So you want to start a podcast, St. Louis? Let this be your guide.
“How long did it take you to get comfortable behind a microphone?”
“I’m concerned about sound…do you rent space in a studio or do it in your house? Also, with editing: do you do it yourself or do you send it out?”
“How can I use a podcast in the classroom?”
“How much do you focus on monetization?”
“What do you think, as a medium, podcasting can do to heal the region and promote social change in the St. Louis region?”
These are just five of the questions our panel of St. Louis podcasters answered on June 9 at a St. Louis on the Air live recording event discussing how audience members could start their own podcasts. A panel of five podcasters answered questions from host Don Marsh and the audience about why and how to enter the local podcast world.
Below, we offer answers to some of the best pieces of advice from the event as well as our podcast of the event and the full, un-edited version of the panel for your listening pleasure. We also offer online resources at the bottom of this post for tutorials as well as St. Louis podcasting meet-up groups.
Here’s who helped us answer your questions:
Listen to the St. Louis on the Air PODCAST ABOUT PODCASTS here:
Listen to the full-length discussion here:
On why he started a podcast…
Dustin Bryson: “If I’m being totally honest, I started the podcast because I’m selfish. … I moved here and I didn’t know anybody and I thought ‘I want to meet interesting people. I want to meet cool people with interesting stories who are living their life in the city. Instead of saying ‘I’ve heard about you on Instagram, want to get a coffee?’ (which is super creepy, by the way), I say ‘Fancy an interview?’ And then everybody is like ‘You want to talk to me about my story?’ No one says no.”
On the learning curve…
Kameel Stanley: “As a print reporter, I never had to think about the sounds I was making as I was interviewing someone. A lot of times you’re used to giving someone affirmation like ‘mhmm mhmm’ but you don’t want to do that because you’re going to end up on tape. Figuring out who is a good talker. … people respond to me differently as a reporter when I had a pen versus when I have a recorder.”
On podcasting obstacles…
Alex Ihnen: “There is a very basic question of equipment that I had to sort through. It took me six months. I bought the cheapest microphones I could find on Amazon, I recorded it, it sounded horrible. I didn’t want to listen to it. I knew others wouldn’t want to. I returned all that, bought nicer stuff, returned all that stuff, bought nicer stuff. Now, I’m in it $400-500 for good microphones and a digital recorder. That’s hard to lay that [purchasing] out but I’d encourage you to do some research and get decent equipment. … the other thing is just practice. We recorded five or six that ended up in the trash bin before we recorded one we shared with anyone.”
Wendy Buske: “Thinking about your audience in advance of even starting your podcast is a wise decision. Think ‘What social channels do they tend to live on?’ ‘Who do I know that’s doing something similar so I can ask them questions to find out how they discovered their audience?’ You want listeners. It is a challenge because the market is so saturated out there now.”
On different kinds of podcasts…
Adron Buske: “If you’re doing a talking head podcast, where it is mostly you talking into a mic, whether it is scripted or a long bit of pontification, that can be pretty ego-driven. … When you’re doing a program that is interview-based, you can remove that because you’re talking about other people’s stories. You’re there to share a conversation and be an interviewer, but it isn’t focused on you. If you’re doing a show that has a Radiolab/NPR style, where you’re cutting back and forth, you can have a narrative to follow. You have to be careful: Are you out there ‘hollering to hear your head roar?’ If that’s the first motivation for you to get out there, you want to throw your opinion out there, you may have difficulty finding an audience.”
On why you should get into it:
Dustin Bryson: “You have to love it. You have to love whatever it is you’re talking about or who you’re talking to. Nobody listens to my podcast. Raise your hand if you’ve heard my podcast. No one raised their hand … No one listens to my podcast but I love it. I love it.”
Wendy Buske: “Monetization has been primarily sponsorships. Those aren’t random companies. Over the past three years we’ve built up relationships with some fantastic independent companies throughout the county. We’ve approached them and said ‘hey, you’ve been a guest on our podcast or been a panelist on one of our panels or we think your product is great and would you be interested in being a sponsor?’ We’ve had great response so far.”
On getting comfortable behind the microphone:
Kameel Stanley: “For me, being new to podcasting, every time we go into the studio I learn something new. Mouth noises I didn’t know I make when I talk. I realized: ‘Yeah, I think I do sound like my dad.’ Our show is very produced, very scripted. You start to learn about pacing and things like that and how you can, with the inflection of your voice, make different points. We are conscious because of the topics we cover about the tone we are taking. Sometimes it is joke-y, but sometimes it has to be very serious. Sometimes, in a line, in a sentence, you have to be able to change it to get through to people. I’m learning the power your voice can have when you’re telling a story.”
On the power of podcasting for social change:
Kameel Stanley: “As a journalist, I’m not necessarily out there to heal anything but I hope that through journalism, investigations, holding people accountable, that people are able to have a space to work through issues through listening or sharing with friends.”
Alex Ihnen: “You can really humanize someone. I’ve had such great response to some podcasts where people have said ‘Thanks for having so-and-so on, I thought this person was a politician henchman and evil and a bad person but when you hear their voice, their enthusiasm for St. Louis … it makes them a person.’ A lot of our social media, we’re stripping away personalities and their real personalities, and we lose track of the fact there are real people and voices. A podcast does that and it is considered long-form. Someone can be interviewed on television but it is 90 seconds but having a real conversation for a half hour or so can break down a lot of barriers.”
Dustin Bryson: “Stories give context. If it is that type of a podcast and you can hear about how someone got into the thing they’re into or their childhood, that brings humanity full circle and you get to know someone better without having a conversation.”
Wendy Buske: “It offers context. That’s what we miss so much in sound bites. You hear a sentence or word or something inflammatory and it is a 90 second excerpt of a bigger conversation. Podcasting is great for being able to offer context to a conversation.”
Adron Buske: “A story compellingly told can reach a person who would otherwise be uninterested in the subject matter. Some of the great podcasts that are out there will tell you really fascinating stories about stuff you’d never care about. Those things are really enriching because they open your mind to a lot of stuff.”
Podcast Learning/Training Resources
Listen to Transom’s How Sound podcast: Want to learn how to make podcasts or do radio storytelling like NPR? This podcast will take you through everything from first-person reporting, to voicing to mixing music.
Subscribe to Hot Pod: This email newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest trends in podcasting without overwhelming your inbox.
Subscribe to the Hodgepod newsletter: The best way to learn something is to consume a lot of the best of something, amirite? This newsletter from WNYC curates some of the best podcasts they’ve heard all week for your consumption.
Read these articles:
- 7 Tips for Launching a Successful Podcast
- Why it’s bad that New York is sucking up the podcasting industry
- The economics of the podcast boom
- Podcasting: Fact Sheet
- Three ways podcasts and radio actually aren’t quite the same
- Podcasts Surge, but Producers Fear Apple Isn’t Listening
- Where to submit your podcast
St. Louis Podcast Resources
St. Louis Podcast Meet-Up: This group of 130-or-so podcasters meets at least every other month to discuss podcasting.
Subscribe to this Twitter list of St. Louis podcasts: Follow these local podcasts on Twitter so you can hear about their new episodes and what they’re working on.
Follow the #stlpodcast conversation on Twitter: On Thursday night, we used the hashtag #stlpodcast to coalesce the conversation around podcasting in St. Louis and share tips and tricks. Catch up on the conversation here.
Join this St. Louis Podcast group on Facebook: This group “is dedicated to help support, introduce and grow the St. Louis podcast community.” Sounds like a good place to be if you want to learn how to podcast in St. Louis.
Have a local podcast you think we should know about? Or other resources you think we should add to the list?
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.