I got interested in podcasting in 2019. Well, let’s back up. I’ve been listening to podcasts since they first became popular. I got interested in doing one of my own when a writing instructor of mine did a craft talk on how to use podcasts to draw attention to your writing.
In 2019 he outlined the bare bones of what you’d need to get started, and in 2020, I took a week-long workshop from him where we built on those bare bones. The result?
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting episode 15 of “Real Spies, Real Lives.” And I’m hooked on podcasting.
It’s Not as Easy as it Looks
It’s easy to forget that a lot goes into producing a podcast, especially when I hear the smooth delivery from podcast hosts of significant shows involving history, politics, or news. They have fully equipped sound studios and audio technicians to back them up. I have a TASCAM DR-40 recorder, a free audio editing program called Audacity, and a blanket-fort in a closet. For about an hour of recorded audio, it takes me close to two hours to edit that to a listenable standard.
Also, I started out scripting my podcasts–which I only posted here. (You can find them under the Home page tab, Past Podcasts.) And they were pretty stilted. One podcast I listen to, in particular, the host is very spontaneous and fluid. I sounded like a monotone schoolmarm.
So, I switched to some spontaneous chat, a reading, some more spontaneous chat, a bit more reading, then a sign off–with a plug for whatever book I had on sale at the time. Oh, and the voices. I started doing voices for the characters. I’m still working on that, since all my Russians sound the same.
Another issue is I still suffer from a slight stutter. My stutter is almost nonexistent; people are often surprised when I tell them. In truth, it only emerges now when I’m stressed about something. As a kid, I was lucky to have one of those new-fangled speech therapists, who taught me some tricks to sound smoother, and they’ve become such a part of my speech, people don’t notice my stutter.
But I do, and somewhere along the line I started filling the short pause I use before a problematic sound with an “uh.” I have to edit out quite a few of those in every podcast. Also, I tend to inhale a bit too loudly–more like a gasp than a breath–and those have to go, too.
And then there’s my verbal gaffes. Yeah, everyone does them; not only candidates for higher office. Then, on occasion, a neighbor decides he or she has to mow the lawn in the middle of recording, or the doorbell rings, or one of my two “verbal” clocks decide it’s time to chime the hour. Regardless, all that extraneous noise gets cut.
I can “hear” that my podcasts are improving, and other people must, too. My audience numbers and my “listens” grow every week. Gotta love the positive reinforcement.
Now, About the YouTube Thing
Part of the week-long podcasting workshop I attended this summer was how to podcast on YouTube. Indeed, several of the podcasts I listen to also have a video component. One in particular I enjoy is the “Dale Jr. Download,” hosted by former NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. His podcast studio is a room filled with racing history artifacts and nostalgia, and he has some incredible guests, from current drivers to those from when I was a kid. He’s very comfortable in this set up, and, let’s face it, he looks good on camera. Most of the time I listen to the audio version, and when I have some time, I’ll watch the video version.
That’s the key for me. If something is visual, I’m going to stop what I’m doing to watch it. However, if it’s audio, I can go about doing something, whether it’s around the house, taking a walk, or going somewhere in the car, with the podcast in the background.
I’ve been a teacher, an aviation ground instructor, and an instructor at a technical academy; I’ve given many, many presentations on a variety of aviation or history topics to different audiences. I’m not uncomfortable doing any of that, despite the stutter. As I said, I’ve learned to manage it.
However, whenever I got feedback on my presentation mien…not good.
It started when I was student teaching my senior year of college and a student teacher supervisor from my college came to observe me in class. He always came without warning, so you didn’t prepare for him. Both times he observed me was when the teacher overseeing me at the school assigned me to lecture on a particular topic. Why the student teacher supervisor didn’t come on the day I had my Russian History class reenact the shaving of the boyars’ beards, I don’t know, but…
Anyway, my feedback was that I was–get this–too serious; I never smiled; I didn’t ask the students questions in a fun and engaging manner.
Well, sorry, when you walk in your classroom and see a stern-faced interloper sitting in the back of the room, you’re not inclined to be giddy.
And that continued all through my career. There was never any question about whether I knew my topic, but I was a stern lecturer. It turns out when my level of comfort with my knowledge of something is high, I’m damned serious about it.
So, I’m certain no one wants to watch me talk for an hour while displaying resting bitch face. No YouTubing for me.
Except, of course, I once declared I’d never do a podcast.
You can go HERE and pick a platform where you can listen to “Real Spies, Real Lives.”