Starting a Podcast in Time of Quarantine
One popular virtual way of staying in touch is through a podcast.
Jeannette de Beauvoir
As businesses and nonprofits struggle to keep going while offices are shuttered and customers, clients, and supporters are all staying home, it’s a good time to think about alternate ways of reaching the people you depend on — and who depend on you.
One popular virtual way of staying in touch is through a podcast. And it’s easier to do than you might imagine.
The first step involves putting together the answers to questions you probably can already guess at. What will be the purpose for your podcast? Who exactly is your audience? What is the content you can share that will be especially valuable now?
You’ll also need to name your podcast. You can choose something clever, even something related to the coronavirus (but if you do, make sure it can stand the test of time — unless of course you won’t be continuing it beyond the pandemic), or something descriptive. Use your company name only if you think it will attract listeners and is necessary for branding purposes.
You want to give good value, so don’t stretch your content so it can fit the traditional podcast “sweet spot” of 20–40 minutes. That number is based on an average commute, and we don’t have a lot of people commuting anymore! Do what you need to do, and it will take the time it takes.
As for frequency, the best schedule is one you can keep. If you promise a podcast every day, make sure you can fulfill that promise. People are experiencing too many untruths elsewhere; give them something they can trust.
What format you choose will depend on your podcast purpose. You can do a solo podcast, a co-hosted podcast, or an interview format. The co-hosting and interviews presumably taking place over conferencing, these options may be more technically challenging for now, but working remotely with others is obviously a given in the current situation! It’s quite possible to record with a co-host located elsewhere, or to do guest interviews. You have a few options: Ecamm (Mac only), Skype, and Zoom are all available for this.
My advice to you here is to keep it simple. A year from now if you still want to do a podcast, you can invest in some equipment to improve the sound and make your life easier, but right now it’s more important to reach people in a timely manner.
You need a computer with an Internet connection and an external microphone to plug into it. (At a pinch you can use your computer’s built-in mic, but I don’t advise it, as it will place an undue burden on your listeners.)
When you plug your microphone into your computer, you will need some software to actually record and edit the audio. Audacity provides a free program that’s not too difficult to learn. I have a Mac and have found Garageband to work well too.
While you won’t want to write out a script word-for-word, you do need to have something in front of you that will give you a roadmap to the podcast content.
Editing is the first step. You can do it in Audacity or Garageband, though it does take a bit of practice: use an afternoon when you’re socially isolating to practice! You can also buy a software package such as The Podcast Maker that will do the work for you.
Music & Art
You don’t need music, though you might want 15 seconds or so at the beginning and end of each episode. Finding music you are legally entitled to use can entail a hunt, but if you have the time, the Net has the music! A free option is Incompetech, though you’re likely to hear the same music everywhere so you won’t have anything distinctive. You can alternately use a paid service such as is Audioblocks, with access to over 100,000 tracks, loops, and sound effects.
You’ll want some sort of branded “cover art” for your podcasts. Ideally your cover art should be at least 1400 x 1400 pixels, in JPG or PNG form, and under 500kb in size. You can find free images at Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels, and you can superimpose your title and/or logo on them at Canva.
Now you need a place for your podcast to live. You can then distribute its URL to your audience, give them a place for a subscription to it, etc. Most podcast hosts will then submit it to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts so that more people can hear it. Both Buzzsprout and Podbean are good reasonably priced options.
As you can see, in a single day, you can have a podcast up and running. There’s a good chance people are depending on you—for news, for information, for entertainment, for communication. Let them hear your voice! Every way we can find to reach out to others during this time of crisis will help us continue to see each other as a community, even if it can only be a virtual one. Stay safe, and enjoy!
Jeannette de Beauvoir