How To Start A Podcast For Your City Or Town:
(A Complete Step-By-Step Tutorial)
If you’re looking for a guide that walks you through how to start a podcast for your city or town, you’re absolutely in the right place…
Starting a podcast isn’t difficult, but there are a number of steps you’ll need to go through in order to get it launched. And, get it launched right for maximum success.
In this podcasting tutorial, we’ll walk you through every step of the process:
Choosing a topic & name
Show and episode format
Cover art creation
Intro & outtro
Audio recording & editing
Submission to Apple Podcasts (iTunes)
And much more…
Podcasting is exploding across the US for many reasons. (We talk about them in detail in ‘Why Your City/Town Should Consider a Podcast).
Even more exciting is that local, niche content like a city/town podcast is one of the hottest growing segments in the podcasting world. So, how does your city/town get started? Let’s take a detailed look:
Create a Vision:
If your town or city is looking to start a podcast, the first step (before buying any equipment or setting up a studio) is to create the vision for your podcast.
Podcast Styles and Themes:
There are many styles and formats that you could choose; a fun and informal show talking about what’s happening in town. You could have a City Manager hosted show that’s detailed and information focuses. You could have an economic development show that focuses trend setters and leaders in the business community. You could record the entire City Council Meeting and put out the raw recordings. Or, you could focus on tourism, attracting new residents or even downtown revitalization.
Each city is different and each podcast should represent the specific goals of that particular city. To help with this, we’ve created the Custom ‘Podcast Launch Kit’ to help clarify which type of content may work best for your city.
I urge you to spend plenty of time on this phase of the podcast planning stage. It will allow you to create the best show possible for your community.
Choosing Your Podcast Host:
Internal Host or External Host:
Once you have your vision and goals of your podcast, deciding the right format should be easy. One suggestion is to ensure your podcast host has the right sound and relationship with the people they will be interviewing.
Matching Host and Guest Level:
One area we’ve discovered can become an issue over time is having a junior level employee interviewing higher level community members and leaders. This superior/subordinate relationship can cause the interview to sound unnatural because of the inverse relationship.
The close internal relationships have also caused issues with scheduling the interview time because its seen as something that can easily be pushed off compared to an external interview with a media professional.
The other area to consider is what will happen if the internal staff person leaves their role or their other responsibilities do not allow them to focus on the podcast for periods of time.
One options many city’s and towns don’t consider is having an external host for their show. In some situations where staff is stretched thin, this option can ensure a consistent podcast regardless of internal staffing changes.
Naming Your Podcast:
Now that you know the goals and vision of your show and have the host selected, it’s time to create the name of your podcast.
When naming your show, there are several ways you can go. You can get very creative and cleaver with the name. Or, you can go more direct.
One thing to keep in mind is to be true to the brand of your city and match the overall goal of the podcast.
Another area to consider is how people find podcasts in their app. Including the name of your city or town is a sure way to attract those podcast listeners to your local content.
If you choose to get creative and clever, be sure that your entire audience will know what the podcast is about when looking at the name and image (which will talk about shortly)
Create a Plan:
You are now armed with your podcast’s theme, name and host. Now its time to layout the actual episodes, create the cover and episode art and start to schedule your guests.
Podcast Cover Art and Episode Graphics:
It is important to understand the environment and goal of your Cover Art and Episode Image in the podcast environment.
First the practical side of things. Currently, the Cover Art is a 1:1 aspect ratio with minimum size requirements of 1400 x 1400 at 72dpi to a maximum of 3000 x 3000.
The actual episode images are a 16:9 aspect ratio with a recommended image size of 1920x1080 with at least 72dpi.
You’ll notice in the images above, that the text is limited but clear and easy to read even on the small screen of a smart phone.
Keep the environment in mind as the images are created.
Intros, Outros and Music Options:
As you begin your podcast, the opening and closing segments will likely be a big part of the branding of your podcast.
Let’s start with the intro:
The intro should answer, who is this podcast for and what is it about. Unlike some other podcasts you may listen to, the listener is less interested in the host and much more interested in the content and guests.
So, keep the intro short and to the point of who should be listening and why.
If you want to get a little more creative you can add in intro music however it is not necessary because the listeners really just want to get to the content.
The outtro may vary episode by episode but gives a simple wrap up and a call to action to help grow and improve the podcast. It may be a call for reviews, questions for future episodes or suggestions on content or guests.
Again, the music component is an options piece that you may or may not want to include.
Scheduling Your Podcast Guests:
For many city and town podcasts, the guest format is the most common. So, you are now ready to start scheduling your podcast guests.
A best practice is to make this as simple as possible for your guests. If possible, make it as easy as making a phone call. The easier you make it for the guests, the easier time you’ll have and fewer cancellations and reschedules.
CLICK HERE FOR AN ARTICLE ON TIPS FOR SCHEDULING GUESTS
Select Your Equipment and Software:
Just like with everything when it comes to podcasting for your city or town, there are many options in equipment as well. Some big cities may choose to invest $10’s of thousands of dollars in equipment, studio set-up and all the high end equipment.
While most cities and towns can create a fantastic podcast with much more affordable options.
Recording equipment like the Zoom H4 or H6 Pro or RodeCaster Pro will provide a portable recording device for in-person interviews. These recording devices have integrated mixers, sound effect players, APHEX procession and much more.
Add the right microphones and you’re almost ready to go. One of my favorite microphones for podcasting is the AudioTechnica ATR2100-USB with XLR cables. It is a cardioid polar pattern that reduces pic up of unwanted sounds from the sides and rear.
Finally, is the location of your recording session.
Although you don’t need a professionally sound proofed studio, you do want an area that will deliver a quality audio recording.
Recording in a quiet location with plenty or carpet, furniture, book shelves and even acoustic panels if necessary will increase the overall quality of your end product. Give yourself plenty of time to set up your recording equipment, do an initial sound-check and ensure you have access to power outlets if needed. (not much is worse than running out of juice in the middle of an interview and having to start all over)
Although this equipment is reasonably inexpensive, typically less than $1,500, it does require some technical skills in setting up and running on each interview.
A Less Technical Option:
Another option to consider is to by-pass the high-tech equipment that may intimidate your guests and requires a certain level of audio expertise and set up is to utilize a remote recording process.
This options calls for no technical resources other than a good old-fashioned telephone.
The combination of the telephone microphone which is designed specifically to pick up the human voice and deliver it in a clear audio wave to the receiver. It’s been perfected over decades and everyone has the skills and ability to use it.
The intimidation factor is removed and convenience factor has just increased 10-fold for your guests. They can schedule the interview from the comfort of their office, home office or even while on the road. No need to be face to face or set up your mobile recording studio.
There are a number of recording services that you can utilize to record the phone calls that deliver fantastic audio quality for your podcast.
This option also works well for an external host to ensure the consistency of your podcast is kept regardless of the internal work-load or staff changes within the communications department.
Recording and Editing
Regardless of which option you choose, the internal face to face recording in your mobile studio or the remote recording options that offers more convenience, the next step is to edit your podcast to deliver optimal sound quality.
The best sound comes when you professionally mix and master your audio file to output a high quality MP3 audio file which is required for all podcast platforms.
You can utilize the professional Adobe Audition, Garage Band or even Audacity to mix and master the file. For best results, you’ll want to run a noise reduction process, compression, equalization process and adjust the levels for best result.
Record Your First Episode:
This part is fun and easy because you have the expertise and information, it just needs to be pulled out in a fun and engaging manner.
Prepare your questions and the flow of the interview prior to your recording. Although for more engaging episodes, a conversational back and forth tends to deliver best listen-ability.
Remember to hit the record button and have fun.
Putting It All Together:
Recording and Editing
Again, regardless of which option you choose, the internal face to face recording in your mobile studio or the remote recording options that offers more convenience, the editing process is a very important one to deliver a high quality podcast.
You can utilize your preferred software; you’ll mix and master the episode.
It starts with pulling all the components together, the intro, outro and the actual interview.
Then, listen to the entire episode making notes of any areas of concern that need to be cleaned up.
For best results, you’ll want to run a noise reduction process, compression, high pass and low pass filter, equalization process and adjust the levels as needed.
Next, limit your master avoiding clipping or distorting and listen to the final product on multiple systems and speakers.
If after listening, you need to make any additional changes, repeat as needed.
Finally, save the final MP3 file and get ready to distribute your podcast.
This area is one that has thrown many podcasts and podcasters off schedule and even tanked a great podcast because of the amount of time spent in the editing. Remember, this needs to be done on every episode, so plan your staff time accordingly in the planning stage.
Selecting Where Your Podcast Will Be Found
If you’re only on one platform like SoundCloud, you’re missing out on a lot of listeners.
Apple Podcast has over 63% of the podcast listenership.
Now, that’s down from 80% just a few years ago but they are still the dominate player. Spotify comes in 2nd with around 10% share. And, Google, Stitcher, Pandora and iHeart Radio getting in the game recently.
To reach your entire audience, be sure to syndicate your podcast on as many platforms as possible.
Some platform like iHeart Radio require your podcast to be live for 3 month before they will list your show.
Choose your distribution channels and upload your MP3 file.
I also suggest creating good quality show notes to add as well when you upload your episode.
Services like Libsyn, PodBean and others make this much easier.
Promote Your Show:
Issue a press release
Create a Podcast website
Write excellent show notes that will help your show get found
Release a promotional episode to launch the podcast series
Post on social media; Facebook Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn
Tag guests and local influencers
Promote the podcast in your current newsletter
Include links to podcast on your email signature
Ask for reviews from your loyal listeners and internal champions
Be consistent in the release of your episodes (monthly, bi-monthly or weekly)
More detail on promoting your podcast can be found in our article “How to Promote Your City’s Podcast”
If you are not sure you can commit to this time-frame with everything else you and your staff have on your plate, you may want to research a service that makes podcasting super easy by taking a majority of the effort off your plate.
Ensure You’ve Created a Podcast You Can Deliver on Consistently for the Long Term
Yes, podcasting is a media that most cities and towns should be using because it is a pro-active, positive and nuanced media that is easy for your constituents to digest. However, it can be an enormous undertaking, especially if your communications staff is already stretched thin.
That’s why the Local Government Podcast Network specializes in helping cities and towns launch and consistently deliver a professional podcast they can be proud of at little to no-cost and minimal time and effort from their busy staff.
About the Local Government Podcast Network:
We specialize in helping cities and towns develop, launch and consistently maintain a local government podcast to deliver proactive, positive and in-depth messages in an easy to digest media with minimal staff time and little to no investment from the municipal budget.
To learn more, take advantage of the Custom Podcast Launch Kit and discover how you can launch and maintain a pro-active, professional podcast that’s easy for your constituents to digest with minimal staff time and little to no financial investment.
Or, call (844) 592-5200.