Should you use profanity in your podcast? – TAP138

© pixelpup via iStockPhoto

© pixelpup via iStockPhoto

Profanity is a controversial subject in podcasting. If you're the type to use foul or explicit language, consider several important things before you include this in your podcast.

What is “explicit”?

Language is heavily influenced by culture. But there are general guidelines of what each culture considers profane—sexual terms, gross bodily things, profaning something sacred, and curses.

“Explicit,” by definition, does not necessarily mean profanity. But an “explicit” tag will give that impression. This can cause issues when you try to communicate maturity-appropriateness for some conversations.

For example, a podcast about marital intimacy would be good to explain things in full, unconcealed detail. This is technically “explicit” and many would say it is inappropriate for unmarried (or not-engaged) people. But this same podcast may be free of profanities.

Be conscious of what is considered profane in your language and the primary culture consuming your podcast.

Consider your topic

Some topics fit better with profanities than others. In comedy, vulgarities can almost be expected, unless it is marketed as clean comedy.

But more neutral topics, such as tech news or how-tos, don't give an expectation of vulgarity. Such neutral topics are most likely not enhanced with profanities.

You may have an entertainment-review podcast (movies, books, TV shows, music, etc.). If you use clips from the media, it's likely you'll run into a little profanity, depending on your clip source. It would be inappropriate to claim to be clean, but have the profanities (however mild) in your clips. Either don't claim to be clean, or remove the profanities.

Most topics simply don't need the profanity and it really doesn't add anything helpful to the discussion.

Consider your audience

Remember that podcasts can be consumed by people of all ages, and you should always keep that in mind. But think about what your audience is like and whether your inclusion of profanity would make you more or less appealing to them.

It may be true that you audience doesn't have a problem with obscenities, but it may be unnecessary for you to include them. For example, a business podcast will be consumed by businesspeople—many of whom have no problem tossing around some obscenities. But in their professional lives, they keep a higher standard, or they want to keep things un-offensive for the rest of their business teammates.

Remember that “clean” appeals to nearly everyone, but “explicit” appeals to fewer and offends others. “Clean” will always be acceptable.

Consider who else may be listening

“Second-hand podcast listeners” are a growing group of people. This could be family members, friends, or coworkers who will find profane content offensive and inappropriate. You could be inadvertently affecting the reputations of your listeners if you surprise someone with profanities.

But also remember that many will listen to podcasts with their children nearby. While both you and the parent may have no personal problems with the offensive language, perhaps neither of you think it's appropriate for the children to use or even hear it.

Consider your sponsors

Many sponsors will not want to associate themselves with offensive content. If you can't go a minute without profanities, then potential sponsors may pass you up in order to reach someone who is unoffensive and thus has a wider audience.

Wouldn't it seem odd for ABC Family to sponsor an explicit podcast? How would that affect your opinion of the sponsor?

It is a choice, not a personality

I have heard people justify their profanity, saying that they were being their authentic selves. That can sometimes be partially true, but I personally know several podcasters who can “cuss like a sailor” in the everyday, but they are entirely able to control their tongues in their podcast.

Alternatively, I know podcasters who host explicit podcasts because they want the shock value, but they've been guests on other podcasts and had no problem keeping it clean.

So you are entirely capable of controlling your tongue, but it's a matter of your choice to do so, when you have considered what is best for your reputation and that of the “brand” you represent

iTunes tags: explicit, clean, unmarked

How you should tag your podcast depends on your content and how you want to be perceived. Clearly, a podcast with excessive profanity, vulgarities, and obscene discussions should be marked as “explicit.”

A marital intimacy podcast, as mentioned above, may have a harder time deciding. They aren't disrespectful or obscene, but they do discuss mature topics with “explicit” detail (probably appreciated by its target audience). In this case, I would recommend neither the explicit tag nor the clean tag, but warnings in the audio and description.

Originally, the “clean” tag was described as content that had its profanities cleaned. FeedBurner's outdated SmartCast feature still explains it this way. Both iTunes and the common impression is that “clean” simply means that there's no foul language or obscene topics. This tag is good for podcasts that want to clearly indicate their cleanliness.

An unmarked podcast could be completely clean, or it could contain some mild profanities. But such profanities are neither emphasized nor excessively used. A subscriber would expect no obscene content, but may be okay with some PG-rated language if it is not too much.

Learn how to update your advisory tags and other iTunes information.

What do you think about profanities in podcasts?

I know that this topic can be controversial with a wide range of opinions. But what are your thoughts? How do you handle podcasts around your children (if you have any)? Even if you don't mind profanities, what do you think podcasters should do?

Check out these other great conversations happening around this topic.

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

39 comments on “Should you use profanity in your podcast? – TAP138

  1. William says:

    I have a Horror Stories podcast which I keep clean. When I say clean I mean no profanity. I still strive for scary and sometimes that means horrific events happen but I think you can do that without swearing. This may turn away some horror fans because many like a “no holds barred” approach when it comes to horror.

    1. I think that’s a great approach. Horror may not be appropriate for some listeners, but that doesn’t make it warrant the “explicit” tag.

      How do you allow characters to express their shock?

      1. William says:

        I use a lot of inner dialog in which character’s express their fear and shock. That and screaming works really well.

  2. Leo Saumure says:

    Let me first preface this by saying that I don’t use profanity in my podcast, but I have no issue with other using profanity if they wish. I agreed with much of what you said in this episode, especially the point that people don’t tune in to a podcast BECAUSE of the profanity.
    That being said, I respectfully disagree with your point that the podcaster should consider the second-hand podcast listener.
    A podcaster’s job is to deliver the best content to their intended audience (profane or otherwise), and it shouldn’t fall to the podcaster to censor themselves because of who “might” be listening.
    I understand you might not want your children to hear F-bombs strewn about like confetti at a wedding, but it isn’t the podcaster’s job to shelter a child from profanity; it is the parent or guardian’s job to do that. I’m sure that it is difficult, and explaining what these words mean to an impressionable child would be uncomfortable, but that is the parent/guardian’s responsibility.
    …Just my opinion.

    Love the show!

    1. Thanks, Leo! I think that’s a valid opinion. I see consideration for your audience and second-hand audience very closely tied together. A lot has to do with the expectations you’ve set with your content.

      For example, a standard tech show may give no expectation for F-bombs within the content. So a parent may be comfortable listening with their children nearby. This is a situation where you, as the host, wouldn’t want to suddenly surprise listeners with F-bombs when they had some reason to not expect them.

      But on the other side, a podcast may have a reputation for regular profanity, so the parent will probably decide against listening to it with children nearby. In this case, there’s an expectation of profanity.

      Essentially, I listed these as considerations, but not as hard rules. So a podcaster may consider these things and decide that their target audience most likely won’t have second-hand listeners, or that their target audience knows to expect profanity.

  3. Joel M says:

    I always appreciate it when podcasts keep it clean or at least PG simply
    because I want to be able to listen to it at work without worrying about
    what coworkers would think if they heard it.

    1. Bingo! That’s a great example of the point on who else may be listening.

      Thanks, Joel!

  4. Bertman316 says:

    If you want to sound more credible – and more intelligent – don’t use profanity. I remember someone saying that profanity is a crutch for conversational cripples.

    1. I think I can agree with that. When I talk with someone and they can’t help but use profanity mixed in with conversation, then it does tarnish my opinion of them a little. But I can understand more if they’re using the profanity to express an emotion—I still don’t like it, but I can understand it.

      It’s similar to how the phrase, “you know,” can be abused.

      “I could, you know, say something that, you know, doesn’t need all the ‘you knows.’ You know?” Versus, “I could say something that doesn’t need all the ‘you know.’ You know what I mean?”

  5. Chris H says:

    This is the way I look at it. Saying no to profanity is saying yes to censorship. Podcasting is a form of free speech and being able to use profanity makes for a casual conversation between the people on the show. People that say profanity means you don’t have a good vocabulary are clearly mistaken as it takes a more intelligent person to know when to include the proper swear word in the conversation. Most clean podcasts I find to be rather dull and unappealing. If a podcast is labeled “clean” I usually skip over it as I turn to podcasts for a more intriguing conversation. If I wanted “clean” I would just listen to the radio.

    1. Thank you for the great perspective, Chris!

      You’re right that podcasting has a lot of freedom. I certainly support everyone’s right to do what they want. But I also think there should be guidelines for standardized ratings. We have this in other entertainment and it works well.

      I know we disagree about the value of profanity, but I really appreciate your perspective!
      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

  6. St. Clinton says:

    I think that it really depends on where one wants to go with their podcast. I don’t swear on mine (and rarely in real life,) but some of the stuff that I play has swearing in it. I think that if one is desiring to have a show over the normal airwaves, then they should avoid swearing at all cost, as you never know who is listening. One could have a great podcast that a commercial radio person could listen to, but would not want to have the show and/or its host because of the fear of what could be said.
    For the most part, I don’t get the importance of swearing in everyday language anyhow. I never get impressed with people who swear over and over again when they talk, as it causes me to wonder if they have any respect for others and themselves.

    1. I hadn’t thought of how the language we use communicates what we think about ourselves. Thank you for the comment!
      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

  7. Alex Mayer says:

    I agree with you 100% that the decision to use profanity/cover risky topics depends on the type of podcast you are listening to.

    For me profanity is kind of a split subject. I listen to a general/tech
    news podcast that has mild profanity and risky subjects in the podcast
    but I thoroughly enjoy listening to it. I do not believe the podcast
    would be the same without this content. At the same time I listen to a
    lot of Linux podcasts. I was turned away from one Linux podcast because
    they used to much profanity. I believe the difference was the content
    that was being covered. Linux for me is more of a serious subject where
    as tech/general news can be more comical/off the cuff.

    1. That’s a good balance.

      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

  8. Ben Avery says:

    I never listen to podcasts with my children around, unless they have earned my trust — and even then, I never know what people are going to say. I have young children and its just not worth the risk.

    This comes not from an experience with my kids, but from listening to a few clean labelled podcasts that were quite explicit at times.

    As for the argument about censorship or whatever — I just feel like I don’t want those words in my head. A podcast with an explicit label with almost always get a pass from me not because its not good or the people are not intelligent — rather, I choose not to have those words in my ears when I can avoid it. A clean label, on the other hand, does not instantly turn me off because I think the conversation will be boring and reserved — the podcasts I listen to are lively and informative. Like this one.

    Again, just proving that a bit of “self-censorship” does widen potential audience. But, if course, the next question is “who do I want for an audience?” I’m probay not in the desired audience for podcasts with an explicit tag, so it’s no loss to them. Or me.

    I’m very glad for the labels, in that regard.

    1. You reminded me of another approach to target audiences. Would you rather have an audience of 1,000 where half of them don’t like you that much, or an audience of 500 where they all totally love you?
      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

      1. St. Clinton says:

        I would rather have an audience of 1,000 where 1/2 don’t like me, as it means that I would have to work and make changes to try and win as much as that 1/2 over without losing the 1/2 that do like me already. By doing so it means that my show won’t become limited and can grow because the show can always be different, whereas if I just cater to the 500 the show can and most likely will become predictable and boring.

  9. Wambui says:

    Great topic. I generally skip podcasts with explicit tags. I have listened to parts of some explicit podcasts and enjoyed a few. However, I just don’t want that language or pattern of speaking, as one of the commenters said previously, caught up in my head. Last week, my podcast was about the n-word. The gist of the podcast was that I choose not to use profanity or the n-word. However, I also choose to not spend time being offended by what others choose to say. They are words — only words. I give words no power over me. Freedom of speech is key. I believe in protecting everyone’s right to express themselves how they / we choose. However, my personal choice is clean episodes and clean comedy.

    1. Because I’m a Christian, I do believe that words have a lot of power. Everything was created by God’s words, and Scripture reminds us throughout that death and life are in the power of the tongue.

      But “they’re only words” applies well to those insulting statements or labels. Profanity is commonly offensive, but someone can insult me without profanity. I have the choice of how to handle it.

      By the way, since you like clean comedy, do you listen to our clean comedy podcast? https://cleancomedypodcast.com
      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

  10. Marilyn Don Stoner says:

    My podcast, the Silver Hour (a podcast about peaceful deaths) debuts in January. Profanity is about the dose to me. I do see one distinct advantage of profanity, which often adds to the emotional clarity of the topic is acceptable to me. Profanity — within reason– helps the listener understand the speaker’s passion about the topic. If I were to interview a person who was dying, I would expect that for some, there may be some profanity. I would discourage professionals from using any.
    Profanity is in the interpretation of the listener. You often speak about your Christianity, without preaching. That is the perfect balance. I do research in end of life care. Atheists may hear preaching to them about God as something very distasteful. This comes across loud in clear in my last study with Athesist preferences for end of life care. A similar situation exists for people who are LGBT and language that assumes heterosexuality.
    Just my thoughts.
    Marilyn

    1. Perhaps a spinoff point from your great comment is that someone will be offended by almost anything. So in a sense, we have to choose which offenses to avoid, and which to allow.
      Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis

    2. Marilyn Don Stoner says:

      It is so true that everyone will eventually be upset about something. Like you and your podcasting band of brothers —Daniel and Cliff always talk about: purpose, purpose, purpose. I’ve been making a chart of the profess of starting a podcast based on each of your advice– authenticity and honoring your audience always takes center stage in decision making.
      Wonderful conversation.

  11. JonThePodcaster says:

    Daniel, I very much enjoy your podcast and found this topic interesting, but I have to admit that it took me two or three sessions to get through it because I was getting a little annoyed.

    The reason is, that the conversation and the debate was not balanced. Having listened to you in the past I realize what your stance is and I respect that, but it got in the way of this theme.

    Firstly, if it takes an hour to try and persuade people not to swear in a podcast, that it far too long. Just in terms of interesting content that is flogging a dead horse.

    But most importantly is the way the subject was tackled. In the end there was no real option given by you other than not to have bad language in a podcast, because that is your opinion. Even down to the referencing of ‘vulgar’ or ‘profane’ makes the subject warped. A more conciliatory set of terms (in my opinion) would have been better. Yes, there is language and communication that is more broadly acceptable than others, but what is does not apply to everyone across the spectrum. I came away from listening to the pod feeling that I’d spent an hour listening to you telling me what is, and what is not acceptable. That didn’t fill me with joy.

    Podcasts and podcasters need to reach out to the people they wish to target and also be themselves. If a comedian’s act contains ‘juicy’ language, that is part of his or her’s act. It may not be necessary, but it is surely a consideration of the act they wish to portray. Ultimately, podcasters will be adults and are able to make these decisions for themselves and will have almost certainly considered them. To say that the explicit tag turns people away rather than draws people in, was a statement not based in any kind of fact. If true, some comedy podcasters may be hoping for only people who find their language appealing to listen and to keep away those who don’t.

    Here is my take. The language of a podcast needs to fit the tone of the show and the desires of the podcast creators. On my podcast for example, I wouldn’t want swearing. The content is sports based, but from a journalistic angle. We apply what would be journalistic standards to the podcast. We have made a consideration about the podcast on a content and editorial level about what fits our topic’s area and the tone we want to take.

    Because I don’t want swearing in my sport podcasts that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be in other pods. The only real thing that I agreed with you in a whole hour is that tags should be applied. Yes, sign post it for people to know, but podcasters don’t need to be given a lecture or a guilt trip about their content. It would have taken 5-minutes to say that a podcaster should consider their audience, their sponsors and to please tag the podcast. Everything outside of that is the podcaster’s own choice.

    Sadly, I think that too much of your personal feelings on the matter came through way too much. This saddens me, not because of your beliefs (please keep them close to your heart), but because in the background of the whole hour was preaching the point and not just merely providing an informed choice.

    I’ll not be giving up on your podcast Daniel, but this one got to me.

    Many thanks,

    Jon

    1. Hi, Jon!

      I appreciate your perspective. I’m sorry that I came across that way to you. I had several points of things podcasters should consider, and left the decision up to them. Everything between was further illustration, explanation, or deeper things to consider. I think you know that you can expect thorough coverage of a topic from me. But, yes, sometimes I go overboard explaining or illustrating things.

      Everything I see still indicates that profanity-free still appeals to the widest audience. This is even confirmed by major third parties (such as RawVoice) who work with thousands of podcasters. So if a podcaster wants to appeal to the widest audience, then they should avoid those things that would limit their audience, and profanity/vulgarity is one such popular thing.

      It is a fact that people will be turned away by the “explicit” tag.

      1. JonThePodcaster says:

        I appreciate your stance and as it happens I don’t necessarily disagree. However, I believe that is the choice of the individual podcaster. Daniel, please listen back to the episode and see if you can hear that at the end of each area you looked at there was almost a ‘…but…’. To my ears you weighed up the pros and cons, suggested to people to make their own choice and then told them (and by association, me) what they ‘should’ be doing.

        It is a tough subject area because there are so many different opinions on the issue. I sit in neither the pro nor anti profanity camp. I’m pragmatic about it and want content to be fit for purpose. If that purpose is to have a shock factor, then it is fit for its purpose. I may not fit that content and that content may not fit me, but that is OK. I don’t need to like the language

        While we are talking about purpose. The way I’ve always perceived The Audacity to Podcast is a piece of content that informs me but is not there to steer me one direction or another. As a broadcaster, podcaster and producer of content for major organisations, hitting the purpose is absolutely key.

        It isn’t all negative. I’ve already started listening to Episode 139 and will continue to be long-time listener.

        Many thanks,

        Jon

  12. sabrinafaire says:

    Like you mentioned on the show, I’m a podcaster who can cuss like a sailor in real life. 🙂 That’s just who I am. However, my podcast has a clean tag for three reasons.

    1. People might be listening with their kids. In fact people have told me that they listen in the car with their kids.

    2. Our podcast is about The Sims & SimCity, and The Sims especially appeals to teens. While we don’t specifically cater to teenagers, and realize full well that most of them are not unfamiliar with swear words, we don’t want them getting in trouble because mom walks in and hears them listening to us swearing up a storm.

    3. I would like it if EA & Maxis (publishers of the games) took our podcast seriously like they do other long lasting fansites. We haven’t been noticed by them yet, but I don’t want to be excluded from that select group of sites because we swear on the show. I have noticed that, for example, with World of Warcraft podcasts, the shows that are “taken seriously” by Blizzard (the game’s developer), are usually not the ones that are dropping swear words constantly. If you’re podcasting about a specific product and your show can’t be played during a business meeting there, then that could be a problem.

    Overall, I think it really depends on the show. I have no problems with swearing, and listen to a few shows with explicit tags. I do think that people should tag their podcast appropriately so that no one is surprised if it happens.

    1. You make several good points. A company may think you’re less serious about your content if you litter it with profanity. Then it’s not much different from a YouTuber playing games.

  13. I knew it was only a matter of time before you recorded this episode! I think you argue the point very well: there’s just no benefit to using profanity in a podcast. I have certainly stopped listening to podcasts before because of it. Where it gets interesting is when you put up with the swearing because you really like the content. For example, I think Chris Ducker is a very funny guy and I love his enthusiasm but that doesn’t stop me thinking that the podcast would be just as good without it.

    1. I agree. I don’t listen to any definitely explicit podcasts, but I do listen to a couple that have the explicit tag, but aren’t really that bad.

  14. TAPKAE says:

    I’m not so opposed to the Carlin Seven Words but I find Right Wing kind of talk completely vulgar and morally offensive. The right wing noise machine is the real obscenity today. Yet that is all over media at every level, and plenty within podcasting since it’s such a democratic soapbox. There are words that are actually kind of amusing or descriptive and then there are ideas, slogans, and other memes that are abusive and outright destructive when put into law or when they gain extra-legal status. Here we have a great example of the camel passing through the eye of the needle but the gnats getting strained out.

    Let’s see here. Carlin’s seven plus one…

    “Fuck” (a word indicating copulation, which most people do) versus the NRA wants more people in an increasingly urban, demographically diverse nation with an ever-troubled and increasingly shattered soul to have more guns with unconscionable power to kill. More firepower and less psychic balance=more danger.

    “Shit” (a nickname for excrement which any living organism produces) versus the Republicans stripping away the longstanding and painstakingly built safety net for the poorest and the most vulnerable in society. That’s always a goal of some, but stripping the middle class down with one law or one handout to minimally regulated corporations is also a strong suit. You know, breaking the backbone of the nation.

    “Cunt” (a word indicating women’s genitalia–bear with me, ladies) versus the invasion of same by politicians. The mystery of what happens within a woman’s body is too much to handle for men, either religious or not. Call the word bad but the real control has to be exercised over all aspects of how said body part is used…literally coming and going.

    “Motherfucker” (a term indicating a man who has sex with a woman who will or has produced a child –a number that is still high, even in the years of Gay Rights!) versus the sodomy that unregulated industrial corporations have unleashed on the natural world, aka Mother Earth. You know… mountaintop removal, deep sea oil and gas, fracking, nuclear waste, seas of garbage of all sorts created by the terror-twin juggernaut of planned obsolescence and mass production which essentially turns resources into garbage for the sake of a “growing” economy.

    “Cocksucker” (a person who fellates a man, or maybe a poultry flavored lollipop?) versus the idea that wars need to be fought continually–somewhere, anywhere–in order to maintain “peace.” It probably has to do more with profits for major corporations that make “defense” equipment. Defense against what? The enemies that were created by the existence of the system itself!

    “Penis” (aka a dick, duh…) versus the legislature in Washington that is largely concerned only with its own preservation. Their job is made easier by letting the American Legislative Exchange Council do the heavy drafting of laws. What’s good for corporations is good for America, you know… Legislators that forget the republican model is supposed to represent people, not corporations. What dicks.

    “Balls” (signifying a man’s testes and presumably his power over others and situations) versus Wal Mart and other corporations that underpay employees so shamefully that they have essentially externalized the cost of health care and other benefits onto the public sector. The same sector that is eroded by more legislators also hard at work dismantling the safety net! The Walton family is notoriously rich AND tight with their 100 billion dollars. You suppose any of that could be used to take care of their employ —hold on!— their “associates”? What kind of association makes people work full time, even off the clock in some cases, and does not take good care of them? One with a lotta balls.

    “Tits” (female breasts) versus the “glass tit” phenomenon of very dumb or blatantly profit-driven programming on more and more media channels of all sorts. The word “tittytainment” is not my word; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Global_Trap. It’s a way to employ a rather addictive pastime for lowest common denominator goals. It diverts attention from the various misdeeds above and limits public discourse and citizenship.

    “Piss” (urination, or in UK I guess it means drunken?) versus all of the above. I think I heard of this coming from Ray Charles but the point applies anyway… “don’t piss in my face and tell me it’s summer rain.” All the stuff I wrote above is a collective waterfall of piss upon citizens, human and ecological dignity. It’s vulgar. It’s crude, savage, and bestial. Massive media that surrounds us like a cloud of noxious gas exists just for cheerleading all that, helping to erode everything dear and yet little word symbols that describe some of our most common features/attributes/deeds still irritate people?

    Just a thought.

  15. Nick Savides says:

    Hi Daniel,
    That was a thoughtful take on a controversial issue, one that I’m wrestling with for my own podcast. I try to be deliberate with the language I use in my own personal life and to swear as little as possible, but my show is focused on how to collaborate better with others on film sets. In certain businesses like film production, you are more likely to encounter swearing than in other industries.

    On the one hand I would like to see less swearing, and I’m saddened by the decay of civil discourse in our society, but on the other hand I think it is important for people to know what they are getting into, and if someone is not used to working with profanity in the background, then working on a typical film production might be a jarring experience.

    In a past episode, a guest uttered a swear word in context to a story about what happened on set, and I chose to keep it in the show and give it an explicit tag, but I am undecided about how I want to handle similar issues going forward. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    1. That’s a great question, Nick! I think it really depends on how you want to market yourself.

      If your guest isn’t using excessive foul language or dropping any F-bombs, then I think you’d be fine with no advisory tag and little or now censoring.
      You’re right that working with entertainment often brings with it some profanity. In my Once Upon a Time podcast, I decided that even though the show has PG language, none of the audio clips we use would contain it.
      You could certainly communicate ahead of time to your guests your request to keep it clean, if possible. But not to worry about it with apologies if a mild profanity escapes.

      1. Nick Savides says:

        Thanks Daniel. It’s an ongoing dilemma for me, and it helps to get all kinds of perspectives. If you’re curious, this is the blog post I wrote about swearing where I wrestle with the issue in a more in-depth way: http://blog.nsavides.com/2011/01/31/whats-the-big-deal-about-swearing.

  16. Arman Assadi says:

    Hey Daniel,

    Great little breakdown. A quick question for you:

    Are there any disadvantages to having explicit language in your podcast? Will there be any negative consequences from iTunes or Stitcher because there is an explicit tag set? e.g. Will iTunes not consider the podcast for their featured or new and noteworthy section?

    Also, does dropping “BS” or sh*t or damn here and there require an explicit tag?

    Thanks a lot! Keep up the great work.

    1. The main disadvantages are that explicit content narrows your audience and may turn away some potential sponsors.

      But as long as you include the explicit tag and never use explicit language in your titles or descriptions, you’ll be fine.

  17. I use the Explicit tag on all my podcasts, whether there’s profanity or explicit content in them or not. This is because my podcasts are “by adults, for adults”. I don’t want children listening to them. I also don’t care to censor myself or my guests. In this way, I don’t have to worry about it.

    As to the possible loss of listeners due to an explicit tag, that may be, but R rated movies do very well in the theaters, so there are plenty of people out there that don’t mind explicit content.

    The beauty of this is that when the casts are explicit, no one complains. I do occasionally use expletives, I’ve even dropped an f-bomb here and there, and I’ve never gotten one complaint.

    I think the key is to be clear to your audience about the content you’re delivering. If you market your podcast as “clean” or not explicit, and then you miss a profanity in your edits, you’ll probably hear some complaints, especially from parents who listen on speakers with their children nearby, or people who listen at work on speakers. Using the explicit tag eliminates this issue.

    1. You’re totally right on expectations!

      A big difference with R-rated movies is that the rating doesn’t always mean the same thing. One movie may be rated R for violence, the other for sexual content, and the other for language. In podcasting, “Explicit” is a bit more specific—either adult content (like sex), or excessive profanity.

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