Podcasts have been taking the world by storm, it’s no secret. But what exactly goes into making these portable audio stories that nearly a third of the population listens to? Well, as the Podcast Manager for KTSW 89.9, the official radio station of Texas State University, I feel I’m a tad qualified to speak on the matter.
First Things First
Before you can even begin thinking about recording and editing your audio, you need a very clear plan in mind. In fact, I would suggest building an entire template for your podcast and then filling it in as you go along. You also need a clear definition of your topic. What is your podcast going to be about? What makes your podcast different than the 550,000 podcasts already being made? How can you make someone want to listen to your podcast?
Every podcast needs a good intro. That hook that leaves the listener wanting to hear more. A good intro should do 3 things:
- Introduce what you’re doing, explain why it’s interesting
- Introduce who you are, and why you’re qualified to speak about whatever your topic is
- Grab the listeners attention, leave them wanting more
If the intro of your podcast isn’t interesting, who can tell if the rest of your podcast is either? Why should the listener stay?
All the Middle Bits
So you’ve successfully done your intro, hurray! Now you have to do the entire rest of your podcast. But don’t fret! If you built yourself template in the earlier stages, you can just fill it in bit by bit so it’s not so overwhelming. So what do you put in your template? Well, it depends. What’s your podcast about? A good way to start off is sharing interview/story audio (like for instance, a clip of the crowd shouting at a protest) and then fading into yourself explaining the situation, or explaining what that audio means. (This is done fairly often in Serial.) You also need to do this in a way that keeps the story interesting. Fade in music when things get particularly suspenseful, use SFX when you’re mentioning something that makes a noise (ex: planes flying overhead).
Tell your story. Make sure it’s not confusing, and that all the loose ends are tied up, or that just the right number of ends are left untied so your listeners can follow the story in the next episode. Don’t ramble, and don’t venture too far from the main plot. Everything you say in the podcast should have a purpose (even if it’s just to add some comedy).
Listen to your finished product multiple times. Decide which audio to put where – whatever can enhance the story more. Ask for feedback, if your story isn’t interesting, adjust. Content creators tend to get a little protective over their projects, and refuse to listen to criticism because of how hard they worked. Don’t. Do. That. Listen to what your listeners are telling you. Your podcast is not for you, it’s for your listeners.