The Interview

The art of the interview

What is it?

The art of conversation lends itself beautifully to engrossing storytelling, so it’s no wonder that many popular podcasts are based on interviews. In this genre, you can organize your podcast around a recorded talk with another person.


Stay Tuned with Preet

Public Intellectual with Jessa Crispin

Call Your Girlfriend

Ear Hustle

Where do I begin?

Come up with an idea and make a plan.

  • Who do you want to interview?
  • Why do you want to interview them?
  • What do you want to talk about?
  • Will this be a peaceful interview? Or a heated one?
Session 2, Tier 1 Assignment Write your plan.

Do some research about your interview subject. Learn about their life and what interests them.

Come up with questions for your interview subject. In the biz, this is called your “Q Line.” You can share these questions with them before the recorded interview--or not.

Set a time and place for the interview.

  • Is the interview in a place where you can control the sound? If so, prep.
  • Or is it in a place that you’re unfamiliar with? If so, more prep.
  • Is the interview on the phone? If so, Google Voice.

Meet your interview subject and record your interview. Before you record, make sure to confirm good sound levels. Don’t be afraid to throw out your Q Line if it’s not working or if you improvisationally come across better conversation. To be recording is to be getting your “Tape.”

Session 2, Tier 2 Assignment Write your plan and record some Tape.

Finish recording interviews, share a release form with your interview subjects and have them sign it.

Transcribe all your Tape. O Transcribe is a useful tool for this.

Consulting your transcription, pick your “Tracks.” Your Tracks are the interesting parts that you’ll use in your podcast. You also need to write your “Acts.” Your Acts are what you’ll use to set up or deal with your Tracks.

Session 2, Tier 3 Assignment Write your plan, record some Tape, and start working on your Tracks and Acts.

Record yourself reading your Acts.

Session 3, Tier 1 Assignment Have all of your Tape, including Acts and Tracks.

Determine if you need music and sound design.

Create, license, or find Creative Commons music and sounds.

Session 3, Tier 2 Assignment Your podcast is about 75% complete.

Put everything together with Audacity--your Acts, Tracks, music, and sounds.

Session 3, Tier 3 Assignment Your podcast draft is complete.

Share the draft of your podcast and get feedback. Share it with your interview subject--or not.

End of workshop, Tier 1 Assignment You have a complete podcast episode.

Consider, reject, or incorporate feedback. Reflect on your process and the meaning of your podcast. Repeat previous steps.

In a spreadsheet, enter the metadata for all the files you created or used.

End of workshop, Tier 2 Assignment You have a complete podcast episode and metadata.

Finish your complete transcript. Your complete transcript is the one you will provide for you audience. It will be a combination of your Acts, Tracks, and descriptions of any of the music and sounds you used.

End of workshop, Tier 3 Assignment You have a complete podcast episode, metadata, and a complete transcript.

Decide, as a whole, whether or not your podcast should have a Creative Commons designation.

If you are going to put your podcasts online, do an audit of your online safety and security. Do you have safe passwords? Consider making passwords using the “diceware” method and using LastPass. If you Google yourself, what information do data brokers have about you? Consider contacting data brokers and requesting they remove your information.

But is this the only way to make an interview podcast?

No! The steps above are a guide--not the rule. You might do things in a different order. For example, you might write some of your Acts before conducting your interview and writing your transcript. Or, early on, you might find music that you want to use before you even decide who you want to interview. You might find that some of these steps don’t even apply. For instance, journalists don’t always have interview subjects sign release forms because they operate under the assumption that their subjects have agreed to be on the record.

Have you thought about...?
  • Accessibility: Can all users use your content? Think about users who may want to listen to your content but who are hard of hearing or deaf. Provide a transcript so they can consume what you made.
  • Preservation: You've put time and effort into your team production. Think about filling out your metadata spreadsheet and where and how you will archive your podcast (multiple locations = good!).
  • Open: Have you provided attribution for works other than your own? Think about how you are incorporating content and how you intend others to use your work in the future.
  • Digital Identity, Safety & Privacy: Did you mention someone in your recording by name? Think about how what you do and say can be linked back to you or someone else's identity.