Podcasting is the perfect way to get your voice heard, especially if you want to get into broadcasting; you only need a fairly recent mobile phone, a laptop and a good idea for a show. Olivia Humphreys gives us some tips on how to get started…
Set some boundaries
One of the advantages of podcasting is the freedom it offers. As Neil Denny of Little Atoms radio show points out, “Outlets like the BBC are constrained by rules, standards, balance etc. With podcasts, you have none of these worries. Embrace this freedom, do something interesting, and you will find an audience.”
Matt Hill, creator of rethinkdaily.co.uk and the Spark London Podcast, advises making your own rules: “Some of the best podcasts I've heard invent their own restrictions. The Hackney Podcast has been immensely successful across the world and it documents only seven square miles. Though I should say that having rules makes it more fun when you break them too.”
Make it raw, but not unlistenable
Another advantage of podcasting is how little equipment it takes to produce: aside from your phone and laptop, all you need is some free editing software (try Audacity, Myna or GarageBand). If you are able to spend some cash, Sarah Bates from London Fields Radio recommends the Zoom H4 recorder. Transom.org is a great place to learn about the technical side of audio production.
As Matt Hill notes, podcasts don't have to sound like they've been recorded in a professional studio. However, “it's important that they're recorded with care - stick to rooms with soft furnishings and avoid echoing rooms and hard surfaces like tables. If you're recording outside, find somewhere away from traffic (unless that's the point of course).”
If you’re making a speech-based podcast, consider using music beds and ambient noise to break up the piece and add variety. “These can help to bring life to podcasts that, without them, could sound a little static”, advises Sarah Bates.
As always, the best way to get your podcast heard is to just “keep mentioning it to everyone till you’re really sick of the sound of its name”, advises Alex Mee, Station Manager at Roundhouse Radio. But it also helps to tag your audio effectively; Matt Hill recommends “mentioning locations (Gloucester, school etc) and, just as important, themes and feelings: funny, sad, uplifting.”
For an extra boost, you can join forces with an organisation like the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, who are currently looking for podcast pitches. They will help you workshop your ideas and your finished podcast will be hosted on the Roundhouse Radio website. Get in touch with Alex Mee (Alexander.Mee@roundhouse.org.uk) to find out more.
Well-made podcasts do take time, so rather than starting an indefinite run, plan to release a series of 6 or so weekly podcasts then re-evaluate. Try and keep it regular – listeners like to know a podcast will come out on a certain day, and you might disappoint your growing fan base if you don’t make deadlines.
…While aiming high
If you plan to make an interview-based podcast, don’t be afraid to approach your ideal guest. Little Atoms has featured interviews with Jon Ronson, Adam Curtis, Ian McEwan and Brian Cox. Co-producer Neil Denny says “It’s surprisingly easy to find guests or interview subjects. Almost all of our previous guests have been contacted via the internet.”
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Roscoe Considers Recording a Podcast by Zoomar available by CC BY-NC 2.0 © 2008