How to Produce an Interviews Podcast: Scope and Purpose

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 22, 2010 in How-To

studio interviewsMany, many people have asked how I produce my podcast of interviews with philosophers, scientists, and others: Conversations from the Pale Blue Dot. This series reveals those details. See here for all posts in the series.

cloud_breakAn interviews podcast presents a conversation between you and an expert on some subject to your audience. There are several advantages to producing this kind of podcast:

  1. You get to share your viewpoint, and the viewpoints of your guests, with your audience.
  2. You get to talk to really cool people, and become friends with some of them.
  3. You can reach that sizable audience that does not like to read much, but loves to listen to podcasts.
  4. Interview podcasts are very inexpensive to produce.

There is also one major disadvantage to producing an interviews podcast: If you do it right, each episode requires a lot of work.

The basic steps I take to record one episode of my interviews podcast are:

  1. Find a guest.
  2. Familiarize myself with their work.
  3. Craft an invitation email specific to your guest.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 about 10 times until you get a positive reply to one of your invitations.
  5. Over the course of a week or more, work out with your guest how the interview will work, and schedule a time when you are both available.
  6. Conduct the interview, ask good questions, record the interview.
  7. Edit the interview into a podcast episode.
  8. Upload the MP3 file somewhere.
  9. Put up a web page for that episode with relevant links and images.
  10. Add the episode to your iTunes RSS feed for the podcast.

That whole process takes me 3-10 hours of work per episode.

Thus, my first major recommendation about producing your own interviews podcast is this: Don’t do it.

It’s a lot of work. Because of this, the internet is flooded with half-assed interview podcasts that don’t go to all the trouble they should, and many of them die after 7 episodes. I suspect much of this is because people did not realize how much work it is to produce a quality interviews podcast.

And keep in mind, I’m talking about a recorded interviews podcast. A live interviews podcast is much, much harder to do, and I will not discuss that topic.

My purpose

If my #1 piece of advice is “Don’t do it,” then why am I writing this series?

First, I want to make it easier to produce an interviews podcast. That alone will enable more people to do their podcasts well and keep them going.

Second, because I’ve learned many things through trial-and-error and lots of aspiring podcasters can skip out on the “error” part if I share what I’ve learned. Why do favors? Because they make the world a better place.

So yeah, I’m going to teach you how to record, edit, and produce a valuable podcast of recorded interviews.

We’ll start with the technical details about hardware and software and editing and publishing. Later, I’ll come back to the harder part: How to get good guests and keep them coming back.

Stay tuned.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sabio Lantz April 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Fantastic beginning — already learned something. Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to the hardware/software part.

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John Hummel April 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I found the reponses you get from propel to be fascinating. When I set out to interview ministers on my own, I found it took 6 monhs to get a “yes” from the Jehovah’s Witnesses-and only a week from the Scientology Headquarters.

The Mormons never did want to talk to me, and this after I took it all the way to Salt Lake.

It’s funny. The religious groups you’d expect to be eager to talk to people about their faith based on their missionaries were usually e hardest to get to talk into a microphone. Took me a solid year to finish.

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lukeprog April 22, 2010 at 7:07 pm

John,

Very interesting!

Have you written about your own techniques/software/hardware anywhere?

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