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What It Takes To Start Your Own Podcast

 


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Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast unlike anything you’ve heard before. Set in the fictional town of Night Vale, each episode is structured like a radio show reporting on the strange events that occur within it. The traditional weather report is replaced by an unusual song each episode and it’s packed with dark, unexpected humour and multi-faceted, unique characters, making it an exciting listen throughout. What started as a podcast has now turned into a whole network of novels, merchandise and even a live tour. Their new live show “A Spy in the Desert” just started touring again in 2019 with performances throughout the U.S. and Europe. Tickets are on sale now. We spoke to producer Jeffrey Cranor about how he and his co-writer Joseph Fink first started the show and eventually made a whole empire out of it. Here are eleven things we learnt that could help you to start your own podcast…

1. It all begins with an idea… 

“My co-writer Joseph Fink and I met in New York doing theatre together in 2009. We then co-wrote and produced a play together in 2010, after we noticed we both enjoyed each other’s writing. We decided it would be fun to work together again, and thought about doing a podcast because we both loved listening to them and it seemed less stressful than producing another play. One day Joseph came up with the idea of a town where every conspiracy theory was true. We worked on a bunch of short paragraphs, put them together and had our actor friend Cecil record it for a pilot episode. It sounded awesome, so we decided to go with it.”

 

 

2. Figure out what’s important to you… 

“We sat down and decided the show could be whatever we wanted it to be. We wanted every episode to be under 30 minutes and for it to come out regularly so we set up a schedule. What was important to us was that we wanted it to have a continuing storyline. We didn’t want it to be one-off episodes that didn’t affect each other. If something was set up one episode it would be there for the next episode and each episode after that would build onto that.”

3. Find something to make your podcast stand out…

“Most of our concept was developed as we went along, but the weather being a song was something we had from the beginning. One of our early ideas was that this was a radio show with different sections like the weather report, traffic report, sports report and each one of them would be a different thing: weather would be a song, sports report might be a poem and so on. But then we decided that that would muddle things up and we just kept the weather being a song as a recurring thing.”

 

 

4. Don’t worry about fitting into an existing box… 

“It’s hard to say what genre we fit into. When we first put it up in 2012 there wasn’t a fiction category, so we chose comedy because we definitely meant for it to be funny. We play with so many different genres: horror, sci-fi, weird fiction, comedy. It’s a mismatch so we try not to put it in a box.”

5. Take your time…

“How long creating a new episode takes us varies. It sort of depends on what’s happening in the episode. The early episodes moved pretty quickly because there was only world-building, and we didn’t have to give any resolutions. Now, because there’s a whole history to Night Vale and its characters, it takes a bit longer. You have to research your own writing and go through old episodes to trace back where a character has been. You don’t want to contradict yourself. And sometimes we do episodes that have a multi-episode arch so the storyline can take a bit longer. The standalone episodes, and there’s loads of those too, are a little bit quicker to produce.”

 

 

6. Don’t give up if success isn’t instant… 

“The release of the first episode was fun, but uneventful. We were very happy about it and excited to start this new project, but the first episode had something like 30 downloads. That was probably the grand total of friends Joseph and I had. Having worked in theatre for so long, the fun thing about working on a podcast was that you put it out to the world, but you don’t really have to worry about how many people are listening to it. It’s not as dramatic as going on a stage and seeing only four people in the audience. If a podcast is just sitting there and no one is downloading it I won’t feel as horrible about that. People will get to it when they get to it.”

7. Social Media can really help… 

“It started to feel like this was a pretty cool thing when we started our social media accounts and actually had a larger following on Twitter than we had number of downloads. When we then started getting over a thousand downloads that felt remarkable – especially coming from a theatre background because if I can get just 20 people to come see a play that’s already great. It wasn’t until a little over a year into the show when our downloads spiked that we had a huge surge in popularity and we realised things were about to change pretty dramatically.”

 

 

8. Collaborate…

“One of the things we had going for us from the start was that spirit of collaboration. Collaboration is a great thing to keep you active and assure that you’re meeting deadlines. Plus you always have someone else’s voice to help you make the right choice because sometimes you get too involved in your own writing.”

9. Think simple…

“Joseph and I have a pretty simple approach to things because we make art on a lower budget. Keeping things simple is a really big thing. Don’t think you have to produce something as technically as perfect or big budget as a Marvel film.”

10. Don’t limit yourself to one idea… 

“A few years into Night Vale we started talking about other ideas for podcasts we had, so we decided we would just produce them alongside Welcome to Night Vale and start a network umbrella. We wanted to see how we could expand the business and find other artists to work with. We’re growing up and changing, so let’s try new things.”

 

 

11. Involve your audience…

“We started the live tour as a way of doing something that is a little bit structured like the podcast, but goes on for a full evening. What’s fun about the show is that we get to write a script that involves the audience. We had a lot of fun writing the one for this tour and finding new ways to include the audience in the story. We want to laugh with them and be provocative. Podcasts are so personal, you listen to them by yourself in your bedroom, or in the car or on the train, but with a live show we’re all in the same room, so let’s make this real fun!”


SOURCE: Topshop

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