What does it mean to produce a podcast? The Pod Bible gang wanted to bring podcast producers out from their editing bays and research caves to tell you why they’re passionate about creating podcasts and illustrate for listeners what a producer actually does. Without further ado, we’d like you to Meet the Producer – Joe Grace, working from a casino under the sea on the Because You Watched podcast.
POD BIBLE: What does a producer consider when taking on a new podcast job?
JOE GRACE: Well this was my first podcast – I’ve worked in TV and digital production and development for years, so it was fun to try a new medium. We developed the idea for Because You Watched in-house at WB. The format for the podcast came from the constant brainstorm sessions we have and the huge pile of ridiculous, borderline-unmakeable ideas we find ourselves coming up with and then discarding. We thought it might be fun to ask people far funnier and more interesting than us to come up with some ideas themselves while we record it – so we invited some professional comedians and writers in to record a session and it went from there.
PB: Do you prefer to step into the producer role from the very beginning of a podcast, or once some structure has been established?
JG: Again, this was my first time making a podcast, so I was involved from the very beginning. It’s definitely been a gradual learning curve in terms of settling on a structure for the show. We were tweaking constantly at the beginning in terms of getting the shape of the podcast right without making it too formatty and “Radio 4-ish”. We’re about to launch our second series, and have made a few more tweaks again, so it’s an ongoing process!
PB: How much preparation do you do before episodes are recorded?
JG: I book the guests for each show and decide on the Netflix category that they’ll be brainstorming new ideas for. I also set the “homework” which the guests have to watch before they come in to record. Rory, our host, does a lot of research into the category so he has lots of daft facts and trivia at his fingertips throughout, and then of course the guests all have to come up with a brand new TV show or movie idea in advance – so it’s a fairly even spread between everyone in terms of preparation.
PB: What is the relationship between a producer and the show’s host?
JG: Well for our podcast, it’s very collaborative. Rory and I have been working together for years so luckily we’re pretty in-sync and work collaboratively very well. During the record Rory runs the show on-mic, while I keep in contact with him via instant messaging so I can have input that way. It’s working OK so far!
PB: How do you experience other podcasts as a listener? Can you turn off your editing ear and just enjoy shows, or do you always tune in to the things you would have done differently yourself?
JG: Podcasts are probably the only form of entertainment I can switch off from and just enjoy, largely because I’ve not been making them for long. That’s already starting to change, though, as I’ve caught myself listening to other shows and wondering why they’ve structured it in a particular way, how they managed to bag a certain guest, or even what kit they’ve used to record.
PB: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a podcast producer?
JG: The main thing I’ve learned is that, unlike in TV and digital production, an important thing with a podcast is to let it breathe. Podcasting’s not the same as radio or telly, it’s more intimate and needs to feel more authentic and off-the-cuff.
PB: Do you like to have constant collaboration throughout the process of producing a podcast, or do you prefer your roll to be siloed?
JG: I definitely prefer to collaborate. The pre-production process is a team effort and although I usually edit the shows alone, I always run the almost-finished cut by Rory and our executive producer Martin Trickey, which results in a few more snips and changes, always for the better!
PB: What is something as a podcast producer you haven’t tried yet but would like to?
JG: I really want to have a go at something scripted, or maybe improvised but with a narrative. I like the idea that with an audio production you’re not constrained in the same ways as anywhere else – there’s nothing stopping you setting your podcast somewhere weird or outlandish that a TV budget could never cover, like in a casino under the sea or inside a dog. I’m aware those are both terrible examples, but rubbish ideas have become something of a stock-in-trade for me lately.