Podcasting 101, Part 4: Enhancing your podcast

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By Mark G. Auerbach

With podcasting becoming more and more popular with small businesses, here are more tips on how to assure your podcast is professional and engaging for your listeners. (To see the first three parts of this series type Podcasting 101 in our search bar.)

Use Professional Voices

Maybe your voice isn’t suited for broadcast because you have a strong accent or speech difficulties, such as a sibilant sound (often called a “hissing S” or a “popping p.” You can hear the former by saying a string of word beginning with the letter “s.” And you can hear the latter by saying “Peter Piper picked a peck of purple peppers.” You can hire voice talent, or voice-over talent to voice-over your promotions, questions to be asked in an interview, your podcast opening, and podcast end-credits. The voice-over talent can be prompted to facilitate a conversation you might be having with your guests.

Finding voice-over talent is easy, but finding the right voice is not. You can go through an agency. In our market, voice-over talents can be sourced through the local advertising club, by asking commercial radio stations who voices their commercials, or by going through national sites like Voices.com. You get to audition the available voices. You pay for the talent based upon the number of minutes being voiced, the amount of time it takes to create the voice-over, and other factors.

I’ve found a couple of great sources. A local public radio station generally has good voice talent on staff. Start there. You’ll probably pay both the talent and the station, but the fee to the station goes to support public media, which is a good community investment. But make note: A radio or TV voice doesn’t do endorsements, and may turn down an offer because of their feelings about the podcast content.

A local college or university may have a broadcasting department, or a theatre department, where you can acquire student or faculty talent. You get to audition the talent, and your talent is close by, which means you can have them in-studio as your record. Also, you don’t have to pay an agency fee, but you pay the talent directly. Many talent sources are just building their portfolios, and will want to add your podcast to their work examples. So, they’ll end up promoting your podcast as they show off their work. Also, many local actors are looking to supplement their onstage work with voice over work. Ask your local professional theatre for recommendations. And, if you hear a local commercial on radio or TV, you can ask the advertiser.

Customize your music

There are multiple sources for music to introduce, underscore, and end your podcast. Some of the commercially-available music sounds generic, like elevator music, or the music you hear on hold when you dial in to a business and “wait for the next available customer care representative.” You can use many kinds of music out there for a fee.

The best scoring comes from original composers who are writing music specifically for your podcast. Your podcast will need several kinds of music. You’ll want a theme to begin the podcast. This music won’t change. You’ll want some underscoring and some music snippets for the breaks in your podcast, and some additional music to end the podcast.

Composers and jingle writers can often be sourced through a local advertising club, an arts directory, or through a film and media collaborative source. The sound designers at a theatre can usually recommend artists who have underscored plays.

As in voice-over talent, look to a community music school or a music department at a college or university. People in the college and university music world are trying to build their portfolios, and a composition credit for an ongoing podcast is a portfolio boost.

If you go through an individual composer, you’ll be paying for the music, and if it’s not a solo instrument or synthesized piece, you’ll be paying additional for the musicians who record it. If it’s original music, the licensing fees are worked out with you and the composer. Make sure you agree in advance as to how long the music can be used, and as to who owns the rights.

Remember, podcasts are meant to appeal to the ear, and the right kind of sound and music leaves a lasting impression.


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn. Mark also produces ArtsBeat in print in The Westfield News, on radio for Pioneer Valley Radio and on radio/TV for WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB.

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