Ep. 5 - The Unscheduled Reflections Metasode
This one is going to be fun. So, keep reading.
Last week, we published our interview with Jake Knapp and Jonathan Courtney called “Jake and Jonathan Do America,” where we chatted about American politics and how everyone in the world has to take Thanksgiving into account, career advice, living life without schedules, and a little bit about podcasting. It’s an awesome episode full of laughter and our favorite recording session so far!
Today’s metasode (meta-episode) is our reflection on how that recording went, what worked, what didn’t, NSA dropping in while we’re recording, mechanical keyboards, typewriters, and dog farts. The usual stuff.
We recorded our reflection back in November and guess what?
In early January, Herr Jonathan Courtney launched a new podcast The Unscheduled CEO and I couldn’t stop binging on it. His first episode is super meta — it took him ~27 minutes to explain the point of the podcast while fighting the audio equipment. It was like a Twitch stream about starting a podcast.
It was so good, we decided to do a reaction on it and today’s metasode was the best place to put it in. Little did we know about the extent of edits and churn this would cause. But we still made it on schedule and it was totally worth it!
Oh and by the way, I used a different process to create show notes for today’s episode using a transcript of the audio in Descript, so there are LOTS OF detailed takeaways — keep scrolling.
Keep it real. Dog whining, cars passing by, door squeaks… It’s ok. We’re not NPR and can afford some rawness in our recordings. And so can you.
Just do it! You don’t have to be perfect to start a podcast. Just listen to Jonathan’s new podcast — he is learning how to use his new gear live!
Ramble on. There are people who appreciate podcasts with a rambly feel. If that’s what you want to do, just do that and you’ll find your audience.
The episode’s feel is influenced by the guest’s personality. Adding another person to the co-host mix does change the vibe. We noticed that with our guests and are leaning into that.
Path dependence is good for hooking the audience up. Making subsequent episodes somewhat dependent on the previous ones gives the audience reasons to go and listen to the old episodes. This only works as long as they like what you produce, of course!
Your body makes noises, so… don’t record when you’re hungry, don’t record when you’ve just eaten, don’t record after drinking carbonated drinks. Those belly noises and burps will be on the record.
Don’t click your fingers. The “why” should be obvious by this point. Those clicks will be on the recording. If you have to click, do it while you are not talking.
Record in multi-track mode with each guest in its own audio file. This will give you more control in post-production and allow you to remove all those noises while people are not talking. The more people you have in the recording, the more important it becomes to have everyone in their own isolated track. We use SquadCast to achieve that.
Lower the gain on your mic to avoid clipping. When setting up the gain, make sure the sound doesn’t clip when you laugh. Laughter is much louder than speech, so it’d be a good idea to test clipping with an evil laugh.
Don’t use AirPods for podcasting. We’ll keep repeating this because the recording will sound awful. Heavy post-production will make it sound less like crap but you can’t change the basics — it’ll still sound crappy.
Turn your phone’s sound and vibration off while recording. Or better yet — keep your phone in the airplane mode, a “podcast focus,” or move it away entirely. Sounds and vibrations will be on the recording and will be hard to cut if they happen while you are talking.
Don’t make assumptions about your guests. This applies in general — ask open-ended questions when you interview them. In our case, we also made assumptions that our podcaster guests will have podcasting gear. That assumption turned out to be wrong with one of our guests showing up in AirPods.
Never use word “FINAL” in your file name. You want to be agile and make last minute tweaks to your episodes just like we did. It’s a good idea to avoid file names like “Episode_5_FINAL-SERIOUSLY-NOW-THIS-TIME-REALLY-FINAL-vFINAL.mp3” because they get confusing very fast. Instead, use version numbers or dates (or maybe even timestamps) for when the episode was rendered. The latest one is your “final.” Look at the mess I created on my disk with this episode.
Keep your brain cycles free. This is general advice — don’t do every little thing yourself, see what you can outsource or simply not do at all to keep your brain available for processing higher level ideas.
Descript — a tool that can help you edit audio similar to editing text in a word processor.
Riverside — a tool for recording podcasts and videos in high quality. We had issues with “drift” in this recording with audio of our guests being out of sync.
SquadCast — a powerful tool for recording interviews that we use for most of our recordings. It saves high quality audio locally and uploads files to the cloud, so you can download and process them later.
iZotope RX — a software suite for fixing issues and improving audio quality.
Rode Rodecaster Pro II Podcast Production Console — the hardware that Jonathan uses to record The Unscheduled CEO.
Shure SM7b — a kick-ass condenser mic for podcasters and radio hosts.
Blue Yeti — an inexpensive USB mic that supports multiple patterns (e.g. cardioid). Arnab recorded all of our episodes using a Blue Yeti mic.
Shure MV7 — a decent podcasting mic with a direct USB interface. I was using it for recording this and subsequent episodes.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 — studio headphones that I use for podcast editing.
Techmeme Ride Home episode where Brian McCullough promotes our interview with him
The Unscheduled CEO a.k.a. “How To Business”, Jonathan Courtney’s new podcast and Substack
Stratechery — Ben Thompson’s blog and podcast about technology
AJ&Smart — Jonathan’s business
Severance — a dystopian TV series about work-life balance
The Everglades — in case you were wondering WTF we were talking about in the beginning
Taking some old advice by Jake Knapp
Taro by Alt-J
Listen to Metacast here 👇
Get in touch
We’d love to hear from you! Arnab is a Twitter guy and I’m on Instagram. Use the method that works best for you!
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (both of us get it)
Arnab’s Twitter: @or9ob
Ilya’s Instagram: @podcasthacks
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