It’s a good idea to accurately tag your podcast if it contains explicit content, but what does that mean exactly? Unless you never venture beyond ‘PG’ type material, you’ve probably seen the explicit tag on a podcast episode before. It gives a similar message as the sticker on Kanye CDs. Listener beware! Here’s how to set your podcast’s content rating.

In short, it’s better to give listeners a heads up if either the content or the language on your show is R-rated than give them a shock and potentially traumatize their children. The podcast rating system isn’t an exact science — Apple created it to set parental control settings as accurately as possible. But most podcast platforms have followed Apple’s lead in allowing hosts to let their audience know if a podcast is explicit.

What is Explicit?

When you are uploading your podcast, you’ll see an option to select a rating. You can choose either clean or explicit for your show, but deciding where to draw the line can be tricky. Some content clearly falls down on the explicit side. This includes sexual content, gory subject matter, or that f-bomb your guest dropped unexpectedly. But there are also likely to be shows where you’re not 100% sure which category they fit into.

As a general rule, though, if you can’t honestly say that all the content in an episode is PG-rated and very unlikely to offend, then it’s better to warn listeners that particular episodes will contain adult content. You also need to understand that the clean label has a very specific meaning, i.e., squeaky sparking school friendly clean. If you decide to tag your podcast as clean, be aware that there are some very differing views about what clean means.

Bleeping Out Swear Words

What if an episode of your podcast is suitable for all audiences apart from that one swear word that slipped out? If you can’t remove colorful language in the editing process, you can consider bleeping one or two uses out, but look at your show holistically before making that call. You want to maintain your listeners’ trust, which includes not including material in your show that doesn’t fit the general feel of the podcast. If your show is generally PG-rated, try not to throw in an R-rated episode without tagging it as such, or your regular listeners might be in for an unwelcome surprise.

It’s even possible that a guest let a swear word slip by accident and doesn’t like the idea of having that reflecting on their personal or professional image. They may request that you remove the section entirely.

Is Rating Your Podcast Compulsory?

Actually, it’s not, but it is good practice. The challenge with current guidelines is that they weren’t designed for podcasts. Therefore, they aren’t clear guidelines to determine whether your show is clean or explicit. Remember, you don’t have to label the whole podcast series as explicit. Instead, you can just add the rating to particular episodes if you’re worried about something specific. There is no obligation to label your show, but it’s a helpful guide for both new and regular listeners. It gives them an idea of what kind of content they can expect.

If your podcast features explicit content on the regular, you may want to set the whole series as explicit. In this case, there’s no need to set your podcast’s content rating for individual episodes. Any new or existing listeners will be aware of what they may encounter.

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