Podcasting the Past Workshop at No34, Sittingbourne

Gordon Lamont (centre, standing) shows podcasting workshop participants how the Zoom digital recorder works. Photo by Jon Pratty, Ideas Test

Jade Joseph live blogs our Podcasting the Past workshop on May 24, 2016

Former BBC broadcast journalist Gordon Lamont has returned to No.34 in Sittingbourne to run another successful event, and I’m here to write about the event for Ideas Test. At No34 we’re running digital skills development events as part of our Creative Network Programme in the upcoming months and today (Tuesday the 24th May) Gordon is leading an all-day Podcasting the Past workshop. This session brings people together to create a collaborative podcast on the theme of Sittingbourne’s history and heritage, with participants – mostly from museums and galleries in Kent – gaining hands-on experience in how to record, edit and publish a podcast.

Pre-Pod Practise

After introductory cups of tea and coffee, we’re spending the early portion of the morning introducing participants to the workshop. The sessions move quickly onto tech talk, but it doesn’t take long for our participants to pick up the process of using the Zoom digital recorders. Gordon details the various ways recorders can be used, providing attendees with a robust introduction into the handling of the tech. By discussing issues such as mic placement, the importance of using headphones when recording and the benefit of pre-prepared “patter”, it means that when the podcasters are later unleashed on the streets of Sittingbourne, they are fully prepared. In order to get some (literal!) hands-on experience with the recorders, Gordon gets the group interviewing each other. Different techniques are tried and tested; a process that is particularly beneficial prior to conducting the actual interviews out on the streets of Sittingbourne.

What’s the Wisdom?

The practise interviews throw up a few challenges that the group discuss and iron out. Some problems are simple: where should we hold the recorder to minimise interference? Another issue was about the balance between being absorbed in the interview process and actually engaging in the conversation with the interviewee. Gordon talks about recording wav. files rather than mp3 files, and we learn that, when it comes to transmission, it’s easy to convert the finished file depending on what platform the podcast is to be distributed. With the majority of queries and questions now answered, there is little left to prepare.

Refuelling before they go with some light refreshments, participants then take to the streets to conduct their interviews and capture some engaging material. With the weather on-side for once, the session extends up and down the high street, as the participants split into small groups to explore Sittingbourne.

Editorial End

An hour or so later, the workshoppers come back together at No.34 for a more focused and collaborative end to the session. Each group select informative and succinct soundbites which Gordon then leads the session to carefully edit together. The editorial section of the workshop is quite detailed and involves a close look at how to produce something that is engaging and easy to listen to for the audience. By bringing different edited audio clips together, Gordon walks the group through the process of clipping, adjusting and previewing the collaborative podcast. It’s been a long day and everyone is wilting, but once he’s made one coherent edit, bringing together the clips from one of our teams, we listen through to the podcast, and while we do that, one of the Ideas Test team uploads to result to Soundcloud, and plays the resulting podcast live on a mobile. Success!