How to Livestream Your Podcast and Engage Your Audience

Two podcasters wearing headphones interview each other for radio live podcast at studio

On election night 2020, The Daily from The New York Times did what it had never done before: it went live. The hosts talked to reporters on the ground across the country for the latest updates, making it perhaps one of the most exciting episodes in the show’s five-year history.

You don’t need to be Michael Barbaro or have his team of producers to make a live podcast. In fact, it’s easier than you might think. Here are pointers and hosting platforms to consider before hitting the record button.

Record or import audio, make edits, add fades, music, and sound effects, then publish online, export the audio in the format of your choice or send it directly to your hosting service.
Create your podcast from start to finish with Descript.

What is live podcasting?

A live podcast is a podcast episode broadcast in real-time. Listeners who tune in hear what’s being said as it’s being said, making live podcasts more like traditional radio shows than recorded podcasts. This means no post-production edits, just raw live audio.

Broadcasting live can add variety to your podcast and is a great way to expand and connect with your audience. Live shows let you create new and distinct experiences for your listeners, with off-the-cuff moments or happy accidents that might not happen (or might be edited out) in a traditional, pre-recorded podcast. They also offer the opportunity for your audience to come see you and your guests record a show live, which offers them a more intimate experience than simply listening during a commute to work.

Live podcasts can also be repurposed. You can always record your live show for later release wherever you publish your podcast. Some programs even let you broadcast live while recording your audio locally (directly onto your device). The audio recording can then be edited or chopped up into shorter segments, which are great for social media promotion.

How to plan a live podcast

When it comes to producing a live podcast, Abel Grünfeld from says, “Logistics are important.” With a live podcast,  you can’t go back for another take, and you can’t cut out filler words and awkward silences, “which makes [live podcasts] very authentic,” says Grünfeld. “But it’s also more stressful, so you need to be well-prepared.” Here are a few ways to make sure your live recording goes off without a hitch.

  • Make an outline. It might not be how you normally prepare for your podcast, but making an outline helps your program flow seamlessly, and can help prevent long pauses in your broadcast by nudging you along your list of topics.
  • Incorporate your audience. Unlike with a pre-recorded episode, going live means your listeners are right there with you as you record. Take advantage of it. Think of ways to pull them into your show, either in person, virtually, or through social media.
  • Get your guests up to speed. Schedule your recording beforehand and make sure your guests are on the same page, especially if they’re in different time zones. Brief them on your outline, and, if you’re recording an interview, go through your questions with them so they can be prepared.
  • Sort out tech issues. Equipment can create problems when you least expect it. A live broadcast is not the time for tech issues. Familiarize yourself with your gear before recording, make sure you can troubleshoot if something goes wrong. It’s always smart to assume something will go wrong, and have backup plans in place. 
  • Pick a good time. You want as many of your listeners as possible to tune into your podcast. Pick a time that’s likely to be convenient for your audience, like in the evening when most people aren’t working. As difficult as it might be to coordinate, be sure to consider time zones “especially if you have a global audience,” says Grünfeld. 

If you’re up for it, consider planning a live event. If you have enough of a following, a live-recorded event can be a great way to produce intimate and memorable experiences for you and your listeners. (It’s also a good way to make some cash to support the pod through ticket and merchandise sales!)

Why do a live podcast?

The thought of going live — no pause button, and no cutting the slow parts, or editing the “ums” — can be frightening, especially if you’ve never done it. But there are good reasons to give it a try.

  • Audience engagement and feedback. A live podcast is more than an audio track. “It’s for engagement. It’s to build a community around your content,” says Grünfeld. “It’s to have a way of communicating with your audience.” It’s also a chance to check in with your listeners to find out what they like or dislike about your show, which is useful for making improvements. “You need to have the possibilities to actually get this feedback, and establish these conversations.”
  • Timeliness. A live podcast is a product of its moment. Take advantage of it. Is there a big event coming up? Are you embarking on a new venture? Releasing new merch? Planning a live podcast around a time-specific event can help build excitement among listeners. The Daily chose to go live for the first time on election night because they knew their listeners would be eager to tune in. 
  • Authenticity. Pre-recorded podcasts are polished, which is great for sound quality and listenability. But they can sometimes come across as overly refined, perhaps even disingenuous. A live podcast is a chance to strip back your presentation and offer listeners an uncut version of your show. “Everything within content creation is becoming much more about the person, the individual behind the content,” says Grünfeld. “It’s a very powerful thing if you can leverage this as a creator to build your personal community.”
  • Uniqueness. Live podcasting is becoming more popular, but there are still relatively few shows that do it, let alone properly and consistently. Do it while not everyone else is. Going live is different and challenging, and can help garner respect for your podcast (and might be a good way to attract advertisers).

Despite these advantages, live podcasting is risky for your brand, especially if you’re poorly prepared or new to the craft. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with real-time broadcasting, and one bad show can be costly. Don’t rush into it. Start by building an audience and an identity, which will give your listeners a reason to tune into your live show in the first place.

Live podcast hosting services

Like a normal podcast you’ll need a platform, or hosting service, from which to broadcast your live episode. There’s a variety of online tools for this, some podcast-specific, some not. Here are a few recommendations:

  • is a multi-track recording platform that offers high-quality live broadcasting capabilities for podcasts. Riverside lets you locally record up to eight participants on individual audio and video tracks, and audience members can video call into shows as additional guests. You can simultaneously live stream to Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Twitch. 
  • Podbean is a free and established podcast hosting service. Its Audio Livestream feature allows you to run your session from your desktop or mobile device with up to five participants at a time. Listeners need Podbean’s free app to tune in, call into the show, and engage in the chatroom. You can publish episodes straight to Podbean after recording. 
  • Spreaker offers live podcasting through their app, available on desktop or mobile. It includes easy Skype integration and allows you to publish episodes directly to Spreaker. With a Publisher plan, you can broadcast live with no time limits and unlimited storage space.

Many of these platforms let you insert ads and jingles with the click of a button, allowing you to earn revenue while going live. If you plan to have them, be sure to include these ad segments in your planning process.

Hosting podcasts on social media 

You can also make live podcasts on larger social media platforms, including:

  • YouTube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • Zoom
  • Periscope (Twitter)

Most listeners are already active on one or more of these platforms, making it easy to tune in and spread the word. At the same time, social media platforms aren’t necessarily designed for podcasting. This can create problems when trying to repurpose your live podcast for later release. Whereas podcast-dedicated services, like Riverside or Podbean, make it easy to obtain audio files and publish podcast episodes.

Final thoughts

One last word of advice: Keep it real. Live podcasts are spontaneous. That’s what listeners love about them. Embrace it. A good live broadcast can push your show to new heights and tighten your bond with listeners. “Ultimately you want to have that connection with your community,” says Grünfeld.

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