At Tales Untold Media, with our decades of experience producing radio shows and podcasts, we frequently advise clients on podcast production best practices: what equipment to buy, the right software to use, recording environment techniques, how to be a good interviewer, etc. You can read some of our advice in our podcast gear posts. No matter what decisions you ultimately make, together they add up to define your podcast style.
And like just about everything else in life, there are no black and white answers to the art of podcast production. Instead, we advise clients to think of it like a spectrum. You have to know where you want to sit on that spectrum, before you make any production decisions. So before you run out and buy some gear or start interviewing people, give this some thought so you know where you stand.
The Total Pro
On one extreme of the production spectrum, you have a state-of-the-art recording studio with complete soundproofing, a nice big round table with several swivel-mounted, broadcast-quality microphones, an ISDN connection for remote interviews, a phone patch for call-ins, and a dedicated control room with a sound engineer and producer on a talk-back mic giving you lives cues into your headphones as you interview your guests.
The DIY Commando
On the other end of this same spectrum, it’s you and your iPhone with a built-in mic, sitting at a desk in a bare-walled conference room or wherever you’re able to trap your interview guest for the next 60 minutes.
Somewhere between those two scenarios lies reality.
The Allure of Authenticity
There’s an undeniable authenticity that people are drawn to among podcasts that eschew the typical production value and format of traditional radio. There’s something cool about the fact that the voice you’re listening to is someone with little more than a desktop computer and something interesting to say. And a little bit of café background noise adds to the fly-on-the-wall vibe that we’re just listening in on a regular conversation. Without the constraints of radio, you’re free to be yourself and talk about what you want, how you want, for as long as you want.
At the same time, crappy audio is crappy audio and there’s only so much you can do about it after the fact. And with podcasting becoming more popular and equipment becoming less expensive, it’s not so hard anymore to replicate many aspects of studio-quality recording, at a fraction of the cost. But let’s be honest: it’s hard to sound like Fresh Air without a professional recording studio (and staff).
Defining Your Podcast Style
The point is, there’s a give-and-take between the authenticity that is often associated with Do it Yourself (DIY) podcasts and the polish that can be achieved with a dedicated, professional studio. The same thing goes for the format, length and editing choices you make. Do you want to sound like a tightly packaged professional? Or do you want to sound like a freewheeling indie? It’s ultimately up to your aesthetic preferences and budget, and will affect all aspects of your production decisions.
At Tales Untold Media, we believe the vast majority of podcasters should aim for a happy medium – one that respects your listeners and your budget, at the same time. So keep in mind that while we stand by the tips and techniques and gear recommendations that we offer, you will surely be able to find elsewhere some other option that is either cheaper and easier, or more expensive of higher quality.
You just have to decide how much bang you want for your buck. And we’re happy to help you get there.
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