Planning topics to discuss, possible guest interviews, and your show’s length in advance will go a long way when producing a professional sounding podcast. Since you’ll be recording your project in an almost live fashion, you will have the flexibility of going back and re-editing sections prior to committing your show as “podcast-ready”.
Since nearly everyone has heard a radio program, you should expect that your listeners have grown accustomed to hearing material produced in a certain way. Here is a suggested framework for mapping out your production.
Sample Podcast Recipe – A Blueprint for Your Podcast
Shoot for a show length of 10-15 minutes. Keep topics moving, and limit topic coverage to 2-3 minutes. Try to use guests as a way to break up the conversation, pace, and tone of your shows. Use musical backgrounds (known as jingles or music beds) or other non-music interludes (referred to as stagers, sweeps and ID’s) to transition between topics. These topic breaks are typically described as bumpers or sweepers, giving your listeners the time they might need to digest the content you just presented.
Show Outline – Your Table of Contents
Here’s an example of a show outline:
- Show intro monologue (who you are, what you’re going to talk about): 30-60 seconds
- Intro music jingle (repeat for each show so listeners identify the jingle with your show): 30-60 seconds
- Topic 1: 3 minutes
- Topic 2: 3 minutes
- Interlude (music or break): 30 seconds
- Topic 3: 3 minutes
- Topic 4: 3 minutes
- Closing remarks (thank audience, thank guests, talk about the next show): 2 minutes
- Closing music jingle (suggest same as Intro music jingle): 2 minutes
How to Write Your Script – Writing Relevant Copy
Research all components of your podcast in order to deliver the most relevant material to your audience. Your writing style should be conversational with friendly language, limiting the use of jargon or industry specific words in order to accommodate your listeners.
Develop an introduction that will quickly explain and highlight the purpose of your podcast. This section should be roughly 2-3 sentences in length. Usually an announcer will read this portion of your podcast over a music bed. This intro can be reused at the beginning of each episode to build your brand.
Next, you will need to incorporate a brief salutation, roughly 30 seconds, greeting the audience and giving them a preview of the episode, and perhaps even an overview of the show’s agenda.
The first segment should be the most interesting to keep listeners’ attention. This segment should appeal to the entire audience. Broad content is encouraged to serve the majority. News and current events related to the podcast theme are often of interest to an entire audience.
All subsequent segments can be more in-depth and focus on specific areas of interest. Depending on the quality of the content, each segment should be no more than 2 – 4 paragraphs.
The wrap up should thank the listeners for joining the host, and if possible, provide an idea of what the audience can expect to hear in the next episode. Announce contact information for feedback and ideas. Usually an email address or website url is sufficient.
Close with an outro or music bed, ideally using the same theme music from the introduction to reestablish the branding of your podcast.
Once you have a listening audience, ask them for feedback about your show and gain valuable information that will help you to improve your podcast. They may even introduce new ideas that will give you an edge over any potential competitors and enhance their listening experience. Ideas that they provide might refer to the length of segments, topics discussed, guests on the show, and so on.
Script Writing Style – Talking to Your Audience
There are two voice-over styles for recording your podcast that you should keep in mind when writing your podcast script. These include polished and freestyle.
A polished, professional sounding podcast, is similar to what you might hear in a news cast or documentary. The script is written out and rehearsed prior to recording. Generally this podcast may have particular themes that are explored in sequential order, demanding more structure and precision.
Freestyle recordings are most similar to live radio shows or television interviews. Freestyle is an ad lib, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants recording style that can be unpredictable, engaging, and full of chemistry. This style may work best for podcasts with more than one host, highlighting their dialogue skills and spontaneity, or for individual podcasters that decide to record a verbal stream of consciousness, especially poets, announcers, and others that are recording impromptu or on location at a live event. When writing a freestyle script, you may only need to include your segment theme and some point-form details within each segment. This way, you can refer to your freestyle script while recording without feeling nailed down to a finalized script.
Yield best results by combining these two methods and developing your own unique podcasting style.
A Brief History of Podcasting
Adam Curry, former MTV Video Jockey, with the cooperation of RSS feed developer Dave Winer, created podcasting, a sophisticated method of broadcasting that makes audio content available to listeners at their convenience, in an always on state. Starting at the grassroots level through the “Daily Source Code” podcast, a podcast was directed by the developers who worked at iPodder.com. From there, many of these developers improved the code and produced their own iPodders. When people discovered that they could create and host their own radio shows, a community of pioneer podcasters was born.
Web Radio Hosting Leads Way to First Podcast Development
By 2003, web radio had already existed for a decade, digital audio players had been on the market for several years, and bloggers and broadcasters frequently published MP3 audio online. More recently, the RSS file format was being widely used for summarizing or syndicating content. While RSS/RDF already supported media resources implicitly, applications rarely took advantage of this development. In 2001, users Adam Curry and Tristan Louis, aided by UserLand founder and RSS evangelist Dave Winer, added support for a specific enclosure element to Userland’s non-RDF branch of RSS, and then to its Radio Userland feed-generator and aggregator.
In June 2003, Stephen Downes demonstrated aggregation and syndication of audio files using RSS in his Ed Radio application. Ed Radio scanned RSS feeds for MP3 files, collected them into a single feed, and made the result available as SMIL or WebJay audio feeds.
In September 2003, Winer created an RSS-with-enclosures feed for his Harvard Berkman Center colleague Christopher Lydon, a former newspaper and television journalist and NPR radio talk show host. For several months Lydon had been linking full-length MP3 interviews to his Berkman weblog, which focused on blogging and coverage of the 2004 U.S. presidential campaigns. Having Lydon’s interviews as RSS enclosures helped inspire Adam Curry’s pre-iPodder script and related experiments, leading to a variety of open source iPodder developments. Indeed, blogs would become an important factor in the popularization of podcasting even before many professional radio broadcasters and entrepreneurs with business plans adopted the form.
The First Use of the Term Podcasting
Possibly the first use of the term podcasting was as a synonym for audioblogging or weblog-based amateur radio in an article by Ben Hammersley in The Guardian on February 12, 2004. In September of that year, Dannie Gregoire used the term to describe the automatic download and synchronization idea that Adam Curry had developed. Gregoire had also registered multiple domain names associated with podcasting. That usage was discovered and reported on by Curry and Dave Slusher of the Evil Genius Chronicles website.
By October 2004, detailed how-to podcast articles had begun to appear online. By July 2005, a Google search for “‘how to’ +podcast” returned 2,050,000 hits.
Apart from the development of Podcasting and its distribution via RSS, an idea resembling Podcasting was developed independently at Compaq Research as early as 1999 or 2000. Called PocketDJ, it would have been launched as a service for the Personal Jukebox or a proposed successor, the first hard-disk based MP3-player, that Compaq’s R&D department had started developing in 1998.
Becoming a Podcast Host
Many podcasters host their own programs, however, a growing number of business and entertainment podcasts are employing professional voice over actors to host their podcast. Hiring a voice actor to host your podcast can give you an edge, thanks to the fact that you get the exact sound you want to achieve. Professional voice talents can deliver audio for podcasts on schedule, and can even produce and write content, ensuring a pleasant and relaxing experience for their clients.
Podcasting has Many Valuable Benefits
Podcasting is ripe with benefits for companies that are ready to take the next step into the new marketplace.
Through podcasting, you have the ability to expand your brand, spread your ideas, and serve individuals who listen to you at their own convenience. You will also save advertising dollars while reaping more sales by means of your podcast. Podcasting allows you to inform or educate new and existing customers, reach audio learners according to their learning preferences, measure your listenership, and demonstrate leadership within your industry.
If you have the ability to invite other people to participate, you can interview personalities and introduce new material exclusively through your podcast.