A podcast is only as strong as the structure that enables writers, producers and audio engineers to communicate effectively and efficiently. No matter how straightforward or complex the production, establishing a sound workflow is crucial to pulling off a pro podcast.
We’ve pulled together behind-the-scenes stories of how four hit podcasts dealt with workflow disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic, manage dozens of audio sources and more. Read on for insights that can help you nail down your podcast workflow for good.
The Dave Ramsey Show
The podcast team at Ramsey Solutions, home of the widely syndicated radio program The Dave Ramsey Show, had a problem—or what the company’s can-do namesake would call an opportunity. After experiencing rapid growth over six years with its lineup of eight recurring programs and a serialized podcast, the production team was strong but siloed.
“We’re trying to standardize our audio,” says senior producer Eric Cieslewicz, including “creating a better template in Pro Tools [so] everything would funnel through the right plug-ins. We’ve learned a lot from needing to work across different shows where it’s not just one producer with their chosen software. We need producers to share the work [and] cover for each other.”
[Find out more in The Dave Ramsey Show Rethinks Its Podcast Workflow]
All American: Tiger Woods
Don’t underestimate the value of a solid workflow in the formula for what makes a compelling podcast. “At Stitcher, we have a pretty great system in terms of giving our shows the proper treatment they need from an engineering perspective,” says Jordan Bell, who created All American: Tiger Woods and serves as the podcast’s writer, co-host and producer.
Working with co-host Albert Chen, audio engineer Casey Holford and the engineering team, Bell says the podcast’s switch from a typical production arrangement of writing, face-to-face meetings and table reads to a virtual process due to COVID-19 was seamless.
[Find out more in Inside the Workflow of Stitcher’s ‘All American: Tiger Woods’ Podcast]
The production team behind Gimlet’s Mogul podcast faced a significant hurdle when it decamped to work at home in March. Instead of compromising the podcast’s meticulously sculpted sound design, they reinvented the entire show from scratch. Each episode of the bite-size Mogul: Mixtape podcast is produced in concert among the production team members, with real-time collaboration through a Google Hangout.
“Process is key,” says lead producer Matthew Nelson. “Whether we’re working on a six-part documentary or a one-off interview with Ludacris, everything is agonized over. Everything is very carefully edited [and] constructed. It was very important for us to set ourselves up in a way that could facilitate this collaborative editing process that every show does at Gimlet.”
[Find out more in Hit ‘Mogul’ Podcast Goes with the Workflow]
There are complex podcast productions, and then there’s Story Pirates. For technical director Sam Bair, editing the acclaimed Gimlet podcast isn’t about simply picking the best content and shaping a narrative—it’s about finding the best takes from a half-dozen actors reading their lines from a script, and then filling the audio spectrum with sounds that advance the story and appeal to kids.
“It really is a true post-production compilation of recordings,” says Bair, whose role includes sound design, producing, and recording and mix engineer. “We’re recording all the takes and pulling specific lines from different takes. We’re also taking whole sections from different takes.”
[Find out more in Flexible Engineering Helps ‘Story Pirates’ Sail to 20M Downloads]