- Corey Coates
- Jessica Rhodes
- Dave Jackson
- Daniel J. Lewis
- Geoff Woods
Welcome to the Creative Studio, where we conduct experiments with podcasting. We are in the middle of our fourth season, where we are talking about narrative podcasting. If you’re new to the show, I’d recommend going back to the first episode of this season because each episode builds on the previous one – at least to some extent.
We’ve already looked at:
- What a narrative podcast is and whether you should do this format or not
- The overall workflow or roadmap of a narrative podcast
- The planning and preparation that needs to go into a successful narrative
In this episode, we will be looking specifically at the recording aspect.
Jessica Rhodes and Corey Coates are the hosts of The Podcast Producers podcast. They are conducting interviews for their second season (which is almost over), but for the first season, they did a narrative or documentary style.
- 4 – Guests are the spotlight
- 1 – Looking for sound bites
- 6 – Interviews not meant to be raw and uncut
- 2 – Doesn’t have to be perfect questions
- 7 – Let the guest talk
- 5 – Allow the guest to tell the story
- 3 – Shut up after asking the question
- 8 – Best stuff after 15-20 minutes
Jessica Rhodes is also the founder of Interview Connections, a service that connects podcasters with guests. She also provides a lot of great information and resources for interviewing. One resource is a video series called Rock the Podcast from Both Sides of the Mic. This can help you with being both a host and a guest. Check it out at InterviewConnections.tv.
Besides having interview skills and techniques to get the content you need, an important aspect of interviewing is having a way to record the content. There are several ways that you can record.
One popular way is using Skype with a Skype-recorder. You just speak with the guest and the software can record the conversation for you, usually splitting your side from theirs. This makes it easier for editing later. This is how I did most of the interviews for this series.
I also used my cell phone with Corey Coates. I had my phone hooked up to my mixer so that both sides of the conversation could be recorded into my digital recorder. If your guest has the right equipment, you could speak over the phone and each of you can record on your own side separately. This is called a double-ender.
Another method that you use is in person interviews. For this a portable digital recorder is really helpful. Dave Jackson even uses his iPhone’s recording software.
- 9 – Digital recorder ready
Daniel J. Lewis also talks about using a digital recorder, but he emphasizes the importance of getting good quality audio – at least quality that is good enough. He has some great tips.
- 10 – Clear spoken word
- 11 – Microphone techniques
- 12 – Contrast in audio
Geoff Woods records a lot of audio for his podcast, The Mentee. It started as a personal mission to build passive income after his income got slashed by 40%. He sought out people that were already doing the things he wanted and had conversations with them.
- 13 – Record everything you can
- 14 – You won’t use everything
So when it comes to creating a narrative podcast, you need to do the preparation beforehand, like we mentioned in the previous episodes. When you’re prepared, you’ll have a better idea of where you’re heading.
In “Out on the Wire,” Jessica Abel interviewed a lot of people. One of the people was Ira Glass from This American Life. They obviously create a lot of narrative and journalistic audio. In talking about pre-planning the story, he said:
“And if you want to make things that rare really special, sometimes you invent like a fiction writer, and then see if reality conforms to what you made up. And when it doesn’t, obviously you report what’s actually real.”
In other words, you try to think of what the story is and what people may say. You line it up before you conduct your interviews so you have an idea of what you need and where you’re going. When you are talking with people, that will guide you. But you’ll also find out the specific details and information. You’ll find out the parts where you guessed wrong. You’ll then adapt your prewritten story to what you actually get. It’s like working with a template – it won’t be perfect, but it makes it easier to adjust and put the story together later.
I wish I read this before I started this project – it would have made it easier. Although, I did do some of this in the pre-planning stage. I had an outline of 10 main topics I thought I wanted to cover. After doing the first few interviews, I realized that a couple of the topics were too close to be separated. I also discovered a couple other ideas I wanted to delve into more. So I adjusted my outline and continued with the other interviews. After the interviews, I went through all the audio and cut the pieces out and categorized them. Since I was mainly following the outline, it was fairly easy to separate them. But sometimes the conversation shifted or we jumped out of order. But at least there was a plan to start with.
In the next episode, we’ll be taking the next step, which is probably the most tedious part – the editing. If you remember back to episode 2 when we covered the roadmap, there are many edits involved in a well-produced narrative.
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Thank you very much, and I’ll talk to you soon. God bless!