You have probably said at one point or another, "I should have my own radio show." Why not look into starting a podcast? A podcast is an Internet radio show that allows you to share your expertise and bring on guests to discuss topics of interest to you. In this Q&A Team, we feature Anna Renault who explains the basics of starting a podcast and provides helpful tips and advice to running a successful podcast.
After retiring from a 32-year career, I’ve done a number of things -- a small poetry business, columnist for my local newspaper and writing books. My first book has led to the podcast which I named “Anna’s Journey” (my brand), and through the show I can journey/travel virtually to any place in the world and to any topic and to any guest!
What made you decide to start a podcast?
My first book: “Anna’s Journey: How Many Lives Does One Person Get?” connected me with some awesome people who led me to BlogTalkRadio, where my journey is continuing. I love to talk and I love to share information. I decided that through an Internet-based radio show, I could share a ton of information about a ton of topics. All shows are recorded and people can list to the podcasts 24/7. The shows are an awesome way to raise awareness, share information, meet great people, learn new information and to have fun in the process.
How did you decide where to host your podcast?
My first book was published by Perfect Publishing, owned by Ken Rochon. Rochon was on traditional radio and we had a mutual friend, Patsy Anderson who had also been on traditional radio and both decided that a radio show group for BlogTalkTadio was an awesome new step. I decided to not be part of the group offering one-hour shows per week, but I connected with BlogTalkRadio and contracted to do a show for two hours every day, if I ever decided to use that much air time.
What type of equipment is required for the podcast?
The basic equipment that I use is a computer with a built-in microphone, with an Internet connection. Initially, I did buy microphones and headsets but at that time, my computer did not have a built-in microphone. I have also called into the radio show and used my cellphone, so I would talk and then my guest would talk -- and for this type of show, I didn’t need any other equipment.
What type of guests do you bring on during your podcast?
On Wednesdays, three times per month I host shows that feature medical professionals from MedStar Health, a health organization in the Maryland/DC area that contains 10 hospitals and several other medical service centers. I often also have medical professionals from Mercy Medical Center. Other days, I interview book authors, small-business professionals, nonprofit group representatives, special events coordinators and anyone I feel has a great message to share with my listeners.
How many guests do you usually have on your show?
Often my show has only one guest. I have had a few shows where I have had multiple guests.
Where do you find your guests?
Guests are found through various groups, as well as networking and online search, such as Facebook. Sometimes listeners will suggest guests who have something to share. The public relations offices for MedStar Health and for Mercy Medical Center arrange for those professionals to visit my show.
Are there any restrictions on topics of discussion during the show?
Restrictions include talking about anything illegal. Otherwise, I have not found much need to limit anything my guests wish to discuss.
How do you deal with technical difficulties during a show?
My worst difficulty was just last week when my computer would not load the studio board due to technical difficulties and I had no way of bringing the guests live on air. It was a bummer. Other technical difficulties have included having a vehicle accident knock out electric service and phone service, so I was knocked off the air, but my guest was still live and kept talking until I was able to reconnect. There is a help line at BlogTalkRadio that is very helpful whenever technical difficulties arise.
What are some ways you promote your show, i.e., social media, magazines, newsletters?
I promote my show on social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter. I also write for my local paper The Avenue News, Examiner.com, and ReadersRockmagazine.com. Other forms of promotion include word of mouth, emails and asking guests to promote the show through their networks. Both MedStar Health and Mercy Medical Center also promote the shows featuring their guests.
Do you use any type of metrics to see what topics draw in a larger audience?
I’ve made an excel database to make notes about my largest audiences to track my listeners. I also note requests from guests. If I receive multiple requests for a particular topic or a particular guest, I try to find a guest to fit the bill.
What are some challenges of running a podcast?
Challenges! Wow -- many, beyond the technical issues of loss of power and computer glitches, there are the challenges that come from the guests:
1) Guests who want to monopolize the show, but I make it clear prior to the show that I use a question and answer format.
2) Guests who don't call in on time or do not call in. I try hard to research specific topics so that I am comfortable filling dead-air time or covering a topic at least briefly if a guests does not show up.
3) Guest and host can trip over one-another when doing the shows by being on the phone vs. in-person. I love doing face-to-face shows, you can read the guests reactions to questions; but doing them by phone allows you to remain at home; no worry about bad hair day; no expense to travel somewhere and no worry about failing technology at home you know what you have to work with.
4) Determining your listening audience. How many men vs. women? What age groups? And what their primary interest might be.
5) Being tuned into your own calendar and shortcomings. Be prepared for your own life’s problems -- illness, schedules running late, forgetfulness. Be committed to your guest once you have scheduled air time for them.
6) Carefully track your guests and don’t overbook.
7) Determine whether or not a reschedule of the show is necessary; decide whether or not a show went totally wrong or bad info is included, and whether or not the episode must be deleted.
Do you have any tips for someone looking to start a podcast?
Go for it! It is an awesome journey. Learn the technology to access a show. Have a plan of action. For example, do you want to do one show per day, week or month? Have a commitment to your listeners to do shows when you say you will. Do your best to find guests that will interest the audience you want to target. Always have a back-up plan for every show.
Can you recommend any resources for someone looking to educate themselves on running a podcast?
BlogTalkRadio has a number of resources for its shows’ hosts. Use them. Talk to other hosts. Listen to numerous other podcasts to decide how you want your show to sound.
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