Communicate Influence

Why you need to podcast and honing your podcast skills

Why you need to podcast

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Amanda Cupido: Why you need to podcast and honing your podcast skills transcript

Sheelagh: Hi. It’s Sheelagh with the latest episode of the Communicate Influence Podcast, but before I introduce the episode, I want to say a big thanks to my patrons, Patreon, who help make this podcast happen. Thanks also to you, the listeners, for listening to the show. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future episodes, get in touch.

Podcaster, journalist, and media instructor

This episode features Amanda Cupido, an award-winning podcast producer, and journalist. She’s also the author of the book Let’s Talk Podcasting: The Essential Guide to Doing It Right and a media instructor at Seneca College in Ontario, Canada. I was lucky enough to find time in Amanda’s busy schedule to talk to her about podcasting best practices and some other upcoming projects. She explores how new podcasters can get into podcasting and how experienced podcasters can revamp their shows. So, welcome to the Communicate Influence Podcast, Amanda.

Amanda: Thanks for having me.

Sheelagh: That’s great. I’m so happy you’re here because I think that our listeners are going to learn so much from this interview. This is a podcast talking to a podcaster who’s been there and done it and written a book about it; Let’s Talk About Podcasting, so I’m excited about this interview.

Author of the book let’s talk podcasting

You’re based in southern Ontario and it’s an anniversary for you this week because exactly a year ago your book Let’s Talk About Podcasting came out, it was published and that must have been pretty exciting for you. So, tell us a little bit about yourself, about how the book came to be, and what you’ve been doing in the last year.

Amanda: Sure. So, I’ve been working in the podcasting space for quite a while now. I’ve produced more than 10 different series and this happened because I was actually in radio originally working as a journalist. I spent time as a reporter and a producer, a news anchor and during this time, podcasting was slowly growing in popularity and I was getting a lot of requests to help businesses and thought leaders to create podcasts.

Skills needed to be a podcaster

So, I started to do that work on the side, but then grew a real liking to the industry, started doing a lot of research and following it quite closely. I then started doing workshops. I was brought on to a local college called Seneca to re-write their journalism program to include podcasting and during one of my presentations, there was a publisher in the audience who said why don’t you turn this into a book? And I wasn’t ever thinking going down the book route, but here I am.

I had actually worked on the book for about two years, but always drawing in the latest information and that’s why it’s really hard. I don’t know if you’ve ever written a non-fiction book before, but there’s always something more to add, some new research to add and so I was making edits right up to the last second to make sure I had included all the latest information and trends and some predictions that some of them have already come true, which I pride myself in and some of them I still feel are on track to hopefully happening in the future of podcasting, but yes.

As a whole, I’ve loved audio storytelling for a long time and so now, I work as a communications advisor and I’m in the midst of advising on several podcasts as well as being an end-to-end producer, which means I’m able to help out from every part of the process; from recording to scriptwriting, music scoring, editing, and then publishing and marketing.

Sheelagh: Wow! You sound really, really busy.

Amanda: It’s all good stuff though.

Sheelagh: It must be rewarding and it sounds like you’re having loads of fun.

Writing a book leads to new opportunities

Amanda: Yes and so since the book came out– sorry you asked me that too, I’ve just been really- it’s been great response. I’ve been asked to speak at a lot of conferences, continue to do workshops and of course, continue to produce series. So, yes, it’s busy, but it’s great because podcasting is finally having its moment. It’s something that I have been working on, like I said, for the better part of the last decade and it’s finally– I feel like it’s finally having its time. So, it’s great.

Sheelagh: Good. That’s fantastic. Now, I’m really curious about one of the things you said because I finished reading your book probably about two weeks ago Let’s Talk Podcasting: The Essential Guide To Doing It Right and it is not a thick book, but it is packed with really interesting information. It’s not about equipment. You do touch on that, but the things I found interesting were the trends or the things that haven’t been touched on in podcasting, who’s doing the podcasting, and you mentioned that you’d made a couple of predictions in there and they’ve come true. So, tell us which predictions have come true?

Amanda: Yes. So, one of them was about the trajectory of podcasting and how it aligns with YouTube and there was just an article that came out last week that was comparing the two mediums.

They’re actually crunching the numbers to prove that the podcasting landscape right now definitely mirrors what the YouTube landscape was when it was gearing up to be at its height and this was a trajectory that I spoke about within the book.

Creating your own messaging helps with influencer connections

Talking about the rise of the YouTube influencer and how brands started using video content to pair up with influencers, but also to create their own messaging and their own channels and I had predicted that this would happen with podcasting.

So, we’re right in the midst of that happening right now where we’re seeing a lot of brands trying to pair up with podcasters and there’s a little bit of actually– they’re bumping up against the obstacle of how do they get paired with the podcaster they want to, right? Sometimes there is this lack of a middleman, so I wouldn’t be surprised right now we have a lot of YouTubers represented by agents. I still continue to see that trajectory continuing on and being mirrored with the podcasting landscape.

Significant increase in brands investing in podcasting

I also spoke about branded podcasts and I spoke how– in the book, I mentioned how I predicted there would be a real increase in the amount of brands that would be investing in not only the ads on podcasts and running commercials but in creating original content that is brought to you by a brand, but has a really great story attached to it. So, it’s content that people are going to want to consume and the overall messaging just aligns with whatever brand it’s being brought to you by.

So, within the last year, we’ve seen brands like Interac land a branded podcast with Gimlet, which is a massive production house out of the U.S. which was just recently acquired by Spotify.

We have seen multiple brands jumping onto this as a content marketing strategy. We already knew podcasts for eBay existed, for GE, for Tinder has a branded podcast, right? And every week it seems that a new brand is getting ready to launch one. So, it’s been interesting to see that space grow and I, again, think that it’s going to only continue to grow from here.

Sheelagh: And that’s brilliant and there were times when I’ve actually wondered why brands haven’t kind of jumped into the podcasting arena, so to speak, sooner and also, in terms of communications, I haven’t seen a lot of internal communications podcasting. So, what do you think has held up the progress there?

Internal comms slow to embrace podcasting

Amanda: It’s a great question. It’s interesting. I think that there’s a little bit of a mindset shift that needs to happen with some brands especially big ones that have just gotten accustomed to allocating annual budget to social media, to video creation, and now here’s another thing that is coming up with digital media as a new method of storytelling and outreach to audiences.

So, I do think that it’s just something that needs to be factored into budgets and sometimes that takes a little bit of time to either convince people to feel comfortable allocating money towards something like this. I’m all to convince them that there actually is a return on investment.

Branded podcasts offer proven ROI

So, some of it is that we’ve taken some time to accumulate enough information and data to prove the ROI on something like a branded podcast. So, there’s a lot of skeptics out there who wanted to see the hard numbers and that just takes time and then there are just people who are unfamiliar with the space as a whole and of course, it seems like a bit risky if you’re not familiar with podcasts yourself but then suddenly, you’re allocating marketing dollars towards it, right?

Be prepared to invest time and effort into a podcast

So, it’s a combination of those two aspects I think that might cause some hesitation and also, I think some people don’t realize how much work goes into podcasts. So, they think “Oh, we’re going to start a podcast. We don’t really need any money for it or maybe we’re going to throw five hundred bucks at it”. But if you actually want to do a really robust great branded podcast, it’s going to cost you a lot more than that, especially if you’re hiring someone externally to do it, which tends to be the trend for people doing this sort of high-level storytelling. So, I do think that it’s taking its time, but for reasons that are not surprising.

Sheelagh: Yes. So, as you mentioned, it’s part of the content marketing mix, but it’s not just hiring a freelance writer and scoping out a series of articles that might increase brand recognition, trust, or help generate sales. It’s a bigger investment than that.

Amanda: Exactly.

Individual podcasters should test different types of equipment

Sheelagh: And you have to buy the equipment etc. I noticed in one of your articles, you did talk about and you’re still an advocate of that message to kind of try things out and see if it works for those who start podcasts fairly inexpensively. For example, use the recorder on your phone and begin the podcaster.

Amanda: Most definitely especially if you’re talking from an individual perspective. So, what I was just previously talking about is definitely more of the advice I’d give to brands and companies who really want to put this as part of their content marketing strategy and there is a little bit less room for trial and error in those cases, right?

But as far as an individual goes, if someone wants to experiment in podcasting, I definitely am still an advocate of people using their phone. A lot of iPhones and Androids have great recorders on them and especially if you test it out and you start to get how– where it’s best recorded and how far to hold it from your mouth and what not. You can get some really great quality audio.

A lot of times, people who are wanting to start podcasting may not even feel that comfortable conducting interviews. This is a great way to just practice that. See how you sound, get some feedback on it. I’m also a big fan of focus groups or select individuals that you can share in confidence your initial recordings and get genuine feedback on, right?

So, I really encourage a lot of people who are delving into the space to practice in that way in order to not only find their own voice and feel more comfortable with it but just see if it works and how people react and what to do more of and what to shift.

New podcasters should experiment!

Sheelagh: So, truly be creative, experiment with it and kind of get over that fear that you might have.

Amanda: Yes, because some people get so worried about hitting record and then they end up spending– there are two ends of this spectrum.

You either get some people who just hit record without really thinking much about it and then they end up with something that they’re not really happy about and they blame the medium. They go: “Oh, podcasting is not for me!”. And I don’t think that’s fair. Or you get the other end of the spectrum where people start thinking so much, planning, scripting, and they actually scare themselves out and never end up hitting record.

So, the goal of even my book was just trying to bring those two extremes to some sort of middle ground and say it is definitely one of the most accessible mediums. You can have a lot of fun with it. It does take some thought and planning, but you also got to just give it a go and go from there.

Podcasting is helping navigate changes in journalism

Sheelagh: That’s so true. I want to change gears a little bit and I know that you did a degree at Ryerson University in Toronto. You did a degree in journalism and I think that was less than 10 years ago, but in that time, we’re seeing such a massive change in the industry; shrinking of news organizations, the issue with fake news and I’m really curious about your work with Seneca College in Ontario and how you introduced podcasting to their program. Did you think about any of those challenges that the students graduating in the coming years will face and how they will use podcasting to surmount those challenges?

Amanda: Yes. What a beautiful way of putting it. Totally. That’s my hope is that podcasting will help surmount some of these challenges. When I was in school, podcasting was not a hot topic, but as a student, I definitely pitched and produced one of the first podcasts in my class.

I was always an advocate of this type of audio storytelling because at the time, I was also already working with an external client to help create a podcast for them and that was the first one I had ever produced. It was for a local magazine; a lifestyle magazine.

Digital is giving journalists a whole new set of data

Shortly after I graduated, I was immersed in the traditional journalism field and for sure, I was witnessing a lot of these challenges not only shrinking newsrooms, but also the shift to digital and being able to really prove the worthiness of a story. Digital has allowed us to get really great in-depth analytics about what works and what doesn’t and this is something we never really had before where we would– especially in radio.

You would put out a story on the air. You might get some callers or some people texting into the station saying they enjoyed it, great feedback maybe from your news director and that was about it. You weren’t able to tell how many people listened or specifics on what part of the story was most engaging. So, sometimes it was a little bit of you just like shooting in the dark and hoping for the best.

Podcasting empowers independent journalists

Also a lot of times, you would work really hard on a really wonderful story and some big breaking flashy news item would come across and then that story had to be thrown away and never aired. It was such a shame and that always really– it left me a little bit disheartened because people would pour their hearts out to me through interviews and I would be crafting these little pieces of art as I saw them.

Anyway, so I do think that podcasting allows for this space for number one, for you to tell a story no matter what and share it no matter what else is happening. You have a little bit more control over that. You also have control over how much time it deserves whereas radio

I was always cutting to a clock and even if someone deserved more airtime, I only had a specific number of minutes and you had to make it fit. Podcasting is so flexible. I love that. You’re allowed to truly honor the story.

It’s something that I’m teaching my students; both of those sides of it, right. How to cut to a clock and make sure that if you are doing traditional media, how to meet those needs, but also when you do have that flexibility, how do you make those judgment calls on how much time you give to an interview subject, for instance?

Podcasting facilitates authentic storytelling

But anyway, all of this to say that I do believe podcasting is giving people a space to tell really authentic stories, tell full stories and giving them all the time that it deserves and being able to really– to track those metrics as I was just mentioning in the beginning. You are able to see for the first time how many people listened, how many people downloaded, at what point within the recording did they stop listening and maybe you’re going to take that and apply it to your next story and you’re only going to be able to create better and better content.

So, that piece, that ability to get that extra data which digital storytelling allows us to have is what’s going to take this type of storytelling to the next level and be able to give people and news organizations information that they never had access to before.

It’s my hope that that kind of information will be able to feed better and better storytelling and hopefully, be able to turn things around for newsrooms and help them gain that insight that’s going to allow them to start growing and building back up again and prevent them from continuing to downsize.

Room for more serious or darker stories?

Sheelagh: Do you think – I’m going to play devil’s advocate here – do you think that there could be instances where there’s a real story to be told? It’s a genuine feature story that lends itself to maybe the documentary style and perhaps it’s quite dark and a journalist is passionate about it. Do you think that there could be pressure well, that’s not something that listeners are going to listen to or do you think there’s room for any kind of story to be told?

Amanda: Yes, it’s interesting. I think no matter what, if there’s a journalist working for a newsroom, they might have external pressures on what the newsroom or the news director thinks is going to work for audiences and what they think it won’t and I do think though as an individual.

Now we’re in an era where if a journalist really wants to tell a story and their newsroom is not going to air it or not going to allow them time to work on it, they can actually just work on it on their own and publish it online, right? It’s so easy now to be able to pursue those types of stories that you do feel really passionate about.

So, from a journalistic perspective, I would hope that there is a flexibility with pursuing what stories are best and need to be shared, but yes. There will always be external pressures within any big organization. Unfortunately, that’s just the truth of the matter, but yes. Anyone can publish for free online and broadcast themselves.

Listeners beware: The flip side to independent publishing is that fakes can flourish

There’s a beauty in that, but then again, it also opens the door for people publishing whatever. People who call themselves journalists and are maybe not even trained in journalism and might not actually be honoring a story in an unbiased view, but presenting it as if they are.

There is room for like fake news to continue to grow, but again, I just like any sort of other media consumption, it really comes down to putting the onus on the listener to make sure they know where they’re getting their sources from, they understand where content is coming from, who is creating it and then it’s up to them to really gauge whether or not that’s a trustworthy source.

There are some satire podcasts that have come out and people thought that they were truthful and actual. It was mockumentaries, but they thought they were true documentaries. So, even though it was marketed as a mockumentary, people just kind of skimmed over that and didn’t realize. So, even when the intention is good, it can come across as misguided. So yes, I still do put most of the onus on the consumer to make sure you know where your information is coming from.

Updating the book Let’s Start Podcasting

Sheelagh: Let’s go quickly back to your book. I know that you mentioned earlier that you’re preparing to release an audio version in the New Year. Will you update it or will you–

Amanda: Yes, so the hope is– exactly, yes. I’m going to do an audio recording of it and I don’t want to veer too far from the original. But there are a couple of little pieces that I will be updating for sure especially some of the numbers in listenership. We’ve gotten the stats from 2018 now, so adding that extra year worth of stats.

At the end of the day, nothing is completely shocking or jarring. Based on the last year up until now, everything’s just been on the upward trajectory, so there are no real complete twists that would throw someone astray if they didn’t see this last year’s numbers. It was all within the predictions, but the audio version what I’m hoping for is actually to reach listeners who prefer to engage with books through audio format, which is actually my specialty.

So, it’s fun. It’s actually going to be a great project for myself. I’m in the midst of recording it, so it’ll be me reading it, which is fun and I’m going to be putting it together and then making it available online. So, you can stay tuned for that.

Making and audiobook

Sheelagh: That’s great. Are you going to self-publish it or will you go through a publisher or how will that work?

Amanda: Yes, it’s interesting. So, my book was published by PPS Publishing and it’s amazing, but they’re definitely focused on hard copy books and digital books, which it is. My book is available on Kindle and all that as well.

But that audiobook space, right, like it’s still an up and coming area and so, there are some traditional publishers who don’t really delve into that including the one that I’m with. So, I will be taking that on as my own part of the project to extend the book and give it a little refresh for the next year. So, I’m excited about that.

Sheelagh: That is exciting and I can’t wait to listen to it.

Sheelagh: Thanks.

Sheelagh: Yes, you’re welcome and I suppose for your publisher, PPS, moving them into the digital space they could very well become a client of yours.

Amanda: There you go. Maybe.

How to tell a story in a podcast

Sheelagh: Yes. Now, we touched a little bit on starting off in podcasting, people would do loads of research and be afraid to hit record and I was almost like that, not quite. And then there will be people who don’t do any research and they just jump in and they don’t even plan out the show and I found this a little bit– it was kind of– when I was doing my research in the summer, it was one of those things that was not really– there wasn’t a great amount of information on the whole aspect of can you tell a good story.

Can you ask good or probing questions? Do you know how to kind of modulate your voice so it’s interesting to listen to and you don’t put the listener to sleep by talking like this? So, I’m just wondering, can you talk about that a little bit and your thoughts on like planning, writing, thinking about your ideas, and just kind of stretching out that creative muscle?

Before you start podcasting, stretch your creative muscle

Amanda: Yes. This is something that I always make sure to work into my workshops because I find with a lot of beginners, they’re eager to ask me about equipment and music sourcing and length of podcast, but I actually think the most valuable thing to think about is how to stretch that creative muscle, as you said, and how to really– what I call it is addressing what is the best format for the information you want to share?

So, really focusing on choosing a strategic and meaningful format for your podcast, which goes deeper than just finding the right music and picking the right length. It’s actually going to the root of what you’re going to be recording and how you’re going to be recording it.

Don’t think about equipment when you begin your podcasting journey

I can’t even recommend gear to someone who just wants to start a podcast. I’ll ask them before I give you a recommendation on equipment, where are you recording? How many people are going to be in every episode? Are you going to have to be on the go or is it going to be stationary? Are you going to have a computer?

Decide on your podcast format first

All these kinds of things will be dictated based on the format you actually choose. So, this is why I’m trying to prompt people to think of that first. So, be creative. A lot of service people think about a podcast and they think about what we’re doing now, which is great. It’s typically referred to as a chat cast. You have two people discussing– maybe even three people discussing a topic and it’s very conversational.

(A chat cast) . . . this is great and this is the most common type that you will hear out there, but it’s not necessarily the best format for everyone. There are some thought leaders who actually would be much better off recording a five-minute vignette of just them talking and giving a daily tip of some sort, right? You don’t actually need to make it into an interview.

On the flip side, you might have someone who needs way more than just this, right? They might actually benefit from doing a lot of pre-recorded snippets and then tying them together in a creative way using music, using mixed formats, maybe half each episode is a conversation and half is a pre-recorded bit that they’ve done with multiple people or some sort of montage they put together.

What’s the best way of presenting your message?

Anyway, there are a million ways you can piece together audio. So, what I just try to encourage people to do is to think about what message they’re trying to share, how’s the best way to not only record that message but then how is it best to present that message? Once you nail that down, that’s actually step one. Then everything else kind of easily– becomes an easier decision to make.

I’ve even had a recent client who was instinctually wanting to do this sort of conversation for his podcast, but then we realized that his listeners might not have a lot of time and so maybe listening to an entire conversation might be a bit much. He wanted to do shorter episodes, but they were trying to figure out the best way to do it and we ended up landing on doing non-narrative vignette.

Let creativity steer how you present your message

So, you have this conversation with someone, but then he’d cut himself out and he strung together the answers to make it sound like that person was just talking for five minutes telling a story, which was great. For him, it worked because it kept the episodes really short and tight. It took a lot more work in the post-production, but it ended up serving his need and his content in a much better way than what would have been a typical chat cast. So, I’m just really a fan of having people think creatively and how they’re going to present their information like that.

Sheelagh: Right and find the style that works for them and that they feel really comfortable with. Because if you’re doing something that you’re not comfortable with, I think eventually that is going to show. It’s going to take so much energy to make it work.

Amanda: So, just making sure that you have the resources to do– yes, exactly. Don’t force anything, but hey, for him, if he’s going to have to hire an editor to make sure that it comes out this way rather than killing himself trying to learn how to edit it himself, right? He allocated the resources accordingly to make it happen and to do it right rather than to just hope for the best and struggle all the way through it because that’s not funny, right? You want to be able to use your energy towards the aspects of it that you enjoy.

Such a thing as a good podcast voice?

Sheelagh: Yes, exactly. Do you think there’s kind of such a thing as a good podcast voice and I’m asking this question because I notice on Reddit and this kind of comes up a fair bit in the podcast sub-Reddit that people will mention a show and talk about wow! This person’s voice is off. The co-host’s voice is just awful and then I saw this– another poster that really made me sad.

It was someone who wanted to do the podcasting– wanted to start his own podcast and he had a stutter and he was wondering exactly what he should do. And I think people who responded were really compassionate and they suggested practicing and getting more comfortable or seeing a speech therapist, that kind of thing. So, in terms of the voice or any disabilities that an individual might have who really wants to try podcasting, what are your thoughts there?

Amanda: So, I think when it comes to whether or not there is a good podcast voice, I do think there are some best practices that are seen as a gold standard as far as audio and voiceovers, but it’s also very subjective at the same time especially with podcasting. I find that’s the space where people are breaking a lot of the traditional “rules” we see in this area.

For instance, in traditional radio, globally but especially in Canada, it would be very rare to hear two female co-hosts on a show. It’s seen as a faux pas to put two women’s voices together, but then you see some of the top-rated podcasts like Invisibilia from NPR who very intentionally chose to put two women as their co-hosts and they lean right into it in the beginning saying that they know that they sound similar, but if you listen long enough that you’ll be able to tell them apart, and I really love that.

Experiment with podcasting and break the rules, if you know why

So, podcasting, I think, is really creating a space to break those traditional rules and experiment around what we would typically consider a best practice. There are some podcasts that I just can’t stand, but many people love because of the person’s voice and that’s just the way it rings in my ears and that’s okay. There’s no right or wrong. I don’t believe there’s a good or a bad and even someone with a stutter, I think podcasting is just really calling for people to be authentic.

So, if someone with a stutter ends up trying to talk as if their stutter isn’t in existence or not calling it out, then I think that’s worse than just leaning right into it and explaining “I have a stutter, but here’s why I want to do this.”

And maybe even making that part of the content and empowering other people who may have slight speech impediments to break out of their shell, right? And that’s the beautiful thing of it. Yes. So, I would encourage anyone with any sort of voice or accent or speech impediment not to feel like they are held back.

Sheelagh: Wow! That is really encouraging. I’m kind of happy to hear that because if people have an issue with speech or a stutter, something like that like the example from the guy who asked the question on Reddit. The fact that they should go for it and they’ll be encouraging others, that’s just a good thing, really.

Amanda: I think so, too.

How to make a better podcast

Sheelagh: Yes. Now, I’d like to ask you about– when we think about our listeners, some of them will be just getting into podcasting and some of them will be seasoned podcasters. So, I know this is going to be a hard question because they are such a diverse group and it’s a learning curve, but what kind of things would you say to people to make a better podcast or create a better podcast?

Amanda: So, number one will be what we talked about earlier; having that format as the foundation of what your podcast is going to be about and build upon it from there. I definitely think that’s step one whether you’re a beginner or you’re a seasoned podcaster and might be looking to see a jump in your listenership or you’re maybe looking to pivot and take your podcast to the next level.

Rethinking that baseline question of is this format working and if I was going to tweak it, what could I pivot to that makes more sense? I think that’s always step one that I really like to encourage people to do.

Continually evaluate the sustainability of your podcast

The other thing I really encourage all people to do, whether you’re a beginner or seasoned is to evaluate the sustainability of what you’re doing.

I find a lot of people getting into podcasting think that they have to do one once a week forever or we see people who are knee-deep in a podcast and they just– they’re feeling like they’re drowning and it’s not enjoyable for them anymore, but they feel like they have to keep going because they have this rhythm going of once a week or once a month or whatever.

What I encourage people to do is to think about what is actually a sustainable and enjoyable pace for you to be releasing your podcast? And then adjust accordingly. Lots of podcasts have season 1, season 2. Many podcasts have short runs.

There are many series that are only three parts, right? Making Oprah, again, another massive podcast out of the U.S. was only marketed as a three-part series. They went in right from the beginning saying this is going to be a mini-series; very short.

Be realistic with your podcast planning

Then on the other end, you could have a season that’s 10, 12, 20 episodes long, whatever it is. Just make sure that it’s realistic. Give yourself space to breathe and take breaks and it’s proven that the algorithms actually like it when there’s a pause in uploading and then a resurgence with a new season. It gives you an excuse to make another trailer, which can be an easy way to invite new listeners in. It allows you to be up for best new podcast all over again.

Yes, I just really encourage people to be thoughtful about how often they’re publishing, how long is their season going to be and what’s the best thing not only for their listeners but for them as creators.

Sheelagh: Yes, I like the idea of a seasonal thing. There’s actually a psychology podcast that I listen to and the host said the very same thing that you mentioned; that he wanted to take some time out and enjoy the summer and kind of really re-think about what he was going to do in the next season to make the podcast better.

Amanda: Great.

Sheelagh: Yes and if you do that, you’re not going to get stale. You’re going to keep enjoying yourself.

Amanda: Exactly.

Remember This: Older people telling stories

Sheelagh: A question about the project that you’re working on which I’d like you to share with listeners before we end our time together. You’ve got a project called Remember This. Would you like to tell people about that?

Amanda: I would love to. Yes, so this is my latest personal endeavor. So, the website is rememberthispodcast.com and this was birthed out of a lot of people coming to me either privately at the end of my workshops or just in passing when they heard that– like friends or friends of friends who knew I was doing a lot of work in audio, this real need to capture like audio histories, oral histories, capture the voices and memories and stories of the elderly. I was getting this for multiple reasons.

Sometimes it was people who have saved voice mails from those who have already passed and they don’t really know what to do with them. Sometimes it was people sharing stories with me about how their loved one is battling with memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s and they were wanting to capture stories and their essence before it was gone and the least intrusive way of doing that is through just audio.

So, there were people asking me for tips on how to do it and can they use their phone and what should they do with it afterwards and of course, I was giving as many tips as I could and also starting to offer to come and help. Then I just thought if this is such a pressing ask that seems to keep coming up over and over again, why don’t I actually formalize this and turn this into something?

Honouring people’s memories

It’s really meant to be a true honoring of people who– and I’ve kind of– the language around the podcast is like stories that want to live forever, that are meant to live on forever. We know that based on– if you read in my book, you’ll see one of the missing voices in the podcast space is that of the elderly.

So, knowing what I know about the industry, responding to a lot of requests that I was just getting organically I decided to start this project. So, it is called the Remember This podcast and right now, I’m in the process of sifting through people who have put forward names and stories of candidates that would be great to have their story captured this way. So, what I’ll be doing is doing a series of interviews and then pairing it together in a series and sharing it.

I’ve also been doing some pro bono workshops at old age homes and so sometimes at the end of those I’m sitting down with someone from the session who’s willing to share their story. So, I’m really just kind of putting together this series and yes, I’m really excited to share that. So, right now we’re in very early stages, but I do have myself and a small team working on this project.

Sheelagh: Right. That must be quite moving as well; a celebration of people’s lives.

Sheelagh: For sure. It’s like the audio is really emotional and heartfelt and the stories are incredible. So, I’m really excited to share with the world once it’s done.

Common themes in Remember This

Sheelagh: Are there any themes arising? I saw a magazine today and it had the Beetles on the cover and I thought wow! That’s 50 years since they split up I think this year and that’s kind of a long time ago since the ‘60s. So, you’re finding people who kind of the ‘60s were their decade or even further back to talking to people who might have been veterans from World War II. Have you kind of–

Amanda: Yes, exactly.

Sheelagh: That kind of thing has come through?

Amanda: For sure. Definitely. People who have been through the war have definitely come forward which is great and their powerful, powerful stories tie to that and then there’s a lot of people who have actually really simple stories and it’s okay too, right? I love the range and it can just be talking about a life of simplicity and small joys and that’s beautiful in itself.

Sheelagh: Yes. You’re right. I would imagine that those stories would be really diverse because every life is unique and I don’t know where your stories are coming from, but even when you think about a country as vast as Canada and the different geography and the different experiences from across the Prairies to the West Coast and then the Maritimes, people’s lives are so different and so affected by where they are living.

Amanda: Yes, definitely. We’ve put out calls on social media for people who have stories and it’s definitely a global audience. So, if you are interested or you know anyone, I would encourage you to go to rememberthispodcast.com and fill out the form we have on there right now where we’re accepting all applicants for stories and for people who want to be featured.

Sheelagh: That’s great. Well, hopefully, with this podcast now that we’re doing, you’ll get some good response.

Amanda: Hope so, yes.

Podcast producer Amanda Cupido

Sheelagh: Yes, I’m sure you will. Amanda, tell us where we can find you online.

Amanda: Yes. You can learn more about my book Let’s Talk Podcasting at the website that is so appropriately named letstalkpodcasting.com. That has all the information about my book and then I have my own personal website which is amandacupido.com.

Sheelagh: Great and I think you’re on LinkedIn as well and Twitter. Do you want to give your Twitter handle?

Amanda: Yes. Twitter is my social media platform of choice. So, I am @acupido and for sure, people can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook as well. One last parting advice is that there’s never such a thing as too niche of a podcast. There are so many listeners out there and even though there is more than 18 million episodes of podcasts published at this point, I don’t believe there’s an over-saturation that exists. There are so many niche markets that can be tapped into. So, encourage anyone who has an idea even if it’s a little out there to go for it.

Sheelagh: That’s great. Thanks so much. It’s been really fantastic talking to you. I’d like to talk to you for at least two hours because you know so much about podcasting and you’ve got so much experience, the communications, the storytelling, the journalism; a fantastic mix or different strands that you bring to podcasting. So, I’m sure we’ll touch base again maybe next year after your digital version of your book comes out.

Amanda: I love it. Thank you. That sounds great.

Sheelagh: Thanks, Amanda, you take care. It was great talking to you.

Amanda: Thanks. Likewise. Bye.

Sheelagh: Bye-bye.

Sheelagh Caygill

Sheelagh Caygill is an award-winning writer, journalist, podcaster, and poet based in Toronto, Canada.

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