Podcasting

earbuds

A podcast is a recorded digitally recorded audio file that can be downloaded or streamed for listening. Podcast content is as varied as the hosts who produce them. They can be long or short, serious interviews, parodies, groundbreaking research or stories that last for 5 minutes or 15 episodes. As class assignments, podcasts are usually created by students or pairs of students on a general topic selected by the professor. Podcasting helps hone research and interview skills and integrates layered and nuanced storytelling.

Research

Researching for podcast is a lot like researching for a traditional research paper in many ways, but there are a couple things to do that give your podcast life.

Find people to interview

Depending on the goal of your podcast there are many different people you might interview. Find an expert in the field to help explain your topic. Talk to people effected by the topic to create a narrative. Get a person on the street opinions to show a variety of viewpoints. Podcast with a friend to create a relaxed conversational atmosphere.

Get help with preparing for your interview.

Think about the soundtrack 

Think about how music sets the tone. What kind of music will you want. Try a few different styles of music and see how that effects your story. What other kinds of sound might you want to capture if you interview someone where they work or live? Where else could you go to collect sounds that tell your story?

There are many free resources to find music and ambient noises to enhance your story.

Write

Interview Questions

  • Write out a list of questions to ask, but leave room for the questions that pop up during the conversation.
  • Make sure you get the quotes you need.
  • Ask them to answer without the jargon.
  • Ask open ended questions rather than yes/no questions
  • If your going to ask a political questions or offer critiques, be aware of wording and save for the end.

The Podcast

  • Even a conversation style podcast should have a roadmap or outline.
  • Transcribe your interviews with a tool like otter.ai. Not only will you have a written transcript, but it will also have time codes to help you easily find your best quotes.
  • Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself or re-enforce a point in a new voice. 
  • Be aware of the tone you are setting.

Interview Tips

Be Clear About Your Intentions for the Podcast
When contacting a potential interviewee, be clear about the goals of the podcast. “I would like to interview you because….” Also, let them know the types of questions you will be asking. Make sure you are talking to the right person.

Send a Pre-Interview Email
Let them know how you will record your interview, who is the audience, how much of their time you need, and how they would like to be referred to (pronouns, title, level of formality). 

Get Permission
Send them a Podcast Release Form, which gives you permission to share their interview with the public. Have it signed and returned before the interview.

Know, but ask questions like you don’t
Research your topic and your interviewee, but drill down for the basics in your questions. Your listeners probably don’t know. That’s why they are listening.

Expert or Storyteller?
Are you looking for a soundbite from an expert in the field, or someone to bring humanity to your story? You might want no background noise for a statistical fact, but the sounds of the a person’s surroundings for a richer narrative in a story.

Minimize Distractions
Turn off alerts, close the door, put away the food, and have a pen and paper in place for notes.

Prepare

Audacity is an open-source, free audio recording and editing software, for both Mac and PC. Create and edit multiple tracks. 

GarageBand is a free, Mac-only program. GarageBand comes with built-in sound effects libraries and audio loops. The interface is a bit more finished than Audacity, but the tools are essentially the same.

On campus

Everything you need to get the highest quality recording possible is available for checkout in the Digital Resource Center. There are even, quiet Editing Suites set up for audio and video editing.

Snoball microphone

Snoball microphone

Headphones

Headphones

Lavalier Microphone

Lavalier Microphone

Tascam Recorder

Tascam Recorder

At Home

One of the great things about podcasting, is that you don’t need to have special equipment to make one. You can use the record feature on your phone or use the mp3 file from a Zoom recording.

Studio Recording
Find a quiet place to record. If you are on campus, the Digital Resource Center has Editing Suites for you to use. There is also a Whisper Booth in the Interdisciplinary Media Lab on the 4th Floor of the Humanities Building.

Learning remotely? Recording from your closet can simulate a recording booth.

In the Field
Sometimes you might want to record someone where they live and work. Make sure to test your levels before you begin to make sure your can still hear the interviewee.

Record

  • Find a quiet place

  • Check equipment and recording levels

  • Relax!

  • Keep water nearby

  • Know what you what to say

  • Limit ums

  • If you misspeak, leave a pause and restart your line

Edit

  • Remember to save often

Publish

  • Check in with your faculty member about how to turn in the podcast
  • Remember–you can choose where else to publish!

Anchor.fm is a free hosting and distribution site. You can also record directly on site and take advantage of its free audio clips.

Make your own webpage using Google Sites. You can easily link your podcasts stored in Google Drive to your site.

Resources

Sound Effects

  • Creative Commons
    Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a globally-accessible public commons of knowledge and culture. Learn about use, resources, and citations.

  • BBC SoundEffects 
    The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license. No need to make an account for these free downloads.

  • Freesound.org 
    Freesound aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, etc. released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse.

  • Free Music Archive
    The Free Music Archive is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU.

  • Internet Archive
    Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.

  • Library of Congress
    Resources have detailed copyright information associated with their records. Many historic speeches, songs, and other recordings are available for use.

Making a great podcast

  • NPR Podcast Guide
    An excellent guide that will lead you through creating a podcast, from getting your ideas together to production.

  • Transom
    Transom provides tips and techniques on recording and podcasting. It also showcases stories, with “making of” commentary.

  • Medium
    Interviews with podcasters talking about their process. Medium also works with Anchor, a free hosting service to help you publish your podcasts.

  • The Bello Collective
    The Bello Collective is a newsletter & publication about audio storytelling and the podcast industry.