Podcasting Essentials: Finding Your Voice

This is a continuation of the series on Podcasting Essentials.

Much like blogging, people who begin podcasting are not likely to be “good” immediately. Usually it takes some practice and, like blogging, time to find your voice. Good podcasters, like good bloggers, continually improve.

One of the early challenges podcasters face is finding their voice. It’s common to have heard podcast, or radio personalities, and try to emulate them. Nothing wrong with that. People often end up with tendencines of those they look up to. More importantly, it’s crucial that a podcaster feel comfortable with themselves.

While recording, be yourself. As a listener, I can generally hear when folks are being fake and I resent that. I prefer someone who is real.

Tomorrow morning’s Suicide 60 podcast (available here after 9am on Monday) reflects a little of this is a little reflection on how I “keep it real”.

Most folks who are podcasters are not journalists. If they are trying to be journalistic, then it’s important to maintain vocal consistency. However, in most cases, joournalism isn’t necessary and raw emotion in a podcast keeps the attention of listeners.

There is no magic formula. It’s all about finding the right balance and the right voice. Find that balance, and listeners will pay attention.

Podcasting Essentials: Strength in Numbers

It’s been a few days since I first posted the first part of my series on podcasting. I wanted to continue that theme today and talk a little bit about your show format and decisions you need to make – particularly when deciding to do a show alone or with someone.

At Suicide Fan, I do two formats of shows. this is important because each format serves a different audience. I mean, both shows cater to sports fan, but there is a definite difference in fan that listens to each. The first format is what is typical for a podcast. 20-40 minute show, big bandwidth, mixing of elements, etc. This show was the original and continues to be the flagship show. The fanbase that is targetted is an internet-based audience. They surf the net, probably blog themselves and perhaps listen to podcasts regularly.

I decided early on that this show would be done with two people at a time because, frankly, it’s a whole lot easier and more natural sounding to do a show with someone than to try to create compelling and (let’s be honest) interesting show when flying solo. It’s all about conversation. Debate can be had with multiple people. The dynamics of a show shift when talking to someone than when talking to yourself.

My philosophy is always have a wingman if you’re going to talk more than 5 minutes. The exceptions to these rules are trained broadcasters who have done radio or television shows for years or those rare podcasters who just have an uncanny knack for pulling off an interesting monologue.

The second show is a 60 second daily show. The format of theis show is quite a bit different. For one, it’s done solo. Because it’s around a minute in length, I am able to offset the boring monogue stuff by adding continuous, but not overpowering, music behind me. Instead of talking about multiple issues, I focus on one topic. The verbage is meant to be concise and I often use a script to delineate my thoughts ahead of time. The fanbase served is a fast paced group that doesn’t have a lot of time for radio or television, and thus, not podcasts.

These two formats work well for a sports podcast but you should have a firm idea ahead of time who you want to target. Let’s be honest, you can’t target everyone, so don’t try. The key to building the podcast audience is not the quantity of listeners to a given show, but keeping a low turnover rate. You want folks to listen the first time and come back and listen all the time. You may get your dad to listen to a show, but unless the topic is interesting to him, or unless the format you have chosen suits his style, you may not get him to listen to the rest of the shows.

Understand your target audience and what makes them tick. This will help determine what choices you need to make in developing the show.

Podcasting Essentials: Part I

I’m starting a new series around podcasting based on my experiences at Suicide Fan. It may be added to on an ongoing basis as I learn more and have more to share (rumor has it I’m going to get to talk to some folks at a prominent Silicon Valley podcasting company soon).

This entry will be mostly an overview and theory piece.

What is a Podcast?

Podcasting is a name that has been given to, what is best described as, audio blogging. Of course, a good podcast is complemented by a good blog for reasons that will become clear as this series continues. It is not a good idea to simply replace blogging with podcasting.

Podcasts in their simplest form are audio files. Usually they are MP3s, though they can be OGG, AAC or even WAVs. MP3 tends to be the preferred format due to their smaller filesize, portability and cross-platform nature. Podcasters who want to use advanced features and cater specifically to the iPod crowd, can create Extended Podcasts, which adds interactivity to the format, but doing so restricts the format to Apple’s protected AAC files (.m4a) and are only compatible with iPods themselves. If you’re just beginning with podcasting or are thinking of it, I recommend sticking with MP3.

Why Podcast?

Continue reading “Podcasting Essentials: Part I”