Course Syllabus

Introduction to Audio Storytelling & Podcasting

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Learn how to write, record, and produce a powerful audio narrative that can stand alone or be the first in a series of podcasts.

Podcasting is the new blogging—an easy, effective way to share information or personal stories with a wide audience. This five-week course will help you get started, with overviews and discussions of how to choose equipment, what audio editing programs are available, and how to pitch your audio stories to broadcast outlets. You’ll have opportunities to practice interviewing, writing for broadcast, and editing audio.

This is an introductory, hands-on experience, and each person will progress at a comfortable pace. We’ll begin with a 7-day free trial of the widely used Adobe Audition audio editing software. Then you will be required to purchase a one-month plan (not an annual plan paid monthly) for $31.49 that will cover the remainder of the course. Working on Audition will give you the basic skills for any audio editing software, which all have similarities.

We’ll focus on writing for broadcast, a more concise style than writing for print, but with the same emphasis on authentic voice and powerful word usage. Your writing can be poetic, humorous, conversational, or scientific, and in this course you’ll have a chance to experiment with different styles.

You’ll do some recording and get some tips on microphone vocal technique. We’ll do some short two-track mixes featuring a vocal narrative over a music bed. Please be aware that beginning audio editing is like learning to play piano or dance salsa: it takes a little time and practice. Please plan to spend a few hours per week on audio production, in addition to the writing, so you can complete the basic recording, editing, and mixing projects.

Technical requirements: You will need a basic microphone (on a headset is okay) with a USB connection, or a digital recorder. Since this is a basic course, you can even use a smartphone, such as an iPhone, and record on the Voice Memo app. You’ll just have to be able to download all your recorded sound onto your computer so you can edit in the audio software program. Audio producers have lots of personal favorites for equipment, so it’s best to start with simple but functional equipment so you enjoy the process; you can decide later on what equipment best suits your podcasting goals.

How it works:

Each week provides:

  • discussions of assigned readings and other general topics with peers and the instructor
  • written lectures and audio instruction

Some weeks also include:

  • writing prompts and/or assignments
  • opportunities to submit writing and podcasts to instructor and/or peer review
  • optional video conferences that are open to all students in Week 2 (and which will be available afterwards as a recording for those who cannot participate)

Aside from the live conference, there is no need to be online at any particular time of day.
To create a better classroom experience for all, you are expected to participate weekly in class for instructor feedback.

Week 1: Writing for Broadcast & Preparing the Tools

Writing for broadcast begins with whittling down the narrative to the fewest, most powerful words. Practice exercises will start the process of being brief and creative. An equipment check of the microphone and downloading the 7-day free trial of Adobe Audition audio editing software, along with uploading some practice soundtracks, will launch the production portion of the course.

Week 2: Recording & Beginning Audio Production

You will record a basic voice track, and we’ll upload our recordings to Wet Ink to begin sharing and reviewing our recording space, making easy improvements to get “studio sound,” such as turning off AC or working in a room with “soft” furniture. We’ll begin to use the basic audio editing tools for cutting out clicks, pops, and other unwanted sound, as well as using fading and other tools to adjust volume levels within the recording. We’ll do a video chat during Week 2, with screen sharing to review details of audio editing.

Week 3:  Vocal and Microphone Technique & Expanding Audio Production Skills

You’ll choose and record short narratives and choose from several music or sound beds to mix with your voice track. This basic two-track mix is the foundation that will allow you to build audio production skills into the future.

Week 4: Recording Your Story & Fine Audio Editing

You’ll record a short narrative based on personal interest, choose sound or music, and create a two-track mix that allows you to begin to develop your personal audio storytelling style. We’ll continue to add more tools for audio editing as you build your production skills. Peer review of writing and audio production will allow you to polish your short audio podcast.

Week 5: Podcast Showcase & Distribution Options

Individual podcasts are presented, along with a discussion of distribution options, such as SoundCloud, iTunes, and the expansive possibilities for organizational websites and podcasts based on personal interests. Each member of the group will develop a brief plan for the next step in audio storytelling or podcasting.