I am a sucker for podcasts. Not only do I enjoy the process of subscribing to a bunch of podcasts and creating your on-demand listening playlist (do you binge? Intersperse? Listen to the most recent, oldest, most interesting?), I am delighted by the DIY spirit of podcasting and the unending inventiveness of podcasters as a group of creative artists.
Since last year, I’ve been occasionally running what I call a “podcasting workshop.” Its first iteration was as a session called “Small Audio Dynamite” at a THATCamp. We started from scratch (aka ten people in a room) and by the end of the 55 minute session, we had conceived a podcast, begun the pre-production of a pilot episode, and recorded a promo.
Probably nobody in that group will carry on with this podcast. I wanted to highlight the speed and ease with which you could start a podcast, and I wanted to skip all the technical stuff. I pay a service to handle my RSS feeds; I use open-source, free, simple apps to cut audio; I don’t care much at all about the technical. The creation and the expression is the thing, and you can do it for yourself with very little investment.
Over the past year, I’ve held the workshop five times, refining how to tease out the purpose and format of the podcast, and coming up with a bizarre but delightful set of podcasts: Where is My Mind? about lifelong learning, Terrible Assessments about being a graduate-student teaching assistant, a podcast for a non-profit that I will keep private as they are still putting it together (that one is really going to happen), Frisson about the delights of reading, Burning Questions about pyrokinetic rights advocacy (it doesn’t have to be a real subject for the workshop to work), and Atlanta’s Here about economic growth in the city.
The key to the workshop is leading the group through a series of questions that mimic the process of creating a podcast or radio show. “What’s this podcast about?” flows into “what do we want to say about that subject?” and then “how are we going to say that?” It’s a powerful experience, drawing it out of an audience and then realizing, “I’d like to hear that podcast.”