Link

Resources

Table of contents

  1. Audio resources
    1. General
    2. Writing scripts
    3. Recording audio
    4. Editing, post-production
    5. Publishing
  2. Inspiration
    1. Imaginary Advice
    2. 99 Percent Invisible
    3. Heavyweight
    4. About Race
    5. Radiolab
    6. Reply All
    7. Death of 1000 Cuts
    8. This American Life

Audio resources

General

  • Transom - this is a great place to look for resources: the Public Radio Exchange podcast about podcasts and radio production! There are tips on every aspect of audio production, as well as lots of examples of best practice. They also have two podcasts (Transom and How Sound) themselves which presents a showcase of interesting storytelling techniques.

Writing scripts

  • BBC Writers Room - The BBC has a great set of resources for writing all manner of scripts, including lots of examples of scripts for TV programmes, radio shows, etc.
  • The Script Gym (from the Writers Room) is a series of exercises to start writing fiction, taking you from a blank piece of paper to a fully-finished story.
  • Couch to 80k Bootcamp - want to hone your writing skills? This free podcast is a superb place to start. It consists of a structured series of ~20 minute activities every day, so you can fit it round your life. Tim’s a great writing coach.

Recording audio

Editing, post-production

You don’t need expensive equipment to produce audio stories! Most production can take place on an old laptop:

  • Auphonic - this is a tool you can use to balance sound, and remove hums and hisses and so on. You can upload files, clean them up and then download them again very easily, and by creating an account you can clean up 2hrs of audio per month. I’d recommend using this tool for cleaning up all spoken audio, as it does all of the crucial ‘normalising’ (making sure that the sound is at the right level, and won’t be too loud or quiet) for you too.
  • Audacity is a free tool for editing audio. It’s open source and works across platforms.
  • Ffmpeg is a command-line tool for converting audio and video between formats, joining files together, splicing, extracting audio from video, etc. You can translate between any formats – you have to master the command line, but it’s free and anything you want to do is only a Google away.
  • GarageBand is free if you have a Mac, and is pretty good for audio production. It’s more fully featured than you might think.
  • Adobe Audition is included in many peoples’ Creative Cloud bundles. It’s a very powerful audio production platform.

Publishing

  • Anchor.fm - if you want to publish your work as a podcast, this is an easy-to-use publishing platform. It can put your podcast online and instantly send it to all of the major podcast publishers (Apple, Spotify, etc). It’s also easy to set up the artwork and the description, etc.

Inspiration

Here are a list of some of the many podcasts that I enjoy, which you might also like to listen to!

Imaginary Advice

Experiments in audio fiction by Ross Sutherland

Ross is one of my favourite writers, and over the past 5 years he has used podcasts to create a whole series of audio worlds. I like that each episode can be a completely different style of writing, have a completely different topic, but still be unmistakably Imaginary Advice. I also love the audio production on many of them (Black Eye is my favourite for this).

  • Genre: storytelling, fiction
  • Length: 20-60 minutes
  • Good starter episodes:

99 Percent Invisible

This is a podcast about design, hosted by Roman Mars. Each week it focuses on a different aspect of the built environment, and explores something in design you might not have considered before. Episodes are generally 15-30 minutes long, and the supplementary materials on their website are quite good if you want further reading. I listen to this podcast whenever I’m in a curious mood – just selecting an episode at random from the archive always brings up something useful.

Heavyweight

I love this podcast. I listen to it whenever I need to feel that the world is actually a great place! What I particularly like is that the episodes all seem to start with something completely mundane, a silly problem that someone wants to solve, but always turn into something much more profound and life-affirming.

  • Genre: not sure; factual storytelling?
  • Length: 35-60 minutes
  • Good starter episodes:

About Race

This is quite a UK-based podcast, but builds on the writer Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. It tells the story of racism in the UK, questioning the myth that the British live in a post-racial society. I learnt so much listening to this series.

  • Genre: factual
  • Episode length: 20-30 mins
  • Good starter episodes: start at #1 and work through, otherwise some parts won’t make sense.

Radiolab

One of my all-time favourite podcasts! I listen when I want to feel a sense of wonder. I like that they can explain complex topics in such a way that you end up feeling like you really know a lot about them, and could describe them to friends. So many of these episodes have continued to linger in my mind after I stopped listening.

  • Genre: factual, mostly science-based
  • Length: 20-60 minutes
  • Good starter episodes:
    • Unravelling Bolero – the unexpected connections between a piece of music, repetitive art, and a deadly disease.
    • From Tree to Shining Tree – this one blew my mind. A communication layer between trees!
    • The Other Latif mini-series: a history of Guantanamo Bay through the story of one inmate.

Reply All

A show predominantly about technology, but sometimes about weird and interesting subcultures.
Sometimes the podcast is conversational, and sometimes it’s investigative journalism, and sometimes both. The part of me that likes this show is the same part that gets lost on Wikipedia for hours reading about bizarre conspiracy theories.

  • Genre: investigative journalism, usually technology-based
  • Length: 30-60 minutes
  • Good starter episodes:
    • The Case of the Missing Hit – this is just excellent journalism about a strange song that nobody can place.
    • The Crime Machine - how the New York Police Department moved to algorithmic surveillance, detection, and policing, and the implications this has for residents.
    • The Case of the Phantom Caller - a bizarre series of voicemails uncover a huge scam.
    • The Cathedral - tragic: listen if you want to be reminded how precious life is (and maybe have a good ol’ cry).

Death of 1000 Cuts

A great podcast by Tim Clare about writing. There is so much to recommend:

  • If you want to write creatively in any genre, then the Couch to 80k Bootcamp is a great place to start. It’s a free 8-week course with a ten-minute exercise per day, which will give you plenty of ideas and techniques to hone your skills. Highly, highly recommended!
  • Other episodes in later series are interviews with writers or people who can help with creativity. Tim is candid and honest about writing, and has great insights into the creative process and how it can integrate with our actual, lived lives. Good starter episodes:
    • Procrastination with Dr Tim Pychil – really interesting interview about the psychology of procrastination, including tips on how to avoid being a procrastinator.
    • Interview with Ross Sutherland – a conversation between Tim Clare, writer and host of this podcast, and Ross Sutherland, writer and host of Imaginary Advice (see above!).

This American Life

One of the grand-daddies of podcasts – the podcast that got a whole generation addicted to podcasts. This American Life has been broadcasting since 1995, and the podcast version now boasts 3.6 million listeners a week (in addition to the 2.2 million who listen to it on the radio). The format varies slightly each week, but generally the hour-long show starts with the host Ira Glass introducing a theme, then bringing 3-4 stories on that theme. Occasionally there’ll be just one in-depth story. This American Life is a great show because it has a breadth of content and subjects, and a back-catalogue of hundreds of episodes. It also frequently features contributions from great writers and broadcasters like Jon Ronson and David Sedaris. Personally, I find it annoying when they feature fiction stories; the journalism and essays are what I listen for.

  • Genre: magazine radio show (varied!)
  • Length: 1 hour
  • Good starter episodes:
    • Mapping - directly relevant to Parallel Worlds’ assignments! Interesting ways that people have mapped all manner of spaces and places.
    • 24 Hours at the Golden Apple - such a simple premise, but a great radio story. Journalists spent an entire day at a cafe in Chicago, interviewing staff and patrons and picking up stories about peoples’ days and lives. (Incidentally, I used to live near this cafe and wrote a chapter of my PhD from there.)
    • Staff recommendations - handily, the staff have put together a long list of their favourites. I’d recommend just starting here and diving in. :)