When I was about 12 or 13 and at school, a teacher would tell the class to write an essay or a report on something or another and the first question from my classmates would be “Sir, sir!” – they were almost all sirs. “Sir, how long sir?” When we were younger the answer would be one or two pages. When we got older the length was measured in words. 500 words was a lot. 1000 words was a punishment.
Pity the poor teacher who had to read 30 500 word essays or worse 30000 badly written and smudged words, scribbled in exercise books as quickly as we possible could.
We were not thinking about our audience. If we were, we would probably have done a better job, and got a better mark.
In radio, we are trained to work in blocks. A commercial radio station might work in 12 or 15 minute segment. BBC tended to work in 15, 30, 45 and 60 minute segments which included announcements, credits and time removed to trailing other programmes. These days the shortest scheduled radio programme I know is BBC Radio 4’s Tweet of the Day at just two minutes.
If a programme is too long it will “Crash the pips”. That is get caught up in the Greenwich time signal. No? The noise that goes: pip, pip, pip, pip, pip, piiip. Too short and there will be dead air – silence. Crashing the pips and dead air are the second greatest sins of radio the first two are failing to turn up on time and swearing in front of a microphone.
You don’t get those sins in podcasting. Except being too long because you have taken a lazy approach to editing. Or being too short and you don’t tell all the story you set out to do.
Put the listener first. The only important time, is the time you are going to talk from them. Make their time worthwhile.
People listen to podcasts differently. I have often sat in my car to hear the end of a programme or interview. Now, I can catch up on demand. If I am enjoying a podcast, I might listen to the end, but if I must stop listening, I’ll return to the story next time.
So don’t get too obsessed about the length. Focus on the narrative, the story you want to tell or your interview wants to tell. Edit out all that distracts from the story. Add pauses and music and your own commentary as you need them to move the story along.
When it’s finished, check the duration. Does it feel right? Can you remove more?
And you will have your own variation on the quotation, “I’m sorry this podcast is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”
The book is for young, trainee, or student journalists not specialising in broadcast media. It is an introduction to “making content”, podcasting and broadcasting whether you want to understand production on a professional level or simply because you want to create podcasts for fun or add something useful to your CV.
It is a result of experience teaching radio production to journalism BA students in Dublin. Most, but not all these pages are the module and support notes. The book is part of the “Podcasting For …” project which includes podcasts and the podcastingfor.com blog.
Deciding on your purpose
The Production Team
Roles of the editor, producer, assistant producer, presenters, reporters, researchers
Turning the Prospects into the Running Order
Essential Skills: writing, reading and “marking up” a script, interviewing, planning the interview, doing an interview,
Recording in and out of the studio, equipment (studio, microphones, recorders), using a smartphone, using a digital recorder.
How to edit using a computer and audio editing software,
Programme making including structure, show notes, advertising, sponsors and other non-production credits
Podcast platforms, blog and social media, making the mp3 audio file, setting up your podcast host, registering with iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIn.
Digital Promotions, using Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Using more traditional methods of promoting.
Managing the online community Drawing up the guidelines
The first edition of “Podcasting for Communities” was published in September 2016. It forms the basis for this book but the name change is to make it clear that the expected audience and readership will be from community organisations. The “Podcasting For …” project includes the podcastingfor.com blog and podcast interviews with experienced radio and podcast professionals. Additional information related to this and other books in the “Podcasting For …” series is added regularly to the blog. You are encouraged to visit it and engage with the author and other readers. The book is mainly about producing audio content. It is also relevant to people producing programmes on local or community radio stations. Even if you are an individual who wants to learn and produce a solo podcast, or a couple or three friends who want to record a weekly discussion, the information here will be relevant and I hope useful to you. The emphasis is on producing audio podcasts – or as we usually call it … radio. If you are new to the concept of podcasts, or already have some radio production experience then this book is for you.
Producer - Broadcaster - Podcaster - Writer - exBBC Editor - exTEDx Organiser. Author "Podcasting for Journalism Students", "Podcasting for Community Organisations" and "Firsthand Guide to Bled Slovenia" - all available on Amazon.