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Media Creation Resources

Providing support for exploration and creation of new media forms such as animation, soundscapes, graphics design and digital video

Intro to Podcasting

Academic podcasts - defined as digital audio shows that listeners can stream or download and enjoy whenever they'd like - are steadily becoming a more accessible way to communicate lectures to students, share research with fellow academics, or explain your field to the general public. Although their popularity is mostly confined to the general public, podcasts are becoming increasingly more prominent in the academic world.

Podcasts come out in an episodic format, but the length between episodes in your own podcast is ultimately up to you. Common formats include weekly and monthly podcasts, as well as seasonal podcasts that go for 6-10 months throughout the year and then take a few months off before the next "season". This can prevent burnout and give you time to plan your season.

Calgarian Podcasts

UCalgary Podcasts

  • Choose UCalgary: A podcast dedicated to prospective UCalgary students to learn about the campus and everything that comes along with being a member of UCalgary. Features interviews with deans, professors and students.
  • Peer Review Podcast: An interview style podcast that follows the stories of UCalgary graduates, talking about life post-university and about their experiences at the university.
  • DInos Unfiltered: Interviewing UCalgary Dinos athletes about their season and their experiences on the team.
  • Veterinary Medicine Podcast: A podcast aimed at Vet. Med. students, teaching them course concepts and veterinary medicine techniques. 

Calgarian Podcasts

  • Ideas and Stuff: Described as a podcast about Calgary and the people that make our city great. A general interview style podcast about Calgarians and things going on in Calgary.
  • Calgary Linguistics Podcast: A series of podcasts interviewing members of Calgary linguistics, including current students, graduate students, faculty and alumni.
  • Common Ground Calgary: A co-hosted interview show, interviewing Calgarians to provide insight and context on current issues facing the city.
  • Groove Talk: A music-based podcast with a host who interviews musicians and people involved with the music industry in Calgary.

Creating Your Podcast

Finding Your Niche

The first step in creating your podcast is referred to as "Finding your Niche".

Finding your niche means deciding what you want your podcast to be; do you want to make a podcast that teaches people about history? Do you want to make a podcast interviewing various faculty members about their jobs? Most people go into podcasting with a vague idea of what they want to do, but they need to narrow down the scope. You want to have a subject broad enough that you can talk about at length with multiple episodes exploring different topics, but you still want to narrow down on a specific niche that sets you apart. For example, if you wanted to do a podcast about ancient mythology, it would be advisable to pick the mythos from one region (Greek, Norse, Roman, etc.) instead of trying to cover all the mythology from all ancient regions. This also makes your podcast stand out from other podcasts that may explore similar topics.

This isn't to say that you can't have a broad topic for your podcast. Many very successful podcasts have an incredibly broad scope. However, when starting out, it's easier to work with a smaller scope that you're passionate about to find your voice.

 

Identifying Your Audience

The next step is identifying who you're speaking to in your podcast. Most podcasts are aimed at a general audience, but academic podcasts can also be aimed at students, faculty, other academics in your field, or administration. Identifying your audience will help you narrow down your niche, as well as decide what kind of language should be used. A general audience requires general language, with definitions provided for any terms specific to your field. A podcast aimed at students might begin with more general language and move into more technical terms as the students learn. 

Many podcasters will create a "Listener persona" by envisioning their ideal listener. Is it Bob, a student in his first year of an undergraduate chemistry degree, or is it Dr. Smith, a tenured professor of inorganic chemistry at Harvard? Keeping your listener persona in mind when creating episodes will help keep things focused on relevant topics with the appropriate level of jargon. Think of questions such as: "Would Bob like this topic? Would he understand what I'm trying to tell him?"

 

Naming your Podcast

The key to naming your podcast is to pick a name that is broader than your subject, but still specific enough that audiences will be able to find it. A slightly broader title also gives you room to expand your niche when you feel ready. For example, a podcast interviewing hockey players called "Off the Ice" would be able to reasonably transition into interviewing coaches and referees, but a podcast titled "The Next Gretzky" would have much less wiggle room outside of the players.

Additionally, it is not advised to name your podcast after yourself unless you already have an audience. Otherwise, potential new listeners will just wonder who you are and move on to the next podcast.

Podcast Formats

There are numerous ways to format your podcast and it's really up to you which one you prefer. A big factor is who you want to be involved in the podcast: Do you intend to make it totally alone, have a steady group of co-hosts working together each time, or bring in different guests every episode? There are three main forms of podcasts: Solo, Co-Hosted, or Interview form.

 

Solo Podcasts

Solo podcasts are the simplest of the three. They consist of a single host, monologuing either alone or with clips / musical accompaniment. A solo podcast would be ideal for communicating a lecture to students or disseminating a research topic.

Pros

  • Easy to organize
  • Easiest to start off with
  • More creative control over the final product

Cons

  • Can be intimidating to talk uninterrupted into the microphone for extended periods of time
  • Nobody to fall back on or rely on if you are struggling to put out an episode

 

Co-Hosted Podcasts

Many extremely popular podcasts are in a co-hosted format. This means that you have two or more regular hosts working together. These co-hosts can be friends, colleagues or people on two sides of a debate. Many shows have two co-hosts but you can even have a larger group working in a round-table discussion. This format is ideal for disseminating group work or debating real-world issues.

Pros

  • It's easier to speak naturally with a co-host than by yourself when you're starting out
  • Less need for scripting and pre-preparing an episode
  • Good chemistry between co-hosts is fun for listeners

Cons

  • You need to coordinate time to record and work with your cohosts
  • Make sure you get along off-microphone as well - what do you do with the podcast if you get into a dispute?
  • Can get problematic if your podcast begins generating revenue. Do you go for a 50/50 income split? Does someone do the editing and deserve more?

 

Interview Podcasts

An interview podcast has one or more regular hosts, supplemented by different guest hosts brought on each episode. This format works well for variety shows that want to show off different opinions, different fields of research or different innovators.

Pros

  • Interesting, varied format
  • You get to meet people within your field
  • Guests may bring in more of an audience

Cons

  • Developing interview skills takes time and practice
  • Finding guests for each episode can be time consuming and difficult
  • You need to rely on guests and coordinate times to meet with them

See the Interviewing for Podcasting Guide!

 

Of course, you don't need to confine yourself to strictly one format; you can host a solo show and splice in interviews you've done, or you can do a co-hosted show that brings in a new interviewee each episode. Find a format that works for you.

 

Podcast Length

A podcast can be anywhere from 10 minutes to hours long. The length of a podcast is really dependent on the subject matter. Many people will say that the ideal length of a podcast is the same length as the average commute, at 20-45 minutes, but confining yourself to certain times can take away from the information you're trying to communicate. If you need an hour to explain a topic, it's much better to explain it entirely than to just skim the surface in order to keep it at a certain length.

Basic Podcast Layout

The layout of your podcast is ultimately up to you, but most podcasts take a layout like the one shown below. You can cut out pieces or add more segments depending on what you want your podcast to be, but the format below may be a good starting point.

Teaser: A 30-60 second teaser for the content of your podcast. Introduce the topic or guest of the day and give your listeners a hook to hold their attention, like an interesting piece of information you're going to elaborate on later in the show. It could also be a clip from further on that's particularly funny, engaging, or interesting.

Introduction: Most podcasts have some form of a standard introduction, whether it's a short song or simply a voice over introducing the podcast and the host. Musical introductions tend to be the most popular, but sound effects and interview clips also work well. The introduction should be consistent between episodes.

Welcome: A brief introduction of you and/or your co-hosts, reiterating the name of the show and what the theme of the episode is. If you have an interview guest, now is a good time to talk about the background of their field or their work.

The content: This is the meat of your podcast. Whether it's you and/or your co-hosts talking about a topic, or an interview with a guest, this will be the majority of your podcast.

Shout-Out Yourself: Just before the podcast ends, it can be a good idea to reiterate any social media you may have or where the listeners can find more episodes of the podcast. This is also a good place to shout-out any groups or organizations the episode is affiliated with or that you just interviewed. More commercialized podcasts will mention leaving 5-star reviews on streaming services such as Apple or Spotify; these reviews do increase visibility, but do not spend more than a minute or two asking for them.

Outro: The last chance to reiterate the name of your podcast and the host(s), possibly with more musical accompaniment as in the introduction. This is a good time to add any credits for music or other copyrighted material.

Next Episode Teaser: A teaser for the next episode of the podcast: whether it is just mentioning the topic or if it contains clips, this is a good chance to try and hook your listeners for the next episode.

 

Polishing your Podcast

The best way to make sure that your podcast sounds good is to ensure that you sound good talking into the microphone. Soundproof rooms with microphones, known as Audio/Visual editing suites, are available on the third floor of the library.  Microphones are also available for loan at the first floor service desk.

LabNext A/V Suite bookings

TFDL Equipment Loaning

Microphone Techniques for Podcasting

Podcasts can be recorded using any audio editing software such as Audacity or Logic Pro X.

 

Many podcasts choose to have unique cover art for each of their episodes. This is optional, but it can help listeners find episodes that they're interested in. You must have ownership or permission to use any images that you use as cover art for your podcast.

Media Creation Photography Guide

 

Copyright

All podcasts created have to adhere to copyright law. Background music and cover art must be used with permission. See the Media Creation Guide to Copyright to ensure your podcast is not in violation of copyright law.

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