Q&A with KYW Newsradio Journalist Matt Leon: Insights for PR Professionals on Working with Podcasts

By Annmarie Ely

Many subject matter experts shine when they’re given the opportunity to discuss their area of expertise in a long-form audio interview. Participating in a podcast can allow them to convey their excitement for the topic they’re discussing, and also share more detail about a subject than they might be able to in a typical TV segment or written article.

We interviewed Matt Leon, former host of the KYW Newsradio In Depth podcast, who shared valuable insights on what goes into creating a great podcast episode. On his podcast, he covers a variety of news topics that impact listeners’ everyday lives, ranging from trending issues in education, healthcare, and policy to mental health and wellness.

Thank you to Matt for taking the time to conduct this interview! You can explore KYW Newsradio’s podcasts here.

Can you briefly tell us about your background in journalism?

I graduated with a degree in Radio & TV from York College of Pennsylvania in 1996. I have worked at radio stations in Hanover and York PA; State College, PA; Jefferson City, MO; and KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia, PA since 2002. I am also a play-by-play sports broadcaster for the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University.

How long have you been involved in podcasts and what made you want to get into hosting and producing them?
I have been hosting and producing podcasts since 2019. But I really turned most of my attention to them during the pandemic in 2020. I enjoy being able to focus and do deep dives on many different topics, which is really what drew me to the idea of podcasts.

Can you share examples of successful collaborations or interactions you’ve had with PR reps?
I have had many great collaborations and interactions with PR reps. The best come from an understanding of what I’m looking for and the types of topics/ideas I like to pursue. Our work together at Delaware Valley University in Doylestown is one example.

As a PR professional, what are some things to keep in mind when working with a podcast? Are there any specific elements you look for in a podcast pitch?
I think from a PR professional standpoint, when it comes to pitching, know who you are dealing with. Understand what they look for, the type of guests they are interested in, and just as importantly, the type of topics and guests they won’t be interested in.

For example, we were recently pitched a story about the dangers of solitary confinement and a lawsuit looking to end it in Pennsylvania. It resonated because it is an incredibly important topic, but one that not a lot of people know a lot about or understand. It was also pitched with a guest we had worked with before and we knew was very familiar with the material. All of those things made it very appealing and easy for us to say yes.

What makes someone a good podcast guest? What do the most engaging guests bring to an episode?
The best podcast guests have a passion for the topic they are talking about. That makes for a great conversation and a great experience for the listener.

As for what makes a podcast guest interesting, someone who is able to get their ideas and points across in a concise, engaging manner is important. A great guest also has the understanding and ability to have a back and forth conversation with the host on the topic (instead of being scripted) and is able to think on their feet.