Podcasting Experiments

Podcasting Experiments is all about experimenting with your podcast. We explore ways you can implement and test different ideas to improve your podcast by looking at different strategies and ideas from other podcasters.
RSS Feed Subscribe in Apple Podcasts
Podcasting Experiments








All Episodes
Now displaying: 2017
Nov 9, 2017

I’m doing some rebranding with this podcast. I’m changing the name from Creative Studio: podcasting experiments to Podcasting Experiments from the Creative Studio. Right now, I’m just announcing it here in the audio, but in the next episode or two, you’ll see some changes in the visual branding.

We will be talking with Glenn Hebert, also known as Glenn the Geek and America’s Horse Husband. He began the Horse Radio Network in 2006 and has grown it into a successful business. We’ll talk about treating your podcast as a business, the advantage of a strong niche, and the power of involving listeners.


Now, before we jump into the interview for today, let’s pause for a MetaMoment. This is where we review one or two podcasts about podcasting on this podcast about podcasting.

Today’s MetaMoment is...Podcasters’ Roundtable. It is hosted by Ray Ortega and regular co-hosts Daniel J. Lewis and Dave Jackson. They bring on different podcasters to have roundtable discussions about different aspects of podcasting. It is very interesting because you get to hear different sides of the many issues in the podcasting industry. You can find out more by going to

How Glenn got into podcasting

Glenn was working for a horse retail company back in 2006, and after listening to Leo Laporte’s podcast Earth to Twit, he decided to start one of his own. Back in those days, it wasn’t easy, but he figured out all the tech and began the Talking Equine show for the retailer he worked for. The retailer eventually sold the company so the podcast stopped, and Glenn went into consulting, but in the meantime decided to do more podcasting because it was fun.

It was getting a little bit easier to listen because iTunes had come out, so he started the Horse Radio Network. They started with 1 show—The Stable Scoop Show—but had the network from the very first episode. Glenn always new he wanted a network and knew he had to start somewhere, so one show was the beginning. That show is still going after 9 years, and his first co-host only just left after 460+ episodes. She got a really good job and wouldn’t have time, so now they’re rebranding that show but it has been a sad change. It was hard for the audience too because she’s been there every week for 9 years so the audience was invested in her too.

Treating your podcast like a business

Glenn started out treating podcasting like a business because he always wanted it to be a business. He admires the podcasters who are just doing it for fun, but his intention was always for it to eventually be his livelihood and allow his wife to leave her job (which she has now done) to work in the business too. Everything they do is calculated as ‘how can we make income off of that’ but that doesn’t mean the listeners’ experience isn’t a part of the goal too. Making the listeners happy makes them want to buy the product advertised, which makes the sponsors happy, which allows the business to make money and continue producing content. It’s a circle and Glenn looks at how to keep everybody in the circle happy, including his and his wife having fun, and not trading their values for the business.

Their mission statement is ‘uniting the horse world one show at a time’ and they’ve managed to achieve that. They have over 70 media partners, magazines, blogs, websites and things, so those media partners are all contributing and now some of those are working with each other. It’s been a conduit for a lot of people to gather, and it’s the building of relationships that has caused the Horse Radio Network to grow to the point where they are now. Relationship building and looking at it as a business from day 1 was always the plan for Glenn because those relationships are what make a business. It’s a lot of work, and they work more now than they did in their jobs and are making less money, but Glenn says they are having fun.

The advantage of a strong niche

Horse people are not just passionate about their hobby, they are addicted: they spend all their time and all their money on horses and all their free time talking to other people about horses. That’s the advantage Horse Radio Network has because they have walked into an addicted group. It’s a perfect audience because they truly are invested 100 hours a week in their hobby. They’re working for their hobby, so it has been easy to get them involved. Glenn is always thinking about how to get everybody involved—listener, sponsor, host—in the circle.

The power of involving listeners as much as possible

Glenn has a myriad of ways the network involves listeners. Firstly, the 250 Patreon donators—who are called Auditors—have become a focus group. They get their own private Facebook group, which is extremely active, and they’ve become like a big family. The auditor group is involved in almost every decision the network makes, from picking the music for The Stable Scoop show rebrand to doing product reviews for their sponsors in exchange for free products. This has led to an increase in regular Patreon donators, which is great for the business so it has been a valuable way to keep everybody in the circle happy. Other ways the network gets audience involved is through regular segments, like submitting content for the very popular Really Bad Ads segment on Fridays to go into the draw for a monthly prize. Other successful listener involvements strategies are game shows like trivia, listener round tables, movie reviews, live reports from events like horse shows and Q & A sessions with professional riders.

The Cyber Monday Radio-Thon and continual innovation

Every year on Cyber Monday the Horse Radio Network does a 12-hour holiday radio-thon, including 32 hosts, 100s of phone calls, big name guests and many listener submissions of voicemails, songs, poetry etc. Last year, as well as giving away $5000 worth of prizes, there were 20 advertisers involved and it was a huge money maker for the network. Sponsors always want to get involved because being Cyber Monday, there is a direct response: they advertise their products and then right away the listeners go and buy it for Christmas.

Although they started the radio-thon to raise money, Glenn says they also needed to stay ahead of the crowd. There is finally some competition in the horse podcasting world but he knows they have to keep innovating to stay first. His advice to other podcasters is to think outside the box and keep involving the listeners. Some niches are broader, which can be tougher to deal with, but every niche can make something work that involves the listeners. They want to be involved. When you’re experimenting with new segments or new ideas, put them at the end of the regular show, after the music. Call it a bonus and see what response you get! Keeping in regular touch with your regular devoted listeners is so important: sometimes it’s the simplest stuff that means the most to them, like a simple birthday shout out on air.

You can find more about Glenn’s work and the Horse Radio Network at

Oct 10, 2017

Welcome to the Creative Studio, the podcast where we conduct experiments in podcasting. Most podcasters stick with the “normal” podcasting practices, but you - you’re different. You like to try different things.


“You do it like this, and then you break the mold.”


This fifth season of the Creative Studio is a production of Podcast Guy Media, LLC. We will be talking with people that are doing something unique with their podcast. Maybe it’s their format, their philosophy, their niche. Whatever it is, we’ll find out what makes it tick. We’ll see what works...and what doesn’t. We’ll see what we can learn and apply to our own podcasts.


Visit our website at


Today we will be talking with Johny Florida, host of the Wrestling’s National Committee podcast. Johnny will talk about the power and pitfalls of relationships with other podcasts in your niche, WNC’s podcasting set up, and how to use strategic partnerships to build your credibility.




Now, before we jump into the interview for today, let’s pause for a MetaMoment. This is where we review one or two podcasts about podcasting on this podcast about podcasting.


Today’s podcast MetaMoment is…The School of Podcasting. I know, we just mentioned this podcast a couple episodes ago, but I wanted to give Dave Jackson an extra shout out for winning the podcast award in the technology category. Dave has been podcasting since 2005. Not only is he a podcast coach, he is also an employee at Libsyn - just another way for him to contribute more to the podcasting industry. You can check out his podcast at

This MetaMoment has been brought to your by Libsyn. They are the media host I use and the number 1 place I recommend as I work with new podcasters. I’ve been recommending them for several years now. They are not a sponsor, but I have recently become an affiliate for them, so if you sign up with Libsyn and use the coupon code ‘JOSH’ you can receive a free month of hosting. In fact it’s more than a month because you’ll get the rest of this month and next month free - just make sure you don’t change your hosting level before the free month ends. Again, go to and sign up using the code ‘JOSH.’


How Johny got started with podcasting

Johny knew about radio and even internet radio, but he’d never heard of podcasts until he began listening to them on YouTube about 4 years ago. Being a huge wrestling fan, he found the Don Tony Kevin Castles show and Solomonster, and that began his interest in podcasts. Eventually he decided to do a wrestling podcast himself, and eventually settled on the name Wrestling’s National Committee as a nod to political organization names, because the show treats wrestling like politics. Johny says there is politics in everything, even sports.

One example of the way they combine politics and sports is the Sunday breaking news show. They cover news in the wrestling world, but in particular they look behind the scenes of those news stories to find out the psychology of the who, the what, and the why. Politics is nothing more than psychology in a physical sense—it’s about the why something is being done—so there’s politics in terms of the issues in wrestling and the psychology in terms of why those are occurring. That’s why the show covers the politics of wrestling, to investigate the why of every move the wrestlers and corporations make. Johny has always loved figuring out all the pieces of puzzles, so this fits well. He regularly gets feedback from listeners on social media saying that they love the deep analysis even if they don’t agree with the opinions.

The power and pitfalls of relationships with other podcasts in your niche

The WNC does 3 shows per week, and Thursday’s show follows Wrestling Soup, another podcast that they look to as the indirect father of the show. Called Souper Party, they talk about wrestling and some news, but not politics itself in that show. Being that the show follows directly after and is inspired by Wrestling Soup, Johny and his team have developed a relationship with them and positive relationships like that have been very important in helping boost WNC.

However, although Johny loves working with other groups, not all relationships like that have gone well and he also suggests caution when working with other podcasters. For a while they had a joint show with another podcast, but it turned sour when one member of the other 4-man team became a problem. After that group imploded, Johnny ended up hiring two of those guys for WNC. The disgruntled team member then started throwing legalese around regarding copyright of the logo, and filed a complaint with MixCloud who pulled all the episodes down. Johny says they all learned a valuable lesson about being more careful creating partnerships, even between friends, because things can get nasty when they start to break up. He recommends doing more research up front, and simply being careful about who you work with.

WNC’s podcasting set up

For the normal WNC show, they broadcast live for 2 – 3 hours each day. Often it’s 2 hours of the live main show, and then they’ll do an After Party bonus show only for the people who donate on Patreon. In order to do the live show, Johny has three systems running at once: the Mixlr system, Skype and Audacity. He’s also got several laptops going at once and uses the Turtle Beach headset. In terms of cost, the Mixlr system ranges in cost from the free version to $100-$300 per year. This is the main way WNC goes live so it’s an important part of their set up. Meanwhile, Audacity is totally free so Johny also recommends that because there are so many different features and editing options included in it. It took a few days to get all the tech set up, but he learned how to do each podcasting process from the beginning. One thing in particular he advises is to always compress the audio files and export as MP3s because the size really matters. Most podcast hosts only have limited storage, even when you pay for the upgrades, and if you’re uploading several shows a week it can really fill up the storage space quickly. So compressing the audio files is crucial.

Use strategic partnerships to build your credibility

A major strategy for the WNC in building their show and credibility in the niche has been the Thursday show that piggy backs onto Wrestling Soup. Johny says you shouldn’t be afraid to follow up another podcast if you’ve got the blessing from them, and it’s a strategy brand new TV shows use all the time. It helps with your content, gives you somebody to vouch for you for your credibility and can provide support for both shows.

Strategic partnerships can also boost credibility. Johny has done this in a big way with their sponsor, the combat sports app FiteTV. The app is free and most o the content is free except the pay-per-view fights. They have an affiliate program, which Johny signed up for so that when he promotes them they become the sponsor of the show. Although it does also bring in some revenue, getting a sponsorship was more about adding to the credibility of the show as it’s still young, having only been out less than a year.

Because of building that relationship with FiteTV, Johnny is now a media agent for them. He’s also built relationships with Indie Wrestling across the map; he has relationships with 18 Federations in 14 States and also in England. He has then helped some of those get on FiteTV, so it’s been a great network to build. As FiteTV grows, WNC grows and vice versa. Affiliate programs can be simple and the benefits go both ways. It’s not just about revenue, it’s about credibility and relationships.

The best way to find Johny and WNC:

The best place to check them out is social media. Look up Wrestling’s National Committee on Facebook @wncshow Twitter @WNC4Lyfe or Instagram @WNCshow

Or you can find their shows on and donate at


Thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s episode of the Creative Studio. If you found this podcast helpful or interesting, please share it with a friend. Detailed shownotes can be found on the website at You can also reach me by calling (405) 771-0567.


The Creative Studio is a production of Podcast Guy Media, LLC, at

Sep 29, 2017

We will be talking with Eric Trules and his podcast is e-Travels with E. Trules, and it’s unique in that it combines travelogue storytelling with an aurally immersive experience of sound, effects and music that take you right to the destination. We’ll talk about his podcasting journey, his publishing schedule with alternating formats, and the beauty of travel.



Now, before we jump into the interview for today, let’s pause for a MetaMoment. This is where we review one or two podcasts about podcasting on this podcast about podcasting.

Today’s podcast MetaMoment is…Podcast Talent Coach with Erik K. Johnson. His podcast focuses primarily on the content of your podcast and how to improve it. In episode 175 of Podcast Talent Coach, Erik shares his journey as a hockey coach and how it relates to determining the “why” behind your podcast. The concept of knowing and following your “why” is not new, but Erik’s story and explanation do a great job at exploring the topic. Check it out at

This MetaMoment has been brought to your by Libsyn. They are the media host I use and the number 1 place I recommend as I work with new podcasters. I’ve been recommending them for several years now. They are not a sponsor, but I have recently become an affiliate for them, so if you sign up with Libsyn and use the coupon code ‘JOSH’ you can receive a free month of hosting. In fact it’s more than a month because you’ll get the rest of this month and next month free - just make sure you don’t change your hosting level before the free month ends. Again, go to and sign up using the code ‘JOSH.’

Eric’s podcasting journey

Eric has been podcasting for a relatively short time. He releases a show every other week and there are 17 episodes now. It’s taken effort, work and collaboration because podcasting is all new to him. However, he has been an artist, storyteller and performer for almost 50 years. He started as a modern dancer and also spent many years as a professional clown. He’s just retired from his 31 years as a Theatre Professor at the University of Southern California. It was actually a student who suggested that he start a podcast, after hearing him speak. He was fairly confident with the storytelling side of things, however it was a steep and fast learning curve for the tech.

Eric initially got a grant from USC, and found both his sound engineer, Alysha Bermudez, and music composer, Amanda Yamate, through the University. He found his producer, Harry Duran from Podcast Junkies, at the Los Angeles Podcast Festival. Harry taught Eric everything he needed, and with the help also of Amanda and Alysha, he has been insulated and prevented from making a lot of mistakes early in his podcasting journey.

About Eric’s unique travelogue podcast

E-travels with E.Trules is available on iTunes and Stitcher and is unique in that it combines travelogue storytelling with an aurally immersive experience of sound, effects and music that take you right to the destination. The episodes are stories of off-the-beaten-track, once-in-a-lifetime type trips, told with insights, humor, perspective and an artistic point of view.

The listener of the story gets the treat of both the story and being taken there aurally because Eric chose not to go with royalty-free music but instead have a composer recreate sounds that are very site-specific and original. For example, for a story about Bali, the composer Amanda recreated Balinese gamelan music. However, because of the style of the podcast, the episodes are time consuming to make, so Eric planned to only release one episode per month.

Extending the podcast without creating twice as many travel episodes

Harry convinced Eric to release more regularly than the once-per-month schedule originally intended, and the idea of a behind-the-scenes episode was born. These are interview-style episodes that supplement the travelogue episodes. So every other week, the even-numbered episodes, there is a behind the scenes episode which alternates with the sound-immersive travelogue episodes which are the odd numbered episodes. Episode 0 is the welcome episode, which is the best one to start if you’re new because there are excerpts, examples of different places around the world and a nice introduction.

Harry Duran, Amanda Yamante and Alysha Bermudez have all been interviewed as behind-the-scenes episodes of the podcast. But Eric also likes to feature people who are kindred, artistic spirits, either foreign born or who have traveled a lot. On occasion he has been solicited to be on the podcast by someone he doesn’t know, but he finds those conversations a little anti-septic. He prefers the episodes where the guest is someone he knows, because the medium of podcasting can capture the energy and chemistry of the relationship.

Some examples of people Eric has interviewed are Liz Femi, a solo performer born in Nigeria, Debra Ehrhardt, a solo performer and storyteller from Jamaica, and Morlan Higgins, an actor and musician who is a fellow traveller on the path of life. His episode was also special because it is punctuated with Morlan’s own mandolin music.

Storytelling that makes foreign people and cultures human

Eric likes asking people he knows well about the complications in their countries. What’s interesting to him in human natures and in cultures is not what’s great about them, but the vulnerabilities or flaws that may be present under the skin. He likes to show the stories that are not things going perfectly well, a la Facebook profile. That’s what makes people and cultures human and relatable.

Storytelling is all about vulnerability in a narrative sense: rooting for the underdog, or the main character that you care about. Audiences usually care about the character who is vulnerable because they can identify with them. Eric likes to share insights into experiences that listeners can relate to, as opposed to just a colorful travel story.

The beauty of travel and life

Eric is shocked and amazed and disheartened at how many people think it’s cool not to travel. While he does agree that there is plenty to see in the USA, many people use excuses that other types of travel is too expensive, scary, uncomfortable and that there is terrorism in the world. These things are all true, but the perspective you can gain from leaving your own four walls and country is astoundingly worth it for Eric.

He wants people to realize that America is not the center of the world, that most people in other countries on the planet have lots in common with us. Travelling allows you to see how much they care about family and children and education and putting food on the table too. For Eric, we’re all connected by our humanity and it’s fascinating to see the differences, not in the human spirit but in cultural things: dancing, food, worship and the ways people move through life.

It’s a shame that people think it’s ok not to travel, because if you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and let go of the unknown, that is the beauty of travel and of life!

You can find Eric and the podcast at


Thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s episode of the Creative Studio. If you found this podcast helpful or interesting, please share it with a friend. You can also reach me by calling (405) 771-0567.

Sep 18, 2017


We will be talking with Meghan Enriquez today from True Conversations. We’re going to hear how she started a podcast to grow her movement, how she grew the podcast into a network, and how she fosters engagement with her target audience. She also is hosting an event at the end of September 2017, so listen for that later.

How Meghan got into podcasting

Meghan was not looking to become a podcasters. She started her company, True Conversations, back in January 2016 after shifting career goals and being home with 2 young children. She felt there was a need to change the culture in how we communicate and lead. True Conversations started out being events and training, but one day at a lunch, the broadcaster for the Baltimore minor league team suggested podcasting as a useful platform for her to explore. Although Meghan at the time didn’t know what a podcast was, she soon saw the value of it as a medium for spreading the mission of True Conversations—to promote understanding around stigmatized issues—into the world. Although she didn’t know how to do it, she knew she could learn, and so that’s what she did. It has been the biggest blessing and best decision she made around True Conversations.

From one podcast to a whole network

In order to cover the breadth of issues and all the life and human experiences that deserve to be talked about, Meghan realized she’d need to open up the podcast network. That way, a variety of people can have it as a platform and a safe space to respectfully bring to the table stories, networks and topics that Meghan personally didn’t have experience with. People were invited to have their own show as long as they were willing to maintain the same sort of vibe of having true conversations that are real, transparent, uplifting and empowering, being respectful of all sides of an issue and promoting the culture of spreading understanding.

So much of what overwhelms our social media dialogue right now is arguing, pettiness and taking sides, and that’s part of the reason all the shows on the network are on the same podcasting channel: it means listeners bump into and naturally come across topics, conversations and perspectives that they might have otherwise have avoided due to the personalization in how news is consumed these days. The diversity aspect is really important and what pushed Meghan to create the network.

Before the podcast, there were live events

True Conversations began by hosting small coffee shop events with a  panel of people from as many sides of an issue as possible and having a true conversation around it.  The first event was about redefining the health journey and featured four people living a health journey and going about it very differently, with different beliefs. The goal was to normalize that whatever you choose is good for you. Other topics have included world peace, faith and body image. True Conversations also has a contributor-fed blog, which was a way to allow people from different walks of life to have their space on the platform before the podcast came about.

This year, the vision is for the events to culminate into an annual larger event on a central topic, which will happen with the first annual True Conversations Live Event on September 30th in Baltimore. The topic this year is entrepreneurship, and the event will feature a screening of the She Started It documentary as well as the true conversations panel discussion with local female entrepreneurs. Being that September 30th is International Podcast day, Meghan is inviting local podcasters to come to the event for free, interview people and cover the event.

Live interactions and conversations online

A few months ago Meghan began to do weekly Facebook lives every Thursday at 7pm Eastern as another way to connect with the community, get to know each other and give them space to share their feelings about some of the current issues that affect our lives privately and professionally. Meghan finds there’s a different exchange that can happen when it is live instead of just having it in comments where the tone of voice can be misconstrued or intentions misunderstood. It’s a meeting point for people of different ethnicities, socio-economic status and career paths asking each other questions, while Meghan just facilitates.

For now, it’s on Facebook Live. Meghan said when she first started doing Facebook lives she made all the mistakes, but the lesson for her is that when faced with something new and uncomfortable, see yourself as a student and just do it. One mistake she did make is to randomly just pop on, instead of letting people know ahead of time when she’d be live. That’s why they set up the consistent expectation of the regular Thursday 7 o’clock schedule. She says that picking a consistent schedule is not only healthy for you as a person with a busy life, but it’s more helpful for your audience so they can plug in much more frequently.

The Power of the Podcast

Meghan’s hope and why she chose podcasting as one of their platforms is because it’s a wonderfully powerful tool to have and promote social change. If you’re in this space, just like with any other media, you can use it for entertainment, and people do need places to escape and zone out for a little while. But Meghan’s advice is to be conscious of how you’re influencing and perpetuating social norms and culture, and use that power responsibly. Even if you’re not talking about deep, heavy topics but are more in the education or entertainment space, use the power for good so that you are spreading a happier, healthier message. If people are listening, you have the opportunity to influence them in a good way.

Find more from Meghan:

The best place to find more information or reach out to Meghan is and social media links are on the bottom of that website too.



Today’s podcast MetaMoment is…The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson. This is always one of my top podcasts to listen to every week. I started listening in late 2012 and haven’t missed an episode since. In episode 582, Dave opens it up to his listeners as they share some “Um, Yeah, No” moments. This is when someone reaches out to you as a podcaster, pitching themselves - but it is clearly not a good fit. In fact, some of them are hilariously off target. You definitely want to check this episode out, and subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes either.

This MetaMoment has been brought to your by Libsyn. They are the media host I use and the number 1 place I recommend as I work with new podcasters. I’ve been recommending them for several years now. They are not a sponsor, but I have recently become an affiliate for them, so if you sign up with Libsyn and use the coupon code ‘JOSH’ you can receive a free month of hosting. In fact it’s more than a month because you’ll get the rest of this month and next month free - just make sure you don’t change your hosting level before the free month ends. Again, go to and sign up using the code ‘JOSH.’


Thanks for taking the time for listening to this week’s episode of the Creative Studio. If you found this podcast helpful or interesting, please share it with a friend. Detailed shownotes can be found on the website at I would love to hear from you. You can reach me either through the website or by calling (405) 771-0567.


The Creative Studio is a production of Podcast Guy Media, LLC, at

Aug 23, 2017

Welcome to the Creative Studio, the podcast where we conduct experiments in podcasting. Most podcasters stick with the “normal” podcasting practices, but you - you’re different. You like to try different things.


“You do it like this, and then you break the mold.”


This fifth season of the Creative Studio is a production of Podcast Guy Media, LLC. We will be talking with people that are doing something unique with their podcast. Maybe it’s their format, their philosophy, their niche. Whatever it is, we’ll find out what makes it tick. We’ll see what works...and what doesn’t. We’ll see what we can learn and apply to our own podcasts.


Visit our website at


We will be talking with Matt Medeiros today from the Matt Report Podcast. We’re going to hear about the way he experimented with publishing Netflix style, the power of video, and his approach to sponsorship.


Matt’s podcasting journey


Matt first began podcasting about 4 or 5 years ago. It began a few years before that, when he’d first started running his WordPress agency and went to an event and saw the potential for people to be talking with each other in the WordPress space. He was starting his agency and had other colleagues doing the same, growing fast and putting a lot of stock into their relationships in the space. At the time there were maybe 2 other WordPress podcasts, whereas now there are at least 15. It all started with the idea of getting connected in the community and growing his business, which for Matt, it has.


Matt’s podcast is the Matt Report. It’s an interview podcast that is basically a breakdown of what’s happening in the WordPress space. The interviews are with people in the space—developers and agency owners, as well as general tech and business owners—to help his audience learn from a variety of differnet perspectives. His audience ranges from people running small software startups doing anywhere from a few hundred dollars per month to $5000-$50,000 per month in sales of digital products.


The changing way Matt has published the last season


Like everybody else, Matt started doing his show every week. He did that for nearly 100 episodes, but without a hard schedule or plan on how he approached it. After a while that becomes a lot of work, and becomes a little stale, for the host but possibly even for the listeners. So Matt decided to change things up a little bit. He decided to release a whole season onto the website and Soundcloud ‘Netflix style’. However, they’re still released through iTunes once per week. That way, superfans can listen to them all at once on the side, but the normal cadence still happens every week.


This has been a benefit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it allowed Matt to really focus and spend a month or so preparing the season. It also allowed him to dedicate an entire landing page to his season’s sponsors. It’s great for Matt because it’s easier to pitch sponsors that way, it’s great for the sponsors because they have more focused attention for a whole season and it’s great for listeners who aren’t getting hit with new sponsors every week.


More podcasting experiments


In Season 5, Matt also introduced 2 new co-hosts of the show, so he only hosted half the season. The other half was co-hosted by 2 other gentlemen who took the lead talking about software as a service. That was an experiment to get some new voices and a new perspective.


In Season 6, which is due in August, the podcast will go audio and video and feature an educational component. Everybody who was on the show was interviewed for 15 minutes and then presented some form of topic for 15 minutes. There will also be slides people can download so it will be a more value-based season for the audience.


The power of video


When Matt first started the show, 4-5 years ago, he did it on YouTube as well as audio. However, it was a lot more work back then. Now, the software is getting better, live streaming is more accessible and editing software is much more powerful so it’s easier to produce video and audio on the post-production side.


Matt has three YouTube channels and he knows there’s a huge connection for audiences with video. It’s the personal effect and that’s what makes some people tune in. There’s a stronger audience on the audio side because it’s so much more portable than video. However, video is very powerful for growing audience retention so he recommends it.


How Matt is approaching sponsorship


WordPress is an interesting space because although there are a lot of products and services, the everyday consumer doesn’t know about them and isn’t going to sign up. It has a lot to do with trust and referrals. Those pockets of companies that have something to sell—products, themes, hosting—do recognize authority in the space is valuable, so Matt is able to position his show quite well, even with numbers of listeners that are nowhere near like a mainstream podcast, or a tech podcasts and YouTube channels. For those mainstream channels, it’s a big ocean to swim in so they have to get big numbers to make it work. WordPress isn’t a big ocean but you can get big numbers when you have the trust and authority both of companies willing to sponsor you and of your listenership.


Matt is a trusted voice in the community, which means he can command a little bit more in sponsorship dollars. He has one of the most popular and certainly the highest rated WordPress podcast, so he is that authority. There’s no magic to his strategy: he simply goes to popular companies that he knows have advertising money to spend and pitches them to sponsor the show. He also limits the sponsorships to two per season so they don’t get drowned out, and that also makes it more attractive to sponsors.


The next steps for Matt and his advice to other podcasters


Season 6 is going to be a continuation of the experiment theme in terms of structure. Matt is also considering going outside the WordPress pocket, and expanding the show topic a little. He also plans to be more consistent with live shows. His advice to people questioning whether or not to start a podcast is to just start, but don’t worry about going the full monty right away. You can just dip your toe in the water with some consistent kind of audio or video content. It could be on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube or even Twitter. Find the platform you are most comfortable with right now and just start with getting your message out. Don’t worry about subscribers or microphones going into Skype going into a recorder. Just dip your toe in the water and start.


Where to find more from Matt


Check out the podcast at


Matt’s fulltime job is representing Pagely at which is Enterprise WordPress hosting. The agency he cofounded helps a lot of higer end and larger implementation of WordPress for startups that are using it in different ways, not just as a website.


He also has a YouTube channel that covers tutorials for WordPress:


Or to have Matt review your website at a very affordable price, go to


Jun 26, 2017

Today’s guest is Daniel Lewis.

The story is more important than the format

As a consumer the format of the narrative podcast is not immediately interesting to Daniel. It’s the story that has to catch him, and whether he can connect with the topic itself.

For people considering doing narrative podcasts, it’s really a decision about whether that is the best way to tell the story that you want to tell and if you are willing to do the extra work that goes along with the format. It can come out really neat if you do it well but it is a lot of work. First, consider is a narrative/storytelling format the thing that communicates your message the best? Second, are you willing to do the hard work it takes to get something like that done?

Planning and preparation is key

If you have an idea that you feel could be fun for a narrative podcast story, Daniel says you need to plan and be prepared. If there is something coming up that would be great to record, make sure you have a recorder with you throughout the process. It could be as simple as your iOs or android device, but make sure you have that recorder with you at all times because conversations could come up at any time that are relevant to the story you’re telling.

Another reason to be prepared with a recorded always is to be able to speak your mind about something when it comes to mind. One practice you have to get into is verbalizing as much as possible, especially in those moments where you step away from the action and start talking to the camera or microphone. As you start producing this, you’ll find you will be recording a lot of random stuff. Daniel advises not being afraid to cut stuff out. It may be funny conversation but is it relevant? Does it add to the story? It’s ok to toss good stuff out if it doesn’t fit with the story that you’re doing.

Making a narrative podcast might help your marriage!

As a side note, Daniel suggests that maybe learning to make a narrative podcast could help in marriage communication as well. It’s stereotypical but a common complaint from wives is that their husbands don’t say what’s on their mind. This practice of verbalizing for the podcast could help here. When you get in that practice of communicating what’s on your mind and describing things, you’ll end up with much better material to use for recording.

Choosing guests

When he listens to podcasts like Serial or Start Up, Daniel wonders about things like whether all the many random voices gave their permission to be used in the podcast. That is something you have to be concerned with today, especially if you’re going to monetize the narrative podcasts that you’re making. You need to talk to a lawyer but it might be enough to get the guest’s recorded agreement to basic terms and that they know they are being recorded and it will be used for telling a story.

The next step is finding people who would have some kind of feedback, having a conversation with them and recording it. It could be as simple as someone being a sounding board and you asking them to hear you explain the idea and then question and challenge you on it. Not only does it mean it’s another voice, it’s also a different perspective that could potentially bring something to the conversation that you would have never thought of.

Varying the audio recording methods

In an audio drama it is very important people can hear the spoken work very clearly. In a narrative, interspersed with clips of actual things you recorded, the audio doesn’t have to be studio quality but it does need to be listenable. Daniel believes the biggest sin that can be made with this kind of recording is not getting the volume levels right. The narrative section might be at a certain volume that is a different volume to a sound clip. Pay attention to this when you are recording but also in the editing. A good way to get better audio quality is simply to get closer to the microphone.

If you get some echo, some reverb, or background noise, it isn’t that much of a problem and can even enhance it because it helps make that section different from the clean, present studio voice. On the other hand, a soft room sound doesn’t quite work because it sounds like it’s trying to be studio quality but didn’t quite get there. Because it doesn’t contrast very much, it can create some conflict. If you want to create audio quality, try to make that contrast bigger so that people know just by the tone, the quality and the sound of the audio that it’s changed from studio narrative to recorded live in person. People can more easily follow that and you don’t need any transition because the style of the sound is making that transition for you.

Using music in transitions

Daniel suggests that you have certain music saved for certain things. All Things Considered by Gimlet, and NPR do this. They have sponsor music that loops in the background while they’re talking about their sponsors, and other tracks too like the opening music or the wrap up music. You can have your own sound track for the show, but make sure you get the license for the music.

Verbally transitions are sometimes needed. However, don’t say “we’ll be right back after a word from our sponsor.” The music can be what sets the tone but you still need to clarify some changes with your spoken word. You need to say things like ‘this podcast is brought to you by…such and such’ so there’s still some kind of verbal transition, however the background music does some of the work for you. People can then start to associate certain background music with certain parts of the show.  Music can also set the tone and emotion of the moment just like a film soundtrack.

Additional transition tips

Another way to transition is to have a portion of the clip playing in the background so the audience knows you’re about to go to a clip or just coming off a clip. Play a portion of the clip and have the narrator come in and say “that’s so and so, talking about such and such”, or start the clip by saying “on such and such day, I was talking to so and so”.

As well as reducing the volume, a cool little trick you can also do, especially when there’s spoken word in the background and spoken word (your voice) in the foreground, is to play with the frequencies a little bit. Reduce the frequencies in the vocal range, so that way you don’t have multiple pieces of audio conflicting for the same audio frequency range. You reduce it a little bit in the background but then raise it back up when you bring that background clip back into the foreground.

Enticing the listener

Daniel emphasizes that to entice the listener you have to have a compelling story to begin with and compelling details along the way. It’s ok to sometimes along the way dig deeper into something less compelling, books and movies all have their low points where the audience is waiting to get back into the action. Your podcast story might have those moments too. It’s not always cliffhanger after cliffhanger—that can get boring as well. Look at the overall story you’re telling within an individual episode, and look at the peaks and valleys within the story.

Start with a peak so that when the audience starts listening they think, “that’s interesting, what is the story behind that?” and they want to learn more. You need something that hooks them in the beginning, and carry that through a little bit. Then it’s ok to go down into a valley as you go into more depth. Then go back up into a climax, and perhaps back into another valley.

Make sure you end on a climax too. The most important parts of presentations, books, and stories are the beginning and the end. Make sure that your beginning and end are great material. Especially with that end point, you want to hook them so that they’ll come back for the next episode. It could be a cliffhanger, but there are also ways to end without cliffhangers, such as by letting the audience know what’s coming in the next episode, because that can hook them in as well.

Keep learning across genres

Daniel’s advice is to keep learning how to tell a good story and not just in the medium of a podcast. The principles apply whether it’s learning about giving a good presentation through something like Toastmasters, or whether it’s a book about storytelling. The medium itself doesn’t matter, the skill behind the medium matters. Learn the principles and looks at narrative lessons you can learn to know how to craft things together.

Study the podcasts out there that do it well. There are plenty of journalistic narrative podcasts out there aside from Serial. Some suggestions are Start Up, Reply All and most everything from Gimlet Media or This American Life or NPR spin offs.

Listen to them and break it down. Try and evaluate what they are doing in each part, what they are using the make their transitions, how they are coming up with hooks, what the flow is that they’re following. Don’t try to imitate them; it can be difficult but also usually ends badly. Look for what you can learn that you can put your own style on.

Learn from other great artists. Be inspired by others. Almost no great artist is inherently good without being inspired and challenged by other things, so listen to other stuff and don’t be only entertained by it. Go back through, deconstruct it and experiment with it on your own.

Jun 19, 2017

Today’s guest is Jessica Abel, author of the book Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio and the Out on the Wire Podcast.

Reasons to do a narrative style podcast

Jessica suggests doing a narrative podcast because narrative journalism is an extremely powerful way to convey ideas. You can pack so much into so little time and with so many layers of meaning by carefully editing, layering in sound and thinking really carefully about your scripting and narration. Although you could listen to five episodes of a good interview podcast and get little nuggets of gold here and there, there’s often fluff that goes on in between those nuggets. It’s possible to put all of those nuggets into a half hour narrative podcast and really not miss anything.

Even interview podcasts themselves can be done much more tightly, much more efficiently and much more interestingly. For example, Fresh Air episodes are heavily edited. They’re not narrative, they’re interview based. But they’re still done in a style that the listener is kept in mind and the story that they want to tell, the information that they want to convey is carefully composed. Jessica believes that even people who are doing a more interview-oriented format could benefit from thinking like a maker of narrative.

When researching her book, Jessica spoke with Dylan Keith, the head of production at Radio Lab who also used to work at On The Media. People used to ask him what he did for a living and he would say “I take a 45 minute interview and make it a 6 minute interview.” It would be a super punchy, awesome 6 minutes and the listener can get everything they need out of it.

Jessica’s advice is to approach an interview in that way, as material, and to think about what is it that you want to tell with this interview. Even if you’re not constructing something that’s character based you can still think of these kinds of tools and apply them to interviews.

Constructing a story from a narrative idea

In order to take your initial idea and make it into a story with a strong narrative, there are a lot of steps, which is why Jessica did an entire podcast series and wrote a book on it!

First, come up with an idea for a story, ideally one based around a character that goes through changes, although you can certainly work the style with idea-based stories as well. Then you need to vet that idea in various ways, test it with different kinds of tools. One such tool is the ‘X-Y story formula’, which comes from Alex Bloomburg. So you may be doing a story about X, but what’s interesting about it is Y. It’s important to figure out what’s really interesting about it and not just what you’re going to find interesting about it, but what the listeners are going to find interesting about it.

There’s also the focus sentence approach, which is sort of like a mini narrative arc. Jessica says that if you can work out the focus sentence on your idea, you often are well on your way in terms of thinking about the outline of your story. The sentence is usually some form of this: “Someone does something because [blank] but [blank].” A character is in motion, living some kind of life and has a sense of mission, something they want, but there’s something that stands in their way. From there you have to do a bunch of further outlining.

Jessica also invented a new tool called the Story Mad Lib, which she talks about in more detail in Episode 4 of Out on the Wire Podcast. The Story Mad Lib is a way of building out the entire arc of the story in a paragraph to guide you where you’re going to go, and help you figure out and plan your interviews carefully ahead of time. If you do an interview that takes an hour or two hours, you will have tons of stuff in there that you could use for 8 or 10 different stories, and you get to decide which one is the story you want to tell. So that kind of selection and decision-making is a huge part of making a narrative.

Selecting interview subjects and preparing for interviews

It depends on what the interview is for but if the interview is for a story that is character-based, then Jessica recommends thinking about what the turning points in the narrative are. If you have a character-based story, you have a character who is going to be the center of the story, you want to think about what the stages that they went through in the change that you want to depict in your narrative. Think about when they went from one place to another place, what and where their dilemmas were, where were their decision points. During the interview, ask them all kinds of questions about those decisions that they had to make, and about those moments of change, how was it before, how was it after etc. The preparation is often figuring out the bare outline of what the person’s story is and then deciding where you want to delve in further. Jessica goes into more detail on this in episode 6 of her podcast.

Hooking the audience’s attention at the start

There are a lot of ways to approach this and one way Jessica suggests is to think about your best piece of tape, and put that at the beginning of the episode. Ask yourself which piece of tape is the one that’s going to raise a question and get people curious, get them wondering what’s going to happen next. Put that at the top. Basically, you need to put a question to the audience so that they can’t turn off, they need to keep listening to find out what’s going to happen next.

Techniques to transition smoothly

Jessica doesn’t have a list of transition techniques, but rather each time she needs to go from one part to another, she thinks about how she wants to connect the things that happened and raise a new question. At the end of one section you want to raise a new question that you’re going to answer in the next section. If you’re using music, that’s a good way to bridge parts like that.

Jessica suggests thinking about what cycles are in your story. She recommends Ira Glass’s 45 second rule: every 45 second you need to have a new little mini arc happening in the story. It can really be anywhere between 45 seconds to 2 minutes of time in your story but each time you need to be raising a question, answering a question. It could be narration, a quote, some music, but it’s important to think about it in little arcs.

Suggested resources

Of course, Jessica recommends her own book and podcast, because she created them for people who are wanting to make narratives.

Other than that, she recommends as it’s a wealth of information on both the technical, strategic and all other aspects of narrative audio making.

Practice your craft

Ultimately, Jessica’s advice is to just start making it. She says, “Start making audio, just go!” It’s about practice and doing it over and over again. Ira Glass talks about the gap between our taste and what we’re capable of when we start. We can see what’s great but we can’t make what’s great and that can be really hard and really depressing to know how far we are from where we want to be. But the only way to the other side of that gap is to do it over and over again.

That’s exactly why Jessica made her book and podcast and working group: so people can have a place where they can work with other people to make audio and other narratives too.

Whether you’re a writer or a cartoonist, you have to practice your craft.

Jun 12, 2017

Today’s guest is Doc Kennedy from the Filmaker’s Focus podcast. He is one of the guests who contributed to the Season 4 series on Narrative Podcasting, and he’s on the show today to share some updated information. Along with being a podcaster, Doc is also a film maker, and working towards being an actor and a stand-up comedian. Being a film maker, he brought a different perspective on narrative podcasting than many of the other guests, and was able to bring in a lot of parallels from video and acting. Today, we will revisit this.

In the time since Doc was last on the podcast, there have been ever-increasing changes and improvements to technology. For example, cell phone cameras have gone from little grainy pictures to 4K. It’s insane how much things have changed even just in the last couple of years. Because of this, Doc’s perspective has changed somewhat too, and he feels some of the advice he gave last time is now outdated.  

Getting started

Doc’s advice is to start with the basics. Some people are producing videos online that look good but sound terrible. If you can’t get the video to at least match the audio, he says don’t make it. Sound and lighting is the thing that separates you from or makes you an amateur. If you have to choose from the two, take the sound, because you can look at a picture and think ‘it’s ok’ but if the sound is bad it’s unlistenable. The majority of things today will have half-decent video because most cameras these days are so good that you can work around shoddy lighting. If you’re going to hire out for anything, hire an audio guy. That’s how important it is. If you see a video that looks good but sounds horrible, you will turn it off. It’s that simple. Make sure you’re getting quality audio and do what you can for solid lighting.

Doc says if you can afford it, hire somebody that has the proper gear and knows what they’re doing. It’s one thing to have a mic but it’s another thing to know how to record. There’s a huge difference between recording audio for a film versus recording a podcast episode. In the podcast, usually you’re in a contained environment. In a narrative setting, the elements might be a little out there so you need to be aware of the little sounds that you’re hearing the background. At least reach out to someone in your area who has the gear and let them guide you on what to get and what’s available in your area.

Doc hesitates to list specific brands of quality gear because things are changing so quickly. However, he suggests looking at getting a basic shot-gun mic, and doing your research.  There are some amazing tutorial videos on YouTube that provide great videos of comparisons between two microphones, which can be really helpful. You want the professional level, but make sure you do your homework.

The importance of pre-production

Doc is really big on pre-production. He says podcasts are often rushed but in film making they don’t do rushed projects, everything is planned out. He likes having a solid game plan in place, making sure everyone has the right gear and there are the right people to operate that gear, and that the production is as great sounding as it looks.

The more planning you do up front the easier it is on the back end. In Doc’s freelance work, planning also helps when managing the client. If you do the preproduction there is a blueprint set up of what the client can expect so if they come back and say they aren’t happy or it isn’t what they expected, you can refer back to the pre-production blueprint. A lot of times people don’t understand what it takes to make a video or what that video may look like in the end. In that kind of client situation, ask if they’ve seen a video or movie that they want their video to look like. That makes it comfortable for client and creator and gives time to clarify whether the creator can actually create what the client is asking for or whether they need to refer on. Doc says pre-production meetings can drag out though, so he recommends doing pre-production for your meeting on pre-production!

Applying the screen-writing approach to podcast planning

Doc suggests writing out the podcast planning as a screenplay because having the blueprint is really vital. His opinion is that if we don’t know where we’re going, we’re going to get there and where we end up isn’t going to be good. If you aren’t good at writing and don’t feel comfortable about it, find someone who is. Make sure that you get something written out so everyone on your team knows where you’re going, even if the team is just you.

If you’re doing something with multiple characters, you can start visualizing what that character should be. Pre-production isn’t the most fun part, and for Doc he doesn’t enjoy the post-work editing either. He finds the best part is actually filming the piece. However, it’s important to appreciate the pre-production process because it makes everything else seamless.

Do the best with the equipment you have

Doc advises not to get too caught up in the newest, upgraded technology. In terms of cameras, 4K is really popular right now and it’s growing. If you have a DSLR, don’t be ashamed that it isn’t 4K. Use it. There’s a feature film on Netflix right now that was shot entirely with an iPhone! But this iPhone film had solid audio. If you’re doing things correctly and you’re giving a picture that’s worthy of the audio, you’re fine. Don’t worry about what the newest, greatest thing is, don’t be in a rush to upgrade it, just do the best with what you’ve got.

Contact Doc

Doc is keen to answer questions from listeners. He didn’t go to school for video production, he learned it all from mentors. The mentors meant a lot to him so the least he can do is help others in the same way, which is why he does his podcast.

Find Doc at or follow him @filmakersfocus on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And if you’d like to, you can follow Doc’s comedy @dockcomedy on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Jun 6, 2017

The guest today is Corey Coates from The Podcast Producers.

Choosing the right medium for your content

Corey’s experience has shown him that you have to make a decision as to who is going to be the one actually telling the story before you decide whether or not to do a narrative style. When doing narrative podcasting, people usually imagine as the narrator that they are “telling” the story, but the reality is a really good narrative podcast is one where the story is being told by the participants and almost unfolds on its own. There’s clearly a choice to guide the story in a certain direction, to edit in a certain way and to present the story that you might want to tell but before you even think about why you want to do it, ask “who is going to be responsible for telling the story?”

A lot of people are interested in the method of doing it this way largely because of the popularity of some narrative podcasts. When you listen to RadioLab or Serial, they sound beautiful and they’re fun to listen to. Corey knows how attractive that idea can be, but doing it just because a lot of the most popular shows or the ones you enjoy are in that fashion doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what you should do. Choosing the right medium for your content is critical.

If you’re trying to bring pure information from individuals to individuals, maybe the interview format is the way to go. If you are trying to demonstrate, as Corey and Jessica did in The Podcast Producers, that there’s a lot of experts, information and ways to look at the exact same thing, then maybe the narrative way of going is better for you. Ultimately it comes down to deciding ‘who is telling the story and what is the story being told?’ and then choosing the format that goes around that.

Start with the story arc

It always starts with the story arc. From beginning to end, what is the story you want to tell? Decide how you will subdivide that into chapters, which can become the episodes. For The Podcast Producers, Corey and Jessica knew they wanted to do 10 episodes, because it was a time constraint and prevented the project expanding for the rest of the year. From beginning to end they brainstormed a ton of questions or topics, what would be a logical order to arrange topics, and who might they be able to talk to on some of those subjects. It was about the questions Corey, Jessica and their community had, who are some of the people that might be able to provide the answers, and then how can you link one answer to the next, or one question to the next answer that takes someone through the journey but most importantly leaves them where we want them to be, which is wanting more. When you get to the end of it, there’s conclusions and ideas but nothing is really conclusive.

Choosing interview subjects

Corey and Jessica specifically targeted certain individuals for their knowledge base and their experience in the industry. It’s tough because in a lot of cases you have folks that are the most vocal and prominent, that may not necessarily be the ones with the best information, they’re just the loudest so they tend to get the most attention. Having been in the industry for 10 years and 3 years respectively, Corey and Jessica were able to tell whether folks were really legit, they know their stuff, and they’re really making a contribution, or if they were jokers and they’re coming in marketing themselves but not really having the skills needed. So they laser pointed their pitches and ended up getting 95% of the people they wanted. The 5% that didn’t were often the ‘shot in the dark’ people, and usually the reason was that their schedules wouldn’t allow it or it wasn’t going to fit Corey’s production schedule.

Corey’s advice is that the more specific you go towards somebody as a guest, having knowledge of who they are and their background, the more likely they are to agree because they know that you’re not just coming at you with a form letter that you send to everyone but that it’s a personalized request. If you blast to everyone in an industry, that shows people that you don’t care who they are, you are just taking who you can get. Corey strongly advises against that.

Word of mouth types of referrals can also be great, even if then you are cold calling those folks, because you can tell them who recommended them to you. For season 2 of The Podcast Producers, they already have a great list of guests, most of whom have come through referrals this way, but that has happened over time as they built their reputation in the industry.

Tips for interviewing and sticking to the story arc

Ultimately when interviewing, Corey is always looking for sound-bites. He wants the two or three good phrases out of the guest in a 20-30 minute conversation that are going to be usable. Sometimes there are surprise elements in the interviews. There were times when Corey planned to interview a guest on a topic, but ended up going off track and talking about other aspects of podcasting and those sections became the gold that often fit into other topics.

His advice is to play a little bit fast and loose. In interviews for a narrative podcast you can get away with it because it’s not a show where the person you are interviewing is the sole guest for the one episode. As an interviewer, you don’t have to be ‘on’. You don’t have to ask the immaculate questions, perfectly phrased, and the guests don’t have to give you that perfectly phrased answer that leads from beginning to end of the show like you would in an interview format.

Corey does suggest that as the interviewer, you have to speak less. Ask a question, then allow the guest to speak. After they finish the answer, just pause for 2 seconds, and you’ll see almost every time that the guest will elaborate. And the second thing they say is almost always more profound than the original answer that you got.

Finding the gold in the editing process

Corey believes the hardest thing to do for any editor is to edit, especially when it’s their own show. As podcasters, we are the control room, the editor, the producer, the distributor, the marketing personality, all at the same time. It makes it difficult to be objective when making some of these choices. It’s important to find a way to put things in perspective to who that audience is going to be. Start editing and cutting, not from your own perspective and the things that you like, but the things that are going to be the most valuable to that listener. Of course you, the podcaster, will understand the topics but if your guest is using a lot of industry jargon or buzzwords, it’s important to think about whether the listener will understand. If the answer is that most people wouldn’t understand what that is, Corey says, “cut it, you don’t need it!”

On the cutting room floor

When interviewing, Corey suggests you try to save yourself time down the road. When you get an ‘aha’ moment during the interview, time-stamp it. It was an emotional moment for you and that could then translate well to be an emotional moment for the listener. What you’re able to then is take some of those emotional markers and start putting them into bins and experiement with arranging them around. As you’re doing that, you only have to go and look for the little 5-10% pieces of audio that represent linking the pieces together. That is really the trick: creating the entire story to the best of your ability based on only components provided by your guests. Everything in between that can’t be linked and doesn’t make sense is where the narrator jumps in to get people from point A to point B to point C.

Corey feels that repurposing audio is a great way to go, and with The Podcast Producers, they intentionally did 20-30 minute interviews with podcasters for this purpose. Partly it was because they didn’t want to take up more than 30 minutes of anyone’s time, but it was also because at the end of it they got a weekly 30-minute long form podcast with somebody within the industry. Having finished producing the entire 10 part series and doing all the marketing necessary to get it out there, he can then start pulling these to release as episodes, raw and uncut. It keeps subscribers happy because they’re now getting weekly content, fans of the series are happy because they love the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff, and the editors are enjoying it because it’s a chance to see it in the raw perspective before it ends up in the polished product.

Tracking and transition techniques

Everyone has their own approach and every producer has their own flair. For Corey, it’s very simple: he’s always looking for wording to match. When something that one person says can naturally lead to something that someone else said, and those two things can be put together that is a win in narrative audio. Then you don’t need music, transitions, narration or anything fancy. It’s just letting the spoken word tell the story.

In many cases it doesn’t always fall that way because it is largely unscripted material so we have to find a way to bridge from one to the other, which is a good opportunity for a narrator to jump in, usually with a little bit of bed music under it. The music helps the listener to float in and out of the show when the narrator interrupts, but sometimes it’s also used in order to give the listener an appropriate amount of time to think about what was just said. If you can get two pieces of audio to stitch together naturally without having to do anything else to it, do that first. And if you have to get some narration in there, leave a little space, put a little music, give the narration and then go back into the content.

Avoid Analysis Paralysis

By his own admission, Corey is a proponent of the art of non-doing. He warns against getting overwhelmed by the amount of information that’s out there and getting locked into the research phase. He says just let the interviews flow, start getting the content in. In the meantime, start the hunt for your music. He suggests finding an individual composer so you have something that’s thematic that will work for the entire series. Then, see what happens!

May 29, 2017

Today’s guest is Jessica Rhodes from The Podcast Producers.

Reasons to do narrative style

  • Jessica explains that putting on a narrative podcast is going to make you a thought leader in that industry. It brings you a lot of credibility because of the amount of work that goes into it, the production and high quality of the style of podcasts. It makes you come across as a lot more serious about what you’re doing. Interview style podcasts are great but when you put out a narrative show, you are putting out a quality of show that is so much higher than the majority of shows out there so it really does set you apart from the crowd.
  • There is a lot of work both in preparation and post production. There are so many podcasts now. People want to podcast because they want to make money and be famous and they want the easiest way to do it. Well, the reality is if you want to be super famous or successful or make a lot of money, you have to put in the hard work. There is no fast path to a lot of success. A narrative style podcast is a lot of work but you will get a lot of recognition and exposure with a really quality show.

Planning and Preparation for a Series

  • You need to know and have a good understanding of who your audience and target listener is. You also need to know what the story arc is. The difference between a narrative and another type of podcast show is that there’s a story arc; there’s a beginning, a middle and an end.
  • When preparing for their show, Jessica and Corey were thinking about the fact that they were talking to podcasters. What are the questions that podcasters have? What do podcasters think and talk a lot about? They brain dumped all the different topics that came to mind and then on a Google spreadsheet moved them around in a different order and thought strategically about what the right order would be and how that story would be told.
  • Jessica’s advice is to think about who your target listener is and what the goal of the show is. What is the story that you’re trying to tell?

The interviews

  • When you’re thinking about what types of interviews to have on, remember that your guests ARE the show. When you have a narrative based podcast featuring a lot of different guests, you need to be ok with not being the front and center spotlight. The creators are the puppeteers, asking the right questions to allow the guests to tell the story. Jessica was strategic about having guests on from a variety of different categories of podcast, different experience levels, some well known and some not super successful.
  • A good podcast in Jessica’s opinion is not one with just a big name, but one with good content, good production quality, good sound quality and a host who really, really digs their show. She would advise against hosting a narrative show and only trying to get the big names. A narrative show is beautiful because it’s bringing voices to so many different people that you don’t hear on every other podcast.

Tips for having a good interview

  • The difference in doing a narrative style podcast is that the interviews are not meant to be heard just raw and uncut, so it’s not just this flowing conversation. It feels a little choppy because it will get cut and pasted into different episodes.
  • The best tip Jessica ever heard and the best advice that she can give is actually a tip from Mark Maron at Podcast Movement: listen. When you’re interviewing, really listen and let your guest do as much of the talking as possible, especially in a narrative based podcast.
  • Corey also taught her this: the best part of the interview, the best stuff, is going to come after at least 15 minutes. So if you can, have your interviews go for a minimum of 30 minutes. Sometimes you can only get guests for 30 minutes but if you can have someone on with you for an hour, the stuff that comes after that 15-20 minute mark is going to be the best. You’re just breaking the ice after those first few minutes.

The editing process

  • It’s important to have a team. Doing a narrative-based podcast by yourself is going to be a really big challenge. It’s not impossible but Corey and Jessica each brought very different skill-sets to the table, which allowed them to have a really good show. She highly recommends that if you want to do a narrative-based podcast to really make sure you have the right partners to help you do it really well. Jessica has a nice voice on the microphone, can interview well and knows how to get guests. So she was the main booker for the show and obviously contributed along with Corey to the ideas. She thinks more like a marketer and an entrepreneur than Corey does. He is the artist, he is the editor, he is the producer and the one that listens to all the interviews and takes the pieces and puts them together.
  • Having a partner and knowing what your skillsets are helps, but also get as much content as you can. They brainstormed what the story would be but what they realised is they ended up talking to the guests about a lot more than what they booked them to talk about. So they ended up being able to use their interviews in a lot more of the episodes than first thought. You don’t want to pre-edit, you want to just talk to the guests and try to get as much great information. A lot will get left on the cutting room floor, but you want to get as much great audio as possible so you have plenty to work with.

Strategic Elements of the Stories and Transitions

  • In the narrative-based podcast, you want to have a variety of feels to the show. For Podcast Producers they had three different kinds of audio: interviews, solo segments and conversations between Cory and Jessica. And there was also music. A person’s voice when they do a solo show is different to when they interview, and again to when they have a conversation. It sounds so different. In a narrative based-podcast, one of the things you can do to hook listeners, is to have those different kinds of vocals.
  • The music is HUGE as well. They actually contracted a musician to write the music for the show. The high quality of the music is a big part of creating the high quality show. You can find musicians to compose a song for you. The production quality and the sound, high quality music, will really set you apart.


  • Getting sponsorship comes back to that high quality content and production, and the launch. They didn’t do that much around marketing but Jessica thinks because all of their energy was into the production of the show, it marketed itself. She thinks the mistake a lot of podcasters make is they go into podcasting thinking about sponsors and have dollar signs in their eyes. But if you think about the story and the listeners, and focus on the quality of the show, then you can definitely attract sponsors.
  • In the iTunes show there is a part about podcasting and it has other shows in there like Podcast Answerman. She emailed iTunes and said that they should feature her show in that category. It took a couple of months but now their podcast is listed in the ‘How to Podcast’ section of iTunes because they had a very clear target market, a highly produced show and they went for it, they made it happen.

Repurposing the interview content that didn’t make it

  • Podcast Producers is a show for podcasters, so the audience will respect and value that unedited aspect. Also showing the unedited interviews is a lesson in and of itself. Also Jessica and Corey wanted a way to create buzz. She was pregnant and he is very busy, so they knew they weren’t going to be able to come back and produce another season for a while, and it was a way to fill that space.
  • They chose to not build an email list together. So on the you can find Jessica’s bio and a link to her website, and a link to Corey’s bio and his website. They wanted a way to keep people engaged in between seasons so they wanted to keep having episodes come out so people stayed in touch.
  • This was about getting content out, it isn’t a list builder, it isn’t a way to make money, it was about making Jessica and Corey authority figures. They were both behind the scenes people in podcasting, working really hard in their businesses but not internet celebrities. They wanted to show that they knew a lot about podcasting. Jessica did not want this to be a business podcast where it just sounds like everyone’s pitching what they do. She says maybe if they had talked more about their businesses they would have seen more people visit their websites. But the original goal was to produce a high quality show and create amazing value for podcasters. When you do that, you will attract people. Quality leads will seek you out.


  • Jessica recommends people use Podfly Productions, Interview Connections or Josh Rivers’ services.
  • She also highly recommends honing your communication skills on the mic. You just have to do a lot of podcasting and do a lot of interviews and listen to yourself after the fact to hear how you sound and to improve.
  • Listen to people like Terry Gross from Fresh Air and Mark Maron host of WTF, or other high quality podcasts. Listen to them as a way to learn how to be a better host and a better interviewer.
  • Also check out Jessica’s WebTV show Interview Connections.TV which is a weekly show with tips for podcasters because that will be helpful too.
May 22, 2017

Today’s guest is Geoff Woods from the podcast The Mentee.

There is a change of direction in the podcasting world, ever since Serial, where narrative podcasting has become more popular. We are still at the very beginning of the bell curve of podcasting’s popularity because we’re still in the realm of the early adopter. Many people still don’t know what podcasting is.

There is going to be an increasing need for podcasts because it will become more popular and the professionals are realizing it. There are narrative journalists who did that as their profession who are bringing that talent and skill set to the podcasting world. With that, you’re starting to see podcasts coming out with incredibly high production quality and budgets for production as well. You don’t have to do that to compete moving forward, but recognize that the quality is going through the roof and if you want to stand out you have to do things differently.

Geoff’s approach

  • Geoff started recording the conversations with the incredible, high-level people he was spending time with as a way to document his journey from employee to entrepreneur. He got feedback from the listener that what they really wanted wasn’t necessarily just an interview but that they wanted to hear private conversations that were genuine, that actually led to results in his life.
  • His podcast is a mixture of the conversations he was having, interspersed with his own narration about it. As he documented his journey over the last year, there were times where he felt compelled to share his thoughts and document his journey and carrying a recorder everywhere enabled him to do that. He says he has only used perhaps 5% of those little moments in the podcast but it aids in the rawness and authenticity of his podcast. It shows the true emotion, including fear, that he’s going through but also when the lightbulb comes on in his head too.

 Advice for narrative podcasters

  • Recognize that you need to document every interaction not only for your own retention but also in case there is a snippet of gold that you can use for the podcast. Also of course ask for permission to use what snippets you choose in the podcast. You have to document it and form some system of marking the date you talked to them, what you talked about and moments of gold.
  • When you start a podcast or a blog, when you do anything that puts you in the position of being a reporter, you end up doing something that creates an immense amount of value for yourself. This is why Geoff started his podcast. Not only to add value to other people (which was his number 1 goal) but also to give a way to add value that was unique, and get in front of the people he wouldn’t have had access to otherwise.
  • If you were to walk up to those people and ask to pick their brain, the chances are the answer will be no. However, when you put yourself in the position of reporter, all of a sudden you are giving value to them because you have a platform and are giving them exposure. Everyone wants exposure. It feeds the ego. Regardless of how big their podcast is, this is true. Some people will ask you how big your podcast is and how big your reach is, and that’s ok, but most people will just want the exposure.
  • Take Damon John from Shark Tank for example. The odds of getting him to have coffee with me, he’d likely say no. Geoff recognizes that if he wanted to get in touch with those kinds of people, he needed to step his game up even more. Using a brand like behind his name gives him even better access to those kinds of high-level people. Therefore, he set out with the aim of becoming a contributing writer for for the specific reason of being able to network.
  • When he found out that Damon John was coming out with a book, he recognized the opportunity, as a reporter for a major publication, to offer exposure to him for his book. It was an immediate yes, and he got to have the conversation with Damon that he wanted to have, turn it into a podcast episode and turn it into an article for which not only added tremendous value to him in promoting his book, but also adding tremendous value to Geoff from a credibility and traffic standpoint. It was a true win-win.
  • Geoff is always asking the question ‘How can I add value? How can I help you?’ He knows if somebody is coming out with a book then they will be looking for press, so it’s a no-brainer.

Hooks in the podcast to entice listeners

  • Geoff also realizes that recording private conversations with some really influential people can be taken out of context. So what he’s started to do is narrate at the beginning of each episode to provide the context and frame the conversation. It shows people the goal, the mission and the stage of the journey that he’s on so that they can understand why the conversation is worth listening to. Then he adds a take-away so the listeners can easily find out what they can apply in their own life, and also a call to action.
  • It’s a concept of opening loops and closing loops. At the beginning you can say something that sets up the topic. E.g. ‘the 5 things that are holding you back from quitting your day job’. This gives the listener a headline and something that grabs you attention and makes you want the answer. Then, however, they don’t get the answer straight away. They have to stick around to listen to the end of the episode so they will get the answer.
  • Then, throughout the episode, before you give them the answer to that question, before you close that loop, open another one. You can add something like ‘before we finish this episode I just want to let you know that next episode we will feature a conversation with xyz and the secrets he shared about abc.’ Then close the original loop so that the listener does get that sense of closure.
  • The basic formula: Open loop 1, open loop 2, close loop 1.
  • Then in the following episode you address the fact of that open loop 2, but also open loop 3 before you close loop 2. It’s putting a chain together so that listeners are drawn on and on. This idea comes from Ryan Dice at Digital Marketer. This is something, a very specific thing, that Geoff thinks about when he’s planning his podcasts now. He asks himself ‘how can I tie these episodes together?’ so that strategically he can keep people engaged.
May 4, 2017

Today’s guest is Bryan Orr from Podcast Movement: Sessions.

Bryan's podcasting story:

Bryan got into podcasting doing a typical interview show around small business. He found he was getting bored listening to his own content. Some guests were great and the application was strong but it wasn’t grabbing attention the way shows like 99% Invisible and This American Life had done. He had a real discontent with what he was producing, so he began Mantastic Voyage with his brother. Now he does more of a narrative style with Podcast Movement: Sessions. It’s not quite storytelling, but synthesis: synthesising information into a story.

Define narrative:

A narrative is anecdotes, so descriptions of things that happened, plus emotions or moments of reflection. If you take something that is an occurrence and add in elements of reflections or emotion into it, that can become a narrative. Another way to describe a narrative is to raise questions but be much more slow to answer them using occurrences or a sequence of events. In a question based podcast the host would ask a question and the guest would answer it. But in a narrative based podcast you explore the answer, and you find it by weaving through a set of occurrences.

The pros and cons:

  • A good reason to have a narrative of any kind is if you are wanting to make an emotional connection. If you have no interest in emotion whatsoever, making an emotional connection or getting people’s emotions to rise and fall, then don’t do a narrative. If all you’re wanting to do is simply express information and have information absorbed, then narrative doesn’t make sense.
  • But Bryan challenges anyone who says that all they’re doing is relaying information because information is absorbed when it’s attached to emotion. If we have no relationship to information given to us then you’ll have a tough time remembering it. But if you can attach information to an emotion, then you’ll remember it. Humans are hard-wired for story. As soon as you hear a story, you’ll listen to it.
  • The only reason to decide not to do it is if you don’t have the time, the discipline or a subject matter that has any emotion whatsoever. If you don’t have any time, if what you’re wanting to do is simply create a content machine and not actually go through and edit and write, then don’t do narrative. Narrative requires a great amount of effort on the front, middle and back end in order to pull it off. It requires a time investment a lot of people don’t have, and for certain niches, it may not be worth it.

The steps required:

  • The steps required depends on the type of narrative podcast you’re doing. Some are content-centric. For example, Podcast Movement: Sessions is content centric. Take the content that you already know you want to talk about and find the best story you can from within that. It’s easier than starting from scratch. Fiction podcasts start from scratch and are much more difficult because they centre around really good writing.
  • First, distill one idea, even if it’s a content-centric podcast. Figure out what the one idea is that everything you’re doing is surrounded around. Think about how you want the podcast to sound: intense, mysterious, funny. How do you want it to sound generally speaking?
  • Then start to lay it out on a timeline. What are some pieces you can fit in, and then see the gaps that need effective narration or sound clips to augment it.
  • Bryan's editing process has evolved over time as he has used different programs and learned to be a better podcaster over time. His process is to record the audio and load it into Reaper, which is non-destructive software so you can make changes and go back later not having lost the original take. He will then go through and log the tape using markers, making notes at significant points. Brian uses brown, green or red markers: red says ‘no way to use it’, green says ‘definitely going to use it’ and brown says ‘maybe’. Then, aggressively hack it because it’s non-destructive so he can get it all back later if he wants. He will then assemble the piece with all the narration and extras, then do a final edit where he makes it even tighter, and then he does the scoring which is adding the music.
  • The timeline also helps in the editing. Loosely, you will  know generally the points you want to hit, maybe 6 points. As you log the tape you find the specific things that you want so you fill in the timeline with the specifics, adding more detail until get to a really tight story.
  • Bryan says you can still create a good podcast even if you don’t know where you’re going, but it will take more time. It’s better if you have the general outline of where you want to end up and how you want it to sound before you start.

The interviews:

  • In Podcast Movement: Sessions the main topic for each episode is the main speaker. Then Bryan weaves in interviews and discussions with other people as well as his own narrative comments. He works ‘in the tape’ a lot. That means he goes through the tape a lot to find some areas that are really strong, and some areas that are weak. It’s nice to have balance from other voices when you have areas that aren’t so strong, that don’t stand on their own that well.
  • Bryan turns on a recorder when anyone is willing to talk to him. He has a mobile set-up and does a cell phone interview for the secondary voices. The point of these sections is to create some balance so the audio quality can be less than that of the main interview. He emphasizes the need to get a lot of tape. You never know what you’re going to get, sometimes you’ll get great stuff from unexpected places.
  • The ethos of a one-take interview show doesn’t translate into narrative because the whole interview won’t necessarily be strong.

The cutting room floor:

  • Bryan uses a list of questions to ask himself to make sure he’s not missing anything in the editing process. Is there an idea of place? Is there emotional balance? Are there ups and downs? In the timeline you can mark this with up arrows and down arrows. Is the story bouncing or falling flat? What are the stakes? What is at stake in the story if the subject if the narrative doesn’t go the way that you hope it goes? Establish that early on.
  • Look at your story and if it happens just like someone expects it to happen then it’s not a good story. It has to have some element of the unexpected to it. Rob Rosenthal of the House Down Podcast says use your best tape first, and Bryan follows this advice. Figure out a way to take some of your most engaging audio and use it early on. It creates draw into the story and interest in the story. It establishes the ‘why you should care’ factor.
  • Be conscious that whatever you end the story on is what you’re leaving people with. It’s ok to leave it unclosed. Good modern storytelling very rarely has grand summation, however it does have something that you want to leave the audience with and they’re very intentional about that. Whatever it is that you’re doing with your narrative, you want to make sure you’re conscious of that.
  • As for out-takes, if it’s good, clip it so you can have it later. If it’s topical and interesting, save it as a clip and maybe you’ll use it later.


  • Bryan advises you think of the mood and emotion, make sure the timing is appropriate, give people enough time to digest what just happened and then transition them emotionally into what’s about to happen next. Music is a huge part of that.
  • Ira Glass says This American Life uses ‘plinky’ music. The biggest mistake people make getting into narrative is they just use the wrong music. Music for sound and transitions is not the same kind of music that works if you’re doing an interview podcaster type of intro. Pick music that is very understated and simple and mood appropriate to what’s going on. Usually it’s fairly neutral, even for sad scenes.
  • Tracking is the name for the cutting of those little narrations in between pieces. What works nice is to not only introduce the next thought, but do some of their talking for them so that the narrations aren’t literally just introducing the next idea.


  • Listen to really great narrative podcasts. The RadioTopia podcasts are great examples of narrative podcasts: 99% Invisible, The Memory Palace, The Illusionists, Kitchen Sisters, Lost and Found Sounds. That will give you a feel for what is good, it helps you obtain good taste. You have to actually enjoy it yourself. If you’re not passionate about stories at all, it won’t work.
  • Listen to podcasts that specifically talk about how to do narrative. How Sound by Rob Rosenthal is the best one around, or Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel. Also look into Alex Bloomberg’s storytelling workshop on Creative Live.
  • Go to the Third Coast Festival in Chicago, where the world’s best audio storytellers go to meet and learn to each other.
  • and are good places to go.
  • Look into Smart Sound, which you can use to create your own music tracks and make them exactly what you want them to be. It’s not cheap but it’s a good resource.

The takeaway:

  • Just do it. Do it even if you’re never planning on publishing it. Start with your family, start with the stories you can tell about yourself, and sit in front of the microphone and work on editing it. You can’t read your way into becoming a good storyteller or a good editor. Just get started and you’ll find once you put in some hours you’ll be good.
  • If you’re going to do narrative, you can’t outsource it. You are going to have to learn how to do it all. Bryan strongly suggests getting in and learning every step of how to do it. Cutting your own tape, doing your own logging, learning how to write your narrations, learning how to write your own music.

If you want more from Bryan you can find him at



Apr 27, 2017

Today’s guest is Elsie Escobar. Elsie runs a yoga podcast and has extensive experience in the performing arts. She doesn’t have personal experience creating narrative style podcasts, but she does have a lot of experience listening to them and some really great insights to share.

Elsie’s story:

Elsie started a yoga podcast on her own, which had nothing to do with narrative. She was in Los Angeles and the LA podcasters were all storytelling podcasters at that time. All were creating what we would consider to be more of a storytelling type of a podcast, minus all the hyper-produced musical interludes and overtone of the narrative between the conversations. They were done in a way that struck me as a human being telling stories.

Tim Coin had a podcast called The Hollywood Podcast. Dan Class had The Bitterest Pill. Lance Anderson had Verge of the Fringe. Kush had Things I Say. All four of these guys were producing a podcast telling stories, and all did it completely different from each other.

For Elsie this was an incredible learning to understand how powerful a narrative could be in that it doesn’t have to be a specific type of way.

She also worked as an actor for 10 years, did theatre and movies and TV, and worked in Hollywood for a while. In hindsight, she says she didn’t have confidence in who she was as an artist, she didn’t trust herself, and that was one of the reasons she quit. She didn’t have the creative life she wishes she could have had. Elsie says podcasting gives that to her, the creative control and expression she was searching for.

A listener perspective on narrative podcasts:

  • When working behind the microphone with all the editing and producing, we can forget what it’s like to be on the other end of the microphone. Even when we listen to podcasts we forget what that listener experience is like. Working in theatre is similar. Doing musicals, Elsie always got notes from directors that would say ‘you have to earn the right to start singing the song’. There are times in some narrative podcasts where she felt that they had not earned the right to insert that piece of music there, or to narrate this portion, because it’s more contrived. It needs to be furthering the throughline of the storytelling process.
  • Although like anything else in podcasting there are very specific ‘rules and regulations’ around what constitutes a strong listening audio piece, there is also the ability to mess with them to the point where you don’t have to follow any rules. Creative juices sometimes get stuck in the technical world. Elsie explains the technical stuff comes from one side of brain and creative comes from the other. If you’re thinking about the technical that’s the editing and producing etc. The narrative and storytelling and strategy and heart of the piece is the creative. It’s either too ‘out there’ with no form, or it’s too form-ish with no impact that you’re looking for. A balance between both is what makes the most incredible narrative podcast.
  • You’re into it, you create the thing, maybe you have a team. But then find someone not a part of the “in crowd”, maybe they’re the audience, maybe there’s a person who would benefit to listen or someone you want to reach. You have them listen to see if it works, like a mini focus group.

Tips for planning and crafting the narrative:

  • Make sure before you start that you/the team have the key points you want to drive home or the overarching theme and WHY of this podcast. What’s the bottom line of this podcast? How is it that in the process of capturing the audio, how can we get the bits and pieces that really serve to drive the larger dialogue and larger point?
  • As producers, keep the throughline front of mind, that primary dialogue with the audience. Make sure you mark things as you go. You will think ‘I’m never going to forget that’ but you will. Be meticulous about that. Be clear that you know how to get back to this information.
  • Schedule a buffer time to capture some of that thought process straight after the interview, to write down the key insights from your guest but also from you. Write it down, you won’t have the throughline in your head as clearly as when you first finish that interview.

Advice on crafting the beginning, the ending and the climaxes:

  • The key thing in theatre, dance, almost every art form is pacing. It’s the same thing with storytelling and music. You set up a certain amount of some sort of consistency, perhaps in the rhythm or your voice, and then you add elements that break that pattern. Sometimes it’s more melodic, more pleasing, but sometimes it’s very dissonant and it shocks you. It can be change of speed/tempo (faster or slower), volume (louder or softer) or sharpness.
  • What’s lovely with a narrative podcast is you don’t have to do it just with your voice, you can use sound design or music. Be very deliberate as to why you are putting that where you’re putting it. Pacing also needs to be steady. It doesn’t need to be any one specific rhythm, but the drive does need to continue the story, it needs to consistently move forward.


  • You need to make choices based on the kind of transition that it is. Is it a very poignant transition? Or is it something where you’re talking about x and then that topic is put to rest so now we’re going to start talking about y. That merits a strong transition, an audio period. This is the end of the sentence. End scene. There are times that may not be so poignant and more integrated from one to the next. Think about what kind of transition you need.
  • Really truly study the narrative podcast genre. Listen not for content but for transitions, what worked the most and what worked about it? Reverse engineer the impact something made on you or why it didn’t work or why it was too jarring or why you wish that it was some other way. Follow your instincts with this, develop your own opinions, find what you like and see what resonates with you. That only comes from studying.

The takeaway:

  • Think about how you can use every part of who you are to make those transitions. There are different ways to use the body and to tell stories minus audio, minus music, minus words, just with gesture. Doing that kind of work opens up so much. It opens up the possibilities when you can so you don’t fall on the same old patterns of ‘I’ll just use music here’. What if instead of music you used silence? Perhaps there are optimal ways to do things, but sometimes doing the different thing will get you the results you’re looking for.
  • It’s necessary to look outside the industry to see what other people are doing and to see what we might be able to pull in and use that. Break the mould!

Bonus notes: The LA Podcasters:

  • Dan Class primarily told stories about his life when he was an out of work actor in LA. He was a stay at home dad, taking care of his babies. He cultivated these incredible, super funny stories of his life. Like a diary but better produced. Each episode focused on maybe 3 stories tops. For the most part it seemed as if he was off book but very clearly he worked on them. He could do it at a stand up show or encapsulate different genres, could shoot it as a pilot episode. It was also highly audio produced.
  • Kush did Things I Say also about living in hollywood around that time. His storytelling wasn’t necessarily as funny as Dan Class’s but was very poignant and cut through a lot of layers of living life in Hollywood. He would tell a story but also give a lot of deep thoughts. You didn’t know if he was serious or making fun of the audience.
  • Lance Anderson’s take was not scripting anything. It was raw storytelling, a kind of “me and my mic, no music, awkward pauses accepted”. He would riff on something that was striking him in some way. It wasn’t just your regular Jo Schmo behind the mic, he really took the craft of getting behind the mic and doing a monologue as something to be cultivated. At the beginning of podcasting it was more common that it was sort of like an open Mic spoken word stories like that, where you would craft the story before, see where the story was going, and then you hit the microphone and you do it, and see if it lands or doesn’t. Sometimes his flopped and sometimes it soared, but it was beautifully done.
  • The Hollywood Podcast with Tim Coin was a very unique take on narrative. He was an actor trying to make it in Hollywood and he told the stories of auditions, brought in all the emotions, covered his relationship with his girlfriend and Dad and brother, all the psychological stuff going on. It was a very well-produced one hour drama comedy. It had scene changes and some musical interludes. Elsie recalls she laughed out loud AND cried publically out on the street because each one of his podcasts was like riding a rollercoaster.


Apr 20, 2017

Today’s episode features Eric Johnson from Podcast Talent He has a lot of radio experience and he helps people create stories from their podcast. We talk about storytelling in great detail. He also has worksheets and other resources for telling great stories on his website at


The Pros and Cons


One reason to do a narrative podcast is that it’s not prevalent right now in podcasting. Most everybody wants to do an interview podcast, because that’s the easiest type to do. Doing a podcast by yourself where you’re presenting the information is a little more difficult. The most difficult type of podcast to put together is the narrative podcast. It takes a lot of work to create but it’s one of the more entertaining and effective podcasts that you can put together.


Eric recommends narrative style because:

  1. It’s not prevalent right now, not many people do it.
  2. It’s incredibly entertaining
  3. It makes you unique because it’s a creative and artful form of podcasting.


However, it’s incredibly difficult and unless you know what you’re doing it’s not something you should dive into headfirst. Experience in podcasting, broadcasting, audio recording and editing will help. If you don’t have that experience, creating a narrative podcast as your first podcast is going to be very difficult.


When you listen to NPR, they have professional editors that sit down and edit the piece together so it comes together in one nice story in 2 minutes. But that person’s job is to edit stories all day everyday. Be aware that it’s not an easy thing to do unless you know what you’re doing.


The Steps Required


Once you’ve recorded, you have to catalogue the interview, the questions you’ve asked, the details the guest provided. Then once you have the interviews recorded, you have to step back and write the story, find the pieces of the interviews that support your story and piece them in.


The toughest part is knowing what parts to leave in and what to leave out and still tell the complete story. You have to be an incredible storyteller, which is difficult and it’s also an art. You need people to interview that are lively, entertaining and energetic but also that will speak in complete sentences to help tell your story. And then you have to catalogue it all so you can put it together in a way that makes sense, so that your listener can understand the complete story.


The first thing you need to do is decide what story you’re going to tell. The most well known narrative podcast is Serial. It was telling a story of a guy who got locked up, but the question was ‘did he do it or did he get locked up unnecessarily?’ The creators knew the outcome before they started editing. They knew how many episodes they wanted to create and they worked their way backward.


Figure out what the conclusion is of the story you want to tell, and then work your way backwards to figure out exactly how much information you need to include to properly tell the story and reach your conclusion. That will help you figure out who you need to interview and what questions to ask. Until you know what story you want to tell, you can’t begin creating the podcast.


The Four Key Elements to Storytelling


  1. A powerful introduction. What do you want to make your audience feel, laugh at, marvel at or better understand? What do you want the audience to walk away with? It must be an intriguing introduction. Create the first few seconds to hook your audience and bring them into the story like an amazing opening scene of a movie.


  1. Create vivid details so your story comes to life in the theatre of the mind. The images are dancing in the listener’s mind. When you create with wonderful images and vivid detail, it adds authenticity and believability and makes the story come to life.


  1. Powerful conclusion. Once you’ve accomplished what you hope to make them feel, you’ll know you reached the end of the story and that’s where your conclusion is. Knowing ‘where you want to end’ helps create the intriguing introduction at the beginning.


  1. The call to action. Where do you want the audience to go next? What is the follow up? In podcasting, when you’re telling great stories and you create a wonderful narrative for your listener, the end shouldn’t just be the end, it must lead them to more. Is it going back to your website or the show notes? Know how you want people to get more involved.


The most difficult part of storytelling is creating that intriguing introduction that really hooks your audience and tells them exactly where you’re going. Don’t wander into the story. You don’t want your listener to be wondering where the story is going rather than enjoying the details. You want the listener to enjoy the journey, and have the anticipation and excitement build up. In a movie we know where the story is going. But is the hero going to survive or is he going to perish? That’s what draws people in.


The Interviews


Sift through the interviews that you’ve recorded to find the parts that will tell the story, rather than you telling the story. The more actual interviews you can use the better, because it brings the story to life. Additional voices add depth to the podcast. The more voices you include, the more depth you have.


You can learn a lot by watching expose shows like Behind The Music or Sixty Minutes. Watch how they make their transitions in their interviews. It’s truly an art, to go from one interview clip to transition to another interview clip. Behind The Music is a great example: they tell the story of a band using a narrator that voices the transitions, and then the band members’ interviews tell the real story.


When you recruit the people that you’re going to interview for your podcast, it’s important to let them know that you’re putting together a story, and their interview will be part of a larger piece. Reassure them that nothing they say will be taken out of context. Make sure in your editing that you are including pieces that are actually what the guest said, not changing their words in any way.


The Interview Subjects


Finding people to interview really comes down to the story that you want to tell. You need to talk to the main characters and people that have intimate knowledge of the story you’re trying to tell. If you find multiple people who are giving you the same story, find the most credible and/or most entertaining and use that.


When it comes to selecting guests for a podcast of this nature, the most important part is to find individuals that will speak in complete sentences. When you go to edit your podcast, to put it into parts, you will find it easier to edit if they speak in complete sentences.


This is where the art of interviewing comes in. You as the interviewer need to think about that in the questions you ask. You need to ask questions that will generate answers that are complete sentences. The answer has to stand on its own without the question setting it up. It’s more important to find guests that can provide that for you than to find guests of any other nature. A great question you can ask is the ‘complete this sentence’ style question. It’s a great trick for people who won’t use complete sentences.




If you want to create great narrative podcasts, look into great storytelling and moviemaking. Understand how movies are created from idea to plot concept to storyboards to shooting the film and how they piece that all together. Go back and look into the early days of radio when they used serials like The Green Hornet or Dick Tracy. If you can find those stories and how they created those through audio, that will help you create great narrative podcasts.


Eric covers storytelling quite a bit in his own podcast. Storytelling makes you real as an individual, which helps create that relationship with your audience. When you’re trying to do business online, people want to do business with those they know, like and trust. That happens through your podcast.


The take-away


Storytelling is so critical. It’s what happens to be missing in great podcasts today. A lot of interview podcasts are successful because guests come on and tell great stories about how they failed and how they succeeded, and those stories make for great entertainment. Narrative podcasts can do the same thing. It’s a tonne more work but it’s a fabulous form of entertainment.

Apr 13, 2017

Today’s episode features Dave Jackson sharing his expertise about creating narrative style podcast episodes.


Pros and Cons of doing a narrative style:


The big pro is that stories engage audiences more than just a plain interview. There’s a reason every movie, every book, every TV show and almost all media is a story of some sort. It’s the Hero’s Journey: the audience gets sucked in and wants to find out what happens next.


The main con is that it takes a lot more time. To do just a host talking into a mic is a 4:1 ratio. If you’re making a 15 minute podcast like that, plan on spending an hour working on it. However other kinds of podcast have a much bigger ratio, because now you’re trying to get things to sound a specific way and create a mood so it takes much longer.


Dave’s tips for how to approach it:


Start with an idea first, break it down into specific topics next and then construct it into a narrative story.


Write it down and start fleshing out the idea, even write your show notes in advance. This helps because often during this process you will come up with cool ideas for production.


Choose guests via a criteria so that they fit the goal of the episode. That will mean you will get more of the sound bites you want from them and hopefully less will end up on the cutting room floor.


When trimming down interviews to get to the narrative elements, focus on the parts where the guest actually answers the questions you ask. Remember, you are the buffer between the guest and the audience and you don’t want to make the audience sift through content that isn’t relevant.


Ask yourself “What’s the point of telling the story, what’s the objective?” Do you want people to laugh, cry, groan or be entertained? Write it out so you can see the ebb and flow of the story. Then you will know where it tugs on their heart strings and where you need to lighten it up a bit so it’s not so heavy etc.


Sometimes you have good content that wasn’t relevant to the particular narrative, so it got cut. However, you could still use it for a promo for the episode or you can also release the full, raw, uncut interviews as well. For example, The Podcast Producers do this in between seasons.


Techniques to transition between clips or parts of stories:


Use music or sound effects, for example, at the end of a segment. Fade in music that sets the tone of the point you were making. It’s also useful for the audience to help the point sink in, let them ponder a bit.


Have a commercial break. This is a common way and audiences are familiar with it because it’s used so widely in mainstream media.


Simply use a dramatic pause followed by a question. Using a dramatic pause (think Paul Harvey, the king of radio) to let the idea sink in. Then start off next point with a question, to signal to the audience a shift of direction.


Resources or sources of inspiration


The book “Resonate: present visual stories that transform audiences” by Nancy Duarte.


Listen to Serial or Radio Lab or StartUp. Listen to enjoy the story, but also listen for the technical aspects of what they’re doing so you can reverse engineer them and use them yourself.


A portable recorder, to try to capture your thoughts in a moment, or your surroundings.

Mar 12, 2017

Welcome to the Creative Studio podcast, where we conduct experiments with podcasting! Throughout this season, we have explored how to create a narrative or journalistic style podcast. This is the tenth and final episode in this series.

Today, we will hear from several of our special guests regarding resources to help you create narrative audio. We’ll also hear some general tips from them that will also help throughout this process. Today’s guests are:

  • Bryan Orr
  • Corey Coates
  • Daniel J.  Lewis
  • Doc Kennedy
  • Jessica Rhodes
  • Jessica Abel
  • Dave Jackson
  • Erik K. Johnson
  • Rye Taylor

I also want to thank Else Escobar and Geoff Woods for being guests this season as well.

As we wrap up this episode and series, I want to invite you to get a free gift. I have put a detailed PDF together with everything mentioned in this episode. To get this, you don’t even have to enter your email address – just click the link to download the PDF right away. I know that this episode and corresponding PDF doesn’t have everything we covered in this series, but if you’d be interested in getting something with all of this either in written form or video, please let me know!

I really want to thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast. If this series has helped you, I really want to hear from you. You can go to the contact page or send me an email directly to

Now, as we are wrapping up season 4, I am working on some things for season 5. The tagline for this podcast is “podcasting experiments,” so I’d like to follow that vein and interview podcasters that are creating podcasts that are different from the “standard” podcasts. Maybe it’s the format that they use. Or the combination of formats they use. Or maybe it’s how they record the podcast. Or maybe it’s the way they combine niches to create a new niche. I’m going to be on the lookout for such podcasters, but I’m open to suggestions. If you or someone you know is creating a podcast that you think is a little different from the rest, please let me know.

Listen to really great narrative podcasts

Listen to podcasts that tell you how-to do narrative


Just Do It (even if you don’t publish it)

  • Start by telling stories about yourself or your family

Don’t outsource

  • Learn how to do everything yourself
  • Cutting own tape
  • Doing your own logging
  • Write your own narrative
  • Edit music

Do raw interviews

  • “Art of Non-doing”
  • Hunt for your own music - work with composers
  • See what happens
  • Oversaturated with information online, get back to the basics

Listening to what other people are doing with narrative

Scour YouTube

Connect with right people to get the right voices for your show

Make it the best that you can

Don’t let the deadline dictate the quality!

  • Telling the story is more important than meeting the crunch time

High-production quality

  • Putting some thought into your story

Check out the “How-to Podcast” section in iTunes

Podfly Productions

Honing skills on the mic

  • Communication Skills
  • Practice talking
  • Do a lot of podcasts and interviews
  • Hear how you sound and improve

Look for high-quality podcasts

Just start making it - start making audio

Put on a pair of headphones and stick in a mic and talk about something you’re interested in

Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte


Look into great Storytelling and Movie-making

  • How ideas are brought from plot concept, to storyboard, to actually shooting the film

Look beyond the scope of the medium that you’re trying to create - look outside of podcasting

Power Your Podcast with Storytelling with Alex Blumberg

Storytelling resources

  • Learn how to give a good presentation from Toastmasters
  • Book or video series on Storytelling

Listen to the podcasts out there that do it well

Listen, learn, & put your own style to what you find is good/inspiring

Learn new methods from other podcasts

Challenge yourself by deconstructing what you find when you listen to these podcasts

So this is Joshua Rivers wrapping up season 4. The Creative Studio podcast is a production of Podcast Guy Media, LLC. If you’re looking for help with the editing, show notes, or other aspects of the post production of your podcast, check out to schedule a short free consultation.

Jan 26, 2017

Welcome to the Creative Studio! This is the podcast where we talk about and explore ways to experiment with podcasting. We are close to wrapping up our series on narrative or journalistic podcasting. This is the ninth episode in this series and we have one more after this. If you haven’t listened to the first eight episodes yet, I encourage you to do that first because we have already covered everything you need to create a narrative podcast.


In this episode, we are going to take the next step. We have already talked about the editing process and the fact that sometimes a lot of things get cut out of the final piece. We’ll be looking at some things we can consider doing with these pieces of audio that are left on the cutting room floor. Corey Coates and Jessica Rhodes from the Podcast Producers starts us off.




[Jessica R.]


[Dave x 2]


Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting can always be counted on to bring great thoughts. One concept I’ve heard him share about many times regarding editing is in reference to targeting only a certain length of time.


[Dave x 2]


Erik K. Johnson adds to the thought about repurposing audio for future episodes as well.




[Jessica R. and me]


I also had the thought that bloopers are another thing that could be used. Several podcasters I know of use this either regularly or sporadically. I know that bloopers on TV shows and movies are really popular, and I think they can be effective in audio as well.


Before we wrap up this short episode, I did want to mention a great new resource that you can get ahold of. Jessica Rhodes not only does The Podcast Producers with Corey, she also has her own show, Rhodes to Success, and her business, Interview Connections. One of her specialties is connecting podcast hosts with podcast guests. She helps to facilitate interviews on both sides, so she has written a book about how to rock the podcast from both sides of the mic.


Here are just some of the topics you'll discover in this powerful book:


 *  Getting Started with Podcasting


 *  Positioning: The Power of Celebrity


 *  Rock the Interview


 *  Getting a Return on Your Investment


 *  How to Launch and Then Soar


 *  Leveraging the Power of Guest Interviews


 *  How to Monetize & Market


 *  Podcasting to Actually Grow Your Business


Plus, Jessica includes her exact, step-by-step blueprint and the resources she uses to make podcasts happen!


I’m going to dive into this book more in the next episode, but you can check out for more information.


The next episode will wrap up this series by sharing the different resources that can help you as you create a narrative podcast. In fact, many of these resources can help you with any podcast you create.


If you’ve found this series helpful, please share this with someone that you think could benefit! I look forward to talking with you again on the Creative Studio podcast! God bless!