Starting a podcast production

Mapping out your podcast project and telling your story


According to NPR, if you are thinking about starting a podcast you first need to spend time thinking about what you want to make and who you're making it for. Indeed, you need to be intentional and specific about what you are about to set out to do and who will be listening to what you have to say.

This module will help you to start your podcast off on the right foot. And to do that, you will be tasked with completing a podcast blueprint in our first live session. This blueprint, based on the NPR Storytelling Project Blueprint from NPR Training, is a distillation of what we think are four essential steps in the planning and storytelling phase that will help increase your chances of setting realistic, authentic goals in this workshop.

Starting your project

No matter what format your podcast takes, you will always be telling a story. Your story will manifest in the sound of your voice, the environments in your recording, the words in your script, and the editing of your project. What you say and what you do matters. But we realize that starting a podcast is no small feat and often comes with big ideas with no authentic and feasible way to scope those ideas and make them come to life.

Session 1 This activity will be completed in the first live session.

Step 1: What are you calling this project?

Brainstorm some ideas for your project name. This can be taken from an idea you submitted during the registration process, but feel free to branch out into other ideas, genres, or concepts. Jot down as many ideas as you would like to explore.

Step 2: Describe your podcast in one memorable sentence.

Consider this a statement of purpose. What is your podcast really about? You could also think of this as an "elevator pitch" but know that this idea can, and likely will, change during the workshop.

Step 3: Define your audience.

Who do you intend to reach with your podcast? It helps to get a sense for who your audience is and some of their needs that you can help meet. For this step, you can think of the general audience as two different subsects: main audiences and supporting audiences. Main audiences are going to be the direct listeners, those who will be downloading your work for their personal consumption. Supporting audiences are those who may also be listening to your work, but are not the "target" audience. For example, your podcast may focus on the latest and greatest in tech gadgetry. Your target audience might be early adopters of technology. Supporting audiences for your show could be those who have a passing interest in tech, developers and vendors of the devices and tools you are reviewing, listeners of similar shows, and so on. While you may have quite a few supporting audiences, you will only have 1 (maybe two) main audience for the project. Assume everyone else is a supporting audience.

Step 4: What do you think you're making?

Now we're getting into the nitty gritty of your podcast idea. Identify your particular podcast format (interview, solo commentary, narrative stories, or hybrid) and try to provide a summary of what you think you will be making in this workshop. Don't consider this a proposal. Rather, think of this as a conceptual outline of where you want to go in this workshop. This particular stage may seem like a lot to consider - and it is - but know that this is a draft and is meant to provide a broad representation of your podcast's characteristics.

At this point, you are ready to choose a podcast genre. It's likely that you will pick and choose different aspects of each genre to incorporate into your own production, but we encourage you to start with the genre that most resonates with your idea or proposal. The genres are as follows:

The Interview Genre

Learn about the art of the interview.

Investigative Reporting
Investigative Reporting

Get into the nitty gritty of investigative reporting and non-fiction podcasts.

Panel Discussion & Team Comedy
Panel Discussion & Team Comedy

Podcasting as a team sport. Learn about panels and team-based podcasts.

Solo Commentary, Comedy & Fiction
Solo Commentary, Comedy & Fiction

Taking on a podcast solo? Learn some strategies about how to do commentary-style, comedy, or fiction podcasts.

Session 1 By the end of session 1, you should have selected a genre from the above list.