CAMP 2017: Cracking the podcast code

Story by Yael Even Or, 2017 JAWS Fellow | Photo by Erica Yoon, CAMP photographer

Podcasts are the new blogs. Everyone from journalists to commentators to comedians wants one. With over 300,000 podcasts on iTunes, how do you make yours stand out from the crowd?

That was the premise of a day-long workshop on Oct. 27 to help Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) members figure out how to stand out in a crowded market. The workshop was led by Tara Anderson, host and producer of the “Five Things” podcast, in which she conducts interviews through a “show and tell” activity – asking guests to describe the objects that tell their stories. Tara is based in Louisville, Ky., and partnered with the local public radio station, WFPL, in 2015 to create the podcast.

In the workshop, she went through the entire podcast process: conceiving the idea, figuring out how to describe the podcast (in not more than 10 words, she recommends), defining the target audience, finding partners and funding, producing and distributing it.

One of the great things about podcasts, she said, is that you can find the people who want to hear what you want to say. Not every podcast has to target everyone, which is part of the reason there’s there’s such a wide variety of voices and styles.

“There are fewer gatekeepers,” she said, ” which means we can have a wider diversity of voices.”

Traditional public radio has been blamed many times — including at this workshop — for promoting a monolithic style and encouraging hosts and reporters to adjust. But podcasting allows hosts to show more of who they are and their podcasts’ success prove that trends have changed.

“This is the moment to be authentic,” Tara said. As an example, she played a clip from Strange Fruit, a podcast created by Louisville’s WFPL, about black gay life in Kentucky.
One other aspect of having fewer gatekeepers, she reminded  JAWS members, is “it’s super easy to get started.” With that, workshop attendees dove into formulating their own podcast ideas and pitching them to the group.