podcast

The "Podfade"...

podfadeHere's a very sad truth: Some podcasts just aren't meant to last forever. Podfading is kind of like the equivalent of that colloquialism "ghosting," where you just fade away from a person's life to the point where they start to wonder where you went. Once bi-weekly becomes once monthly becomes once every six months to never again. Sometimes in a slower or quicker progression, but the end result is always the same.

You may have experienced this with a few podcasts you have listened to, or you have some podcasting in your background where it just never got off the ground. It really is a commitment to record, edit, and release content that is free to the masses. In fact, you've probably felt this with the script that you're writing, the troupe you've been improvising with, or that one MMORPG that all of your friends are playing. Maybe you're losing steam. It's very possible that you might be falling out of love with it.

So what do you do in this situation? Well, there are two options. The first is you find something that will make it interesting for you again. Confront that you need that spark to keep going with your project. It could be re-branding, or it could be rearranging a release schedule that will be easier to work around. Or ask someone for help with editing your show! Sometimes it just needs a little change.

The second option is the hardest: It's admitting that you're done and moving on. The reason that your podcast exists is because you created it and you put the effort into it. However, if you're not in love with something anymore and the work is more draining than it is something that you can make better, then it's time to put it aside. Maybe you were thinking about starting a new podcast, but this one that you started about bees got in the way. I mean, you still like bees, but you've been putting so much time into your bee-cast and it feels more like a chore than that idea you had for a mathematician audio drama.

But rather than podfade, announce on your podcast that the end is coming. Set an end date and then tell people where else they can find you on the Internet. I mean, this thing was probably a fun project, right? Other people will find it in the future, get some use out of it, and then they can find you doing the new podcast you're loving even more now.

Hm. These podcast posts have been pretty somber... except for the bee podcast joke. That was kind of cute. Stay tuned next time for a more uplifting podcast topic!

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

Podcast and the Law

lawyer catHello, Podawans. Consider this a more advanced course for today.

I write this blog after a series of events involving a fellow podcaster, which I promised not to disclose because it is still very recent. The shortened version of this story is that a person of influence threatened a podcast network if it did not drop a podcast that had offended him. This was my friend's podcast. And my friend had done nothing wrong other than express an opinion.

This reminded me that podcasts are still a relatively new medium, and those who are serious about it need to be familiar with how to protect their shows. Which involves knowing some legal points. What is covered are some basics that podcasters need to know. That being said, I’ve been told I need to include the following disclaimer.

Disclaimer: I am not, have never been, nor will I ever be a legal expert. This is not legal advice. This is just an interesting topic I wanted to research. If you have need of counsel, a comedy blog is really the last place you should use as a source. Go see a real-life attorney. Not a law student or a friend who might know some things. Find someone who has passed the bar, is licensed in your state, and gets paid for this. Copyright Once you publish your podcast, it is automatically copyrighted and has some very basic protections. Here's the thing, though: Copyright doesn't protect your ideas, only your expression of them. For example, you may have a podcast that is about the Top 10 Awesome Things about Peaches (the Fruit, Not the Musician). Now, someone else may have a very similar list-cast called The Top 10 Rad Generalities about Peaches the Fruit (Not the Musician). No idea is truly original; someone out there is going to like peaches. However, if they are copying your items word for word, then that podcast might be infringing. If you want to protect those ideas by getting your podcast registered, you can do that yourself for about $50. An attorney will do the same thing for $200, which is pricey, but that route is also safer because a professional is handling it.

Protection of copyright applies to other podcasts and properties as well. Playing the entirety of a Les Miserables album without permission and/or paying royalties is not kosher. Neither is copying a Hostful episode of Nerdist word for word. Don't do it. When in doubt, consult an attorney.

Fair Use This falls under copyright, but it deserves its own little section.

Are you going to record anything that involves using clips? Music, movies, media sound bites, etc? Well, you can use them IF they are used for the sake of commentary, critique, or education. So you kids who want to have your own movie/TV commentary podcast, this is good new for you! So instead of playing the entirety of Les Miserables, you can have an episode where it is the featured topic and you can have clips that correlate with your commentary.

On the same lines, you may be considering theme music, but you don't want to break copyright laws. Consider something from a royalty free network or ask a musician buddy to write one for you, and then give credit in your show notes for the rest of eternity. There's also the idea of just asking the person you want to use music from, which may involve giving credit or paying royalties. Or, consult an attorney. Podcast/Business Protection Do you want to make a little cash with your blog? Maybe join a network someone asked you to come aboard? Good for you! It's time to start treating it like a business rather than a hobby. (Those not ready for this commitment, turn your heads away and read something fun.)

Becoming a tiny business or joining a larger entity involves contracts. Which means reading contracts. Do you remember reading the last rent contract you signed? Or even the Terms of Service Agreement for joining a free Wi-fi network? Honestly, there's no Google-fu or eHow article that can help you understand the nuances of these contracts. This is where an attorney might be best. An attorney may be able to help set up provisions that make it so the podcast network can’t terminate the agreement without some sort of penalty/cost/payment, or dictate the terms of what is controlled by whom.

So I know that most of these end with “consult an attorney,” but that’s really the best advice that can be given. Yes, they are expensive, but they are great knowledge sources and negotiators that require an investment. However, some lawyers offer free consultations and are competitive business owners, so shop around if protecting your audio business property is something you take seriously.

Even if you’re a hobbyist, you need to be aware of the little things that can get your blog in trouble or if someone tries to steal it. Trust me, when you put as much time into editing and recording, you’ll get mad if someone tries to take advantage. Or worse, if you make a tiny mistake regarding fair use. Again, don’t stream the entirety of Les Miserables on your podcast. Not legal. (Although, I love getting my “One Day More” on.)

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Podcast Profile: Diabetics Doing Things with Rob Howe

DDT Podcast After my brief Podcasting 101 series for the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) blog, I received a few questions from friends and readers about how to get their own podcasts started. However, the hardest part of doing something new is actually starting. That’s when I decided I would write profiles of DCH performers and community members who have podcasts of their own, showing by example that everything is just a fun and wild downhill slide after recording your first episode.

This week, I profile Rob Howe’s Diabetics Doing Things. Rob performs with Dairy-Based and Primary Colours, but I had the pleasure of being a student in his improv Level 2 class. I heard through the grapevine at DCH that he had a podcast of his own in which he interviews people that share his experience of having Type-1 diabetes and refusing to let that put any stop on their lives. His podcast is filled with inspiring conversations that make me want to take the bull by the horns. (But figuratively… not literally… I don’t think bulls like that.)

Hi, Rob! Thank you for doing the thing. Please tell us what inspired you to make a podcast Diabetics Doing Things.

Super excited to be able to do the thing! OK, so I've been super fortunate in that I've had some pretty amazing experiences in my life, whether in athletics or travel, etc. and I also have Type-1 diabetes. And more often than not, people think that T1D is this debilitating disease that takes away your hopes, dreams, and future. So I found myself thinking that someone should be telling the stories of the things people with Type-1 are doing OUTSIDE of their diabetes. So I started Diabetics Doing Things.

One of my favorite moments from the podcast is from Episode 2. You're talking to Scriven Bernard about dealing with other people who ask the wrong questions about diabetes and you say, "What's the right question to ask?" How do you find those "right questions" to ask during your interview podcast?

I have a sort of boiler-plate interview list to get people comfortable with the types of questions I'll be asking, but what's great is that while most of the episodes start the same, they always end up a little different. It's amazing to hear about the different challenges that my guests have overcome throughout their lives, and the great things they're doing in spite of and alongside their disease.  

I know you more as an improviser and instructor through DCH, but Diabetics Doing Things is more grounded in what life is like as a diabetic, something that could be considered a very serious topic. I'd love to know more about the dichotomy of recording this podcast as opposed to performing with a troupe. Does the comedy lend itself to the vulnerability of the subject, and vice versa for your performance?

There's so much about everyday life that's funny. I guess the main difference between the podcast and performing is that I often don't know my guests. Sometimes it's the first time I've talked to them so it takes a little while to develop a rapport. My troupe mates are also my soul mates so we can skip all the intros and get right down to having fun. While life as a diabetic IS a serious topic, I think some of the best comedy comes from those serious, unique, poignant moments that people share. So while sometimes the discussions are vulnerable and serious, more often than not my guests and I end up having a good laugh at our own expense.

Every beginning (and occasionally some seasoned) podcasters experience some mishap during recording or editing, either by our own hand or a forced computer update. Do you have an example of podcast failure during the recording or editing process?

Oh, I definitely do. I was doing an interview for Episode 009 and my guest was from the U.K. so we had the usual scheduling challenges associated with different time zones and we had this amazing conversation on a Sunday afternoon and as soon as we hung up on Skype I realized I had only recorded like 30 seconds of the interview. I was super embarrassed and felt really unprofessional, but I just asked if we could re-do it, and she was more than accommodating.

What advice would you offer for those who are interested in podcasting? (Or as I like to call them, "Podawans.)

My biggest piece of advice is to make your podcast about something. If you can define your audience, and really appeal to them, you're more likely to have enough success to keep you motivated to continue. Other than that, you've just got to ask for things. My podcast success has been 100 percent due to the help of others. Most people are more than willing to help you if you ask, so you just have to overcome that fear and ask away. On the tech side, starting a podcast is super easy. Your phone is a great recording device (full disclosure: I use a USB microphone and GarageBand) and there are tons of great software out there available for free. So figure out what you wanna talk about, then do it!

For more information about Diabetics Doing Things, visit diabeticsdoingthings.com. You can also download episodes from iTunes via your podcatching app of choice.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Podcasting 101: Promoting Your Podcast with Social Media and Websites

rkologo Hello, Podawans! Long time, no s--Nope, that saying is not applicable. “Long time, no see?” Really, KC? You don’t see people you via Internet documents. Not possible.

Anyway, last time we went through the recording and editing process step by step. Therefore, at this stage, you could have your very first podcast. However, rather than hoarding it like a dragon would with a mountain of gold, it is time to send your baby mp3 out into the world for potential listeners. Yes, those first few potential listeners might be your mom and dad, but luckily you have friends to help with this.

But, you know what you might need? SOCIAL MEDIA!

Now, there are a lot of people on the internet, and there’s a lot of social media. There’s so much noise on Twitter that in order to get noticed, you’d have to tweet seven times a day to get seen by a follower. That brings back a lot of memories of high school and middle child syndrome for me… So what do you do in this situation?

Well, first pick your favorites. If you don’t spend a lot of time on a platform, you are not obligated to join it. I repeat: If you do not like a social media platform, you do not have to join it to pimp your podcast. If you don’t like Pinterest, I can guarantee you that it will be a waste of time and energy trying to maintain an account for something you hate. It will be easiest to stick to four primary social media accounts, too. Quick tip: Signing up for Hootsuite or a similar media manager might be a good idea. It’s already difficult to walk away from the reaction gif waterfall that is Twitter, you guys. If you can plan your tweets and posts a month in advance, I can’t imagine an easier time for you.

Now here’s one of my favorite tidbits: Your marketing shouldn’t only rely on you. If you’re lucky, you might have friends. If you’re even luckier, you have friends who will share your content on their own social media accounts. Don’t get me wrong, “likes” are great. But what’s even better? Getting your content in front of new eyes and earholes! Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to get your projects noticed. And, if you’re introverted like me, social media was practically made for you, so use that to your advantage! This is also a PSA if you’re that friend who only “likes” your friends post about their new podcast or website, but doesn’t share. It’s never too late to start sharing. (The more you know...)

Here’s semi-related question you might have at this moment: Do you need a website outside of a Libsyn or SoundCloud feed? First of all, good unanimous question. Real answer, not immediately. Let’s make this outrageous analogy for you beginners. Starting a website for a blog you literally just started is like asking someone to go steady after a first date. And before you think about it, setting up an online store and donate button is like putting a ring on it. Get used to podcasting first, make that commitment, and then you can take the next step. The rule of thumb nowadays is having at least five-to-10 episodes or blog posts in the can before launching a site.

When you are ready for a podcast website, it will primarily be dedicated to your show notes. This involves a brief description of your episode, an  embed code that will play the episode on your site, and a direct download link. Those are musts. Everything else is customizable based on your style. This could include time stamps for the episode, links to reference points, or that someday online store that sells T-shirts with inside jokes on them. But again, this is something you should not have to worry about if you are just beginning. Have some fun and get to know your podcast first before you go looking for those SEO keywords.

Those are the basics for podcasting, as I have come to learn them on my own. If any of you Podawans have questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll address them. In the meantime, you should start that podcast you want to work on. The first step can be as easy as turning on your smartphone’s voice recorder and begin talking.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Podcasting 101: Step by Step Podcasting Process

PodcastingOK, young Podcast Padawans. Would that be Podawans? Podcastwans? Padacasters? YOU: Shut up and do the thing!

Jeez, fine! So you feel like you’re ready to start podcasting. However, you may feel overwhelmed because it’s new or it’s a big thing or what if you don’t like your voice. It’s OK, I was overwhelmed, too. As someone who learned on the fly, there’s a very basic process to recording your first podcast episode. And by the way, nobody likes the sound of their own voice. Unless you’re Adele, I guess. Her voice is pretty.

Here’s are some basic steps I’ve learned that you, yourself, might need to think about while you’re podcasting. Enjoy. Maybe learn, but mostly enjoy.

Check Off the Little Things

Check these items off your list:

Is your microphone plugged in?

Are your headphones plugged in?

Did you hit the record button on Audacity, GarageBand, or audio recorder of choice?

Is your dog going to bark this entire podcast? (The answer is always “yes.”)

You may think this step is silly. But I can guarantee you that at some point in your recording career, you are going to forget about this list and you will have gone through an hour before realizing you had not pressed the record button. Then you have to start all… over… again. That good performance you had is gone forever. Great for performing live theater, bad for recording podcasts.

Have an Outline Ready

So, this doesn't apply to the improv and sketch comedy podcasts. Those are the formats I focused on in my "Choosing Your Format" post from a few weeks ago. Well, unless you're a sketch podcast, but sketch podcasters like to call their outlines "scripts" or "radio plays" or whatever. Supes pretentious, sketch kids!

However, if you're rebelling against my “Choosing Your Format” post and want to do an interview or conversation-based podcast, you need an outline. I co-host a conversation podcast about geek culture and fandom, and sometimes I forget to make one for my own podcast when I'm heading the topic. While they turn out OK, that's a lot more "um's" and "uh's" to edit out. Also, you're already going to go off-road during your podcast recording, especially if you're podcasting with a friend or friends. If you don’t have an outline, you will completely lose your sense of what you were talking about in the first place because you had to talk about season seven of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Stay on task, make an outline.

Start Talking and Have Fun

The actual recording part is the best. You just open your mouth, say some silly things, and then close out your show. It truly is that simple.

Just remember to avoid the three podcast taboos: 1) Do not eat while you podcast, 2) Give credit where credit is due, and 3) For the love of god, whether for spoiling movies or talking about sensitive topics, announce warnings!

Editing

This process is not the best, but you don’t have to go crazy with background music or sound effects. This is a podcast, not a radio deejay gig. The editing process is as simple as leveling the audio, reducing background noise, and cutting out long pauses and filler words. Since you all might have different programs, use the “Help” option and Google troubleshooting problems in regard to your editor of choice.

Also, save your work. Save your work, save your work, SAVE YOUR WORK. You know what happens when your computer decides to restart and you haven't saved your work? That's right, just like if you forget to hit the record button, YOU HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN.

Export as MP3 and Upload It to Your Feed

Exactly what it says on the tin. Find “Export as MP3,” then log into your feed of choice, and upload your episode. This may take a while. Also, your computer may try to update during this process—tell your dumb Windows update to wait its turn, you’re podcasting!

And boom, you’re done. Congratulations, Podawans. You made a thing and it’s in your feed! Yay, you!

YOU: Yay, we made the thing! ...now what?

Um… we’ll go over that next time! Because I totally have a plan! Yep, have this all planned out. I have every step planned… like Game of Thrones… except with podcasting… Even these awkward ellipses that might be subtle clues that I’m writing as I go were planned. Obviously.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.

Podcasting 101: What You Need to Buy for Your Podcast

Woman MoneyThis is your reality check that tells you that making a podcast will probably have you spending a few dollars. For a cheapskate like me, the thought of spending money is a nightmare. However, there are some essential items needed for recording that don't have to cost you an arm and a leg. Microphone

For first-timers, I recommend getting a headset. You know, the ones you wear while playing World of Warcraft. First of all, they're the cheaper option. But more importantly, if you have a tendency to move around a bit by gesticulating or leaning back to get comfortable, a headset is a good choice because it moves with you. What does it matter how fancy your microphone is if you're moving too much for it to pick up any sound? My starter headset was from the Logitech brand, similar to this $25 stereo headset with microphone here on Amazon.

If you can sit still, I use the Blue Yeti microphone nowadays. It’s a little pricey at $125 on Amazon, but that’s what Christmas and birthday presents are for!

Recording Software

Oh, this one is easy! If you have a Mac, you already have Garageband. If you’re a PC user, download Audacity. Because Audacity is free! Free! My favorite word apart from “coffee” and “titmouse.” I’ve been using Audacity since the very beginning. Not always well, but it’s been a very reliable program that gets the job done. Even professional podcasters like the Sword and Laser kids and business person Lewis Howes use it. That being said, if you have the funds, donate a few bucks the creators' way. They made free software for you. Be nice.

A Rug

Yep. I said a rug. Or carpet. You're most likely going to record in your home because it's free. A rug or other cushioning home decor will make sure no other sound hits your mic. Honestly, the best option would be putting that egg carton padding on your walls, but you've probably got a lot of print art from Etsy up there. So, get yourself a nice rug and maybe a curtain or two from Target or Amazon. I’m not even going to put up a link.

Or cover the floor with blankets—it’s your home-slash-recording studio, you can do what you want! (P.S. If you mainly do Skype recordings, you can just record from the comfort of your bedroom. Plus, you can wear your jammies. Because why wear real pants when there’s an opportunity for jammies?)

Hosting

This is where most of your dollars are going to come into play because podcasting is a commitment. Here’s the thing: Your podcast has to have a website to submit it to iTunes.

You may want to consider either SoundCloud or Libsyn account that will publish your podcast to iTunes, Stitcher, and other podcast apps. Plans with Libsyn start for as low as $5/month. And last time I checked, I believe that SoundCloud allows up to three hours of audio for free with the unpaid account. If you’re hosting a weekly or bi-weekly podcast, that may be a good place to start. However, I just heard a rumor today that SoundCloud may be abandoning its podcast hosting. Information is a fickle thing.

Now, you’re probably wondering if you should get a more “official” website. Something through Squarespace, Dreamhost, Weebly, Wix, etc.? Hold on, Padawan! Let’s focus on the basics first.

We’ll talk about show notes and social media next time. It may include website talk, maybe not. Who knows? I’m wild and spontaneous like that. (No, I’m not, that’s a lie. I like plans.)

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.