Making a Podcast, Step 1: Identify a Topic, Point of View, and Structure

Note: This post is second in a series where I share what I’ve learned starting and producing the Recompiler podcast. If you haven’t already, start with the introduction


Your first step in making a new podcast is to identify a topic, point of view, and structure for your podcast.

This sounds simple, but it’s helpful to think about at the beginning, to record your answers in writing, and to refer back to them often and your podcast matures.

For the Recompiler, the general topic (technology) and point of view (feminist; beginner-friendly) was already defined via Audrey’s clear vision for the written version:

The Recompiler is a feminist hacker magazine, launched in 2015. Our goal is to help people learn about technology in a fun, playful way, and highlight a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. We’re especially interested in infrastructure: the technical and social systems we depend on. We want to share what it’s like to learn and work with technology, and teach each other to build better systems and tools.

As far as structure, early on, we decided that episodes would feature a mix of Audrey and me talking about tech news and other timely topics, along with interviews of Recompiler contributors and other “subject-matter experts.” I put “subject-matter experts” in quotes because I intentionally look for folks from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, many of which might not be considered “experts” by mainstream tech.

We also decided that the Recompiler would have a casual, unscripted structure. We don’t currently broadcast live (although we might in the future). I do minimal editing, focusing mostly on making episodes listenable, rather than having a particular narrative arc. The order of what you hear is most likely the order in which we recorded, with inaudible or otherwise disruptive segments removed.

We aim for episodes to be about an hour long. Episodes always include two people: myself and Audrey, or myself and the person I’ve interviewed. Our target publishing frequency has changed as I’ve become more comfortable with the production process. First our goal was monthly, then twice a month, and now weekly. We don’t always meet this goal, but we’re getting better at it.

How did we make these decisions about structure? Mostly based on my constraints, both in terms of skill and time (both limited), as well as my personal preferences in terms of what I enjoy in podcasts.

To summarize, in thinking about your new podcast, you’ll need to decide:

  • general topics to focus on
  • point of view
  • structure
    • casual or scripted
    • number of hosts and guests per episode
    • target length in minutes
    • whether or not to broadcast live
    • frequency of publishing

The decisions you make regarding structure will determine the resources you need to produce a completed episode. For example, a heavily scripted show will require more audio engineering skill and editing time.

Questions or comments?

Please get in touch or leave a comment below if you have questions, comments, or just want encouragement!

Next post…

The next post in this series is: Making a Podcast, Step 2: Gather your recording equipment.

 

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