How to make your evergreen podcasts topical using DAI

(Or “how to acknowledge COVID-19 without making all your episodes about COVID-19”)

. 3 min read

(Or “how to acknowledge COVID-19 without making all your episodes about COVID-19”)

Many of the podcasts we make at Pacific Content are evergreen by design. We aim to tell stories that will be relevant and valuable today, next month… and next year.

Why? Because it pays off. An investment in high-quality audio means evergreen episodes can continue to pay download dividends well into the future.

But during a global pandemic, it can feel weird to release regularly scheduled episodes that aren’t related to COVID-19. On one hand, we see a large and understandable appetite for coronavirus-related audio. On the other hand, some listeners want a distraction, an escape, a respite.

There’s an inherent tension at play here: evergreen vs. topical.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard that tension reflected in client questions:

  • “Should we do a special COVID-19 episode?”
  • “Should we delay the release of our next season?”
  • “Will we sound tone-deaf if we release our regularly scheduled episodes?”

Here’s the good news: it’s not an either/or decision.

Your show can be both topical and evergreen. Timely and timeless.

How? Here’s one way.

Dynamic ad insertion: not just for ads

DAI stands for dynamic ad insertion. But ads are simply one type of audio that DAI tools can insert. As Brad Smith wrote last month when introducing Simplecast’s dynamic audio tools :

Simplecast’s Moveable Audio Engine (MAE, pronounced just like May) allows publishers to dynamically deliver advertisements and host-read content, a personalized show opening for a geographic region, or back catalog promotions to first-time listeners. We don’t call it DAI because, well, it is becoming so much more.

Podcast publishers can use dynamic audio tools to add topical messages to their otherwise evergreen episodes.

Here’s an example: Choiceology with Katy Milkman is a pretty evergreen show. Each episode is designed to have a long shelf life, and most episodes don’t directly cover the news of the day. That said, the entire Choiceology team felt weird releasing regular episodes without acknowledging COVID-19.

So, we used Simplecast’s dynamic audio capabilities to insert a topical pre-roll message from Katy at the beginning of every episode this season:

If you hit play in April 2020, you should hear a topical preroll from Katy Milkman. If you hit play some time in the distant future, I hope we’ll have removed the preroll.

Here’s what she says:

Hi everyone, it’s Katy Milkman here. Before diving into our show as usual, I just wanted to let you know that the whole team working on Choiceology and at Charles Schwab shares your concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

Here in Philadelphia, as in many major cities, we’re staying home and practicing social distancing to help contain the spread of the virus, just as we’ve been advised to do by health authorities. Even though we’re working remotely, we’re moving forward with the production and release of our regularly scheduled shows this season. And we’re doing that in the hopes that new Choiceology episodes will bring you a welcome source of entertainment and enrichment during this difficult time.

Of course, in addition to the human toll of this outbreak, it’s also affecting the economy and markets. If you’d like to read expert perspectives on those implications, you can find Schwab’s analysis and commentary at

OK, please stay safe and well. And a big shout out to the amazing health care workers on the front lines of this fight. Now on to our show…

Dell Technologies took a similar approach with Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson:

Depending on when you hit play, you may hear a preroll from Walter Isaacson in this episode

To my ears, these messages from Katy and Walter are clear, honest, and human. They take evergreen shows and offer topical context, and an invitation to think about something other than a global pandemic for a few minutes.


  • Listeners hire podcasts to do different jobs. Some want to stay up-to-date on the news. Some want to be distracted. Many want both.
  • Podcasts can be super-topical (e.g. Today, Explained), evergreen (e.g. Hardcore History), or both
  • Don’t let the “A” in DAI limit your creativity. Dynamic ad insertion can be used for much more than advertising.

How has your podcast changed in light of COVID-19?

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