WDG attends AIRMedia Podcast Conference

AIRMedia Podcast Conference

Podcasts have been gaining popularity lately like scrunchies did in the early ‘90’s . If you are not working on podcasts, you are falling behind the digital curve. One of WDG’s Digital Strategists, Lisette Alvarez, attended a podcast event in Brooklyn, New York, this past week.  AIRMedia (Association of Independents in Radio) annually hosts The Full Spectrum Storytelling Intensive. The workshops included lessons on:

Attendees of AIRMedia Podcast Conference working on 'proto personas' for podcasts.
Attendees of AIRMedia Podcast Conference working on ‘proto personas’ for podcasts.
  • Pitching an audio story
  • Getting a podcast off the ground
  • Dealing with “complicated characters”
  • Investigative storytelling
  • Telling stories that matter to the community
  • Sound design and sound production
  • Producing and editing audio stories

Nine experienced producers and editors presented at the event. Emanuele Berry, producer of “The Nod” by Gimlet Media, hosted this weeks intensive. Lisette was especially fascinated by the teachings of presenter Alex Overington, the technical director of “Radiolab”, “More Perfect”, and WNYC fame. Alex taught about the possibilities and power of sound design. In his podcasts, he uses all sorts of weird compilations of sounds, with everything from the human voice, synthetic sounds, instruments, ambient noise.  

AIRMedia Conference is held annually in New York City.
Photo by Tracy Pacana

Attendees are asked to complete multiple assignments during the conference. Guests come prepared with a homework assignment, where they record a complicated character. Attendees are also instructed to explore the Williamsburg neighborhood in search of a story. Three options are suggested to discuss with a stranger; their first kiss, a bad date, or a silly fight they had. The recording is edited down to the best 3-4 minutes and reviewed among peers. Participants were able to work with their own materials and put their new techniques to the test, while also receiving constructive feedback.

Key Takeaways

Over the course of the week, attendees of AIRMedia’s event learn a broad range of techniques. One of the presenters, Nadia Seisman, editor from “This American Life”, asked the audience to consider: “What makes a good audio story tick?”  The answer to this question consists of four key components.

Lisette Alvarez, Digital Strategist in Times Square, NYC
Lisette Alvarez, Digital Strategist in Times Square, NYC
  1. An interesting idea: Unexpected twists, high stakes – to the character or the listener, or new and uncovered information.
  2. A compelling character: Someone very outspoken and opinionated, emotional, vulnerable, or contains mystery. Communicates thoughts and speaks well.
  3. Editing and Writing: The producer writes a clear arc for your story and note what point goes where.
  4. Music and scoring/sound design: Background noises and effects add various emotions to the existing dialogue.

Plan to ensure that you have a story worth listening to by someone who captivates the audience. A great character is absolutely critical to the best podcast stories. The people you interview in audio are the ones who can shift your podcast from boring to fascinating.  Editing and sound design are then used to ensure a consistent, polished message.

Following guidelines and attending similar events, can help to get you caught up with the podcast trend and even jump ahead of the digital curve.  Stay tuned for our next post where we will look deeper into how to apply these techniques to your process and help you to plan accordingly.

Interested in how you can get involved in WDG’s media/podcast ventures? Contact us today!

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