Dear Friends At JapanesePod101
I found that most of your lessons have a bunch of idle chatter that can be minimized by making sure the lesson moves. I don't think that there should be a complete elimination of the idle chatter because the informal chat makes the lessons fun, however you have to make sure that there is more lesson and less banter.
I thought one of the best lessons I've heard was the Lower Intermediate Lesson 37 UG Phone Home. The people leading the lesson just kept moving along and it made the lesson efficient. Perhaps you guys can listen to it and set it as a type of standard.
I also don't know if you guys have heard of PopUpChinese, but those guys have a very informal method of teaching similar to JapanesePod101, but they are always focused on the lesson. In fact sometimes the person leading the lesson intervenes on the idle chatter and makes sure there is a drive to the end.