Can I Swear On My Podcast?

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As podcasting is becoming more and more mainstream, one question that I see pop up on podcasting forums again and again is whether or not they can swear in their episodes. The short answer is yes. But there are a few things to consider before you let the F-bombs fly.

And before we go any further, I just want to clarify that this article is not about the debate of whether you should swear or not. That’s an entirely different (and very big!) debate. This article is purely focusing on the question as to whether or not you CAN swear on your podcast.

What do you count as a swear word?

This is a great question to start off with. After all, what might be profanity for someone is just another word for another. Does anyone else remember the outrage when Ron Weasley uttered the words ‘bloody hell’ in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Parents everywhere seemed divided. Some didn’t see the problem whilst others were genuinely outraged that a main character was swearing in a film rated PG.

The dictionary definition of a swear word is:

A word of a kind used to express anger or other strong emotion and regarded as coarse, blasphemous, or otherwise unacceptable in polite or formal speech.

Of course, this definition is quite wide, so there is a need to consider your audience and what might be considered as a swear word to them.

Remember that access to swear words and what is deemed appropriate for different audiences can vary by country, age, religion, culture, and so many other factors.

For example, in Britain, there are a lot of words that you likely won’t hear on tv until after the watershed at 9 pm. In contrast, when I was in Australia, I was surprised at the language on tv in the middle of the day.

Know your audience

When it comes to swearing in your podcast, the first thing you need to consider is your audience. Who are they, and what kind of content are they looking for?

If you have a family-friendly podcast, then swearing might not be appropriate. But if you have a podcast aimed at adults who enjoy a certain level of edginess, then you might be able to get away with it.

But, I would say that swearing doesn’t normally bring much to a conversation, so don’t force yourself to use swear words if they don’t come naturally to you.

Be authentic

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to be authentic in your podcast. If you are the kind of person who swears a lot in your everyday life, then it could be OK to include that in your podcast.

But if swearing isn’t natural for you, then it might come across as forced. Remember, the key to a successful podcast is building trust with your audience.

Mark explicit content

If you do decide to swear in your podcast, make sure you mark your episodes as having explicit content. This is important because it lets your audience know what to expect and can help you avoid any potential problems down the road.

Contrary to popular belief, marking your podcast or your podcast episodes as ‘explicit’ does not mean that Apple Podcasts (or indeed any other podcast directory) will treat your podcast any differently. The only thing that will happen is that the podcast directory will prevent those from accessing your episodes if their settings restrict podcast episodes marked with ‘explicit’ on them. However, this is exactly the same as how certain films and tv shows can’t be accessed on a kid’s Netflix account.

I’ve heard of some podcasters being reluctant to mark their episodes as having ‘explicit’ content in them. However, I would rather do this and build trust with my audience, than have complaints coming in that someone heard language that offended them.

And Apple Podcasts support this view stating that they want to provide a ‘trusted experience for listeners.’ It’s also worth noting that Apple Podcasts will censor your titles and meta-data automatically to ensure that inappropriate wording doesn’t get shown. Apple Podcasts also states that it will remove any content that they feel is misleading; for example, if you don’t mark your content as being explicit when it is.

A note on having guests on your podcast/guesting on podcasts

As we’ve said, people take very different views on swearing. Therefore, whenever I have guests on my shows, I like to say from the outset that I don’t mind if they swear. Some guests immediately reassure me that this isn’t something they’d do anyway; whilst others are relieved that they don’t need to watch their language whilst we’re chatting.

When having a guest on your podcast, or guesting on another podcast, I’d recommend the following:

  • Tell guests before you start recording if you mind swear words being used or not. If you don’t allow swear words, explain what you do if swearing occurs (i.e. do you bleep the word or edit it out?).
  • If you’re guesting on someone else’s show, before you start recording, ask if they mind you swearing or not. Knowing from the outset what is deemed acceptable for that show won’t have you being nervous that you’re going to say the wrong thing.

Overview of swearing in your podcast

Can I swear in my podcast?

Yes, you can swear in your podcast.

Should I consider my audience before swearing in my podcast?

Yes, you should consider if your audience is okay with swear words in your podcast or not.

Should I mark my podcast episode as explicit if it includes swear words?

Yes, it’s important to mark your episodes as explicit if they include swear words to inform your audience.

Will my podcast get deranked or downgraded if I mark it as explicit?

There is no evidence to suggest that marking your podcast as explicit will lead to any downgrading or deranking.

What should I do if I’m uncomfortable with swearing in my podcast?

Don’t feel obligated to swear in your podcast if it’s not your natural inclination. It’s important to be authentic and comfortable with the content you put out there.

Should I mark my episodes as explicit even if I’m not sure if they include swear words?

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you are unsure if an episode includes swear words, in my opinion, it’s best to mark it as explicit.

Conclusion

In the end, whether or not you swear in your podcast is up to you. Just be sure you know your audience, stay true to yourself, and mark explicit content. And remember, the most important thing is building trust with your listeners.

Picture of Verity Sangan

Verity Sangan

Hey there! I'm Verity, Registered Nurse turned Podcast Host, Launch Strategist, and Coach. I love all things podcasting and am passionate about getting more women find their voice through podcasts. Host: The Lazy Girl's Guide to Podcasting & The Confident CEO Podcast

About Me

Verity Sangan

Hi! I’m Verity; host of The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Podcasting. I’m a mum of 2, a Harry Potter nerd, Star Wars geek, and spend my days lecturing in health and social care, or talking about podcasting. Read more >>

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