Narrating and Interviewing

An aspect of podcasting that I was pleased to experience and that I feel would be helpful for me to discuss is narration and interviewing. These, for me, are the top two most important aspects of creating your own podcast, because honestly, this is going to be the bulk of what your are producing and what listeners will judge the show based upon mostly. Throwing in relevant sound effects, like a splash in the water, a bird’s shriek and the sound of its wings flapping as it flies off for instance if one’s podcast involves the subject of seabirds is important and will certainly add another level of interest and immersion for the listener. However, all the most wonderful sound effects and music overlays will sound hollow and soulless if the real content, the narration content and the subject content of the interviewees lacks in substance.

So what is this substance that I am referring? For my podcasts it was me talking or rather reading mostly a type of script. Sometimes it was detailed and I stuck to it verbatim. Other times I had some bullet points jotted down in my notebook and I would sort of freestyle with ideas I was certainly sure I would include about the subject matter since I was so familiar with it and use the notes as a reference to make sure that I had included all the subject matter I meant to. My podcasts were generally equal parts my narrations, in which I would highlight or outline what was going down on this episode after the show’s intro, and even certain segments were all only my voice with relevant sound effects overlaid and perhaps a clip of a song that sublimely illustrated the underlying point or message I was aiming toward delivering with the segment.

Narration is super important, the narration ought to suit the vibe of your show. If you are doing a pod about ghost stories, or one about stand up comedy, there should be a clear difference regarding the style of the narration. Obviously an eerie voice would fit better with the ghost story that on the comedy pod. For me, I found I operated best talking about things I was well versed in and that I had a good depth of knowledge. Find a person you are most comfortable talking with and that you could say anything too without feeling any judgement from or any taboos. If they aren’t available, try pretending someone like that is in the room with you. What kind of probing questions would they ask you to draw out from you your best speaking voice that is filled with emotion and passion. When I interviewed subjects I attempted to elicit the most information from them. Do not talk over your subject ever. Allow them to completely finish their thought or thoughts before you chime in with a follow up question. This is how the pros do it. You don’t want to hear your voice over the interviewees, ever. Once I was editing interviews I always deleted virtually all my voice from the segment, leaving in only the introduction and the outré. I think people want to hear their voice not the interviewers generally.  Here is a tip, humor plays very well for most audiences.

People like to feel engaged and rewarded when they are listening to your pod. Tossing in something genuinely funny or completely odd and relevant is a great device for this. My best recordings were done when I forgot about the microphone and the recording and spoke freely and with confidence. I noticed that when I tried to riff without another person in the room whom I could speak freely with things did not go as well as with a friend there that I could engage with only if to elicit the best possible narration from me in the pod. I would generally delete all my friend’s voice during editing so the only thing on the podcast was me being all fired up and going off about something I feel passionately about. When I am invigorated talking confidently with a peer or the illusion thereof in my pod, I found that I struck gold, podcastily speaking. Just start recording and let it go, you can always edit later and it is easy to get bogged down starting and stopping and often times things will be lost to history if you were not recording. So leave the recorder ON!  Be confident, be witty, and be edgy. Be very edgy. Big audiences don’t want to hear about safe, normal things, do they?  Push the limits, investigate,  get your viewpoints across in a way that is uniquely yours and no one else’s because uniqueness is the name of the game podcasting. Get your feet wet, and have fun doing it. It’s supposed to be fun and informative.

loathing
http://transom.org/2014/get-good-tape-sync/

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How to make good conversation

Good conversation is like pretty much anything else, if you try to hard to look for it, you’ll probably never find it. If you’re trying too hard to have a good conversation, then there’s no way you’ll have one, especially not one long enough to make a podcast. That’s what makes conversational podcasts so hard. If you run out of things to say, then you don’t have anything else. But even then, if you manage to come up with a 15 minute chat, it still might be rigid, boring, and unpleasant.

That’s why good conversation is important. Conversation isn’t like pizza or something, where even the worst is still pretty good. Bad conversation is just bad, and makes a podcast un-listenable. The first step is the right people. You can have good conversation with anyone, but the right people get the ball rolling a lot faster. Rapport with someone can come from years of friendship or just regular old chemistry with someone you just met, it really doesn’t matter. Good people also help you with being comfortable talking to someone about anything, which is the next step. You just have to say anything. You just have to say whatever it is your thinking about whatever it is you’re talking about, and you can’t be afraid to discuss or go too in depth on anything. If you have a thoughtful insight, you have to make it known, even if it does seem slightly off-topic or weird. Good discussion is often off-topic and weird. Things that come naturally are like that.

The topic of your discussion-based podcast is important sure, but if your conversation is good enough, you’ll find people like listening to it no matter what it is.

-Reese Hamilton

 

Olivia Cote Cookie Quest

Olivia Cote

Cookie Quest Reflection

I have learned a lot about creating podcasts during this class, and also techniques that will helped me with other classes during this semester and in the future as I further my education. During this class, I was a co host for four episodes of our podcast, Cookie Quest. This was a somewhat difficult topic for a podcast because there is not very much outright information on cookies, at least not enough to spend 20 minutes or more each episode talking about. That is where other techniques were necessary. We had to carry on banter between the three of us throughout the episode. Luckily, our humor and personalities meshed well together. Much of the time, we had to talk about other things that went on in our lives, in order for the audience to get to know us as people. This was important because as strangers, we had to make the audience care about what we had to say. In order for the audience to discover who we are, we had to go into detail about things like Reese’s unfortunate financial situation, his broken nose, my inability to stop eating cookie scraps to the point that I threw up, my unhealthy weekly snacking, and Mike’s scarring upbringing. I learned that it is important to hold nothing back during a conversational podcast, even if that meant poking fun at other hosts in good humor, or even making fun of yourself once in awhile. Listeners do not want to hear about superficial people talk about unrealistic lives, so humanizing myself through the truth was important. Another thing that was important was becoming close with my teammates Reese and Mike, because without the bond that we created we would not be able to talk about personal situations in a joking manner. Our teamwork and humor was an integral part of creating a fun environment for creating what seemed like an impossible task, talking for a total of almost two hours about cookies on a recording.

As a team, we faced many obstacles in creating these podcasts. Mike faced a serious medical problem during this semester, making it nearly impossible for him to meet with us in person. We overcame this by making sure that Reese and I attended almost every class in order to keep up with everyone else, and by calling Mike after class to catch him up. We maintained a group text and also had him with us over text, phone call, or Zencastr during our group work outside of class. Prior to recording a podcast, we called Mike to make sure we had everything in order. He used his outstanding leadership skills, experience with podcasting, and naturally great hosting skills to carry his weight in our group, despite his medical circumstances. I am very grateful for the relationship we built with each other and I feel I have gained two lasting friendships throughout this course. Reese and I spent countless hours together shopping for ingredients, baking cookies, walking home from class, and sitting in my room recording, preparing, and editing podcasts together. The bond that we formed helped us create funny and relaxed conversation during recording.

Because I was inexperienced with creating podcasts, my main job in the beginning was media. I created our logo using logomaker.com, our soundcloud account, and our logo, as well as descriptions for each. I followed my friends and family on twitter and tried to spread word of Cookie Quest using both twitter and Soundcloud. Everything I learned about making logos and social media accounts for a business venture other than myself are skills that I will carry with me throughout my careers later in life.

Eventually it came time for me to learn how to use Audacity to edit podcast. This took many hours but luckily Reese is a great teacher. I never realized how much attention to detail and grueling hours it takes to create a podcast worth listening to. You have to make sure everyone’s voices are as even as possible, edit out long pauses, create long pauses during recording to edit in a segment. When people talk over each other during recording, you have to drown out one voice and maximise the other. Background music is important and so is into and exit music, but I had no idea that you had to be careful of copyright prior to taking this class. There are so many little aspects that go into making a podcast that I was unaware of.

I used my new knowledge of how to use Audacity to make a podcast interview for my WRH333 class. After editing the third episode of CookieQuest with Reese, I learned enough to create a segment for another class and even teach others how to put their interviews into a podcast. This is just one instance of how this class has helped me grow as a student and as an individual.

Another way this class has helped me is by discovering podcasts in general. I has very little experience working with podcast, but almost as little experience listening to them prior to this class. Upon leaving class after thursday of week two, I approached Mike after class and asked how he listened to podcasts and which interested him. He gave me useful advice and that night when I drove home from campus I listened to TED talks and Serial. This opened my eyes to a whole new culture of podcasting, which I will continue to divulge in for years to come.

Between the time I spent attending class, baking, recording, and editing Cookie Quest, I feel that I have earned a good grade in the class. My team worked well together and although I was very hesitant about making a podcast about cookies, I think we did a decent job creating an entertaining show. I learned how to create a logo, soundcloud, twitter account, and how to edit a podcast. Most importantly however, I feel that I learned how to open up to a group of strangers, work with everyone’s schedule, and make a typically boring topic (cookies) a little more interesting. We tried to conquer the chocolate cookie, but ultimately found that it was unbeatable. All in all, we came half-circle with our cockiness and learned a lot about baking, podcasts, and each other in the process. I am proud of what we created, even if it was just a bunch of gross cookies.

 

Playing The Mysterious Role Player

the-unsolved-final-flyer

The Unsolved is a podcast bringing you murder, mischief, and mystery. I’m a guy who enjoys recreational basketball, has a guilty pleasure of listening to Maroon 5, and has a heart attack when a squirrel jumps in front of my car.

 

Throughout my life I’ve enjoyed talking about sports and music, not serial killers and conspiracy theories. So how did I end up talking about the nation’s clown epidemic, the history of the Eastern State Penitentiary, aliens, and Santa’s creepy bro Krampus while thoroughly enjoying all of it? I turned myself into a character on a podcast.

 

No, I don’t have a nickname on the show and there’s not a continuous storyline. What I mean when I refer to my character is that I turn into someone else when I’m telling every episode’s story. My voice gets deeper without thinking and now I read every line with the intention of scaring listeners so much that they can’t sleep. For the first episode, I was casually reading the transcript right off of the script. But after getting feedback from a class listening session calling my natural voice creepy, I knew I had to lock into my character by making my voice even creepier than usual and use that tool I have for the podcast’s advantage.

 

With the semester coming to an end, The Unsolved is on halt, and could be finished forever. Regardless of what happens next, I’ve learned that having a role in a podcast is important, helpful and really fun. I enjoyed editing the podcasts, but recording alongside co-producers Abby and Sadie has been an even better experience.

 

If you make a podcast, find your niche, whatever it is. For now, I’m going to keep being the creepy dude who tells scary stories.

By Bobby White

Listen here -> soundcloud.com/theunsolved

Don’t Forget to Promote!

What good is a podcast if no one hears it?

Making a podcast is a commitment, it takes a lot of time, energy, patience and teamwork. But all of that is worth it once you hear the end result. There is a large amount of pride that I would feel after every completed episode. Not just pride for myself, but pride for my teammates (and friends) who put a lot of work into making it perfect. I did not always host on every episode, but I still stayed involved and supported my fellow podcast team. It is an incredible feeling to create something yourself or with other people, and have it turn out better than you could have imaged. Especially when all three of you began the process with little to no experience in the field.

After we had our first two episodes completed and published onto SoundCloud, it was time to reach out to a larger audience. So far, just our small class and professor had listened to our podcast. Don’t get me wrong, they were (and continue to be) a great audience, but with all the hard work put into this we wanted more listeners.

Thus, The Unsolved Twitter account was created! I took on promoting our podcast through our Twitter account. The first two episodes were uploaded and tweeted out to our few followers. I sent out some tweets on our account to promote upcoming episodes and try and gain follower’s interests so they would listen when we published them. The problem was, we did not have enough followers at the time to really gain a fan-base.

I decided to search for other podcasts on Twitter, as well as, any and every account relating to crime, murder, mysteries or creepy things. I had no idea how to run a Twitter account that wasn’t my own personal one. I just tried somethings that I thought would work. Call it beginner’s luck if you will, but I saw great results.

Once we gained more followers, I would go onto accounts that followed us and look at their “followers” list. From there, I would go down the list and follow those accounts. I figured if they liked other creepy, mysterious twitter accounts, they might like our podcast. Once again, it worked! We continued to get more followers. I would be on our account at various times throughout the day just following accounts and promoting our podcast.

We currently have 290 Twitter followers, and the number continues to grow. This whole process has taught me that the podcast community is a big and friendly one. We have gotten shout-out tweets, people saying the love our show, and lots of support from all these people we don’t even know.

It just goes to show, hard work really does pay off.

Sadie Markley

Listen to our Spine-Chilling Episodes and Follow The Unsolved on Twitter

Little Details Can Make A Big Difference

Dylan Messerschmidt – Drunk History of the World

This may apply to the perfectionists more than anyone else, but to some degree, it still holds true for anyone that wants to make a good podcast. Like any other creative project, putting together a podcast usually involves starting out with the big picture of what one wants to accomplish, and then moves down into the details that may or may not get overlooked. The attention that those parts get generally depend on how important they seem to the podcast, but believe me when I say that most of the decisions you make, even the ones that don’t seem to matter, will have an effect on your end product. My advice would be to have at least one person work on thinking about everything that is being done and why. That goes for music choice, the amount of silence between clips, episode topics, where you’re recording, and so on.

For example, when Molly, Tom, and I recorded episode one, we all sat about two feet away from the microphone that was on a low table. It sounded okay, but I suggested putting it somewhere that it was closer to our faces, and when we did that for episode two, it sounded so much better. We also did this for our episode topics. We started by simply picking moments in history that interested us, but then we realized how much weird and interesting stuff from history was out there that no one knew about, and we started looking for that to do our shows. It made episodes more interesting and we had more fun making them.

Basically, try to listen closely to each episode and pick up on little things that you can do better. The big problems will be easy enough to spot. The hard to spot problems usually end up being things that no one notices when they’re done right, but when you start making a habit of stomping out little issues and tweaking stuff you were already doing well, it makes a world of difference in the long run.

For an extra challenge to all this, do a podcast involving alcohol consumption and try to keep all of this in mind.

Don’t force it

Making a podcast is a big commitment and anyone who goes into it wants it to be well received. This is where you may run into a problem. It is easy  to set expectations for what you want your podcast to be, that you may try to force it to happen without even realizing it. This can come when you want to be funny, want to interview someone, or when you are in the final stages of editing your work.

First, most people find comedic relief their go-to entertainment and it is often the first thing people worry about when posting something online. “Will they get my joke?” “Will this make them laugh?” The truth is, if your goal is to make others laugh, then it is going to have to feel effortless. Humor is not something you can make happen, because other people can see right through the falsity. Be patient, and the flow of the conversation should lead you right to the joke.

Second, you can not force an interview or a conversation for that matter. Sometimes talking to strangers, or even people you are working with for the first time can be uncomfortable for everyone involved, but it is important to remember that everyone in the room probably feels the same way. If you go into an interview hoping the conversation will go a certain way and it just doesn’t, then be okay with that. You cannot force something that was not meant to happen. When you start to push something that just is not working, it is going to sound just like that when you’re done; like it isn’t working. So, when that happens, go into the conversation with a “go with the flow” attitude, just let it take you where it needs to go, and you may be pleasantly surprised with the out come.

Lastly, yes, the editing process is the time to manipulate the audio, but that also means be careful. Sometimes you may expect your recording to have a certain theme or tone and you listen to it and it has become something else entirely. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because now you have the opportunity to make it into something even better. When editing be careful not to take so much out that you sound like a robot that cannot hold a conversation. It is important to leave some vocal cues, like you actually took a breath.

Overall, when creating a podcast, authenticity is the key. Listeners can tell when you are trying to force something to happen that just isn’t there. So, be patient and the rest will follow.

Best of luck in all your podcasting ventures.

-Kaitlin Brinker