by Mark Hall – 15th November, 2019
I’ve recorded and produced many different podcasts in our west London studio, and it now seems that there isn’t anything you can’t ‘pod’ about. From doctors to dogs, fashion to food and make-up to music, we really have heard it all.
A podcast is loosely defined as ‘an episodic series of digital audio files that can be downloaded on demand in order to listen’. I think we’ll stick to the short version – ‘pod’!
So what is this article all about? Well, I wanted to share some thoughts on the best ways to conceive your pod and bring it to life. We deal with many clients who have a great idea, but no idea… of how to bring their subject to life!
Of course with digital technology you really can record your podcast anywhere, on anything (but not a toaster). The question is, will anybody actually have the patience to listen as the traffic roars past or a plane flies overhead? More and more people listen on personal devices such as phones or tablets with headphones or small speakers. Therefore the number one item on my list of things to check when recording your podcast is that the listener can clearly hear what you’re saying. (Up to this point we didn’t have a list so I guess we should create one!) Here are a few more ‘must achieve’ items when forming your ideas for a podcast.
- What is my style; serious, comedic, informational, entertaining? You have a point to put across, so what style is going to be at the heart of your pod.
- How will I bring my podcast to life? Do I need music? Sound effects? Guests? We record podcasts with many and multiple guests in our soundproof booth, which gives clarity of sound and creates an environment where people are happy to chat.
- What will happen if I make a mistake? And what if I want to have different guests at different times? Can I interview them on the phone or Skype, or is there a better alternative? (The chances are that if you manage to sort out an interview with Tim Cook at Apple he’ll go into a local studio that will connect to us via ISDN – a high-quality digital line which will make it sound as if your guests are in the studio with you.)
- Will my podcast be a fixed series – for example six episodes per series – or ongoing, like a soap ‘continuing series’.
Recently I’ve been working on a brand new pod for the sustainable lifestyle brand Rêve En Vert, and I thought it might be helpful to use this as an example of how working with an experienced production team can bring your idea to life. And, like our client, how you can achieve over 500 downloads for the very first episode – simply brilliant!
Rêve En Vert wanted to make a series of podcasts highlighting how we can still consume, but consume sustainably. They had lined up some great guests and wanted to spend 45 minutes interviewing them in the studio, and after each one we’d create a nice tight edit. The client wasn’t sure how to make the podcast stand out – they wanted to add a theme tune, but it needed to be classy and clean. We worked with our team of talented composers to produce a simple theme to introduce the podcast, so that as soon as you hear the music you know exactly what you are listening to. This is very simple but highly effective branding – giving the podcast identity.
The advantage of recording in a studio is that you can stop and start as required. For this podcast we record the interview, lift some clips out to include in the intro and then, finally, record this intro and an outro. We do it this way because it’s usually better recording these sections once you know what’s coming, thus enabling you to promote ahead, or ‘tease’. So at this point in the process we have:
- theme music
- an into plus clips of the interview
- the main interview content
- and finally, an outro
Now comes what we do best – we pull all of this together and produce a polished and professional sounding podcast, with the aim being to deliver a quality product that you could happily broadcast on the radio. You can listen to REV On Air here.
So the above is all well and good, but of course there are exceptions! Recently I made a podcast in the style of a pirate radio show. The brief was to be rough and ready, and not to sound too over-produced. Now,’not over-produced’ is very different to an amateurish mess, which is very easy to achieve! Even for this podcast we did a lot of planning, created some short IDs and jingles, and recorded a large amount of content. A few edits later and we had a rough and ready sounding podcast that was a great deal of fun to create and listen to. In 2019 I think you’d say this pod was woke!
So to sum it all up, it’s clear that there are many ways to make a podcast. Even if you don’t have much studio experience, with an idea and passion it’s really easy to be coached into producing something that you’ll be thrilled with. If you have a story you want to bring to life but you’re not sure how, why not get in touch with us? We can help you add ideas, give you recording suggestions, and most importantly provide the technology and knowledge to make sure it sounds professional and polished. We make coffee too! That’s not so woke, and we won’t be offended if you stop off at the nearby Starbucks on the way! Either way though, we hope to see you soon.
To find out more about creating your podcast, go to: radiofacilities.com/podcasts.
Mark Hall is an experience radio producer and sound designer, and he currently works with Radio Facilites producing and creating podcasts.