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With social distancing rules still in place, we are seeing more and more artists, photographers, illustrators, and graphic designers reflecting these strange and scary times in their unique creative ways. Many tackling the question of how to create a podcast.
No-touch contactless door openers. Portable seats attached to lampposts. Plastic bubbles over restaurant tables. Hats with pool noodles to maintain social distancing. And masks in every imaginable color and form.
A set of unusual and even bizarre objects has emerged in the last year and a half, reflecting a new reality of illness, uncertainty, fear, and even social protest.
Videographers and photographers are capturing life from a safe distance, museums have virtual learning centers and webcasts, and artists are telling stories through artifacts of crisis, global recession, mass death, and desperation.
But what if you are looking for a way to express your feelings and thoughts in this time of uncertainty and disruption, full of unknowns? Then create a podcast.
How to Choose Your Podcast Topic
Podcasting has never been more popular and has certainly taken the digital landscape by storm. That podcasting gained in popularity is not surprising – people need culture in times of crisis and social isolation.
Luckily, it is also easy to get started and record impactful podcasts from home. What you need to do is choose a great topic, secure devices, set up your home studio to start recording, and connect with audiences.
The Right Podcast Topic
As you are figuring out a topic for your sessions, start by making a list of your interests and passions. You must have a favorite book, TV show, or movie series. There must be something that you find entertaining, interesting, or inspiring and can talk about for hours.
Next, you want to find out which topics actually engage online audiences. According to a 2020 study by Spotify, the most popular genres are society and culture, lifestyle and health, comedy, and arts and entertainment. Other trending categories to look into are wellness, work from home, and nostalgia-themed podcast series.
Late Night Host Conan O’Brien Driving the Podcast Revolution
“Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” podcast came to life in 2018 with initial resistance from the TV host but quickly turned into success. The podcast has received positive reviews and is rated as one of the top podcasts in iTunes.
In the podcast, the comedian invites people from multiple backgrounds and discusses in a free chat-form a variety of entertaining topics. Anyone from fellow comedian Bill Hader to historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Caro has been guests, making the podcast a truly delightful and deservingly popular among listeners.
Keeping Up with Global Health News
The pandemic itself is also a topic to look into. At the onset, there was a shift from entertainment, daily news, and culture to series with a heavy pandemic focus. Think of podcasts like ‘En 5 minutes’ on QUB radio, ‘The Daily’ at The New York Times, and ‘Front Burner’ at CBC. Podcasts have been produced across the globe to cover every aspect of the pandemic. France Inter, BBC, ABC, and NPR have been covering more of the same the last year and a half.
Kids & Family Focused Podcasts
With daycare and school closures, marketers also turned to youth podcasting to cater to home confined audiences. Data by Nieman Lab shows that the number of kids/family podcast downloads is up by 9 percent.
Spotify made the most of stay-at-home orders and school closures by launching its Spotify Kids app, featuring audiobooks, party jams, bedtime tunes, and movie hits. Kids and family podcasts “provide fun and a bit of escapism that’s comforting to kids and parents”, says Gen Z Media’s team.
Podcasts Targeting Every Demographic
Children also seek clarity on what is going on and what the future holds. They worry when they are kept in the dark. Kids series are well-positioned to present information about the coronavirus disease, social distancing, and other issues around the pandemic.
“We felt like we had the ability to address kids’ concerns and questions in a way that was really needed,” says SoundCloud’s team Patterson and Lentz.
As kids podcasting is still a relatively uncrowded landscape, many have turned to distribution platforms like Apple and Stitcher to improve discoverability.
There likely be many more, so this is a good time to start a kids and family series as a source of comfort for many during these incredibly difficult times.
Tip: Hundreds of growing businesses use Socialfix to create impactful podcasts and tell powerful, authentic stories to connect with audiences and showcase their products.
You don’t need fancy equipment to create a podcast remotely. A good number of podcasts have been recorded using audio and video conferencing equipment on laptops or desktop computers.
Secure a mobile device which can be a smartwatch, cell phone, tablet, or computer. You will need two devices if you are interviewing someone. The full suite of equipment that you can use includes:
- Mic stands
- Headphone amplifier
- Pop filter
- Audio interface
Set up Your Home Studio
To set up your home studio and get great sound quality, you need a few hard surfaces as possible. A good podcasting place is one with a lot of plush surfaces for soundproofing. Some podcasters choose to use a spare bedroom, garage, or empty basement.
This is not the best of options. Empty space creates a lot of reverb and is not a good choice for a recording studio. The best places are actually full of stuff and with many plush surfaces.
Choose a room with plenty of soft surfaces such as fabric furniture, rugs, and carpeting. Avoid spaces with lots of hard furniture such as your kitchen and rooms with tiled floors.
It is also best to choose a room with minimum external noise. This can be a finished basement or a room on the opposite side of the street. As strange as it sounds, some people choose to record in their closets. In fact, such confined spaces with lots of clothing are ideal to get good sound quality without echoing.
If that doesn’t sound like you, you can always rent a studio for your podcast series. You will find such studios in major cities like Dallas, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. They usually have cameras for video podcasting and charge about $50 – $100 per hour.
NPR posted a comprehensive guide on “Starting Your Podcast: A Guide For Students” that can help not only students but anyone interested to create a podcast and give voice to their thoughts and ideas.
Connect with Audiences Through Social Causes, Education, And Equality
A podcast can be a powerful storytelling tool to connect with online audiences. Hit series covers a wide range of topics, including food, sports, dating, and crime, to mention a few. Presenters can also support a dialogue on social issues that have negative consequences for large numbers of people and society at large.
Podcast for Social Issues of Young Adults
Depending on your target audience, social problems to address can be climate change, healthcare availability, gender inequality, and overpopulation. It can be anything that resonates with you and can shine a light on social issues.
You can delve into problems that teenagers are struggling with today, ranging from bullying, cyberbullying, and depression to peer pressure, academic problems, and on-screen violence.
Podcasts for Social Issues of the Elderly
Or you can discuss social issues affecting older people, such being elders living in poverty, mental and physical health, and financial security. And if you are a social worker or educator, there is a wide range of topics with a focus on education. Such problems are, for example, teen parenting, homelessness, parental involvement, and funding.
Podcast Looking Discussing Polarizing Topics
In today’s world, many of these issues are polarized, like unemployment, gun control, and immigration. Americans remain largely split on issues such as climate change, the armed forces, healthcare costs, and environmental protection (Big Think).
And precisely because such issues are polarized, a podcast series can help create a constructive dialogue on social problems in society. Instead of fighting about facts, let’s talk to each other and “try to understand each other’s feelings,” says political commentator Van Jones.
And while we are probably far from reaching a consensus on these matters and the days of consensus society are long over, “we can still have empathy for each other’s feelings about those facts” (Amazon).
Podcasts Changing Perspectives
Create a podcast to help audiences see the world from a different perspective. Think of the Dr. Death series by Wondery which focuses on serious cases of medical malpractice.
One of the episodes tells the story of oncologist and hematologist Farid Fata, convicted for prescribing chemotherapy to patients who either did not need it or did not have cancer.
Another episode focuses on Texas surgeon Christopher Duntsch who was convicted for gross malpractice resulting in killing and maiming patients.
What makes Dr. Death resonate with listeners is that we are all going to be patients at some point in our lives.
These are the stories of physicians who failed at every stage, from medical school to help those who need them. “The message from the podcast is to always get a second opinion” and this is what connects with listeners, says Wondery’s chief executive officer Jen Sargent.
If you are looking to create a podcast remotely, you need to choose an impactful topic, set up your home studio, and highlight a real issue to connect with audiences.
Whether it is the risk of gross medical malpractice, driving under the influence, or school-age children being bullied – that touches listeners’ lives. Podcasts that rely on authenticity and tell the stories of real people create a human connection.
With social distancing rules still in place and an increasingly isolated world that we live in, human connection is what people want and need most.