Tom Merritt has been podcasting some form of daily tech news show since 2005, before the term podcast had been coined. Merritt began with CNET, hosting Buzz Out Loud with Molly Wood, before joining the Twit Network, as the host of Tech News Today. In 2014 Merritt launched an independent podcast, Daily Tech News Show, and he’s been hosting that ever since.
“When I picked the Daily Tech News Show title, [I thought it would] be a generic name, a placeholder until I figured out what it’s called. And it’s stuck,” says Merritt.
When he parted ways with the Twit network in 2014, Merritt was one of the first podcasters to embrace the new crowdfunding platform Patreon. Merritt’s fanbase was strong enough after almost a decade of daily shows and with the interaction he had with listeners, he was able to build up the show just with audience support, and no advertisements.
“It’s funny, what we had with Buzz Out Loud, I felt [it was a] once in a lifetime thing …” Merritt tells me. “The audience just loved what we did so much, it didn’t matter if they weren’t the largest audience you could possibly get. They were enthusiastic and they supported us and they felt like part of a family … And then the Tech News Today audience felt like that, and now the Daily Tech News Show audience feels like that.
Tom Merritt, host of the Daily Tech News Show.
“I think the key is being very genuine about what you’re doing. All of us legitimately love technology, we’re not just playing a role. And by being accessible to people, we’ve always had an online chat room where we can talk to people while we’re doing the show, see what they’re thinking, see what they’re reacting to, it just keeps you in sync.
“And podcasts, especially audio podcasts, it’s just such an intimate relationship because you’re talking to someone and I feel that same way about the podcast I listened to, I feel like they become friends because I’m so familiar with their voice.
“In the early days, all of the money for the show came from Patreon, at a time when Patreon was pretty unknown. It was still in its infancy … Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to have a very strong number of patrons [and today] more than 90per cent of the funding still comes from patrons.”
A few years ago, the podcast diversified its strategy, adding more tiers to its Patreon offerings, and creating an advertising supported public feed. Merritt also hosts a five-minute Tech Headlines program for time-poor technology fans.
Creating a show every day requires discipline and structure, and you can see this in the meticulous show notes Merritt and his team create. The show notes are available to the public and the format “is creative commons licensed, of course”. I asked if Merritt ever considered teaching a course in podcasting.
“I would love to do courses if I ever can figure out how to have the time! But I often talk about why I do things the way I do, not necessarily to teach people to do it my way, but to teach them why we do it this way so that they can develop their own approach to stuff.”
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