I’m just going to say it: podcasts are the greatest digital media development since sliced bread! Okay, okay, that’s a matter of opinion–and sliced bread isn’t digital media. That being said, the realm of podcasting has been rising in popularity over the last several years, and whether your interests lie in politics, literature, mental health, sports, current affairs, chat shows, or anything in between, you have likely given an episode a try on Spotify, Audible, or another streaming platform. Maybe you’re an avid podcast listener already, or maybe you’re still looking for just the right one to jump into–or perhaps, you’re even considering starting your own.
Well, guess what? I had the coolest opportunity to have a hand in starting up a podcast just a few months ago (more on that later!), and for anyone who has been thinking about doing the same for a while or just looking to pick up a new hobby over the upcoming breaks, here are my tips on how to get started.
Decide on a Topic
The first step to starting a podcast is deciding what you want to talk about. This can be absolutely anything, from film reviews, to mindfulness, to gaming. However, if you’re stuck, here are some deep questions to get those ideas flowing:
- What are you passionate about?
- What subjects are you most interested in?
- When in conversation, what topics get you the most excited?
- What makes you laugh?
- What are some things that you could talk about forever?
Remember, you want to pick a topic that you are not only invested in, but that you know can keep the discussion enthusiastic and dynamic for the duration of your episodes
Produce a Manuscript
A manuscript reads just like a script for a play or a TV show. Essentially, each person who is a part of the podcast episode (whether you are doing this alone or with a group of people) has their own lines, and all the lines are organized in the order that you plan to say them. The easiest way to coordinate this would be through a Google Document that can be shared with and seen by everybody at the same time as you record. You can even have comments and notes in the margins to serve as cues to throw in a joke or add in a musical transition. As is the style with most podcasts, just make sure to keep the speech conversational, even though you have a document that you’re reading from!
Set Up Your Broadcasting Station
Now, I know this sounds scary, but this is possibly the best part! Contrary to prior belief, when setting up your recording space, there is no crucial need for cutting-edge electronic devices or highly advanced acoustic studios. Instead, find a spot in your house or wherever you are that doesn’t echo, set up the gadget that you are using to record your voice and any other audio (your phone will work great), and–this is important–surround the microphone on this device with something that will filter outside noise and block reverberations. Cotton t-shirts or foam pieces like the ones in the picture above work very well for this! You are now ready to record!
Publish Through an Audio Platform
Once you have recorded all your content, you will likely need to edit your audio material to make sure that the quality is the best that it can be. Don’t be spooked! We won’t need to get too technical with this process either. There are a lot of excellent free platforms available online that offer ways to record, edit, and publish your material in simple and stress-free ways. I have linked two that I would recommend below:
- Anchor: once you make an account, you will be able to create and distribute your podcast across various streaming platforms for free.
- Audacity: an audio-editing software that makes everything from splicing audio content to adding background scores easy and uncomplicated.
As you explore, be sure to watch any instructional tutorials on how to work with the program so that you are achieving the best quality possible with your podcast!
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t finish out with what inspired the topic of this blog post. Hosting a podcast has always been a pipe dream of mine, but that pipe dream came true at last this Fall! As a Munson Fellow for the Honors College, one challenge that I, as well as my colleagues, were faced with at the start of the semester was finding unique ways to engage with our first-year mentees and the larger Honors community virtually. Aside from online events, we wanted to offer a resource that was both enjoyable and informative to students transitioning into and experiencing college during this time. So, lo and behold, the “How To College” podcast was born.
The “How To College” podcast is a mini-series put together and hosted by the Munson Fellows and the Honors Community Fellows. Through this project, they aim to have honest conversations about college student experiences, while sharing lots of good advice and laughs along the way. I was super lucky to be one of the hosts on the pilot episode, titled “How To: Define Your Workspace”; since then, the episodes have covered topics from organization, to thriving in Honors Integrated courses, to taking care of yourself, with different Fellows serving as hosts each time with minimal technology and from the comfort of their rooms.
If you’d like to stop by and give us a listen, you can find us on Spotify! https://open.spotify.com/show/6VPCXaXgrtaEIgG2Epwj5j?si=f5F6FRCxRnimsyhbBkP7mQ.
Even though I never thought I would be able to be a part of something like this, I’m really thrilled how it turned out, and setting it up was easier than I had imagined it would be! Whether it’s finding a new podcast to listen to or getting a group of friends to host a show, I hope this inspired you to begin a new creative project of your own!