IN THIS CHAPTER
Showcase your expertise
Follow your passion
Expand your skills
“Podcasting is just a fad.”
“I’ve listened to a few podcasts, and I’m not impressed.”
“This is nothing more than streaming media, and that really hasn’t gone anywhere.”
The naysayers of podcasting (especially those who have no idea what it is, have never listened to one, but are the first to dismiss it) have a plethora of reasons why podcasting will fail or never really catch on in mainstream media.
And yet here we are, over a decade later and on the fourth edition of Podcasting For Dummies, and we still have naysayers talking smack about podcasting, even though podcasting is more popular than ever.
We podcast for a great many reasons. You have heard us talk about those reasons, but this chapter — this final word from your authors — is our hard sell. We love doing this. We returned to Podcasting For Dummies because we enjoy podcasting that much. Heck, Tee launched a brand new podcast as we were writing the third edition in 2017, Chuck started a new Star Trek podcast called The Topic Is Trek (
http://thetopicistrek.com) during final edits and has another planned for his day job before this edition hits the shelves, and Chuck and Tee are resurrecting another podcast after finishing this edition!
So, yeah — there is something to podcasting, and there are some good reasons to jump into the podosphere with us.
Here are a few (ten, to be exact) reasons why.
Guy Kawasaki is a name you should know in social media circles. As if his time with Apple Computers (where his team was responsible for the marketing of the Macintosh back in 1984), his New York Times bestselling titles (like The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start 2.0, Reality Check and Rules for the Revolutionaries), and how his blogs remain in the Top 100 visited blogs in the world wasn’t enough to make him a name in tech circles, Kawasaki has cemented himself as something of an oracle when it comes to influencing, both online and in the walking world. Some of his advice? Rock solid. Other bits of it? Worth questioning. However, in one of his most loved/hated of blogposts, “Looking for Mr. Goodtweet” (
https://guykawasaki.com/looking-for-m-1), Kawasaki had this to say:
“Establish yourself as a subject expert. One thing is for sure about Twitter: There are some people interested in every subject and every side of every subject. By establishing yourself as a subject expert, you will make yourself interesting to some subset of people.”
Yes, Kawasaki is talking about Twitter but this rule does apply to podcasting quite aptly. When you launch a podcast, you are establishing yourself as a voice in the subject matter of your podcasting. When it comes to writing, Joanna Penn on The Creative Penn brings her experience as a New York Times and USA Today bestseller along with her own experiences promoting her works and her brand to The Creative Penn Podcast. SpyCast (
https://www.spymuseum.org/multimedia/spycast), the official podcast of the International Spy Museum, was started by and hosted for years by ISM's Executive Directory and 36-year spy veteran Peter Earnest. When Peter decided to step down, he wanted to ensure the expertise remained so he turned the mic over to Dr. Vince Houghton, historian and curator at the museum, his specialty being in intelligence, diplomatic, and military history, with expertise in late World War II and the early Cold War. Pictured in Figure 19-1, SpyCast continues to be the authoritative podcast on intelligence gathering.
When you launch a podcast, you speak with the voice of authority. You speak as an expert in your field, as someone who has a proven track record and an individual who knows a thing or two about the topic of discussion. Speak with confidence. You have a lot to say, and what you have to say makes a lot of sense.
You may not be the world’s greatest gamer. You may not be the best at crafting costumes. You may not be the world’s fastest runner. But if you are passionate about a sport, if you are passionate about creative endeavors, if you are passionate about a board, card, or console game, then yes, you should be podcasting about it.
It is a reoccurring theme in this book, and it bears repeating as many people want to podcast about something they love but are intimidated by the amount of work that could go into a podcast. Another obstacle is for passionate people who podcast to compare themselves to more polished, professional podcasts that gather the best and the brightest guests in-studio. How do you compete with productions like that?
Well, Chuck and Tee have seen professional podcasts come and go, sometimes after eight episodes. Sometimes, after only two. This occurrence is known as podfading. Why do productions podfade so quickly? In many instances, podcasts are regarded as revenue generators. In other words, these hosts are in it for the money. Podcasting can be a money-making venture (as discussed in Chapter 14) but that “overnight success” rarely happens. Eventually, after repeated attempts at producing that magic viral episode, the studio lights are turned off and the equipment is packed away.
But while there are plenty of podcasts out there for Bungie’s video game, Destiny, it’s no secret that Tee, Nick, and Brandon love the game. It was their passion that led to Happy Hour from the Tower. With so many podcasts out there about technology, why do Chuck and Kreg continue to podcast Technorama since 2005? Because after hundreds and hundreds of episodes, Technorama continues to nurture that passion. No show ever sounds forced or trite. There’s a genuine joy within every podcast.
You can be an expert in your chosen field, or you can just be a huge fan. Passion should be at the core of every podcast. Without that, you can’t really find the drive to sit yourself behind the microphone and record, only then to edit and produce the final work for your audience. So if you feel the drive to podcast, do so. It will take you far.
Maybe you never thought of yourself as a creative person, or maybe you were a creative person when you were younger. Maybe there’s been an inspiration working at the back of your mind, and you’ve been wanting to explore it. The weird thing about this idea, this unexpected muse that has grabbed hold, is that you may need to pick up some skills that you don’t know.
Podcasting, as we have shown, is not only something you can pick up quickly, but it is an affordable venture.
Science fiction-fantasy author Aly Grauer and game connoisseur Drew Mierzejewski took a few brave steps into podcasting with Dreams to Become (
http://dreamstobecome.com), Aly’s website and home to many of their limited series podcasts. Their own podcasting journey began with The Disney Odyssey where Aly, Drew, and special guests joined them in their personal journey through every animated feature film from Walt Disney. Then came The Night’s Rewatch, a step back to the beginning of HBO’s Game of Thrones. But still this wasn’t enough so DND20 Public Radio, a sketch comedy created at the intersection of NPR, Dungeons & Dragons, and Waiting for Guffman launched, all under the DTB feed.
It was that drive and creativity that brought Aly and Drew to the One Shot Podcast Network (
/), where they were tapped to launch Skyjacks: Courier's Call (
https://skyjacks-couriers-call.simplecast.com), an all-ages actual play podcast spun off from One Shot’s Skyjacks RPG. Courier’s Call, pictured in Figure 19-2, which follows the three young apprentices in the Swiftwell Courier Service (played by Aly Grauer, Paulomi Pratap, and Aaron Catano-Saez) undertaking adventures in the skies above Spéir. Alongside their own professional pursuits in entertainment, Skyjacks: Courier’s Call serves as another outlet for Aly and Drew, with the podcast as their stage and their imaginations allowed to thrive; the end result is an unforgettable production.
Once you have your studio, either a simple audio setup or something more complex, a podcast serves as your blank canvas for whatever creative endeavor you’re about to embark on. This could be a throwback to the days of radio theatre or this could be a personal journey for you accomplishing a life goal like physical fitness, a college degree, or a trip across the country. This podcast is where you share your creation with the world. Regardless of whether your feedback is positive or negative, this is your stage. Assure your audience what they can expect from your feed, and then allow your creativity to run. This is your creative corner of the Internet. Make the most of it.
Let’s be honest: The toys a podcaster gets to play with are just so cool.
Microphones. Mixer boards. Gadgets for going portable. Software. The tools of the trade, while sometimes coming with steep price tags, are absolutely tempting. Not only do some of these technical gadgets stimulate the creative juices within your brain, but they can also be quite the showstoppers with the company you keep.
Tee has a terrific story about when he sat down in 2007 to interview Peter Earnest, executive director of the International Spy Museum. At this time, Peter was the host of the aforementioned SpyCast. Tee was using a Zoom H4 for the interview which is the predecessor to the H4n mentioned in Chapter 4. While both models differ in features, the H4 was of a similar physical design. Both models resemble a Taser, and this fascinated Mr. Earnest. Before the H4 went hot, Peter asked Tee many, many questions about the device, its features, and the quality of its recordings.
Think about that for just a moment: The curator of a museum that features a lipstick pistol, an Enigma machine, the Model F-21 buttonhole camera, a rectal toolkit (yes, you read that right), and the “Bulgarian Umbrella” used to fire a tiny pellet filled with poison, was completely captivated by this portable audio recorder of Tee’s. Considering Peter’s background, that is saying something about the allure of content creation gear.
If there is something to the latest technology that makes you happy and gets your blood pumping, whether it is the MXL Overcast bundle or an all-in-one recording device like the Zoom P4 (pictured in Figure 19-3) that offers you recording options, consider all the wonderful toys you find in podcasting. While this may sound like a frivolous reason to think about launching your own show, consider how your skill set also broadens. Working with gear like condenser and dynamic microphones, portable digital recorders, and software that produces audio productions will only serve to your advantage when called on to create something special for an office demonstration or for a special event at home. It might surprise you, as well, what kind of skills you pick up in producing a podcast in the ways of planning, project management, presentation skills, resource budgeting, and time management.
And to think it all starts with the tech toys.
You are putting together your notes for your podcast. It could be your first podcast. It could be a new podcast to add to your portfolio of podcasts. Whatever the case, you decide that instead of your voice being the only voice on the show, you reach out to a few friends in the area or online whom you know are just as passionate about the subject you plan to podcast.
Maybe this podcast is a RPG session, or perhaps you want some fellow L.A. Kings fans to get around the mics and talk about the last game. Or you invite some friends who all share an interest — writing, period costume productions, movie soundtracks — to come on over and riff about it on pod. With schedules agreed upon and set, you settle in with your friends either in real time or over Discord, Google, or your favorite online conference network of choice and record. Maybe you don’t realize it, but your recording sessions are more than just your chance to herd content and build up a buffer for your show. The podcast is your guaranteed connection with you and your friends. Recording or streaming a podcast is locked-in time when good friends know they are getting together to have a little fun and share some quality time around microphones.
Another great thing about this podcast with your friends is that the podcast becomes a journal — a testament — of your friendship. That’s worth the time, especially when you do retrospective episodes.
Neil deGrasse Tyson.
It’s a little humbling how many high-profile journalists, celebrities, and industry influencers are turning to what was once a platform for indie artists exclusively. What is most satisfying is, after a decade and some change, podcasting is still a fantastic platform for independent creatives. For the NPR, AMC, and ESPN types, the podcast also serves as a fantastic opportunity to go beyond their time on stage, screen, or sports event. Podcasting is something akin to a great equalizer as, regardless of the production values, we are all doing the same thing here: getting on the mics and sharing what’s on our minds.
This is some great company to be in, so why don’t you go on and get your podcast up and running? It’s okay. There’s plenty of room in the podosphere for what you’ve got. Bring your best, put your heart into it, and get your pod on!
In the 2009 edition of Star Trek, Captain Christopher Pike says to young upstart James T. Kirk:
“Your father was the captain of a starship for 12 minutes. He saved 800 lives, including your mother’s and yours. I dare you to do better.”
Pike’s words serve as a great mantra for podcasters as with every show produced, podcasters look to do better. We look to improve. We look to grow. Some podcasters, after running a show for a time, love to look back on early shows and see the progress made from those first steps. It is said amongst some podcasters that the first five episodes of any podcast (even those done by experienced hosts) will suck, but they are allowed to suck.
Chuck and Tee do not necessarily adhere to or believe in that rule as some podcasts find their voices straightaway within two or three episodes. Others, we have found, record an “Episode 0” just to see if the idea looking awesome on paper translates as well to media. Then you have shows that find a groove once the mics are hot or the camera goes live. Whenever you find your voice, creating something that people react to is truly special and worth the time and effort. The slippery slope in podcasting, though, is that drive and desire to do more.
Take a look at Figure 19-4 - Tee’s years in podcasting since 2005. He’s the first author to podcast a novel from cover to cover. He took what started as a marketing strategy and turned it into a book. Then he goes on and creates a podcast about the business side of writing, launches companion podcasts for his books in social media, and helps establish a website where other podcasters can podcast their own novels and collections.
And yet, he wanted to do more.
Tales from the Archives is launched, opening up the steampunk universe he created with his wife, to other authors and to wider audiences. The Shared Desk is soon launched after this, offering commentary on the latest news in the publishing industry as well as a behind the scenes look at an author’s life. While delving into the current edition of this book, Tee follows an impulse and launches Happy Hour from the Tower, a loving nod to the Bungie game Destiny. All this, and he still hosts alongside Chuck Podcasting For Dummies: The Companion Podcast in order to keep this book fresh and up-to-date.
This may seem like a lot for Tee to take on, but for Tee this is a real love for the platform and the medium. He challenges himself to do better. He desires to do more.
This is the drive behind a podcaster.
When you sit down to create a podcast, you want the production to rival that of professional broadcasting. No, you don’t have that budget but that doesn’t mean you don’t strive for that level of polish and professionalism. Even with a show like Technorama (seen in Figure 19-5) which comes across as spontaneous and off-the-cuff (and for the most part, it is!), Chuck and Kreg work to make their show a production that podcasters and radio show hosts all strive to reach, if not surpass. There is a sense of accomplishment and achievement in producing a podcast that gets people to stop and ask, “Wait, hold on — you do this in your home?”
Sometimes, we do. Sometimes, we take our act on the road. It all depends on where we can kick up the most trouble!
Podcasting encourages by its artistic and technical nature to compel producers and show hosts to create the best podcast in whatever subject the producers and hosts pursue. Does that mean it will be regarded by audiences worldwide as the best? It depends on how you measure your success. Most podcasters measure the impact of a podcast on ratings and rankings. Others care more about feedback from their listeners. Some measure their podcast’s success by how long their show runs after the premiere episode drops. This also compels producers and hosts to insist on creating the best podcast they can. This is how podcasting engenders a real desire in those involved to offer a show that is as much fun for audiences to listen to as it is for the podcast’s crew to record, edit, and release.
Let podcasting bring out the best in you.
Bugs Bunny was right:
“My, I bet you monsters lead iiiinnnnnteresting lives. I said to my girlfriend just the other day ‘Gee, I bet monsters are iiiinnnnnteresting,’ I said. The places you must go and the things you must see — mmmyyyyy staaaaarrrs. And I bet you meet a lot of iiiinnnnnteresting people, too. I’m always interested in meeting iiiinnnnnteresting people.
— BUGS BUNNY, “HARE RAISING HARE” (1946)
Now while Bugs was referring to monsters, Chuck and Tee refer to really iiiinnnnnteresting people. Some of the people the authors of this book have met over the course of podcasting include authors who have made an impact in their genre (Robert J. Sawyer and Terry Brooks); actors who have plenty of stories from behind the scenes (Richard Hatch and Lani Tupu); other podcasters who have made lasting impressions in and beyond the podcasting community (Grant Baciocco and Dr. Pamela Gay); and even scientists who have changed the world in what we know about it (Dr. Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic wreckage in 1985). Both Tee and Chuck consider themselves fortunate for meeting a wide range of guests in their years of podcasting.
Sometimes, though, you are lucky enough to talk to guests who wind up becoming far more familiar than just guests on your podcasts. A perfect example is Chuck and Tee. In the infancy of podcasting, Tee reached out to Chuck, asking to be on Technorama as a guest. Tee returned for other promotional opportunities, at first, but those return trips led to meetups at conventions, which led to friendship, which eventually led to over a decade of Podcasting For Dummies editions like the one you are reading now.
Not all the people you meet will lead to lifelong friendships, but through podcasting you will meet a lot of iiiinnnnnteresting people who will in some way impact your life. Some of those impacts you will notice straightaway. There will be those discussions you have with people who become a more subtle touch on your life, and you might not notice it until years down the road. If you’re really lucky, you could be Patrick G. Holyfield who, after being taken away from the podcasting community by cancer, is remembered fondly at the P.G. Holyfield Meat & Greet, pictured in Figure 19-6. At this event, podcasters old and new come together to do what Patrick enjoyed most: Create friendships.
Each person you meet, though, is part of a network, and that network — personal or professional — will at the very least broaden your view of the world. Your experiences in podcasting may catch you completely off-guard and will enrich your life for years to come.
There is something scary, humbling, and intimidating about taking something you have created and releasing it to the world. You think it’s good. Good enough to share, even. But once you release your podcast out into the world, it is out there. For everyone to consume. And for everyone to critique, criticize, and dissect. This is a whole new level of fear when your first show goes live.
It is also an amazing rush of adrenaline, euphoria, and accomplishment.
Tee has been podcasting for over a decade. This is nothing new to him, and yet he can attest on launching Happy Hour from the Tower that he was terrified beyond reason. Why? This was a whole new kind of podcast for Tee. He had never podcasted about video games before. This was his first regular show with multiple cohosts. And when it came to a subject matter — Bungie’s award-winning video game, Destiny — Tee was not the best of players, let alone “well known” in the game’s community. Oh, and as the show’s launch date was less than a month out from Bungie revealing details of Destiny 2, it just seemed a bit late to launch a new podcast about a game that had been on the market since 2014.
Still, Tee launched the podcast, and he’s been enjoying the ride since that first show dropped.
Podcasting, whether on the grand scale or a small, personal stage, is an adventure. The longer you podcast, the bolder you become. The bolder you become, the more you want to test your limits. You find yourself reaching out to experts in the subject matter of your podcast, or maybe you reach out to the hosts of podcasts similar to your own. You invite others to appear on your show. Or you find yourself carrying recording equipment everywhere, much like a photographer does with camera gear. You set up your portable studio, fire up the mic, and begin documenting. You talk. You meet new people. People with stories to tell. Suddenly, you find your own personal network growing. Your network grows closer, and those contacts become friends. Then, if you are lucky, those friends become family.
Podcasting is an incredible ride, and it can take you to unexpected places. It is rewarding, even the podcasts that never seem to take off. They are an education of what to do differently and how to improve. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, new technology and new approaches appear, and you find yourself at Square One all over again. Possibilities are endless, and the unexpected — regardless of how much you plan — will happen. This only adds to the fun ahead.
Now it’s your turn. You’ve got an idea. The microphones are waiting. Go on and hit Record.
And hold on. Your adventure is officially underway.