It seems like new podcasts are popping up all the time, but what actually goes into making an episode? In this post I share some thoughts on podcasting from my experience of making the following podcast episode.
If you’ve listened to the episode, you’ll know that it explores the broad topic of whether the nature of digital innovation places cultural heritage institutions at risk of becoming redundant. So I chose to focus this episode on one example. Through this example, my aim was to convey the key message that rather than putting cultural heritage institutions at risk, digital innovation can provide an alternative way for visitors to interact with the collections held by these institutions.
My strategy here was to create a narrow focus and showcase one example that demonstrated my key message, instead of trying to discuss every aspect of the topic. I discuss this idea further in the short video below.
As for strategies and practicalities of producing this episode, here are some reflections:
Preparation is key
Research and planning are essential for producing a quality podcast. In this case, I found examples to discuss and read through some academic studies. I then did some field research to get first-hand experience of my example. Finally, I began writing the episode. The key thing to see from this is that while a finished show might sound fun and easy to make, there is actually a lot of preparation work that goes into making a really good podcast.
A good structure helps
After the research phase, the first thing I like to do is plan out what I’m going to say. Usually that means a few headings and some intro and outro ideas. I find this strategy gives me a structure to work with and helps with keeping my content on point. I wrote more than I needed and then edited it back. This episode is formally scripted, so once I was happy with the words, recording it was the easy bit.
Editing takes time
I recorded directly into my audio-editing software, with pauses between sections to make it easier to edit out any stumbles. After sourcing some Creative Commons licensed music for some variety, I added this as a separate track, which was easier than expected. However, I do suggest leaving time to fiddle around with the editing. It’s not something you want to rush.
Save some for next time
The main challenge I faced in creating this episode was that I just had too much I wanted to say. Narrowing the episode’s focus to discuss only one aspect of the example helped resolve this. There’s also the option of saving some material for next time because from the one set of research I have enough material to make a series of episodes on related topics. So if you’re thinking of making a podcast, don’t feel you have to put all your ideas in the one episode.
Gammon, B 2010, ‘Visitors’ use of computer exhibits: findings from five gruelling years of watching visitors getting it wrong’, in R Parry (ed.), Museums in a digital age, Routledge, pp. 281–290, retrieved 21 January 2020, ProQuest Ebook Central.
Heath, C & vom Lehn, D 2010, ‘Interactivity and collaboration: new forms of participation in museums, galleries and science centres’, in R Parry (ed.), Museums in a digital age, Routledge, pp. 266–208, retrieved 21 January 2020, ProQuest Ebook Central.
Rowan, L, Townend, G, Beavis, C, Kelly, L & Fletcher, J 2016, ‘Museums, games, and historical imagination: student responses to a games-based experience at the Australian national maritime museum’, Digital Culture & Education, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 169–187, retrieved 21 January 2020, Deakin Research Online.
South Australian Museum 2020, The Shadow Initiation, South Australian Museum, retrieved 20 January 2020, <https://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/event/the-shadow-initiation>.