Digital Audio World

Musings and information on podcasting, digital audio, online streaming audio and home studio recording from Tim 'Gonzo' Gordon of

Friday, September 15, 2006

Starbucks Podcast Reviews Taste Bitter

Here's a surprisingly refreshing review of a corporate podcast: Podcasting dregs: Starbucks grinds out surprisingly flavorless product by Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

Too bad he doesn't offer advice on how to cure the coffee blues in this particular 'flavorless' corporate podcast.

Here's how I'd fix it:


Jeez, this is such a cheap and easy cure, it's amazing that such a deep-pockets company such as Starbucks can't figure this out. Either they don't have anyone in-house that knows what they're doing, or the professional podcast producer they've hired is really, well, unprofessional. I'd never let that kind of lousy sound quality pass out of my studio that's for sure (hint, hint!).

In listening to Episode Two, the lady host (what the hell's her name, anyway - don't they even think to let us know that up front?) is doing the interview from a telephone and talking to a guy who sounds like he's also on a telephone, but perhaps in a studio. His quality is fairly good, but still not excellent quality like it should be.

I don't get it.

Next, take the damn microphone out to some stores. People who sit and drink lattes and half-caf vanilla espressos all day long at Starbucks must be pretty big fans of the store and certainly have some interesting content. Yeah, it'd take a little more work, but - once again - this is STARBUCKS, fer Chrissake. Do some interviews and get some unique content.

The interview with the coffee barista comes off as flat and scripted, instead of spontaneous, fun and unscripted. I guess it's hard to make a professional podcaster out of a coffee barista, but you can certainly hire a professional announcer to handle the hosting chores.

Other elements:

Music - lame. Who's elevator are we on? (echoing Steve Johnson's comment) Why can't they feature some of the music available at Starbucks? Surely they can afford the music licensing rights.

Features: hmm. Not much thought here. Entertaining with coffee? Interview with a barista? These all ooze corporatism - after seeing the Starbucks segment on 60 Minutes I don't think Founder Howard Schultz would buy into all of this mostly non-listenable content.

What about a history snippet? A coffee myth-busting feature? Coffee factoids? Something besides 'coffee talk.' How about chat about some of the cool music that Starbucks sells? That's GOT to be worth some chat time.

Bottom line: next time try for more good content, less corporate shilling.

Overall grade: C-

For a corporate podcast, even this is (so far) a non-starter. Unless they perk up their presentation and polish the audio quality, they'll continue to pale against some great hobby podcasts - which are much more entertaining and of higher audio quality.

I wonder. Should I tell them I'm available to consult?


  • At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I enjoyed your comments on the Starbuck podcast. You should tell them that you are available. And give them the chance to put out a better product and pay you for your skills.


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