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How to Produce a Weekly Podcast

Lesson 2 of 8

Why Are You Making a Podcast?

Alexandra DiPalma

How to Produce a Weekly Podcast

Alexandra DiPalma

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Lesson Info

2. Why Are You Making a Podcast?


  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

Why Are You Making a Podcast?

We're gonna start chapter one, why are you guys making a podcast. I can assume that everyone here has aspirations of making a podcast. And I assume that you guys have all asked yourselves why you're making it but I think there are a few good questions to begin with when we're talking about this and thinking about why your project needs to be in the world and what it's gonna add. First I would love to hear from some people. I don't know, I think this might have gotten covered in the last session but I am curious to know what people's favorite podcasts are. And why, and why. [Red-Headed Woman] The "and why" threw me. (audience laughing) (laughs) Nevermind. I'm a total musical theater geek and I'm also a big purveyor of self-discovery and one of my favorite podcasts is the Hamilcast produced by Gillian Pensavalle funded through Patreon. And she has members of the Hamilton cast, Hamilton dressers, production staff, and now she's actually had Lin and David Korins and Alex Lacamoire an...

d everybody come over to her living room, make them a drink, and talk to them. And so what I love about them or what I love about her podcast is it's just really real. It's a conversation. It's not constructed. It's totally her fangirling out and she has what she calls #teamnochill, that she has no chill about all of the fact that this is awesome. But I just love that genuine authenticity of her doing the thing that she loved. I can't wait to listen to it. That's a really good reason to like it too. [Red-Headed Woman] It's so awesome. That's great to start with. Does anyone want to add a favorite podcast and why? Yeah, back here, oh, or right here, yeah. I have two that come to mind right away. One is called Mission to Zyxx which is-- Oh yes, I've heard of this. Hilarious. It's sort of a fakey science fiction comedy. It's very funny, and My Dad Wrote a Porno. (audience laughing) I thought you were telling me that your dad did. (laughs) I'm like (laughs) okay. (laughs) I know that podcast though, yes. So the thing I love about all of them is the cast work together. They just sound like they're having a blast making it. One has virtually no sound effects, the latter. It's just one of the hosts, his dad actually wrote a porno and then he and his friends get together and read it every week. And it's, I mean it's terrible writing, shocking. That is so funny. It's hilarious. And the other one has lots of really interesting, fun sound effects. They're just, they're both just really creative and really fun. I love them. Those are great. Yeah, go ahead. [Woman Off Camera] My favorite podcast right now is called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It's a couple of chaplains and they're breaking down everything in the Harry Potter books. It's kind of like for fans who have reread and, you know, read and reread the books but they take what they call the sacred practices from different traditions, Jewish, Christianity, and then they apply those ways of analyzing the text to Harry Potter and different chapters. So they look for themes, they come up with all these like meaningful ways of understanding the text. And they also bless their favorite characters every episode. That's, I love that. That sounds very niche, like that's a very good example of a niche podcast in a good way. Like I love niche podcasts. I think those are some of the best. So I bring this up and I love hearing these answers because I think thinking about what your favorite podcasts are when you're launching your project, it's great to think of what elements of those shows you can somehow incorporate into your own or it's not gonna be every part of that show that you can put into your show and duplicate that but there are elements of like My Dad Wrote a Porno. Maybe the comedy of it. Maybe the sense of fun that they have during that. Or maybe like yours for instance, like the niche aspect of it. There are elements of your favorite shows that you can then translate and try to incorporate into the show that you're building. And it's really helpful, I think, to think of that stuff from the very beginning of launching the project. So at the very beginning when you're thinking of your concept, when you're thinking of what you wanna do, think of those shows. Think of the best shows that you guys enjoy and figure out how to incorporate that into your own. This is crazy to me. This number is probably low by now because this was from, I think I pulled it like a month or two ago. There's more than half a million podcasts. I mean we all know that there's a huge amount of podcasts. Just how many always shocks me, though. And so figuring out why you're making one and how it'll be different is really important, especially in this landscape right now. So during my class with Seth. I encourage you guys. If your not familiar with Seth Godin's work, he's an amazing writer, marketing genius. He's kind of like, he's written I think like 25 bestselling books on the spread of ideas in our culture. And when we were teaching our students this summer, the class I was mentioning to you, this is a quote that he was telling our students when they were first coming up with their projects for the summer because each student over the summer came up with a, the first day of class they kind of came up with a concept for their podcast. And this I think once you realize that what makes your podcast truly and unique and original is you, the question then becomes how do you put more you into your podcast. So the thing that's gonna set your podcast apart from everyone else's is you and what your personality, your expertise, your perspective, all of those things are things that we all have that incorporating those into our podcast is gonna make it special and it's gonna make it stand out. And it's gonna make it easier for you guys to produce. Sometimes I get hired to produce some podcasts and sometimes I get hired to produce really business-heavy shows and it's really hard for me to kind of adapt into creating a business-related show. But for something like Food 4 Thot, that's like of my interest level and so it's much easier to produce weekly content if you're familiar with it and if you already know it. So these are three things that I think we all have as I was saying. Everyone has these. If you look into yourself you have a unique perspective. You have a unique expertise or a unique personality. And these are things that can be translated into your show. And this is something to think about when you're thinking of the content for your show. So these are examples of podcasts to me with a unique perspective. This is the logo for Food 4 Thot. This is the podcast that. Also follow us on Instagram. Our Instagram is gay sluts who read. And basically it's a roundtable discussion wherein a multiracial mix of queer writers talk about sex, relationships, race, identity, what we like to read, and who we like to read. That's our little tagline. So the reason that I think this is an example of unique perspectives, these are the hosts, multiracial queer writers all based in Brooklyn. Each of them is a different kind of writer. Tommy is a poet, an Indigenous American poet. Joe is a science writer. Fran is an essayist, and Dennis is a fiction writer. So every episode their unique perspectives, I know that they're all writers but still they have unique perspectives as writers and just as people of course. And so all of our conversations are informed by their perspective. So an example of that, we recently did an episode. This was kind of in the wake of the controversy surrounding Scarlett Johansson playing a trans woman in a movie and how that kind of wasn't okay. There were a lot of (laughs). Not kind of, it just wasn't. So there were a lot of people talking about that. Our episode, we translated a little bit into the literary world in the sense of who could tell whose stories. There was a lot of controversy in the writing world of when is it okay for like a white writer to speak in a black character's voice or when is it okay for a non-indigenous writer to write about indigenous issues. Their perspective, the host perspective on those matters and their experiences allowed them to approach that conversation in a way that a lot of other podcasts didn't. And so focusing on that I think and figuring out what makes your perspective unique and interesting and that maybe other people can learn from is a good starting point for your content. At the same time this, oh, so these are some of the tweets that we got after that episode, basically just people saying this discussion helped me to think about that issue. It gave me a new perspective. It made me think about my own privilege and my own writing and my own community in ways that I might not have. So it's really obviously satisfying when you're producing a weekly podcast to kind of get engagement like that. But I think definitely capitalizing on your perspective helps people learn new things from your show. This is an example of a podcast. It's Rise Together, is the name of the podcast. It's these two, it's a married couple, Rachel and Dave Hollis. Their podcast is about relationships and how you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves. I'm using this example because you don't necessarily need to be Indigenous American queer poet in order to have a unique perspective. They use their perspective as a married couple, they use their experience as a married couple to relate to other people who are, like they talk about that from their perspective. And so they aren't experts on this, you know. They are just people who they're a straight married couple, happily married couple. So it doesn't have to be something that's really rare in order to have a perspective that you can then turn into content. That's them (laughs), they have marriage tips. And people really like it. They found this great podcast about relationships, Rachel and Dave. I mean they just talk about their marriage and talk to other people. So I think there's actually a course on this specific thing later in the week about turning your expertise into a podcast and I am excited to tune into that as well. These examples are, so another thing that you can do when you're developing a project is figuring out what your expertise is and how you can then translate that into audio and put that into a podcast. So Seth's podcast, Akimbo, this is the tagline. It's very vague and I encourage you to tune in. The episodes kind of like defy an easy explanation. But it's a podcast about our culture and how we can chance it, about seeing what's happening and choosing to do something. So Seth is, his expertise, I mean he has expertise that no one in the world has. He's speaking all over the world. He has written all these books as I mentioned. He's a marketing genius. So when he approaches certain conversations he has an authority that his expertise allows him to kind of, it just makes it, it makes it more valuable to the listener. So a podcast, an episode that really stuck with me when I was editing it with him, he had a podcast episode recently. It was called Shun the Non-Believers and it was him. It was like a 20-minute, well all of his episodes are just like him on mic. So it was basically, the sentiment of it was like don't listen to what the haters have to say. Don't listen to your critics whether you're an entrepreneur, whether you're starting a business, whether you're starting a new podcast. Don't read those iTunes reviews that are like this podcast sucks. Don't listen to those because they have no value. That sounds like something that could be an empty platitude, you know what I mean, like that's something that people tell you all the time. But when you hear something like that from Seth who's an expert and who has found success by ignoring the haters, by doing exactly what he's talking about, it makes it more valuable and it's something that listeners can really relate to and actually believe, you know, because me saying that would be different than somebody who has all this success and has learned from that. So he uses his expertise in that way. Another podcast that I love, this is called, it's called You Must Remember This. I don't know if anyone has heard You Must Remember This in here. It's a podcast about the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood's first century. That's how the host always says it. The host is a woman named Karina Longworth. This is her. She's an author and a critic and a Hollywood film historian. She has an expertise that very few people have. She's written books and books and books on the history of Hollywood, on really deep stories that nobody would know. She did a 15-episode series on the dramas that happened at MGM Studios over the course of 50 years and it was fascinating. It was like things that you would never even imagine. It was better than fiction. And there's really nobody else who can do that. There's nobody else with that knowledge so she uses that expertise to make a podcast and it's another one of those wildly successful podcasts. I mean she is always in the top of iTunes. She has gotten other book deals from it. And so she figured out that that expertise could then be translated into audio. Finally, personality. This is, I mean personality is such a classic example of something we of course all have. We all have a personality. By being you, that's your personality. And podcasts are a really great way to showcase your personality. So I think it's always referenced, podcasting is referenced as such an intimate medium because you put in your headphones and people are talking to you. So as a podcast host or as a podcast producer showcasing the personality of the people on the podcast I think is really important and it's something that listeners and fans really connect to. So does anyone listen to The Daily from the New York Times? Yeah, I mean it's like, it's very essential listening, I think. It's just, it's a daily podcast covering the news of the day and it features conversations with New York Times journalists. And the host of The Daily is a guy names Michael Barbaro. He was a print journalist. He had never hosted a podcast before in his life and his personality on the show has developed like a cult following. He's just a really, he's kind of a chill guy who's just having a conversation with the journalists who are on. It's very opposite of Brian Williams, like NPR newscaster voice of God type thing. And so his personality, and I've definitely, I've read articles where Michael Barbaro was like I am so shocked every time I go on Twitter and people are talking about how much they love my personality and how funny I am because he doesn't, he's funny in a way that he doesn't think he's funny. And so his personality, they allow him instead of really scripting him really heavily they allow his personality to shine through. And I also like this example because his personality isn't like some big shining star, charming. He's not like a huge personality. He's just kind of a regular guy but he lets that shine through and leans into his quirkiness and people love it. And especially with this is a daily podcast but when you produce a weekly podcast those people are spending time with you every, like every, Food 4 Thot is release every Sunday. Every Sunday people are tweeting at us like this is part of my Sunday routine. I have my Monday morning podcasts. You become part of somebody's routine and people feel like they get to know you. Another personality who I love is Jonathan Van Ness whose podcast, Getting Curious, is basically him allegedly knowing nothing about a topic and talking to an expert on it and just talking for 45 minute and learning. The one I listened to most recently was what's the deal with the Armenian genocide and he had a professor on who was an expert on the Armenian genocide and talked for 45 minutes about it and I learned so much. And his personality, obviously he got a big boost from being on Queer Eye and he kind of became like an iconic personality. He had a podcast prior to that for a couple years and it only really blew up once he was on Queer Eye. But he has such an amazing and funny and weird personality and he really lets that shine through on the show and that's why it's so popular. So figuring out when you're sitting down and planning your show and figuring out what you want your show to sound like and to be, identifying these things in yourself and what you want to capitalize on and what you wanna showcase I think is a really great start. So once we've done that, once we've figured out what makes us special and what we want to include in our podcast you can start thinking about the framework of your show and exactly what the concept you want to be because it's easy to kind of have all these ideas for a podcast and not figure out how to exactly put them into a show format. And so figuring out your structure is really helpful. These are questions. I've definitely launched projects on my own but I also, I think anyone who works in podcasting as a producer, since podcasting is so popular I'm approached a lot from people saying I really wanna start a podcast. How can I do it? These are questions I ask pretty much everyone that I'm talking to who wants to start a podcast to ask themselves. And again, this is gonna inform the content and it's gonna inform how you approach your show. So when you are making your podcast who are you trying to reach? Who do you want your audience to be? Who do you want to have listening to your show? The second one, why are you uniquely suited to make this podcast, is related to what we just talked about but worth putting on the list anyway. Definitely can't gloss that over. Third, what resources will you need? So when you're thinking of the kind of podcast you wanna create think of how, is it multiple hosts, are there a lot of people, is there a lot of sound design, is it gonna take a lot of editing. In the very beginning you can kind of think of what resources you'll need for your podcast. We're gonna get more into this in this presentation but also much more deeply in other sessions this week because the resources and the equipment is a big deal but worth considering. And finally this is the one that people, I find, forget to ask themselves a lot, is what is success gonna look like for this project. So when you're done creating your podcast or when you have your podcast episodes out in the world, what will it look like for you to be successful? And so the problem is that, well not the problem but sometimes people don't really dig deep in the beginning and think about their goals and that's when I find people who are making podcasts or producing podcasts from scratch, they end up being disappointed because maybe their goals either weren't realistic or they didn't produce it in order to match up with their goals. So for instance are you making a podcast just because you wanna have fun and have a creative endeavor and do a passion project? That's really how we started Food 4 Thot. And so some podcasts that get successful can be started from passion projects and just from having fun. But if that's an approach that you're taking, if you just wanna have fun and make something with your friends, it's gonna require a lot fewer resources. You don't necessarily need to book a studio and you don't need to become an expert in editing if the whole purpose is just kind of like let's do this and be creative. Do you wanna make money and do you wanna have audience and reach and notoriety? That's a whole other story and that's something where it's like you need to very much focus on having it sound polished and you need to focus on marketing and you need to focus on a lot more stuff than just making the podcast because a lot of times. And actually this is a controversy with Fran. He would know this. So Fran who's the person who markets Food 4 Thot always says to us that making the podcast is like 25% of the work. The people who make the podcast, we're always like I don't know if it's 25%. I think it's more. But and then the marketing of it and getting an audience is like 75% of the work and in a lot of ways that's true. So if you want audience, reach, and notoriety you have to really plan on marketing your podcast and getting it out there. So I suggest that everyone kind of sits down and takes a look at your goals and thinking like at the end of my first season or at the end of my first couple episodes what will make me happy and what will I consider a success. And then you can kind of go from there.

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.