#6: Candid

I told myself I wouldn’t get too mushy on you guys, but I’m going to go ahead and get candid anyways. Being vulnerable and transparent is my specialty.

Since I was little I had always been told by my favorite uncle that I have the power to command an audience with storytelling, and that meant even him. Whenever we had our large family gatherings I would immediately go over to him and begin telling him stories about things I had seen, heard, or experienced that week.

It was a two way street of story telling, I would start and finish one and then he would start and finish one. We would go back and forth, getting wrapped up in this magical world of storytelling.

Storytelling allows us to experience things we have never experienced before through someone else. There is a delicate balance, but its not that hard to achieve.

I researched a little but on how to make this blog a little more personal than just me telling you what I think about podcasts. I found an article written by a guy named Alex Limburg titled: “A Blogger’s Guide to Telling Stories That Win Hearts and Minds”

You’re going to have the read the whole thing to get the complete gist of the article but here was a nugget of truth I found:

“Here is the point: We humans are raw and vulnerable. We want to see ourselves reflected in others and we want to experience truth (even if it’s not always fact) – which is why we love to immerse ourselves in the pain and the joy of a sweeping story.” 

You get to experience a range of emotions in stories told by other people, my thought and worry is however that because of today’s culture and society we don’t have the attention spans for this. I myself and guilty of not following through and giving a story the time of day.

Something that I enjoy doing from time to time (besides listening to podcasts.) is watching TED Talks . One because they are all typically under 20 minutes, which is great for my short attention span, and two because they’re typically full of information you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

I think TED Talks have some form of storytelling within their videos whether you realize it or not, which in my mind is a successful way of storytelling. Conveying information, or something educational through a formal like that is gold.

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#5: Ira Glass

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Currently I am listening to the Longform Podcast episode #159: Ira Glass in which Glass talks about his humble beginnings with This American Life.

Glass began working in radio in 1978 as an intern for NPR when he was 19. He moved to Chicago in 1989 and then in 1995 This American Life went on air.

In reading his bio on their site and listening to this podcast I have learned that Glass did it all. Which makes him the perfect host/producer because he has seen it all and knows much hard work goes into creating content.

During his conversation with Longford he mentions Serial and how Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder wanted to take journalism and create something that had the same attention-grabbing-appeal as HBO or Netflix. In my opinion I believe that they succeeded.

Something that This American Life has done is taking their show on the road. How does a radio show do a live show, in front of a live audience?

Typically Glass has a guest or two to do an interview with in front of a live audience. These interviews are tied in with stories that all flow together to create a cohesive and entertaining show.

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In the picture above is a description for an event happening in Birmingham! When I found out that not only was Glass touring but that he would be performing nearby I was excited!

Even though I go to school and pretty much live full time in Troy, I do live with family in Montevallo, AL which is only a 3o-45 minutes south of Birmingham. The tickets for this event aren’t too badly priced so I plan on being in attendance!

I contacted the person over Ira Glass questions/requests to see if I could do a quick interview with Glass before or after the show, I was kindly directed to the podcast I’m listening to. I was also told to send more information on an upcoming website that I’m currently working on. I will share more information about that as soon as I can.

The thing I am most looking forward to with this live show of This American Life is to see in person how they combine dance and radio. I’m sure it will be a night to remember and I plan on sharing it will you all!

 

#4: Storytelling Reporter

I refer back to Serial in this post because it was the first podcast of it’s kind that launched me into this “investigation” of how podcasts are becoming the most popular format to present storis.

As a reporter Sarah Koenig brings you into her investigations of Anand Syed and Bowe Bergdahl and asks herself the same questions you probably are as you’re listening to these cases unfold. This idea of a reporter being transparent is refreshing!

As a broadcast journalism major I have been taught time and time again to be objective always! But in Serial you see Koenig being subjective, dare I even say, becoming a friend to Syed.

In a conversation that The Daily Northwestern covered with Medill lecturer Alex Kotlowitz of the McCormick Foundation Center Forum, Serial‘s executive producer Julie Snyder talked about Koenig’s style of reporting and why it just worked.

“In a lot of ways, she became the protagonist because she was doing the reinvestigation,” Snyder said. “This story lived in the details, and early on it was boring. We needed her to be telling us what these details mean.”

The details may have seemed boring at first glance, but something in the way Koenig disclosed those minute details makes them more appealing.

“Snyder said Koenig’s ability to bring the listener into the reporting process — for example, by including audio of her driving around Baltimore chasing the story — made the information more digestible.”

In this podcast there is something about how organic the content was presented. It might sound cheesy but it’s almost magic. Audio of conversations that Koenig probably had to spend hours over to fit and stitch the story together made all the difference.

“One of the things I admire about ‘Serial’ is that it is very transparent about the reporter’s place in the story,” Kotlowitz told The Daily. “It doesn’t lecture. It doesn’t pander. It treats the audience with a substantial amount of respect and dignity.”

As a listener I felt like I was invited to challenge the evidence that Koenig was mulling over. I was learning about the judicial system sans formal lecture,  it was a real life situation that required a step-by-step understanding in the how’s and why’s.

It wasn’t confusing, it was inviting, and that is what makes Serial worth listening to.

 

#3: Asking Around

I posted this the other day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in anticipation for a post like this.

Question

Now, don’t be afraid to comment and let me know what your favorite podcast is!

I was really excited to get a lot of feedback on this question, most of it came from Facebook of course as most of my friends are chattier on Facebook than they are on Instagram or Twitter. Other social media platforms that I am going to experiment with to ask this question are Periscope and Snapchat.

Here are some of the answers I got on Facebook:

“I adore The Greatest Problem in the Universe with Maddox and Dick Masterson. Every week, several various problems are presented to the listeners, and after the cast you can vote on what you feel is the greatest or least greatest problem from that week. They’ve talked about everything from SJWs to the “are you still watching” button on Netflix, and it will make you laugh, but also teach you quite a bit.” – Katrina K from Ohio

“Sword and Scale. It’s well written and to the point. Oh, and it’s true crime. It wins.” – Kati M from Louisiana 

“Well I currently am listening to 13 different podcasts. I would say that my favorites are snap judgement and radio lab. Both are like investigative story telling that covers a broad range of the human experience like the son of the zodiac killer to a person with a brain condition whose sense of direction is 90 degrees off. I also like serial and criminal as well. Also, if you are into a real understanding of espionage and the military, spy cast is great because they interview CIA operatives and generals about a wide range of topics.” – Chris D from Kentucky

“Sermons from Passion City Church. I love to run to them!” – Kristin T from Georgia

First off, I was really excited to have not only four different people respond to this question, but four different people all from different states! I kind of got a little too excited about it. Anyways, I do plan on taking their input in seriously and checking out the podcasts mentioned. I have already listened to a few episodes of Sword and Scale and enjoyed the content.

Through a conversation yesterday I found out about another podcast called Magic Lessons hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert (Author of Eat, Pray, Love.) in which she talks to everyday people who want to expand in their creativity. I listened to the first episode and not only did I enjoy it, but it helped me realize some techniques I could use in writing for this blog.

#2: Success

If you are a frequent podcast listener you more than likely are interested because of the content that you are hearing. If I find a podcast that I am genuinly interested in I will typically download as many episodes as I can to listen to throughout the week.

Sometimes credibility with the persons you are listening to also keeps you coming back for more. There is a recipe to successful podcasts according to Forbes.com that you can read here.

  1. Understand why you’re doing it
  2. Start strong
  3. Understand your revenue strategy
  4. Increase frequency
  5. Find unusual guests.

Keep in mind all of what I am about to say is coming from a listener’s point a view, I’m not planning on creating a podcast anytime soon.

Podcast creators that have a clear understanding of the five W’s and how they all correlate together are probably going to be more successful. If they all mesh together and the content reflects that, then the strenght of interest is sure to follow.

Revenue strategy is something I want to do more research on my own and write a future post about. From my basic knowledge I know that some podcasts have affiliate stations in bigger cities, so that is where some of their revenue comes from. But again, I plan on dong more research.

Having a frequent uploading schedule can go either way. This American Life uploads every week, while Criminal and Serial‘s uploading schedule varies. Criminal only uploads two episodes every month however the content and kind of guests that they have on the show keeps me coming back.

Serial took the approach in their second season, because of the kind of information they were gathering, to stagger the episodes to every two weeks. Which worked out in their favor because as new information came in about the case they were able to put out fresh content.

My favorite component of podcasts would have to be the presence of unusual guests that are connected to the story that the podcast is telling. It’s always facinating when you can hear from a woman who has been in jail for more than 30 years for selling drugs, it’s not the actual act of selling drugs that keeps you interested, but the how and why she did it all.

 

#1: Storytelling Beginnings

Let’s jump right into it…

I have been in the podcast game on and off for a couple of years now, but it wasn’t until last year when I stumbled upon a true crime podcast that really demanded my attention.

Serial is a story told week-by-week and is hosted by Sarah Koenig, who kills it in the investigating and narrating department in my opinion. Through Serial I found its parent show: This American Life hosted by the fabulous Ira Glass. This American Life covers a range of topics and is not limited to its Chicago backyard.

Because of both of these podcasts I started to think about the foundation of a podcast and what makes them so likable, and borderline addicting. With so many kinds of podcasts out there I know there has to be something for everyone.

So through this blog I want to analyze the foundations of storytelling and the how and why podcasts have become a popular form of storytelling. I also plan on asking around and doing research on other podcasts that are out there.

My favorite genre of podcast would have to be the true crime podcast. Besides Serial I have also taken a liking to Criminal and  Sword and the Scale. Even though they’re all the same genre they are very different in their presentation.

Serial is a constant investigative podcast, it keeps you coming back for more after each episode. I started listening to this podcast shortly after the first season ended so I ended up listening to the whole thing within a matter of a week. Sarah Koenig and her team find cases in which the guilty person, who believes they are innocent of course, has an incredible set of circumstances that have gotten them to that point. These episodes range from 30 minutes to an hour, so they were ideal for me on a long road trip.

Criminal which is hosted by Phoebe Judge, is typically a much shorter podcast, however is does not disappoint in content. Each episode is different and riveting in the stories that are told. One episode could take place in its home state of North Carolina, and the next could be somewhere on the other side of the country. The variety of the types of cases presented in this podcast is what keeps me coming back for more.

Sword and Scale is a podcast a have only recently discovered so I am still analyzing it, I can tell you however that they rely heavily on the kind of music that they play during their storytelling, as I continue my research on this podcast I will explain in greater detail later on.