"I wish I had known ______ about podcasting when I started." F.I.T.B.!
February 18, 2020 5:25 PM   Subscribe

I teach test prep classes professionally, and I have just been put in charge of making a podcast about one of the tests I teach. Yay! I was a music major in college, so I do have some good experience doing sound engineering, and I have all the equipment and software I need. But I don't have any experience actually putting together a podcast, and I want to avoid screwing anything up royally. Anyone who has made a podcast, is there anything you wish you had known when you started? (Inside: a few specific things I've been wondering.)

Some examples of questions that have been kicking around in my head:
- Is there a sweet spot length for this type of podcast?
- What percent of the episode should include guests? (I could potentially bring on other teachers I work with, or maybe even scientists who study how we learn, that sort of thing.)
- Any legal issues to be aware of? I'm planning to just make all the music myself to avoid copyright issues there, but is there anything less obvious that I should still know about?
- Other stuff I haven't asked here that I should still know?
posted by rjacobs to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Imagine a series of slots. One for the introduction. One for the "Hello, I'm... For... Brought to you by Philco... This week... For more information...", one for the main interview, [one for each subsequent section], one for the "this has been... For... Brought to you by Philco... For more information..."

You produce a slot you put together the slots in an audio editor. Some slots can be laid down permanently, like music and timed to the music each recording. Others are set in time, so each feature interview is a certain length. There no requirement for how things work.

Copyrighting. Ask for permission before use. Fair use should be fair use. So aim for originality, find someone to do a short guitar or brass intro and outro.
posted by parmanparman at 10:17 PM on February 18, 2020

Hosting/publishing - are your employers arranging (and paying for) that? Or are you expected to be able to do that yourself? Do they have their own platform for publishing to, or that you're expected to integrate with?

Editing - even if you've done it before in the context of recorded music, if you're going to do it properly, it takes much, much longer than you expect it will. If you and your guests aren't experienced broadcasters, there's going to be a lot of dead air, fluffed answers, mumbling, umming and ah-ing, and that takes time to cut out.
posted by parm at 1:55 AM on February 19, 2020

Best answer: Industry wisdom is that under 30 minutes is now the ideal length.

Guests can be great! Pre-interview them a day or two before. Don't worry about them "wasting the good stuff." Think of it as practice. A guest who is a good talker but a subject-matter generalist will beat a mediocre talker expert. Go for for the story-tellers every time. The boss of a place usually isn't the best interview. You can't overdo guests. The alternatives are chatty banter, which isn't nearly as entertaining or as popular as the high-quantity podcast output would lead one to believe, or scripted essays, which take years to perfect.

The best podcasts are about someone else, not the hosts.

Absolutely do edit! Failure to do any editing is the main problem with most podcasts. For every minute of audio you'll have from two to five of editing depending on how much crosstalk there is.

Another common podcasting mistake is too much business at the top of the show. Move as much of the housekeeping - promos, reminders, previews, ads, etc. - until later in the show and instead start with your key content: your guest, your topic, your story. That hooks tour listeners right away.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:13 AM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

If you can spend time to read before the prep, you can't go wrong devouring Valerie Gellar's "Beyond Powerful Radio" (Amazon Link). Yes it has a radio focus, but there are little tip all the way through - 'tell listeners what emotion they will feel next, instead of what fact they will hear next' and the like are totally 100% transportable.
posted by ewan at 11:34 AM on February 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

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