Ten tips: How newsrooms can improve audio and podcasting

Nate Lanxon, editor of, presented a workshop at news:rewired-digital stories this afternoon explaining how to news organisations can produce successful podcasts without breaking the bank.

Here are ten of his top tips:

1. Make it free – Although there is a huge temptation to monetise your podcast to bring in extra revenue, with some many to choose from, users won’t buy a product when they can get a pretty decent alternative for free.

2. Make it niche –  Although it seems counter-intuitive to focus on such a small audience, having a specialised niche makes your podcast stand out from all its competitors and will help you build a loyal audience that will listen every week.

3. Make it regular – Some people publish programmes once or twice but the most popular ones have regular publishing schedule. It can be daily, weekly or bimonthly but not a one offs.

4. Personality drives success – Much like a popular radio, the success of a podcast comes from the people on it. It is good to to get a group together to produce it, the conversation and bouncing of ideas makes it easier to create an engaging, dynamic and fun show that people will be drawn too.

5. Make it topical and up to date – The podcast tends to focus on news and topical information. Therefore, with a weekly podcast, it will nearly always be up to date whenever you download it in the week. However it is important to breathe life into it rather than making it dry news reportage, that is why it is good to get a debate going.

6. Know your audience – Nate says commuters are the ideal audience for any podcast as they have a set journey, that is often monotous and routine – this is about a thirty-to-forty minute window everyday when they are on the move and reading a book or newspaper may be difficult. This is the prime window for a podcast to occupy their minds for half an hour a day.

7. Make it fast- burns through seven to eight topics in a session, spending two to three minutes on chat and entertaining discussion. It is important not to spend too long on one topic otherwise the listener will get bored, disengaged and possibly stop listening.

8. Make it broad (while still being niche ? Weird, I know!) – Within making it on a niche subject matter as possible you also have to find a way to attract people who would not normally be interested in that topic. Lanxon uses the example of Top Gear as a way to get millions of people watching the programme despite having no interest in cars. They have achieved this partly through the use of personality and engaging discussion but also that they can cover a broad (and somewhat random) range of topics within or related to that.

9. Get the right software – Lanxon said the best podcast and audio editing software on the market at the moment was normally on a Mac. Garage Band is a particularly good and easy to use product, with an in-built podcast function. He also says that Amazon S3 is a good server to host the podcast on because it is the most flexible and able to cope with fluctuations of demand. An alternative is Dropbox which has a public audio folder where you can upload podcasts simply for free.

10. Promote, promote, promote –  Lastly it is vitally important to promote your podcast, and to set up a RSS feed as this is the way people will subscribe to the podcast. Apple have an app called Feeder which is specifically designed for uploading podcasts. There are also Podomatic and Jellycast which mostly do the promotion for you if you just want a basic uploading tool. Another option is the iTunes directory which is curated and a lot of people’s first stop when it comes to searching for new podcasts.

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