Podcast Syllabus

You can take the girl out of college, but you can’t take the love of research and a list of learning resources out the girl.

As I’m sure will shock everyone to learn, I love podcasts. I started regularly listening to podcasts nearly five years ago and most of my listening was concentrated on conversational podcasts on a relatively contained corner of the internet. After the past year or two, I’ve been excited about learning more about the podcast ecosystem as a whole. There are tons of people out there who make podcasts professionally and spend a lot of time thinking and talking about the industry. I’ve found a lot of their conversations on Twitter helpful for my professional development—plus, some of contribute to veritable treasure troves of online resources.

With that in mind, here’s a list of just a sample of some of the excellent podcast creators and analysts you can be reading and listening to. The first half of this article is devoted to a rundown of Twitter accounts, and the second half is more in detail of some of the excellent online resources you can be accessing for free to help you. I’ve also compiled all of the relevant accounts in this Twitter list for easy subscription purposes.

Thank you for reading, and happy podcasting!

Creators talking about creating

This first section is dedicated to the creators who are producing some of the best podcasts out there, and are using Twitter to talk about podcasts from a producer’s perspective. Following them all makes me feel like I’m in a room filled with the best and brightest from the industry and I get to soak up their insights from where I’m sitting.

Phoebe Wang

Freelance producer who’s previously worked on The Heart, The Moth, and The Shadows.

Michelle Macklem and Jess Shane

The minds behind Constellations, an experimental audio project with contributions from all over the world.

Keisha TK Dukes

Host of TKinTheAM and producer of Thirst Aid Kit.

Julie Shapiro

Executive producer of Radiotopia.

Jenna Weiss-Berman

Co-founder of Pineapple Media.

Meg Cramer

Producer at WNYC and ProPublica.

Eleanor Kagan

Senior producer at Pineapple Media. Most recently the producer of Julie, the stunning project about Julie Yip-Williams, who documented her own death.

Julia Furlan

Most recently started a rotation at NPR.

Amanda McLoughlin

Creator of Multitude Shows (more on Multitude below) and host of Spirits & Join the Party.

James T. Green

Most recently a producer at Gimlet and creative director at Postloudness. (I don’t know James personally but he’s a friend-of-friends and I have heard his excellent work in many places.)

Leila Day

Producer at Pineapple Media, producer and host of The Scoop.

Analysts and Critics

Some of these people also have podcasts of their own, but to my understanding their podcasting-related conversations on Twitter primarily come from their positions as podcast analysts.

Nick Quah

Creator of Hot Pod, the essential podcast newsletter.

Caroline Crompton

Contributor to Hot Pod.

Elsie Escobar

Pundit who focuses on amplifying underrepresented voices; founder of She Podcasts.

Elena Fernández Collins

Podcast critic at her own website, Bello Collective, and Discover Pods (more information below).

Berry Sykes

Creator of the directory and community #PodsInColor on Twitter and online at podcastsincolor.com

Wil Williams

Podcast critic at her own website, Wil Williams Reviews (more information below) and various other websites.

Ma’ayan Plaut

Her job title is “Content Strategist & Podcast Librarian” at Radiopublic, and I’m not 100% sure what that means, but I know that I want her job.

Podcast Resources

I believe that filling your social media feed with smart people in your industry is an excellent way to level up in that industry, but not as much as going directly to the website and podcasts they’re publishing to help you. The following selections are just a few of the guides and shows that are dedicated to helping you (yes, you) build a better show.

Multitude Shows

Multitude Shows is the gift that keeps on giving. They are a model in the industry for eminently professional, well-produced, dedicated shows. Their hosts think deeply about every aspect of their shows and online presence. You genuinely could learn a lot about podcasting just from watching and learning, but they’ve made it easy for you. Multitude Shows has done the work of writing and compiling generous resources for podcasters to help make their own shows more professional and reach wider audiences.

When I wrote an early draft of this blog a few weeks ago, I referenced Multitude Shows as being “practically a free course.” Apparently Amanda McLaughlin sensed this through the universe and needed to make it true, because she released a free course on SkillShare all about how to market your podcast. I have it bookmarked and I can’t wait to dive in.

Radio Public

In a similar vein to the Multitude Shows resources, Radio Public has produced a series of articles to guide podcasters and help them improve their production value on the show and online. Unlike Multitude Shows, they are attempting to get you to invest in their system and so their materials are tilted towards that vein. However, even if you never use the Radio Public system for one thing, their advice is still useful for any creator.

Wil Williams Reviews

Wil Williams Reviews is a review site written by Wil Williams (who would’ve guessed?) but it is also is full of guides to help you produce and manage your show better. It also provides an extraordinary resource in the “Help Wanted” page. The listed posts are largely casting calls for independent audio dramas, but the page also featured spots for editors, sound engineers, and other positions at shows of varying sizes.

Discover Pods

Discover Pods is essentially an online magazine full of fun top ten lists, podcast spotlights, and review articles. I love those lighter articles, but I’m featuring it particularly for their articles spotlighting equipment, hosting options, and a conveniently sourced page of key podcasting facts.

Bello Collective

Bello Collective is quite similar to Discover Pods (they share multiple contributors), but it’s more slanted towards professionals rather than fans. This means it of course has tons of articles that cover news with a creator-focused angle, as well as—you guessed it—articles giving advice and resources for improving your show. They also have a fortnightly newsletter.

Hot Pod

Hot Pod is a free weekly newsletter with premium bonus newsletters available. It’s the most essential news source in podcasting, and anyone who wants to keep up with the industry needs to be reading Hot Pod every week.

PodCon 2 feed

This feed is locked behind a paywall, but the PodCon 2 panels had a ton of excellent information across a variety of topics. If you have $40 to spare for it, I think it’s worth it for the 30+ hours of content, with more being released every day. Some panels already released include Podcast Turnoffs, Transgender Representation in Audio Drama, and Managing Your Party (collaborative storytelling). The feed also includes all of the live podcasts recorded at PodCon 2.

Third Coast Pocket Conference

Third Coast is an annual audio festival focused on narrative radio and podcasts. The (free!) pocket conference feed has been sharing panels from the 2018 conference over the past few months, and has an impressive back catalogue. Some recent topics include podcasting without a network and designing innovative audio.

The Wolf Den

The Wolf Den has been talking about podcasting since before most of us were even listening to podcasts. For the past few years the show has been hosted by Lex Friedman, who interviews a different person in the industry about their business. Many people on the Twitter list above have been the podcast at one point or another.

ICG Creator Chat

The Internet Creator Guild Creator Chat is strongly tilted towards YouTube creators. In fact, the entire guild is biased towards YouTubers, which is a frustrating fact of its existence. However, considering how similar YouTube and podcasts are in many ways, listening to the monthly industry updates and interviews with creators can still be useful. Also, the occasional interview with podcasters, like a recent episode with Jeffrey Cranor, are excellent.

The previous guide is just a small sample of all of the extraordinary producers, websites, and podcasts that can help you become a better creator. An essential fact about this post is that nearly every single resource I added to this list I learned about from another person or publication on the list. The more interesting people you’re listening to, the better your corner of the internet becomes. Happy podcasting, everyone.

Bi Visibility Week

Happy Bi Visibility Week! Every year in September, bisexual activists speak about the importance of bisexual representation. It's a popular time for bisexual people to come out, or just to remind their audiences and people in their lives that they are bisexual, even if they don't talk about it a lot. To celebrate this year, I made an episode of Solidly Mediocre all about bisexuality. You can listen here.

Okay, it was actually a total coincidence. Rachel and I meant to record this podcast ages ago, actually recorded it nearly three weeks ago, and it simply came up in the schedule this week. Still, it fits well and I'm pleased it worked out like this.

I have a history with coincidental visibility during this week. Last year, I came out to my parents (and subsequently decided I was "out" to all friends and the general public) during Bi Visibility Week. The very first thing I said about being bisexual publicly was a tweet during Bi Visibility Day (September 23rd). I made it casual, because I didn't want to "come out" on the internet, but that was my official first mention.

Almost exactly a year later, I came out to my grandmother. She was completely unsurprised and unperturbed, and just generally lovely (as she is about all things). I am blessed to have supportive family and friends, to be safe in my visibility.

If you're not sharing a part of yourself for any reason: I see you, and I accept you. If you just don't know yet and are trying to figure it out: I see you, and I accept you. Don't feel any pressure to "decide" or be seen before you're ready. We'll be here for you when you are.

Orson Welles

Orson Welles was the original #fakenews and nothing will convince me otherwise.

I’m taking a sociology class on media and pop culture, and today we talked about the infamous “War of the Worlds” radio incident. On October 30, 1938, a radio drama—presented as a series of news bulletins—unfolded to tell the story of Martians landing in New Jersey. Popular lore says that so many people believed it that there was a mass panic, and even an exodus from the Tri-State area as people tried to escape the alien invasion.

It’s unclear how big this “panic” really was, but there definitely were some people who believed the broadcast was true and acted accordingly. Princeton researchers visited New Jersey soon after the incident to interview people who had heard it, compiling data about people’s perceptions and how they reacted. This shouldn’t be funny, but somehow it is: 30% of people who said they believed it was real also said they weren’t scared. Some quotes suggested that they assumed the end of the world was coming anyway, that they frankly weren’t that regretful about it, and that they were just going to eat the chicken they were saving for the next day now. Can you even imagine these people on Twitter? It’d be like… well, modern Twitter.

Welles claimed that he never meant to scare anyone, but his careful planning suggests otherwise. He was savvy to the power of this new media, and devised a plan to present it as a fake news show instead of a straight reading in order to attract more listeners. He strategically placed moments of silence for dramatic effect, a powerful and rarely used tool at the time. He knew that many people would be flipping around the channels after a popular puppet show ended, so he placed some dramatic action at the moment they’d be tuning in so they’d be hooked (and frightened) immediately.

It’s now generally understood that the newspapers exaggerated the amount of panic in order to discredit radio, which was stealing their audiences. At the time, newspapers were successful at significantly knocking back the credibility of radio, and would definitely never experience losing their audiences to new technology ever again.

This is a fascinating story for media studies, sociology, and many other disciplines, but the whole time we were talking about it I couldn’t stop thinking: Welles would have been such a good podcaster.

Summer Podcasting

I uploaded Mixed Feelings episode 38 yesterday, which means that I've officially finished every summer episode of my podcasts in 2017.

I recorded shows at 2am to match with my cohost's schedule. I drove to my friend's mom and my mom's friend's house to get good enough internet to record panel shows. I recorded shows even when I was sick (if you thought my voice was a little strange on the Relay FM bonus episode, that's because I was ill and recorded it laying down on the floor).

I edited shows in Maine, California, Montreal, London, Bath, and Edinburgh; I edited on buses, trains, and planes. I uploaded them in dorm rooms, AirBnBs, and hostels. I uploaded one at Google in Mountain View.

Some episodes were late. Some episodes weren't very good. But the only episodes I missed were when my laptop was broken. I'm proud of my work this summer, and I'm excited to keep making bigger and better things this year.

International Women's Day 2017

Happy International Women's Day, everyone!

To celebrate, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite lady YouTubers and podcasts. I really encourage you to check them all out because they are all incredible.

YouTube:

Dodie Clark. Beautiful music, incredible videos ranging from the silly to the heartbreakingly vulnerable, and my total queer crush.

Just Between Us. Speaking of queer crushes, Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin's comedy sketch channel is one of my watch-every-single-one channels.

Tessa Violet. Another musician (I highly recommend her video for Not Over You, it makes me so happy) and delightful vlogger.

Rosianna Halse Rojas: One of the backbones of the YouTube community, and a quietly brilliant vlogger.

Sabrina Cruz. Absolutely hilarious. I'm amazed at how consistently she makes quality entertaining and educational videos.

Anna Akana. Speaking of consistent quality, no one inspires me to make better videos like Anna does. Unbelievably creative and hard-working.

Hannah Witton. Sex education, advice (some to follow, some to definitely not), and an unbelievably charming video maker.

Taylor Behnke. I'm inspired by her every word. One of the strongest people out there.

Akilah Hughes. Brilliant social commentary and hilarious sketch comedy.

Alison. I just think she's so funny. I want to hang out with her.

Kat Blaque. Absolutely fearless with fantastic educational social justice videos.

Kelly Kitagawa. Again, please hang out with me. I feel like she's going to be huge someday.

Podcasts!

Call Your Girlfriend. My forever fave, the original inspiration for Mixed Feelings, and just fantastic conversations about news and pop culture.

Another Round. Who doesn't love Another Round? Another brilliant show that tackles contemporary issues.

Buffering the Vampire Slayer. I love Buffy so much, and I love this rewatch show that features an adorable couple and an original song every episode.

Friendshipping. This show is so helpful and so cheerful! Ultimate pick-me-up with genuine advice.

The Ladycast. Alex Laughlin (an inspiration herself) interviewing different cool women every episode and encouraging you to #dothething

Bad With Money. Gaby Dunn hosts a brilliant show all about money, featuring interesting guests on every episode.

Roboism. Robots and feminism! This is my brand!

Rocket. Smart, enthusiastic tech show that's not afraid to tackle tough topics.

Bonus! Writers:

Roxane Gay. My favorite writer, just read her books, please read them.

Felicia Day. Huge role model in my life and her memoir is precious to me.

Maureen Johnson: Insanely talented, bizarre, creative, and dedicated YA author/twitter personality.

Mixed Feelings

    I really love having punny podcast titles. It allows people, including me, to make so many jokes. Every time I’m not doing well at something: “so would you say you’re... Solidly Mediocre?” When I’m conflicted about something: “so you have... Mixed Feelings?

    Yes that’s right, I’ve started a new podcast called Mixed Feelings. It’s a weekly discussion with one of my best friends, Gillian Parker, about news, politics, and pop culture. Why is it called Mixed Feelings, you ask?

    Jimmy Fallon.

    That’s not even a joke-- in the first demo episode we sent to Myke Hurley, Gillian repeatedly said that she had “mixed feelings” about Jimmy Fallon, and he thought that would make a good title.

    SO GOOD. Because we do have mixed feelings on a lot of things. The world is annoyingly complicated, after all. Plus, Gillian and I have different political leanings, so the title works in multiple ways!

    Coincidentally, I’m also having mixed feelings right about now.

    As I’m writing this, the show launched an hour ago, and I’ve spent most of that time on Twitter reading people’s reactions. The response has been overwhelmingly positive which is absolutely lovely. The Relay FM hosts have been extremely supportive and kind. All of this makes me very happy.

    So why is my stomach tied into painful knots?

    First of all, Myke and Stephen asked Gillian and I to spend a minute introducing ourselves properly at the beginning of this episode. We 100% did not do that, so now I’m annoyed with myself for forgetting.

    The show has some political commentary (okay, the commentary is mostly “Trump is awful,” which not a contentious statement for most people, but it is for some). What if people hate us? What if I say something terrible and screw everything up?

    A lot of the people responding now haven’t listened to the whole episode yet. What if they’re just hopeful and being nice but they actually don’t like it once they listen?

    The thing about this show is it will definitely receive negative feedback. There will be people who don’t like it. Some of them will tell us about how they don’t like it. And, well, I don’t deal with criticism very well. I mean, I accept criticism and will do everything to correct the problem, it just makes me feel terrible about myself. I *know* that is a personal flaw and I am doing what I can to make that better, it’s just difficult to not take things personally. I’ve gotten better at shaking that feeling off and focusing on the work at hand, but there’s always that moment of “I have failed everything and everyone.”

    Dueling with this, of course, is that fact that my passion lies in podcasting, writing, and making videos. This is not a field that a person can enter without being able to handle feedback well. It’s actually funny to me because I think if someone just tweeted at me “you’re terrible and I hate you” I could shrug it off quite easily--whatever dude, thanks for taking the time out of your day to tell me that-- but if someone said “I have this specific problem with your podcast and I think you messed up here” I would be devastated. And I know it’s going to happen, I know! It may make me anxious but the only way to alleviate that is to go through it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to just roll with all criticism without hesitation, but I’m trying to get there.

    Regardless, you should listen to Mixed Feelings! Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe you won’t. Let me know, will you?

Favorite Podcasts

I’m going to be honest, this blog post is being written because my sociology professor asked me if I had a list of my favorite podcasts somewhere and I realized I did not. (Hi, Matt!)

I’m currently subscribed to 31 podcasts, although two are election-based and will be over with the November election. I have narrowed it down to 10 favorites, divided up by category. (Yes, that’s a third of the shows I listen to. I just can’t narrow it down any more, okay?)

 

Two Dudes Talking

“Hello Internet” with CGP Grey and Brady Haran

The show that originally got me into podcasts, a semi-regular extensive conversation about YouTube, flags, plane crashes, robots, Star Wars, and anything else they feel like talking about.

“Cortex” with Myke Hurley and CGP Grey

Kind of like Hello Internet, except we’ve replaced the Australian with a Londoner and have a slightly more focused set of topics. Grey and Myke talk about how they get work done as independent content creators.

“Analog(ue)” with Casey Liss and Myke Hurley

Myke and Casey talk about their lives.

 

Advice and Information

“Bad With Money” with Gaby Dunn

This is a pretty new show and it’s fantastic. Gaby Dunn, who I was already familiar with from her work on YouTube, deals with her own money issues and interviews people about their money issues. Roxane Gay was on an episode, so it automatically gets five stars from me (but also, it’s great).

“Dear Hank and John” with Hank and John Green

Hey, I also know these people from YouTube! Hank and John Green are delightful people and they host a comedy podcast about death. This show is hilarious and sometimes actually has good advice, too.

 

News and Pop Culture

“Call Your Girlfriend” with Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow

Every other week Ann and Amina talk about current events, on the off weeks one does an interview with a really awesome lady (and occasional man).

“The Incomparable” with Jason Snell

Jason Snell hosts a rotating cast of nerds who dissect a different piece of media each week.

“Rocket” with Brianna Wu, Simone de Rochefort, and Christina Warren

Insightful and amusing conversations about news and tech.

 

Other

“Top Four” with Tiff and Marco Arment

Marco and Tiff rank their top four things in different categories (or at least, sometimes it’s their top four. Often it’s not, because *someone* is terrible at making a 1-4 list).

“Welcome to Night Vale” with Cecil Baldwin

I have no explanation for Welcome to Night Vale, it’s beautiful, brilliant, weird, and occasionally terrifying.