Health Sciences Podcasting Guidelines

PODCASTING

Podcasts are a popular and legitimate medium to reach people. The most popular shows in the podcast charts are syndicated radio shows, highlights of TV shows – still very much dominated by traditional media. However, some original podcasts are very popular and gaining equal traction.

Podcasting isn’t easy – like anything, it requires a plan. 

WHAT IS THE PODCAST ABOUT?

A good podcast has a defined topic, genre, or subject. There are podcasts for all manners of subjects and genres, from daily news briefings, in-depth political shows, sports shows, and just friends talking nonsense about board games.

Consider what your subject matter is – what could you talk about? Is there enough discussion for multiple episodes? Try to write a one-to-two sentence brief about what your podcast will be. If you can’t define it easily in two sentences, it may be time to consider scaling back in your scope. This will help give a clear direction for your show, and your audience’s understanding of what to expect.

IS ANYONE DOING THIS ALREADY?

Check to see if someone's already doing this. Offering something different, if there’s a rival or competitor out there, can be beneficial. It will help you find your creative window, as well as give you an even clearer direction you want to go. Is there a window you see that the competitor isn’t covering? Topics not being discussed? What value do you offer?

WHO IS THE PODCAST FOR?

Understanding your intended audience is crucial. This will help define the level of which you speak, the level of production, language choice, and frequency. For Vice President of Health Sciences at WVU’s Clay Marsh, for his podcast “Health Connections,” we target an audience interested in medical education, the health industry, and those interested in higher education. This frames the type of guests we’ll seek, what Clay will talk about, and the level of production. We don’t need wacky sound effects, music, teasers to keep people’s attention. It’s not for everybody.

Also, consider – what does someone gain from listening to my show? 

HOW FREQUENT WILL THE SHOW BE?

Podcasts live and die by subscribers. Subscribers allow you to have a built-in audience, get audience feedback, and see if people are still tuning in. Frequency of a show helps determine how many subscribers you get. If you release every week, you’ll need to keep a show going every week. Don’t commit to something you can’t deliver. 

If you know your frequency, you can state that, so people don’t think you’ve abandoned the show and unsubscribe. For every hour of a podcast, it’s probably safe to bet around 5 hours of work to get the show to completion – which includes the time it takes to record, editing, re-editing, having people check it’s OK, as well as releasing it and promoting it. How often can you dedicate this time?

SET REALISTIC GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS

You're not going to reach NPR levels of fame. Your podcast may be an important piece of a larger discussion, but you’re not going to be storming the charts immediately. The frequency of daily shows by broadcasting companies are always going to beat smaller shows, due to their reach and nature. So set realistic goals and build on them. Don’t be dismayed by low numbers at the beginning.

Additionally, what do YOU want the outcome of this to be? Consider the value of your time, that of your guests, and the financial situation behind the production of a show. If your goal is “awareness,” could you do it better and more efficiently with a web campaign? A social campaign? A print piece? A mailer? Are you just doing a podcast to be trendy? It matters!

SO YOU’VE DECIDED TO MAKE A PODCAST

Consider all the above. If you’re still going ahead, you'll need the following:

  1. Someone to produce the show – organizing recording times, guests, someone who knows the technical side of recording, ensuring the audio is good, listening as the show is being recorded for any issues (nothing is worse than hearing bad audio after spending an hour recording), and following along with your show notes to ensure everything is covered.
  2. Someone to edit the show – you'll need someone who can objectively go through and cut, edit together, add necessary music, edit out lengthy gaps, add introductions, etc. Not everything you say will make sense, cross-talk (where guests talk over each other) will infuriate your listeners trying to decipher what you’re all saying, and sometimes you just waffle on too long. Give it a few days after recording and listen back.
  3. Someone to post and promote the show - A podcast is a product, and you’ll need to market it. It also needs somewhere to live for people to be able to find it – but there are web hosts for that, so don’t stress. Frequently updating relevant social feeds with the show, tagging guests in promotions about it, offering updates about who is coming on or what you’ll be talking about, sourcing listener feedback – it all takes time and effort to make it work.

But most importantly...

Who is going to host the show? Who is doing the talking? Is this a rotating team of guest hosts, with guests? Without guests? Will the audience be able to establish a relationship, or understanding, with your host or hosts? You’re being projected right into their ears, so you’re extremely intimate with your listeners. Consider if the host will have the time necessary to dedicate to recording, and if those times work with your intended guests.

THINGS YOU’LL NEED

Consider all the above. If you’re still moving forward, you'll need the following:

  1. A place to record – The quieter the space, the better. If you consider a location to record, go into it quietly. Can you hear the air conditioner? Is an appliance making a constant hum? Is there a phone in the room that could randomly start ringing? All have an impact on your recording quality, and the listener experience.
  2. A way to record – There are many ways to record, each offering a level of professionalism and quality. You can record with anything from a microphone you share with another person, or just yourself. There are apps that allow you to record with your phone, headphones with a microphone, or more. You can also utilize on-campus space or private recording studios that have production facilities and controlled environments for this purpose.
  3. A way to make it available – There are services such as LibSyn, PodBean and Anchor that can distribute your podcast to all the major podcasting apps. You just need to provide a finished file, title information, a summary, key words and whatever the apps ask for to help get the audience the most information available.
  4. A way to get the word out – Promote your show! It’s the best way to get the word out. Make use of your internal channels (newsletters, e-mail announcements, InfoStations, bulletin boards) as well as your external (alumni, magazines, newsletters, social media, e-mail campaigns, WVU eNews, industry-related mailing lists/groups, etc).
  5. A plan for your episodes and a release calendar - This is the best way to keep everything in check. Make sure you know when you plan to record, so you can allow yourself time to schedule guests (if needed), arrange recording times, time to review the episodes, before publication.

RECORDING SPACE AND EDITING SOURCES LOCALLY (RATES MAY CHANGE)

  1. MDTV - In house production team at MDTV can produce, edit and help set up your podcast. ($100/hr)
  2. CULTURE ON HIGH - High Street Morgantown based recording studio – full studio space and audio production, $50 for raw audio file, $100 for finished + edited
  3. REED MEDIA COLLEGE – Recording space available with potential student freelancers - rates and availability may vary, recording space $100 for 4 hours
  4. SENSE 8 RECORDING – Private recording space, editing, production, $35/ hour, estimated 5 hour project total per episode