SPJ Georgia event gives journalists a taste of what it takes to produce a podcast

By Isaiah Singleton, SPJ Region 3 summer intern, senior at Savannah State University student studying mass communication and journalism

Podcasts are very hot in the world of news and information. It provides a positive trend for the journalism industry while other avenues to provide news to the masses are struggling to survive. And the the art of podcasting is not going to slow down.

To address this wave of podcast engagement, the Society of Professional Journalists Georgia pro chapter (SPJ Georgia) hosted a podcasting workshop at the Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 16.

Podcasting is the fastest growing long-form journalism category. Predictions of over 100 million podcasts listeners will grow by 2027, reports Statistica, a portal for market data research. Edison Research also reports podcasting is steadily growing and is up from 40 percent compared to 2017. Podcast listeners describe “the car as the place they most often listen to podcasts, this year, that number is up 22 percent.”

During the workshop, the four guest panelists discussed topics such as the importance of podcasting, advice in starting your own podcast, their experiences while making podcasts, and other general information to highlight that podcasting is the future for the news industry.

The panelists included: Producer and reporter on GPB’s podcast show, On Second ThoughtSean Powers; film industry veteran, Kalena Boller; Audience Specialist for the Crime and Race Teams at the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) Pete Corson, and podcast marketer, Michelle Khouri.

Boller shared that her first podcast, which was called Reel Snobs Podcast, was created by herself and one of her friends.

“We just sat and talked about movies we loved. We started thinking ‘well, what would make us stand up?’ said Boller.

She added, “Well for one, there aren’t many people of color critiquing movies professionally anyway, so we thought ‘lets talk about not just the movies that are out, but cinema studies and getting into the theory of why’.

Pete Corson is a part of the content team of the AJC podcast, “Breakdown,” that won the “Silver Gavel” from The American Bar Association has awarded in May 2018. The ABA named “Season 6: A Jury of His Peers” as one of six winners of its annual awards, which honor work that is “exemplary in fostering the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system.”

Michelle Khouri said there are three types of podcasts in the world: the independent podcasts, the organizational/corporate podcasts, and podcasts that are for marketing.

“There are podcasts that are hobbies, podcasts that are business, and podcasts that are part of a marketing channel is how I see it. For each of those, the green-lighting process and the production process, everything differs,” she said.

Khouri said she sees podcasting becoming a more robust and multimedia landscape. “I think that’s really important to say [what category] because if you are a new podcaster and you want to do it as a hobby, maybe one day you will want to do it as business. If you want to start it as a hobby, you can literally just start.”

Panelist Sean Powers said he believes that podcasting can help transform and diversify the newsroom by expanding reporting with podcasting. In the news industry, the podcasting might also be categorized in four podcast types:

  • The Solo Podcast.
  • The Multi-Host Show.
  • The Round Table.
  • The Audio Magazine.

Managing editor of the HypepotamusMuriel Vega, who attended the workshop told SizingUpTheSouth.com that she has an interest in podcasting and how it works. “Today, I learned a little bit more about podcasting behind the scenes as far as the technical aspect, how to formulate an idea, how to start, and how flexible the industry is.”

Before entering the workshop Christina Lee, a freelance music writer, said she came to the podcasting workshop because currently she has two podcasts in the works.

“I just wanted a better understanding of what I’m getting into.” – Christina Lee 

After the workshop, she talked to SizingUpTheSouth.com. “I feel like I got a really good idea that what the guest panelists talking about everything from landing on an idea to how to better distribute the podcast to figure out what the margins of success are,” she said.

Haisten Willis, a freelance journalist and SPJ Georgia president, said he was curious about podcasting, had listened to a variety of podcasts and wanted to check out more information about podcasting. “I heard they are becoming a hot commodity in the journalism world and I learned a whole lot,” Willis said.

Panelist Sean Powers said he believes that podcasting can help transform and diversify the newsroom by expanding reporting with podcasting.

As for advice to anyone who wants to start their own podcasts, panelist Michelle Khouri said, “You can be anyone you want. You can lecture, you can preach, and you can rattle on. Podcasting doesn’t have any limits.”

She adds, “When it comes to monetizing your podcast and building an audience, suddenly and more rapidly over time, if you are interviewing people you are vessel for your audience.”

“Don’t be afraid to dream and dream big. You can literally can follow your own dreams when it comes to podcasting. It’s a tool and a medium. It gives independent journalist and storytellers an avenue to get our ideas and passions out there,” Boller said.

Isaiah Singleton is SPJ Region 3’s 2018 summer intern. He is a senior at Savannah State University majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in online/print journalism. Singleton is a contributing writer for the University’s student-ran newspaper, The Tiger’s Roar. Raised in Stockbridge, Georgia, writing has always been his passion. During childhood, he wrote numerous fictional stories about his life and what he wanted it to be. 

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