podcast Review Debate
This is a very modern dilemma. Do you leave a one-star podcast review on a show you really dislike, even if it is just someone’s hobby and not a professional venture? You may have an immediate answer, but let me show my working.
Origins of the Great One-Star Podcast Review Debate
Although I am a radio presenter and I love that medium, I adore podcasts too and spend far longer listening to them than to live broadcasts. Some of the podcasts I listen to are merely recorded versions of radio shows – Christian O’Connell on Absolute Radio and Radio 4’s Friday Night Comedy offerings, for instance – but others are exclusively pod-based (more on those later).
I’m pretty generous with my digital praise if I like something and will not hesitate to give a podcast a five-star review when I enjoy it. As many podcast hosts implore, that’s the best way to help other people discover the best shows in the “giant podcast bin”, as Adam Buxton calls it on his series of interviews.
However, I was recommended another show to listen to the other day that sounded like a winning concept, but when I downloaded it the delivery was so poor I gave up after two episodes. It was badly structured, there were too many unfunny digressions and in-jokes, and they seemed to forget to tell the story that made up the basic premise of the whole show.
In addition there was too much pointless swearing. I’m not prudish, in fact I think that some perfectly deployed curses can be poetic, but this was just swearing-as-punctuation and smacked of trying too hard to be shocking, which is the least shocking thing in the world.
Why I Didn’t Leave a Bad Review
My finger hovered over the one-star review icon, but I couldn’t bring myself to tap it. I know that, just as a good review can open up a great product to an audience that didn’t know it existed, a poor review might help someone avoid wasting an hour of their time, as I had done. But it didn’t feel right.
The podcast in question, which I’m clearly not going to name, isn’t someone’s high-flying radio show, or a member of one of the American networks that manage to pay their producers to create compelling audio. It’s just two UK comedians chatting about a shared, slightly off-kilter passion (well, in theory it is).
Yes, they might be hoping that it raises their profiles, but there are no adverts or sponsor messages and it certainly isn’t slick (which is fine, many of the best ones aren’t). It’s obviously a hobby first-and-foremost and who am I to stamp all over that?
- I’m not paying anything for their service.
- They’ve not asked me to listen.
- I am free not download any more episodes.
If someone came over to me while I was playing pool in a pub and started complaining about how bad I was, droning on about what I should do better and telling everyone else at the bar to shun me, I’d tell them to not watch me play if it bothered them. That’s my hobby, and this terrible podcast is the hobby of these two comedians.
It’s not a perfect analogy, I do realise that.
My Bad Review History
Don’t get me wrong, I love leaving a ranty review when I think it’s necessary. I relished the chance on Trip Advisor a few years ago to take apart a Lake District hotel with an owner who made Basil Fawlty look like the Dalai Lama, but on that occasion I’d spent a hundred quid or so for the privilege.
Terrible service when you’ve paid a premium, genuine injustice, dangerous failings – all of these instances lend themselves to a good, justifiable internet slating. Listening to something that you didn’t really enjoy, but which you were free to discard at any given time with no further consequences seems mean at a basic level.
There are times when your bad reviews are necessary whistleblowing and then there are people who feel the need to tell the world things like this, from an online review of a children’s play centre I visited with the kids:
“I also asked for brown sauce and got tomato…this was resolved”
The fact that this reviewer felt the need to mention a genuine minor mistake that was reversed with no issues says more about them than it does about the business in question.
Some thoughts so far:
Everyone is entitled to an opinion and people who do podcasts are just airing them it’s kind of like being a Jehovah’s Witness if you’re gonna spread the word your gonna get a few doors slammed in your face!
— Richard Wood (@Richard25239444) January 28, 2018
Truth hurts sometimes, they’ll never improve if u kiss there ass
— martin drayton (@martin_mpd) January 28, 2018
Podcasts I DO Like
That’s quite enough about podcasts I dislike, here are some great podcasts I recommend:
99% Invisible is a podcast about design, but that’s just the foundation. From that base, they discuss topics as wide-ranging as the fakery of sound design on TV sports, islands covered in bird poo, phone booths in the desert, and more. It’s genuinely fascinating stuff and presented in such a relatable way. Check it out.
This is a great new BBC World Service show about the murder of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto. I’d never really looked into her story before, but this is absolutely fascinating. Put together by journalist Owen Bennett-Jones, I heard a preview and was instantly hooked. The man knows everyone connected to the tale and the thorough research really shows.
— Owen Bennett Jones (@OwenBennettJone) January 7, 2018
A cracking look at the roots and quirks of language, The Allusionist is hosted by Helen Zaltzman, who is best known for being part of the Answer Me This podcast. One popular theme is eponyms, words named after people, some of which you won’t believe (that sounds more clickbaity than I hoped it would).
What’s your favourite podcast? Let me know in the Comments section.