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Building a Podcast: A Blueprint for Easily Broadcasting Engaging Audio Content

By Natasha Estey posted 06-10-2022 12:19 AM

  


In March 2020, COVID-19 had arrived, and society was asked to effectively shut down. What that meant for The York School was the entire admissions process went virtual and every single touchpoint with families had to be re-imagined: creating a 3D school tour, hosting virtual open houses, conducting online assessments, and interviewing parents and prospective students via Zoom.

But we weren’t convinced these were enough to provide prospective families with a true sense for what sets The York School apart. So we opted to embrace the popularity of the podcast medium to develop YORK Talks, a series modelled after our successful YORK Talks presentations typically held on campus. We wanted to provide families with insights and content in a more intimate, digestible, and accessible format, and include a more diverse range of voices and perspectives. I jumped at the opportunity to connect with school leaders, educators, students, and parents in a more informal, conversational way.

The first thing I learned is you don’t need a lot of technology to make a podcast. I needed a laptop, an internet connection, and a relatively quiet place to record. I purchased Tascam TH-02 studio headphones (inexpensive) and a RODE NT-USB Mini microphone (also inexpensive). All-in, I spent roughly $210 CAD on equipment and $42 USD per month on services to record and post our podcasts. You could certainly spend more, but for our purposes and audience what we used was more than sufficient.

If you are a podcast aficionado, you’ll know that there are a number of different podcast “types” out there - monologue or solo podcasts, storytelling/investigative podcasts, theatrical or radio drama style podcasts, and so on. Some are entirely scripted while others can be way more off-the-cuff. I knew from the start that I wanted to take an “interview” or “panel” approach with one host/interviewer (me) and one or more guests on each episode. This required some scripting - an episode introduction, a line of questioning for the guest(s), and an episode outro. Sticking to this basic structure for each episode helped with planning and efficiency.

Each season, I have an overall focus, but then, for each episode, I need to figure out the topic, determine who the guest(s) should be, coordinate schedules, develop the question areas and share them ahead of time, do research on the topic and on my guest(s), write the intro, and then actually record the interview. There have been a handful of instances where I had to conduct two separate interviews and then splice them together on the back end. After the interview, I typically listen back and then write and separately record a short episode outro including some key take-aways and ways listeners could learn more.

It’s worth noting that I spend about seven hours per episode and our audio editor spends another five editing each.

After completing an interview, I use Zencastr’s post-production feature to create an MP3 file that combines all the audio tracks into one. I then upload this audio file into Otter.ai to get a transcript aligned to the recording. At this point, I put on my headphones and listen to the full interview with all its stops and starts and pauses and interruptions and develop an Edit Plan with instructions on when to start and stop.

The next step for me is to write and record a short outro. We tack the outro onto the end of the interview and overlay the same podcast outro music each time. After reviewing an MP3 file “first cut” of the episode, I either suggest changes or if none are necessary, upload the audio file to Buzzsprout as a new episode, add an episode description (or show notes), upload the same file to Otter.ai to get the transcript, clean it up, and then upload to Buzzsprout as a transcript of that episode. I click “publish” and the episode becomes live, showing up on all the directories within 24 hours.

Key take-aways

  • If I can build a podcast for families during the pandemic, anyone can!
  • All you need is a mic, laptop, headphones, a platform to record on, a platform to host your podcast on, music, a way to make a transcript quickly, and audio editing software. All-in this is likely about $210 CAD + $42 USD/month.
  • Once you decide what type of podcast you want to make, you just need to develop the content, book guests, record the episodes, and then produce them.
  • Get buy-in from leadership at your school. Enlist outside help if needed or tap into the talents of your colleagues.
  • Expect to invest at least 20-30 hours upfront setting everything up and plotting the season and be willing to invest 5-7 hours per episode as host/writer/producer and another 5-7 editing.
  • Have fun. Be curious. Feel inspired. And know that you are giving families access to your school and its people in a much more intimate and accessible format and including a more diverse range of voices and perspectives!

 



Natasha Estey
Junior School Enrolment Associate, Student Ambassador Programme Coordinator, Podcast Host
The York School
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09-04-2022 10:24 AM

Enjoyed this post. Thanks, Natasha!