Essential Ingredients for Creating a Number 1 Podcast

hand holding first place trophy

Whether for monetization through ad insertion or as a branded project, the essential ingredients of building a popular podcast are the same. In this video, Sound That BRANDS CEO Dave Beasing talks with someone who has overseen the creation of two #1 podcasts, Bonneville VP, Podcasting Sheryl Worsley.

Some of our favorite Sheryl quotes follow.

Great Stories

“What we’re looking for is a purpose behind telling a story. So, for example, the first season of COLD, it was the Susan Powell case file… One of the emergent themes that we noticed was that, Susan was not physically abused, but there were a lot of red flag warnings about nonphysical domestic abuse happening to her… She was emotionally battered.”  So at the end of each episode, we could warn people, “If you need domestic abuse resources, call that hotline, and if you are seeing these red flags in your life or in the life of a loved one, then please reach out for help.”

The Letter “is unlike any story that you’re going to find in the true crime category because yes, there’s a crime that happens, but that is only the beginning of the story.  The story really is about redemption, forgiveness, and the different pathways through grief. It’s a beautiful story, beautiful story.”

Great Storytellers

COLD producer and host Dave Cawley was KSL radio’s afternoon drive news anchor when he got his hands on the Susan Powell case files.  “It started to frustrate Dave because you cannot tell a satisfying story… in a minute and a half, and that’s about the time that the longest reports that we had on the radio in the format… To Bonneville’s credit, upper management caught (our) vision and said, ‘Hey, there’s, there’s something here and we’re going to put Dave on this full time.’ And eventually, the entirety of my time is, was focused on podcasting as well.”

“With the success of COLD, we were able to hire… four more producers.”


KSL’s ownership – Bonneville – owns strong local media brands in several cities.  They maximize the opportunity to promote new digital initiatives on their more traditional channels.  “If people are listening on a podcast, they’re probably not listening to you on the radio.”


Cue Ted Lasso.  Some may have thought that KSL Podcasts’ first #1 rated show, COLD, was unique, a unicorn, that “lightning cannot strike twice.”  Sheryl and her team have always believed it could.  “It’s been fantastic for us to… as a pod smaller podcast shop… do this on repeat. It’s a great vote of confidence in the KSL podcast team, and we’re thrilled to do that with our partner this time around, Lemonada.”