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How to Produce a Weekly Podcast

Lesson 4 of 8

Developing Your Sound

Alexandra DiPalma

How to Produce a Weekly Podcast

Alexandra DiPalma

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Lesson Info

4. Developing Your Sound


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:03:47
4 Developing Your Sound Duration:13:58
5 Developing a Workflow Duration:06:39
6 Booking Guests Duration:03:40
7 Recommended Equipment Duration:01:54
8 Final Q&A Duration:11:55

Lesson Info

Developing Your Sound

So once you figure out what you want your format to be, and what you think is the best format for you and for your show, it's really important to focus on creating a signature sound. So what will make your podcast sound different than the other ones out there? And there are a bunch of ways to do that. The first, the ways to make your show sound like your show, the first one is music choices. So, when you first turn on a podcast I think you can kind of tell a lot about the show from the music that is playing, so the intro music is pretty important. The transitional elements are important. That's the, I'm not even talking necessarily sound design, it's kind of just like what you hear as the vibe of the show once you start. Signature segments, so kind of recurring segments that you have each week on your show, are another really good way to get fans familiar with the show, to have people following along. From a production standpoint they're really helpful, I'll get into that. The introduc...

tion of your podcast is every week, since it's like a weekly podcast, it's kind of like when you're binging a Netflix series, or like any kind of series, and you hear, it's like a title sequence, basically. It's like you want it to kind of be fresh every week, so we're gonna talk a little bit about how to do that. There are a lot of resources for picking music. The first one is kind of like, you can essentially just Google free music library, there's a bunch of different free music libraries that feature music that doesn't require licensing, and so you can kind of just spend, I have spent so many hours on those free music library sites, listening through and trying to pick which songs will be best for the podcast. We found the intro music to Food 4 Thot in this free music library. There's definitely good stuff in there, it just takes a lot of combing through. Another way to do it, you guys are all aspiring podcasters so I'm assuming you have kind of a creative network, you can ask musician friends. I think it's really fun to kind of see if your friends will let you use their music, or like find people who can maybe do music for you, for free ideally. You can also, so Seth with Akimbo, Seth knew he had like a very specific vision of having an upright bass play the theme music, so he just went on YouTube, and kind of searched upright bass players, and found one that he liked and like DM'd them and sent them some money to get the licensing for that song. So that's another way to kind of make it unique. I mean, I think since free music libraries are so big it's not much of a risk that people are gonna be using the same sound, but if you want something very specific you can maybe hit people up on SoundCloud or YouTube. If you're a musician yourself, you can maybe compose your own music. I had a student over the summer who is a violinist, a classical violinist, and she composed her own theme music and it came out really nicely and nobody else has that. I'm gonna play you an example. So this is, so I produce a podcast called Junk with my friend Tommy Pico who's also a cohost of Food 4 Thot, and that was a total, we did not care if anyone listened to it, we made it over the summer, it was really fun, we had a great time, we went back and forth for so many hours trying to figure out what the theme song was gonna be, and we realized we both have this mutual friend in a band called Downtown Boys, and we hit up Downtown Boys and they let us use a cover of a Selena song for the intro and it actually related a lot to the podcast. Tommy's like a punk guy so he really liked it. This is what it sounded like. ("Fotos Y Recuerdos" by the Downtown Boys) (Tommy laughing) Wipeout! I'm Tommy Pico, and this is Junk. A talk that talk interview podcast wherein I ask a treasure trove of cultural luminaries about the relics, keepsakes, and rando baubles in their apartments, sussing out the stories of their junk. (audience laughing) So that was the song, and it just fit really perfectly for the podcast, and kind of, that was such a, that was a project where it's like we just get excited when we hear that song so that worked for that. So I encourage you to find something that will excite you and make you happy when you edit it every single week. The signature segments, these are segments basically that, a lot of podcasts have a segment that recurs each week that people get used to and follow and learn to love. As a producer that's really helpful from a weekly production standpoint because it's kind of like you already know what you need to prepare for, and you can kind of bank a few ideas for these recurring segments. So it helps you a lot with workflow and content planning. The Read is a show on a network called The Loud Speakers Network, it's amazing. This is one of the shows I mentioned that it's like these are the hosts, Crissles and Kid Fury, and they for two to two and a half hours every single week, just like talk. Again, not to minimize their preparation but it's essentially like a conversation that they have. They have a signature segment, a segment that they have every week called Black Excellence, and it's basically every week they pick a figure in the black community who they think is doing amazing work that they wanna highlight, that they wanna shine a light on, and people definitely look forward to that segment and expect to hear that segment and people just, it's like something that people really respond to well and love. So figuring out, I mean, we know we've like shouted them back out for giving them like a Black Excellence thing. On Food 4 Thot we have a menu that we do each week, and the menu includes, it's the Amuse Bouche, the appetizer segment, Thot Process, spelled T-H-O-T, and Dessert. So basically all of our shows we fill out those segments. The Amuse Bouche, we have a game that we play every week, they call it their iconic game, it's swipe left/swipe right as in Tinder, Grinder stuff. And basically I'll just play a segment of it. So we're gonna start the top of this show the way any good top should with a little tease, (Dennis laughs) our uproarious appetizer segment, Amuse Bouche, and to amuse your bouches today, Fran's got a little game, Fran is gonna be game master, dom daddy top, yeah. Ohh, yes! It's more power than he deserves, to be honest. Honestly yeah, (Dennis laughs) The leather cap goes to his head. So today we're playing our signature game, swipe right/swipe left. If you don't know how this game works, what is wrong with you? (all laugh) Like why are you here? You clearly are here for the free rose and the chips and salsa, it's fine. But it is a game wherein we swipe left or swipe right, as in a certain dating app, on certain cultural forms, like things that we might like or dislike, and we have a consensus, we throw down. First on this list, toe rings. (Tommy laughs) It hurt to say that. Teebs? Yeah, this is Teebs, I'm gonna swipe left on that and its entire tradition in history. (all laugh) In perpetuity throughout the universe, yeah. It is a solid left, yes. Yeah, yeah, left. I'm swiping right. Oh my god! (all laugh) Fuck you, wow! Even though I have a whole issue with feet, I'm swiping right on toe rings. Dennis, I feel like you would love to like, hook up with the white guy with dreadlocks and toe rings. Oh my God! Oh I totally would! Nooo! Oh my God, you're kryptonite! Oh please! That would be so much fun! And then write about it. All right. Also I think just, Dennis likes adornment in general, right? I do. (all laugh) That's a very good point. I love jewelry. See, poet! So that game lasts like 10 to 15 minutes every episode, and it's just kind of like, I mean it's the amuse bouche, it's gets everyone warmed up for the show. And then typically it also serves our show in particular, a segment like this, 'cause it's like a really funny and entertaining segment, and we, part of our show is the thought process that I was talking about which is like the 40-minute chunk of our hour-long show, is typically about something more serious. So it's like that our goal of Food 4 Thot was kinda like blend highbrow / lowbrow kind of thing, and so different segments like this really allow you to do that. So the other way that you can make your show sound unique and like you, and especially week to week make it entertaining and fresh is working on your introduction. So this what I was mentioning where it's kind of like if you're binging a show, there's some shows that have really great title sequences and intro sequences that you don't fast forward every single time. I kind of think of an introduction like that. And so something weekly it's nice to be able to figure out ways to switch it up and kinda keep it fresh. So the way that Seth does this with Akimbo, and we kind of worked, we developed this after a few episodes, where, 'cause he had originally introduced it like, "Hey, it's Seth, and this is Akimbo", and then going into the episode, but instead we decided to do kind of a series of cold opens in order to drop people into the show and make it different each week. So I'm gonna play you two different cold opens. These are two different intros after the musical break, that's like another intro. One day, you may find yourself in a pet store looking for a pet for your teenage son or daughter, and you'll encounter the green iguana, an adorable little lizard that doesn't eat bugs or mice or anything that lives in cedar. It's an herbivore. They're not very expensive, and it's possible that you will buy a green iguana, not knowing that in several months, this adorable little lizard will be five feet long. Hey, it's Seth, and this is Akimbo. (funky upright bass music) If you had thoroughly read our shipping policies, you would see that it states that our shipping timeframe was four to six weeks as an estimate, and that it could take longer depending on the workload. This is all clearly stated. It is not an exact date. We cannot give customers an exact date as to when their items will be shipped because they are all handmade one at a time and obviously you have no idea what goes into making these items. We make packages and ship every order ourselves. The shop is not a warehouse. We do not pull products off a shelf and ship them out instantly. Restating our policies are all can we do for people that do not read them before ordering. Your seven week wait time is shortly past our estimated date, which is acceptable according to our stated timeframes. I will let the boss know that you do not approve of how he runs his business of 28 years. I'm sure he will be happy to respond to your email himself, and I'm sure you will not be happy with what he has to say. Hey, it's Seth, and this is Akimbo. (funky upright bass music) So don't you wanna know what those episodes are about? It's like those intros, he's really good at doing the cold opens, but I think cold opens are a really nice option for making sure that people want to keep listening, because it's so easy when you're listening to a podcast to kind of like either tune out or turn it off, so doing something that really draws people in at the beginning is really valuable. Another way to do it, you don't necessarily have to do a cold open and write something brand new every week. I think it's really worthwhile spending time at the beginning thinking about your intro copy. So the copy that you want to read each week, you can think of that and spend some time on it. So it's worth kind of like, I think of it like viewing it almost like a poet would write a poem. It's like every one of those words counts. It's helpful, Tommy Pico is a poet and he wrote the Food 4 Thot intro, so that was easy. But his intro, he basically performs it in a different style each week. He kind of like reads it off differently, he injects a little different riff or a different piece of humor, and he always says a different one liner in each of the intros. So there's a slight variation each week. This is an example of one. Five, four, three, two, one. (upbeat music) Welcome to Food 4 Thot, a podcast, gabfest, wherein a multi-racial mix of queer writers gather round the table to talk about sex, identity, culture, what we like to read, and how we like to read. (laughter) Food 4 Thot, if you can dish it, we can take it, (laughter) mostly because, we ain't got no gag reflex. Yeah! True though, true though, ain't a lie, ain't a lie. I'm Tommy Pico an indigenous American writer, Actually, screenwriter! And, hardest femme in American history. I'm Fran, I'm a writer, editor, and I will walk down the aisle to Dancing Queen by Abba. Thank you. Duh! I am Joseph Osmundson, scientist, non-fiction writer, human sobbing emoji, and I learned this month that everyone who wants to fuck me is apparently 18 to 22. Can some 30-year-olds please slide into my DMs? Oh my God, please! Don't pretend like you want any 30-year-olds, Joe, okay. And this is Dennis Norris the Second, and I'm a reader, writer, former figure skater, wannabe Olympic figure skater and closet never nude. Ohhhh! A bitch loves a jockstrap, okay? So every week they also have a different one-liner that they introduce themselves with. So it'll be like, so they just kind of keep it fresh. People have really responded to the intro, they basically at live shows they follow along with it, they sing it out loud. It's kind of like when people, it's just very much resonated with people, and people really have caught onto it. So that's something, if you're doing something week by week it's helpful to come up with intro that really resonates.

Class Description

Producing a podcast week after week can be a challenging and exhausting undertaking. Coming up with new ideas, creating a sustainable workflow, and keeping up with a hectic production schedule can suck all the fun out of your podcasting venture.

Audio producer and journalist Alexandra DiPalma will help you learn how to produce and publish your weekly podcast without taking the joy out of the process. She’ll cover everything from developing a show structure to booking guests to building your audience, so you can achieve your podcasting goals without losing your mind.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Overcome the obstacles of weekly content production.
  • Achieve high production quality in a tight turnaround period.
  • Develop a show structure, including recurring segments and formatting.
  • Conduct, record, and edit high-quality remote interviews.
  • Create a signature sound.
  • Use social media to promote each week.


Ladonna Armstrong

This was the first course I took on Podcasting and I am really glad I chose this one. It was just enough information to get me excited and take the leap! Thank you so much!


This was the first Creative Live course I've taken and it was such a clear and quick overview which has really motivated - thank you so much!

Nigel Rawlins

This is a fabulous, professional introduction to starting a serious podcast. Alexandra's expert knowledge shines through and well worth listening to.