1a) Listening Journal

I’m entering the TRU Podcasting Masterclass with a very specific project in mind, which will guide my explorations and my answers to weekly assignments. 

In particular, I’m planning to produce a series of scholarly podcasts for a Canadian heritage not-for-profit in which a retired professor of Canadian history narrates selections of their most exciting research discoveries from their life’s work. 

This week I examined the eight different podcast formats listed at Casto.com (interview, conversation/co-hosted, panel, etc.). It’s clear to me that the format the professor and I have effectively chosen is solo / monologue.

For this assignment, I decided to look for podcasts with a scholarly angle that might match the history discipline and reflect on what I like / don’t like. It was marvellous to be exposed to a wide variety of styles, like a taster menu.

To begin, I took the opportunity to listen to all four episodes of The BC Studies Podcast: An Introduction to Scholarly Podcasting, which I’d bookmarked ages ago but never made the time to enjoy. In addition to the actual content, the format and style of The BC Studies Podcast provided me with many insights. Examples:

  • Brief intro music sets the tone, is welcoming and engaging, instead of speaking-only. Also similar outro music provides a cohesive experience and sounds professional.
  • A land acknowledgement is respectful and relevant (to mine as well).
  • I should do an introductory episode of very short length, say under five minutes, to establish what this series is about, what you can expect to hear, who is the publisher (the not-for-profit), who is the professor, why are we making this now, etc.
  • Show notes are a thing! I love how the BC Studies show notes include citations, links to resources mentioned and further reading.
  • Transcripts are a thing! I’d intended to include a transcript, so it was great to see how someone else had done so.
  • Call to action – At the end of each episode, BC Studies ends with a request for listener engagement, such as “check out the show notes”  or “check out the website,” and mine could also be “join us next time for this particular next episode topic.”

I listened to samples of many other podcasts for insight including these.

  • BBC Radio / British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 Objects
    • I like how the host consistently identifies in the first ten seconds the title and producer, over an intriguing piece of music (“Thank you for downloading this episode of ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ from BBC Radio Four”).
  • Stuff the British Stole
  • The Rest is History
    • I’m not fond of the included advertisements (though I understand why they’re necessary here).
  • Dan Snow’s History Hit
  • Cool Canadian History
    • The audio of the particular episode I listened to was a bit tinny-sounding, which makes me think I should pay special attention to having a clear audio recording.
  • Historica Canada’s A Place to Belong
  • The Rest is Politics
    • This series is released one episode at a time, with occasional “emergency” episodes (when political news warrants them), without an entire limited set of episodes planned. I like this, as I think my podcast will also be this way, with future episodes intended though not promised.
    • The tone is similar to what I hope mine will be, serious but fun, entertaining and educational, showcasing the personality of the speaker (the professor) as authoritative, excited, playful.
    • I like how they do two segments per episode, with a brief musical break in the middle.
  • British Association For Local History’s Local History Matters
    • I like their ending call to action (“If you’ve enjoyed this episode, make sure to share it with your friends and family”).
  • Champlain Society’s Witness to Yesterday

Funnily enough, after all these podcasts (and others), the one which kept coming to mind that’s probably most like what we intend to do is old CBC Peter Gzowski Morningside radio show broadcasts (just Gzowski speaking, not the actual interviews), which was a revelation, and which I need to explore further.

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