A PhD project exploring intersectionality through fan podcasts

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Tag: Podcast Tech

Pre-Recording Checklist For Podcast Guests – Part 1

After recording two episodes with guests, I’ve learned that it’s probably helpful to have a checklist handy to make sure both the guests and I have all the information we need for the episode. This list is still evolving and I am and will continue adding things to it as and when I learn from my mistakes through the podcast experiment.

1) Ask guests to send a brief bio before we record. For the first guest episode, I thought of the bio after our episode and had to ask for it, then record it separately from the episode itself. For the next episode, I had the bio ready before we began talking and read it out as part of our recording. It works much better that way.

2) Ask guests to send a photo either of them or anything they think represents their work and/or the topic of our episode conversation. I use this photo for the episode cover art.

3) Ask guests to introduce their own experiences with the intersectional themes we’re discussing during that episode coupled with any other aspects of their identity, work or fandom.

4) Inform them that our conversation will be largely informal and they don’t need to worry about stumbling over thoughts or fumbling over words since I can edit out any bits which aren’t a part of the discussion (mostly um’s and long pauses). I can also edit out anything they said but would rather not appear on the episode.

5) I create an episode outline with themes I’m interested in, a suggested order of these segments, and who takes the lead on each segment (the guest or me) to help me organise my thoughts. Guests are free to use or ignore these based on what they find most helpful.

6) Ask guests what themes they’re interested in talking about based on the texts we went through. Add these themes to the episode outline and rearrange the segments into a sensible order.

7) Tell guests that our conversation will last for a maximum of an hour (though we have gone a little over this in both episodes; I need to keep a better eye on the clock!)

8) Technical reminders for guests:

i) They should preferably be in a quiet room with little to no background noise

ii) They can use either a laptop or a phone microphone

iii) Ideally, they should use earphones/headphones (I learned this the hard way because at some points, I can hear my own voice echo through my second guest’s speakers). If they don’t own a pair, they should use the push to talk feature so that their microphone only picks up sound when they push the button.

iv) We should both record our conversations separately on Skype so that during editing, the audio quality of both our voices is more or less the same. If I only use my audio (which I’ve had to for one reason or another for three out of four episodes), my audio turns out to be clearer than my co-hosts or guests.

v) Guests should preferably record on Skype rather than another software. One of the guests recorded it on a Mac and the audio speed in their file was out of sync with the audio speed in my file. This became so impossible to edit that we ended up only using my audio for the episode.

My Episode Recording to Publishing Process – February 2020

Since I’ve recorded three episodes – two with my co-hosts (one of which was a test anyway) and one (upcoming one) with a guest – I wanted to document my current recording-to-publishing process. At the end of the data generation stage, I’ll be  interested in comparing this process from an early, experimental stage of the project to how/if it develops later, when I’ve grown more used to this whole podcasting thing. Currently, the entire process outlined below takes me a week (which includes a day or two off and/or a day or two working on other things). All my participants have a week to get in touch with me in case they want to exclude any part of our conversation, or if they have changed their mind about the podcast and want to withdraw.

1) Pre-recording meeting

I meet the guests on Skype to plan our episode. First, we go over the relevant tech details for the episode. Next, we discuss the themes we’d like to cover in our conversation (we each take turns outlining what we found most interesting inspired by the texts we read). This is also a good opportunity to meet/chat with people for the first time and establish a rapport since I don’t know a lot of my co-participants.

2) Record

We meet on the scheduled day and have an informal conversation which we both record. Having audio files from both helps in editing so that the voice and volume are roughly similar. I need to do a better job with preparing an informal intro and outro for my guests. This matters less with my c0-hosts since we had an entire episode segment dedicated to introducing ourselves.

3) Type transcript for editing

I listen to the recorded conversation and type a transcript, complete with the stutters, fumbles, awkward bits, and technological glitches. I also mark the spots where I need to insert links to episode text resources.

4) Mark edits

After typing the transcript, I listen to the conversation again while going through the transcript. This time, I highlight those bits which I’d like to edit out of the final episode file. My system is currently:

i) Yellow highlight to definitely delete

ii) Green highlight to delete if possible

iii) Blue highlight to point out technological glitches and see if they can be fixed

I do this with the understanding that it may not be possible to delete or fix all the things; given the option between leaving awkward bits in or risking the conversation sound stilted, I’ll always choose the former.

5) Edit

I send my transcript with suggested edits and the audio files to Jack, my boyfriend and editor. I made the decision to recruit help with the technical aspect of editing to save time. I have more participants than I anticipated, and editing the file myself would add a stressful amount of time to the project. I also like the idea of including more collaboration as a part of the process. I still retain the hope of doing some editing myself at some point, if only to learn a new skill.

6) Transcript for blog

I create a second, clean transcript for the blog. This transcript doesn’t have the time codes (which are necessary for editing) nor does it have the filler words and stutters which may remain in the episode. This is to ensure a smooth reading experience. If, for whatever reason, people would prefer the unedited transcript, I’ve asked readers to let me know, and I’d be happy to send it to them. While creating this transcript, I also mark the spots in which any additional links or images need to be added.

7) Download images

I search for and download all the images and gifs I’m going to use in the episode transcript on the blog. I save all of these in separate, named episode folders.

8) Read transcript to make notes 

I read the transcript and make notes for potential title ideas as well as points for the episode intro and bio.

9) Write episode intro, outro

Based on the notes created above, I write an episode intro and outro.

10) Record episode intro and outro

I record the episode intro and outro on my laptop. This simply involves reading the text I’ve prepared earlier. I send these audio files to Jack to add to the beginning and end of the episode.

11) Write episode bio

Based on the notes I’ve made, I write the episode bio. This bio covers the key themes of our conversation. It goes on Anchor and SoundCloud to provide potential listeners with an idea about the episode. I also adapt the text of this bio to use on social media when I share the link to the episode.

12) Listen to the edited episode

Once Jack sends the edited episode back to me, I listen to the file and cross-check it with the clean transcript which will go on my blog. If there are any further changes I need to make to the audio file, I note down the time stamps and send it to Jack. He makes the changes, sends the file back to me, and I only cross-check the time-stamped bit.

13) Add transcript to blog

I create a new blog post and paste the transcript. This is when I insert the links and add the images.

14) Upload episode 

I upload the episode to SoundCloud (the link of which I use on my website) and Anchor (which shares the episode to Spotify, Google, and Apple among other platforms). I add the bio and a cover image for the episode alongwith some key word tags. I link to the episode on the blog transcript and hit publish.

15) Share on social media 

I share the episode post on social media. First, I share it on the Marginally Fannish Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. Then, I share it on my personal Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. I tag the co-hosts and guests on this post (after checking with them first).

16) Send episode to co-hosts/guests

I also send the episode post to my co-hosts and guests either via email or WhatsApp.

Pre-Podcast Recording – Some Technical Lessons

The day before recording the pilot episode of the podcast with my co-hosts, we decided to do a technical test run in an effort to deal with any technological challenges. Before we met on Skype, I spent a day and a half going through podcasting courses on Skillshare; some ended up being more relevant than others. However, as someone who has no experience with podcasts (beyond listening to them), I gleaned several helpful tips from the various videos and it helped boost my overall sense of confidence in experimenting with a new kind of media. The website offers a two-month free trial so if you’re thinking of making a podcast but have no idea how to go about it, I’d highly recommend looking up courses there.

Some of the things I discovered during my technical research:

1) Turn off the video feature to improve the line quality while recording on Skype.

2) You can record on Skype and edit on a free software called Audacity.

3) SoundCloud is only free for hosting 3 hours of audio, after which you need to subscribe to  SoundCloud Pro. I’m currently using Anchor as a backup to SoundCloud and I’m in the process of applying to my university for funding for a 3-year subscription.

Some of the things I discovered after the test-run:

1) Everyone seems to hate the sound of their own voice. It’s fine!

2) It helps for both the host and the guest to record the conversation. The subsequent two files can be combined on Audacity for a better quality of audio.

3) Most of the courses suggested investing in a USB microphone. However, either a smartphone or a laptop’s inbuilt microphone in a quiet room work pretty well too. (The phone worked better than the laptop for my co-hosts. I’m using my boyfriend’s cheap gaming headset with an attached micrphone)


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