I have officially recorded my first podcast ever. Is it good? Who knows…or actually better yet, you listen to it and tell me.
I love the idea of podcasts, but I have to be honest, I am behind the times. I didn’t download my public radio app until last year and therefore did not really listen to podcasts before then. However, in the short time that I have listened to podcasts, I do have a favorite one called Stuff You Missed in History Class. I really like this podcast because the hosts work together to construct a story that people can connect to and learn about in a conversational way. The hosts always pick really good subjects to talk about also. They either pick a “pop history” topic and tell and untold narrative with in that or just go off the deep end with a really unique topic.
So I decided to follow their example when choosing the topic for my very first podcast. What was an historical topic that is really popular? What is an unknown narrative within that topic? Is this something that I am interested in? Would the public be interested? Let’s be real, no one wants to talk about or listen to a boring and dry topic in a podcast.
Well, if you are familiar with what parts of U.S. history are memorialized and remembered, you pretty much know that any war that involved the United States before 1945 is going to be a hit, which will never make sense to me as a social historian. Anyway, I had remembered a book that was assigned as part of my Civil War and Reconstruction course in undergrad about a female Civil War soldier. Ta da! A popular topic, the American Civil War, and an untold narrative of the Civil War, female soldiers. Thank you, Dr. Grider.
So I have my topic and my content together and it’s time to record. Let’s just say that once there is a microphone and you know its recording, your ability to pronounce simple words escape you. With that being said, editing was quite a process. Now, I have recorded oral interviews and edited them using Audacity and the very first thing I do is cut out my voice, but this type of editing was sort of a new method for me since I can’t cut out all of my voice. Like Hear, Here stories, the podcast still had to follow a story arch, but a much longer and more detailed story arch that included other components such as music. And speaking of music, it was difficult to find the music I was exactly looking for. I knew the places I wanted to put music but finding the perfect songs that fit the mood of the story proved a little more difficult than I anticipated.
Though podcasts are still a new concept for me, both listening to them and producing them, I think that they are a great resource for historical institutions wanting to expand their digital presence. Last week in class, we talked about audio components in museums or at historical sites and whether they elevate the visitor experience or not. One advantage that we discussed was that audio can help with museum fatigue when visitors don’t want to read all of the information presented in an exhibit. This way visitors are able to concentrate on an artifact, a building, or a document while listening rather than reading. We know that audio can be useful within, but I think that it is useful outside of the institution as well. Because each collection is unique, there could easily be weekly podcasts introducing an artifact, document, or exhibition that could draw in old and new audiences while also battling the everlasting museum fatigue. Of course, at first, podcasting may not have a huge impact on visitor numbers, but as soon as the following grows, the visitors will follow.
Let me know in the comments about your own experiences podcasting and whether you think audio inside and outside the institution is valuable.