Do you, your students, or your organization want to start a podcast?

Aside from having a clear idea of what you want to podcast about, and what you as the host bring to that topic (qualifications, life experiences, comic relief, etc), podcasting is pretty simple, and revolves around three key considerations: storytelling, sound, and distribution. We have some general suggestions below for getting started, or you can hire the Dig Team to help you launch a podcast.

Storytelling

By storytelling we mean thinking about the format, and how to engage listeners. Is the podcast just going to be a disembodied voice ramble for 40 minutes uninterrupted? That’s probably going to be boring. Writing for the ear is different from writing an essay. The Poytner Institute self directed course may be useful for thinking about this. Or, listen to examples of other great podcasts, both indie – like Dig, of course, but also Let’s Be Legendary, The Dollop, Philosophize This, You Must Remember This – and institutionally-backed, like BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects, The Memory Palace, or StoryCorps. What do they do that makes their storytelling compelling and interesting enough to listen to? Are they highly produced with sound effects, music, or other editing magic that brings the audio story to life? If the narrator is reading a script (this is usually obvious – our reading voices, tone, and speed are generally different than our candid voices), are there intentional pauses, is the pacing too fast or too slow, does the story have a hook to draw you in, and enough detail to keep you listening? Are there multiple voices speaking? At Dig we frame every episode as a conversational back-and-forth, even though only one of us every writes an entire episode script, because we want the switch to a new voice to jar you back into listening. We recommend that you model your podcast on the format that you enjoy listening to.

Sound

For sound, every podcaster needs good audio quality. An external mic like the Blue Yeti or pretty much any USB mic in the $20-$70 range will work fine for an amateur podcaster. If you have access to a sound studio, all the better! In a pinch, use your Voice Memo app (or Android equivalent) on your phone to record – just never your computer’s microphone!

You also want your audio quality to translate into the final product, either through high production value (think of NPR stories that include music, an overarching narrator, interviews with several people, maybe some sound effects or clips from different kinds of audio recordings) or a light-touch editing – using software like Audacity (free), Soundtrap (free – when you sign up just don’t do the free trial for their paid version) or Hindenburg Journalist (free trial, $99 for a license). You want to cut out most of your mistakes and stumbles, but not your breathes or natural pauses. If you take these out, you’ll sound like someone put you on fast forward, and it is not very pleasant. You can find youtube tutorials for using Audacity and Soundtrap, and if you get Hindenburg, they have tutorials on their website. If you’re assigning this as a project for students, they may find Soundtrap the most familiar-looking tool to use – it very much resembles the editor in Tik Tok 🙂

Distribution

For distribution, you need a host. For hosting and possibly even recording, I would recommend Spotify‘s podcast hosting – it’s free, and super user friendly. Spotify obviously auto-distributes podcasts to Spotify, and if you want, you can submit your podcast RSS feed to Apple and to the Google Play store. And then – ta-da! – you’re a podcaster 🙂 

Looking for More Guidance?

Thinking you’d like us to lead a hands-on workshop in concept, recording, editing, and production of a podcast? Check out our rates below, and email us directly at hello [at] digpodcast [dot] org with your inquiry!

  • 4 hour in-person workshop for up to 15 people (includes basic start-up recording equipment): $1500 + expenses (like the 2022 OAH Workshop)
  • 1 hour virtual Q&A with a Dig podcast host: $100/host
  • 1 hour in-person Q&A with a Dig podcast host: $300/host + expenses