Why I Got Into Podcasting
Back in the summer of 2015, I was commuting to work here in Ottawa, Canada, a 45-minute drive each way at the best of times (close to 2 hours in bad traffic). I had never really had a commute like this before, aside from a couple temp jobs I did in the past where I felt like I was just role-playing, dressing up in a tie and hopping on the bus every morning to be at the office for 8:30! But those didn’t last even two months before I returned to my real life of travelling and great summer jobs.
So now I was still working seasonally, but something far more substantial, as an interpreter at a Parks Canada national historic site. Driving back and forth each day, I realized pretty quickly that I needed something to keep me company, ideally something productive and informative.
At first, I listened to a lot of CBC, our public broadcaster, which is full of quality programming but a bit of something for everyone, so not necessarily to my interests, plus I got tired of hearing news, weather and traffic updates every 25 minutes.
I tried audiobooks, which to this day retain a certain appeal, but of course they are quite long and at the time the playback interface was quite cumbersome.
Meanwhile, I had seen this “Podcast” app on my iPhone, but never paid any attention to it. Seemed like another built-in gimmick cluttering up my screen, like the Wallet or the Health apps.
I didn’t know anything about podcasts, but one day in late June I finally opened the app, and quickly discovered a whole new world. The breadth of information available, the attention to detail from the shows (the quality, professional ones), and the chance to build a connection to the host was groundbreaking. Most of all, it was so easy to relate to the every-person nature of the hosts, people just like me, getting into this medium and doing their thing.
I loved the on-demand nature of it, the ability to pick and choose what I wanted to listen to, and to even be able to plan it to the length of my commute, since it was so easy to identify the lengths of episodes. Before long, I was binge-listening to Stuff You Should Know and the Smart Passive Income podcast with Pat Flynn, catching up on years worth of content.
Soon I took to carrying earbuds with me at work, and leaping at the chance to patrol the grounds, cut the grass or do more messy painting, since I was going to learn something useful at the same time.
The Next Step
Since podcasting is so accessible, one of those core, meta things are the “podcasts about podcasting,” which 6 years ago were really starting to take off. I had ample chance to learn about how it works and how to do it, hearing from multiple different voices and opinions.
So I started learning about the more in-depth strategies and purpose for podcasting: the ability to create, develop and spread your message, become a sought-after expert and authority, network and connect with all kinds of people in your topic/industry, and most of all, the chance to talk all the time about a subject that you love.
No barriers, no restrictions. I had never really thought about a career in radio, but here it suddenly seemed actually possible, yet in a far more customizable, instantaneous way. No expensive courses or degrees, no years of practice or internship before you get a chance to really start.
As a tour guide, with a love of and appreciation for stories and good storytelling, the links were pretty obvious between guiding a group on a tour and guiding a listener on a podcast episode. Both require very similar skills of researching, preparation, presentation and technique. Stories have an arc, and a climax.
Sometimes you emit certain parts to set up a bit of a cliffhanger, or you choose your words and their order wisely, to make sure the story comes together and doesn’t give away too much along the way.
Pacing is important: not speaking too fast or too slow, allowing for pauses, catch your breath, let people think for an extra couple seconds. Podcasting has the added element of attention to audio detail, and as a musician I had always been interested in sound quality and recording methods. As a podcast host, you need to be aware of the pops in your words and the distance of your lips from the microphone.
The mic itself should be a good dynamic one, unless you have the studio environment for a condenser mic (unlikely), but a dynamic works just fine as long as you speak into it at a slight angle, 2-3 inches from the sponge guard or pop filter, which you should also have.
And So, Here We Are
Once I felt in good position to get started, with us having had a couple babies and buying a house, I was very fortunate to be in position to help launch a podcast for an online community I am part of, The Puttyverse, which caters to “multipotentialites,” i.e. people with multiple interests, skills and often degrees, who struggle to choose that one career or path they’re supposed to focus on, and try to build a life of variety, adventure, change and experimentation.
Perfect fodder for a podcast.
We launched “The MultiPod” and in the three years since, have chatted with dozens of members of the community, from all kinds of backgrounds, covering topics as diverse as meditation, music, languages, organization & planning, imposter syndrome, handling criticism, introverts & extroverts, online business ideas, creative writing and of course, travel.
This has in turn given me great experience in all things podcasting: the planning and research, scheduling with guests, hosting or co-hosting episodes, interviewing and guiding conversation, the audio editing and mixing, show notes and descriptions, publication and promotion.
As I forge ahead with my mission to increase the quality and quantity of travel podcasts, and help my fellow travel professionals and businesses share their message, their services, offers and personalities through podcasting, I often harken back to those auspicious days in the Honda Civic, devouring podcasts and preparing myself for a new, exciting trajectory.