What works recap: So you want to start a podcast

screen shot of What Works panelists on a zoom call
From conception to production, SAIT alumni share their podcasting know-how.

Podcasts have been around for nearly 20 years and continue to gain popularity year-over-year thanks to many factors, including ease of access, niche topics and portability.

“Podcasting is ubiquitous, its barrier to entry is relatively low and you don’t need a journalism or broadcasting background to get into it,” says SAIT Alumni Relations Officer Alyssa Athanasopoulos. “Through the What Works Career Speaker Series, I wanted to offer alumni the chance to learn more about the medium and some basic tricks of the trade from fellow alumni who have experience producing podcasts.”

Three SAIT alumni guest speakers — Shahzia Noorally (BA ’05), Producer and Host of The Equity Gap podcast; Amber Romaniuk (CTSR ’07), Creator and Host of The No Sugarcoating podcast; and Ron Tarrant (RTBN ’08, OYA ’16), Producer and Sound Designer — were invited to share their experiences and tips to consider before fully committing to the craft.  

While you’ll want to tune in for the whole discussion, here are some takeaways to get you started.

What is What Works?

The What Works Career Speaker Series is an alumni-focused program to support grads through their career journey and development with topics that range from equity, diversity and inclusion to starting your own side business.

Quality is key

The expectations of quality are high. From branding to recording to producing to promoting — you’ll want to invest the time (and money) to create a product that will stand out. If it’s not recorded well or doesn’t sound good, your audience won’t hesitate to find another product that covers the same or similar theme.

As an instructor that teaches audio production at SAIT, Stroobant is an advocate for sound quality and clarity.

“You have 10 to 20 seconds at the start to ‘hook’ people in. You don’t want it to sound like it’s recorded in some stairwell, and it’s all staticky,” says Stroobant.

“Getting a good microphone is one of the first big investments you should make when starting a podcast,” agrees Romaniuk. “I have a Blue Yeti, I love it, and it’s lasted a long time.”

Don’t just press ‘record’ — plan

Making a podcast involves a lot: research, writing, format, frequency, possibly finding guests or a co-host, production, exporting, posting and (take a breath) promoting.

"People that are looking to start a podcast need to start by asking themselves 'what are you trying to accomplish in this piece of audio that you are going to be releasing'," says Tarrant. "Do you want to have an interview type situation, a choose your own adventure... or a full-blown series!"

Fun fact

Ron recently produced the limited audio series If These Hall Could Talk to commemorate the first 100 years of SAIT's Heritage Hall. Listen now 🎧 

Depending on your format, it can be a lot of work or research that goes into an episode. With a full-blown series, you may want to have a script to follow to ensure you are covering details and following a flow. Whereas with an interview style, you may better served to have key points instead of a script to ensure it sounds more conversational.

Consider researching and inviting experts as guests or co-hosts. Adding another voice can play a role in the credibility of your podcast or even shed light on new information.

“I try to be up-to-date on current events that are going on in the world,” says Noorally. “Whenever I can, I bring in experts that know more about some of these spaces than I ever would

That’s not all, folks!

Be sure to watch the full episode from start to finish for additional content, including answers to questions from our audience members.

Questions and time stamps

  • (1:50) Panel introductions
  • (6:20) How did your podcast go from an idea into speakers?
  • (9:00) Where do you begin? What are the first steps you need to take?
  • (15:04) What about the planning of an episode? 
  • (20:41) With this limited podcast that you’ve done, is this anything you’ve ever done before? Can you take us along the journey of how this happened?
  • (26:38) What factors came in for you when deciding on which platform you would use to make your podcast available to the public?
  • (31:39) Regarding creating intros and extros, and even splitters in between your podcast, how did you approach that?
  • (33:39) When it comes to using music, licensing music and what type of music to use,… how do you navigate that, and what are some of your recommendations?
  • (35:53) How do you track your listeners in your podcast?
  • (36:48) What is the best way to gain listeners when you start out?
  • (43:09) What is the best platform for visibility?
  • (43:44) Are you willing to share any tips or tricks when applying effects to music bed or music clips for CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio) imaging?
  • (49:33) If you’re going to have a podcast, you need to have a website. The website is a critical component of marketing, correct?
  • (51:49) Patience…how important is it for you, and not to give up on this?
  • (54:18) What are your favourite free resources for podcasting?

What Works Career Speaker Series

What Works Career Speaker Series

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Supporting alumni through their career

Have questions about how SAIT can support you in your career journey? Reach out by emailing us at alumni@sait.ca or visit sait.ca/alumni.