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This question came from a listener named Brandon. He asked, “What is the best way to ask a friend to leave a podcast and still remain friends?”

This is a great question, although a really hard one. What should you do when your co-host just isn’t working out? How should you handle it?

Highlights, Takeaways & Quick Wins

  • Have a conversation with your co-host, don’t discuss the problems or fire them through text or email.
  • If you’re at the point of wanting to kick someone off your podcast, it means you’ve already made the mistake of not setting clear expectations up front.
  • Work to help your co-host improve; don’t kick them out the door before you’ve exhausted every option.
  • No one is perfect. No one gets everything right the first time. Be willing to work with your co-host to help them improve their weak points.

Show Notes

  • 2:57 Why do you want to fire your co-host? What are the reasons? You need to identify the issues and write them down. Make sure you fully understand what your frustrations are and what you’d like them to do differently.
  • 3:16 Talk it over with a few trusted friends. Make sure that you’re thinking straight and that your arguments make sense.
  • 3:29 When you’re ready to discuss the problems with your co-host, have an informal chat instead of just sending them the list of things they’re doing wrong.

Have a conversation with your co-host, don’t discuss the problems or fire them through text or email.

  • 4:02 When you do have the conversation, start by talking about your goals for the show. Are they still aligned? Does your friend or co-host remember the reason they wanted to do the podcast in the first place?

Set Expectations In the Beginning

  • 4:25 Setting expectations before you start is key. Have conversations about everything; length of shows, the focus of podcast, goals, expectations, sponsors, audience interaction, brand, commitment, consistency, and so on. Have in-depth conversations about all these things before you start to make sure you and your co-host are on the same page.

If you’re at the point of wanting to kick someone off your podcast, it means you’ve already made the mistake of not setting clear expectations up front.

  • 5:12 Get all of these things in writing. That way, you have a document (even if it’s just an email) that you can refer back to later if there are any questions about expectations that were set and agreed to in the beginning.

Who Runs This Podcast? Who’s the Boss?

  • 5:25 Podcasts rarely have truly equal partners. Someone usually holds more power or authority. If you are in a situation where you are trying to be equal partners, maybe you should consider talking about who should have that 51% power (either you or your co-host).
  • 5:51 If you aren’t sure who is in charge, think about who is taking the lead. Who handles the admin work? Who runs the website? Who’s in charge?
  • 5:58 If it’s you, then you can fire your co-host or ask them to leave. If it’s not you, then you might be put in a position where you’ll have to leave the podcast.

Always Try to Fix the Problems First

  • 6:16 Approach your co-host with respect and an open mind. Highlight the good things they bring to the show. Talk about the ways that they are contributing, then talk about what you’d like them to do differently. Discuss the problems with them and give them a chance to change.

Work to help your co-host improve; don’t kick them out the door before you’ve exhausted every option.

  • 6:37 Remember, this probably isn’t going to be a pleasant experience for your co-host. No one likes being told they are doing something wrong or being a disappointment in some way.

What are the Qualities of a Bad Co-host?

  • 7:00 So what are some bad qualities to have as a podcast co-host? Here are a few:
    • Their views and values are different than the stated values of the show
    • They’re rude to you or audience members
    • They’re inconsistent (they don’t show up on time for recordings)
    • They won’t help prepare for episodes (being unprepared)
    • They don’t really care about doing a good show, they’re un-interested in success
    • They’re really bad at talking (tons of umms, stammers, and other bad verbal ticks)
    • They aren’t interested in providing value to the audience, they’re not focused on what the audience needs

What are the Qualities of a Good Co-host?

  • 8:11 The qualities of a good co-host are pretty much the opposite of the bad qualities:
    • They helps with the workload
    • They show up on time
    • They are excited about the show, they promote the show
    • They invest time preparing for episodes
    • They stay true to the intended purpose of the podcast; they don’t get off track or discuss things the audience wouldn’t be interested in

Your Audience Will Notice How You Handle Firing a Co-host

  • 8:30 You might think when it comes to firing your co-host that it’s not a big deal, but your actions are going to impact your audience too, and how they perceive you. Your audience will notice the change and the way you handle the situation.

Listen to seanwes podcast 22: Staying True to Your Target Audience & Delivering Value

  • 9:01 I mentioned at the beginning of the show that I left a podcast once. I was the original co-host of the seanwes podcast, but I stepped down after 21 episodes. Sean McCabe recorded episode 22 after we had the discussion about my role in the seanwes podcast which led to me deciding to leave the show. I re-listened to that episode this morning and it still stands as a fantastic example of how to explain to your audience that a co-host is leaving the show.
  • 10:08 In episode 22, Sean revisited the original stated purpose of the show, and explains how I was consistently taking the show off track by conflating all the topics to my career in music, rather than staying focused on the stated purpose of the show, which was business as it relates to design.
  • 10:25 I have to give Sean major props for the way he handled the situation. He got me to agree that my goals weren’t aligned with the goals of the show, and that even though there was nothing wrong with my goals, I wasn’t going to be a good fit for the show moving forward unless I was willing to put aside my needs to better serve the audience’s needs. I wasn’t, so I agreed that it would be better for me to step down. In a way, he was able to get me to talk myself into leaving, which worked out best for everyone.
  • 11:19 To this day, I still have a lot of respect for Sean and how he approached that situation. He didn’t come to me and say, “Hey, some of the listeners are complaining, and you suck at podcasting”. He said, “Would you be willing to make this change in order to better serve the needs of our audience?” He handled the situation with kindness and grace, and we remain great friends to this day even though I chose to leave the show.

Focus on Making the Show Better

  • 12:30 If you’re thinking about asking your co-host to leave, I urge you to keep the focus on doing whatever it takes to make the show better. Be brave enough to present the problem to your co-host and ask them if they’re willing to work on it. Be patient enough to help them and work with them to make the podcast better for both of you as well as the audience.

No one is perfect. No one gets everything right the first time. Be willing to work with your co-host to help them improve their weak points.

Q&A:

  • 16:32 Anonymous asked: What if your co-host is your wife?
  • 16:40 It comes back to why. Do they seem disinterested? Is their heart not in it? Are they just doing it to make you happy? Does it seem like they aren’t really enjoying it anymore? If you suspect these things, you need to sit down and have a conversation. Maybe there’s something she’d rather be doing with her time. Ask her.