What You Should Know about Intros for Your Podcast

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Once your podcast has a solid lead-in and a cue to fade out — or you have a loop throughout your podcast that sets a tone — your podcast is beginning to solidify. It’s establishing an identity for itself; be proud of the way this podcast of yours is maturing.

But when the microphone comes on, do you always know what those first words are going to be? For some listeners, you’re about to make a first impression. What do you want that first impression to be? Are you looking for something spontaneous every time, or do you want to create a familiar greeting that makes listeners feel like old friends? Your chance to make a first impression with your listeners is with an intro, which is the first thing the listener hears, be it with a bit of theme music or a word or two about you and your show.

It’s up to you, but think about how strong a first impression and a cool intro can make. Consider the ten simple words that became the signature introductions for George Lucas’s Star Wars saga:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …

This intro leaves an unforgettable first impression. But even if you’re not vying to be the next George Lucas, the first impression is always important. No matter who you are, this is a moment that can either establish you as a personality (and a podcast) that people will enjoy and eagerly await from episode to episode, or it will make winning over audiences a little harder. You want the first impression to be fascinating, lasting … and positive.

Consistent, iconic intros can serve as a polished touch of preparation or a subtle flair of professionalism. You’re announcing to your audience that the show is on the launchpad, you’re ready, and the journey is about to begin.

Theme music

How about a catchy theme? Just as television and motion picture themes establish a thumbprint for themselves in pop culture, an opening theme — be it a favorite song (used with permission!) or an original composition — can be just the right intro for your podcast. Perhaps you have a friend in the wide world of podcasting who can assist with audio production. Ask — you might be surprised how willing other podcasters are to assist.

Software applications such as GarageBand, SONAR, Logic Pro, and Audition all offer royalty-free loops that can be easily edited into your own podcast intro. Other great free music sources include Kevin MacLeod’s site, Incompetech, and the YouTube Audio Library, which also includes sound effects. If you have a little cash in the coffers, check out memberships with Digital Juice for an astounding collection of royalty-free jingles and sound effects.

Royalty free means you’re free to use the audio clip over and over without paying a license fee. You may still need to purchase the audio clips such as Digital Juice. In the case of GarageBand, the loops and clips are included in the price of the package with additional add-on libraries, available in the App Store.

Intro greeting

Some podcasters use quick, snappy intro greetings for their podcasts. For example, Adam Christianson opens every show with a heavy rock riff and the salutation “Hey, Mac Geeks, it’s time for The MacCast, the show for Mac Geeks by Mac Geeks …” that kicks off his podcast, The MacCast. Others create an imaginative setting; for Tales from the Archives, the producers have a more complex intro with music, sound effects, and original dialogue. Whether elaborately produced or just a simple welcome, a consistent greeting serves to bring listeners into your corner of the podosphere.

The elements you’re looking for in a spoken introduction are

  • The show’s name
  • The name(s) of the host(s)
  • Location of the podcast
  • A tagline that identifies your show

Sit down and brainstorm a few ideas on how to introduce your podcast. For example, try these approaches on for size:

  • “Good morning, Planet Earth! You’re listening to My Corner: A Slice of Cyberspace, and I’m your host, Tee Morris.”
  • “From Washington, D.C., welcome to My Corner: A Slice of Cyberspace.
  • “With a perspective on politics, technology, and life in general, it’s Tee Morris with the My Corner podcast.”

As you see in these examples, you can mix and match the elements to drop into an intro. Come up with what feels right for you and your podcast, and stick with it. After you’ve put together your greeting, you can either keep it prerecorded and use it as a drop-in (an isolated audio clip that you can use repeatedly, either from podcast to podcast, or within a podcast) at the introduction of your podcast, or you can script it and record it with each session. Whatever method you choose, a greeting is another way of bringing your audience into your 20 to 30 minutes (or 5 minutes to an hour and a half) of time on their preferred media player.