Creating your own podcast | Advice from students who did it first

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By Estelle Nilsson-Julien, Politics and International Relations

As five students from Bristol’s International Affairs Society  found,  creating a Podcast is a particularly rewarding team-building experience. In their podcast Off the Record, they spoke to academics to hear about their research and trace their journeys to their current positions. So, if starting a Podcast is an idea you have been flirting with, here are some tips and hopefully some motivation to get you going!

First things first: choose a topic. This may seem obvious, but so often university students are guided by an overarching burden of what will ‘look good’ on their CV. Don’t be!

You are going to have to spend hours researching, editing and marketing your Podcast, so being passionate about your subject is key. Our podcast started from questions that we were genuinely intrigued by, but didn’t know the answers to. And that is what is so great about starting a podcast - you’ll learn so much along the way.

We wanted to understand what it is that leads academics to devoting their life to niche research: how did they end up in their jobs? Is academia a field of work you fall into, or is there a specific, replicable set path?

Next, find your purpose. You will be shining the spotlight on your interviewee, but also recording this for yourself. Your listeners are at the heart of any project, so what will they take away with them?

In our podcast we wanted to bridge the barrier between Academics and students, in order to strengthen the sometimes-fraught relationship. We wanted to connect students with world leading research being conducted by their professors and other teaching staff.

Our goal was also to humanise academics; to shed a layer of formality by getting them to open up about their personal lives and other interests. These people were also students like us one day, and for some, not so long ago! We also hoped that our podcast would allow academics themselves to get to know each other. Our aim was to expand the podcast beyond the faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities, allowing listeners to be able to learn about all sorts of topics, without necessarily studying them.

Get a format going. This does not, by any means, mean you have to rigorously stick to the same questions and running order for every episode. However, ensure there is a thread, a sense of continuity which runs through, an enshrined overarching theme and sense of purpose. Our podcast follows the chronological order of our interviewees’ journeys into academia, while incorporating personal questions and ultimately delving into an intellectual discussion of their research.

We found the name-storming part to be slightly tricky, but just don’t take it too seriously. You’ll come up with one name, twist it around, backwards and upside down. You might end up reverting to your original idea or have a 'eureka!' moment.

The tech part. Don't worry, you don’t need fancy equipment to create a podcast! Get yourself a cheap microphone, or even your phone, and you’ll be good to go. We used a microphone which clips onto your collar - there are lots of models out there. If you have to record your podcast remotely, software that records through your computer is also available.

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The end result! | Courtesy of Off the Record

For editing, there are lots of free software packages you can download online, we chose to use Audacity. You’ll want to get your podcast up onto a streaming platform once ready to air, with SoundCloud, for instance, being very easy to use.

We chose to upload our podcast onto PodBean, in order to get an RSS feed. Having an RSS feed enables streaming services such as Spotify, to get automatic access to your latest episodes. Streaming platforms have pages listing their ‘aggregate partners’, in other words the secondary websites (like PodBean) that you can go through in order to get your Podcast to them.

Then what’s left is marketing. For marketing, tell all your friends about it! In the age of Generation-Z, we hardly need to tell you how to go about it. The most important thing to remember is that if you want to create something, get it out there. Don't forget: you don’t need to get the perfect format, or a totally unique name, there is always room for tweaking - and that’s part of the journey!

If you want to learn about your professor’s research in a fun and informative way, here’s Off the Record!

Featured Image: Unsplash / Austin Distel


Started your own podcast? Got different tips for a great show? Get in touch!

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