Galit began the session by expressing that one of the hardest parts of starting a podcast is deciding on what to talk about and how to start it. She gave an abbreviated history of the genesis of the Ready Set Geek! Podcast when it began as an early morning radio show at Cal State Fullerton. After many failed attempts to get the podcast up and running, they decided to commit to the podcast as a second job, and, with that mindset, they were finally able to solidify their endeavor. Soon after, they saw others attempting to start their own podcasts and being stymied in the process. They decided to start the Geek Say What? network in response and provide assistance to other folks wanting to star their own podcast.
The first bit of advice the panel gave out was to encourage folks to talk about their passions, since that carries someone when they have nothing to say. Garrison underscored this by saying it helps when you reach a “blank” and that “when you talk about what you’re passionate about and incorporate it into your show, you will get more in-depth answers.”
JPG segued into structure of a podcast, the first being to decide on a length of one’s show (e.g., thirty minutes, an hour, greater than two hours). After this, one needs to decide if their format was a structured show, free form, or a hybrid of the two, and then the type of content, from review and critique, to opinion to performance. If guests are on the show, it needs to be decided if the format is a round table discussion, a panel, or a debate.
Galit brought up things to consider when building one’s team for a podcast. She suggested that one should know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and play to that, saying, “When you know what your weaknesses are, then you can find someone to close that gap.”
JPG chimed in that most podcasts fail due to not sticking with a schedule. For equipment, Jones suggested to start out cheap, such as using a smart phone or free apps, and then to upgrade one piece of equipment or software at a time as your podcast progresses. He said things to consider were how to store one’s audio, as in field recordings or on a computer, as well as editing software, such as Audacity, GarageBand, and Pro Tools. Finally, for platforms to publish a podcast, Garrison suggested such venues as YouTube and Soundcloud or even private web hosting. He suggested that after publishing a podcast you should link its RSS feed to iTunes and the like.
Galit moved on to talk about common pitfalls that occur during podcasting, such as talking over others, stumbling, and not finding that balance between listening and talking. She also underscored that since it is a podcast, listeners cannot see the podcasters’ facial expressions and hand gestures. One other practice she also discouraged was the usage of inside jokes, as listeners may not be privy to them. JPG’s suggestion to these foibles is to slow down and practice. Galit suggested that meetings occur between podcasts to discuss topics but also to give each other honest feedback. JPG encouraged the usage of the compliment sandwich.
During the Q&A session, one of the questions brought up was how to gain listeners. Garrison commented that this was the magic question, and his advice was to try and not be annoying. He suggested, early on, to only post about your podcast once a day on your personal social medias, while reserving the massive promotion on the podcast’s own dedicated social media pages. Galit suggested to release one’s first three podcasts at the same time while JPG stated that networking was your biggest tool; when you ask someone for help and they help you, share their stuff and help them right back.
*Photo credit: Nicholas Diak