The Hubris of the Long-Distance Podcaster.

Ears like this would help.

That pesky podcasting journey. We left off last time as I burbled confidently about the software required to record author interviews. I seem to recall mentioning that familiarity with the geekery was all it took. It turns out though, that you have to make a few more mistakes before all is well in the poddyverse. Just in case you fancy popping some interviews on your website for fun, traffic and interactivity, here are some of the things I learned the hard way.

I had already made a few decisions about the interviews themselves. I’ve been interviewed enough myself to know the frustrations of being asked all the wrong things by someone who clearly hasn’t read the right book, so I wanted the end result to be pleasing to the author. At the same time, I wanted to get a little beyond the usual verbal press release. I hoped to find areas of common ground, get a bit psychological maybe and of course have a fine old chat and a bit of a laugh. That’s a tall order with someone you can’t see and have never met so I plumped to semi-prepare us.

I sent the first victixxxx guest a proposed list of questions. I invited him to tell me if he didn’t like any of them and to add any questions that he wanted me to put in. This was his chance to tell my, um, dozens of listeners who he was, I didn’t want to miss out something vital like a passion for breeding purebred Himalayans, or fair isle knitting, through mere ignorance. The prep stuff was a success and I have repeated it with subsequent authors, although proper journalistic podcasters disapprove. They say you don’t get to the truth when you let people prepare, but hey, I’m trying to sell people’s books for them, not change the world.

I also decided to edit quite fiercely, so that half an hour of rambling chattery would become ten to fifteen minutes of seamless best bits. That way we could explore all manner of ideas, maybe get into the weeds a bit and just move on. Knowing that nonsense would be cut helped us both to relax, and the interpersonal side of things has gone smoothly.

Not so smooth though, were my attempts to record someone else’s voice. Some issues I couldn’t have anticipated, such as how unreliable the sound quality can be when the other person uses a landline phone. I nag about SKYPE now, and hand-hold through setting it up if necessary, the sound quality is vastly better. Other problems were just sheer pillock-headed stupidity from me. I’d learned early on to shut cat out of room while recording self—that sound of pet-on-important-paper was impossible to edit away—but I still had to have a disaster of an interview before I learned to say, ‘Oh and can you shut pets out of the room before we start please?’

Ditto, jangling bracelets, vacuuming in the background and loudly ticking clocks. I chat for a while now, before starting the interview proper, not just to make sure that the recorder is working (yip, done that one) but to listen obsessively for unexpected background noises.

Also vital…tell your interviewee to have a glass of water handy. Mouths dry up after half an hour’s chat. You can hear them do it, a regular little smacking, slurping sound each time your person opens their mouth to speak. Now your editing phase will last a week instead of an hour. And, yes, editing out the umms, ahhs, sniffs and conversational cul-de-sacs is a time-consuming bore, you do need to develop a spot of OCD to stick with it, but the end result is a load of fun. The end result is also two people combining their networks to drive traffic to books, blogs and ideas in a deeply personal way.

What’s next? Through some kind tutelage from Toronto’s podcasting community I have discovered the US Public Radio Exchange. Anyone can upload podcasts, and local radio stations can use them if they like. Sometimes they do, there’s even royalties! I love that we have yet another way the internet is sidestepping the gatekeepers, maybe we could all be getting audio version of our books out there. The sound and production values have to be top of the range and I’m not sure if my stuff is good enough yet but I’m going to give it a go. I’ll let you know what happens.

*      *      *      *      *

Carolyn writes websites, copy and nonsense about emigrating. She also occasionally ambles off to do something daft in case it’s interesting enough to write about. Her current work in progress grew from the blog Trucking in English, and her previous book can be found on Amazon.

Author: Carolyn Steele

Carolyn writes websites, copy and nonsense about emigrating. She also occasionally ambles off to do something daft in case it’s interesting enough to write about. Her latest book grew from the blog Trucking in English, and you can learn more at her blog and her Amazon author page.

9 thoughts on “The Hubris of the Long-Distance Podcaster.”

  1. YES!

    I continue to be amazed at how many "media savvy" marketing professionals fail to heed your advice. I would only add that both interviewer and interviewee should be in rooms that are not as reverberant as your typical shower stall.

  2. Good stuff, Carolyn! In my checkered broadcasting career, I have committed each of the stupid — uh, that is, I've had every one of the learning experiences you list here. Or some variation thereof. (Best to put the baby in another room, too. Don't ask me how I know that.)

    One other editing hint: A lot of people start their responses with "I think." If you chop off those two words, the statement becomes much stronger.

  3. In my interviews, the meowing is part of the show. No matter how carefully I shut them out of the room, they always find a way to pawticipate.

    Great article, lots of good tips!

    Thank you.

    1. I have one who must sit on any vital paper and another who must sit on the keyboard. Pawticipation might mean nothing ever got recorded but I love the idea.

      1. My oldest, Smoky, likes to hop up onto my typing chair and take a nap. Whenever I get up for a minute, I have to put something on the chair to keep her off.

Comments are closed.