The Oh Fudge! Podcast Goes From Concept To Reality
Ever since I was a teenager, I have held the belief that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution—freedom of speech—is the most important right that we as Americans are granted. Maybe it comes because I watched so many music artists become censored by the Federal Communications Commission, or because I watched people get in trouble for using profanity on television. It never really made sense to me why seven words of the 400,000 words in the English language were flagged for being indecent or vulgar, and I was not the only one.
The late comedian George Carlin did a monologue in 1974 about the seven dirty words you can never say on television, and in it, he questioned the very topic.
In the spirit of Carlin, I wanted to create a podcast that looks at the “Seven Dirty Words” in depth. The idea was to take one word per episode and investigate its meaning, find alternative terms, review court cases regarding indecency, and listen to audio clips where the word was used. The goal is to shine a light on each word and to hopefully help listeners determine whether the word should be censored or not.
Prior to deciding to do this podcast, I had plenty of experience writing and researching, but had never put together a podcast. Fortunately, I documented the entire process.
Please join me as I share my journey in developing, launching, and promoting of The Oh Fudge! Podcast.
Pioneers who fought for free speech:
My initial pitch for the Oh Fudge! Podcast was to create a seven-part series on the seven dirty words. As the host, I wanted to reach out to free speech experts and get their take, interview members of the clergy, talk to people in the community, and drill down into court cases where the first amendment was at risk of being compromised.
As with anything I do, I throw as much against the wall as I can to see what sticks.
The more I worked on developing my podcast, the more I began to encounter roadblocks with regards to a five-week deadline and with sources. As open as people were in the beginning when it came to wanting to talk about freedom of speech, many people backed off when it came to speaking about the seven dirty words.
The roadblocks never stopped the progress on the podcast, and instead, it forced me to evolve the podcast using alternative methods.
Before starting to conceptualize how the podcast would sound and how it would be laid out, I first needed to conduct research. Whenever I want to learn something new, I turn to the internet first, whether it is trying to figure out how to install a part on my vehicle or how to put together a podcast.
People have been putting together podcasts for years, and before that, people were producing radio shows. Fortunately, many of these people have documented the obstacles they encountered and how they overcame them. For example, someone did not have much money to put together a podcast, so they blogged about how they found equipment that sounded professional without breaking the bank.
Some of the many topics I needed to research for this podcast included technology, the first amendment, court cases which solidified the Federal Communication Commission’s power when it comes to censorship, profanity-laced music, clips where curse words were said on the air, how to speak on the radio, and more.
Ultimately, I created a bibliography with all my sources, which acted as a textbook for putting together this podcast.
With so much to do in as little as five weeks, creating a road map of tasks was crucial. The solution was a project management program called Asana.
With a free trial period of 30 days, I was able to test Asana’s capabilities before determining that I did not need every single feature the robust suite offered. So, after 30 days I switched to the basic plan.
But with the basic plan, I was able to sketch out each task that I needed to complete to stay on track.
The idea was to be as granular as possible to ensure I did not miss anything in the production of the Oh Fudge! Podcast.
For instance, the first podcast included lists for pre-production, production, and postproduction. The pre-production tasks included everything from setting up interviews, interviewing people, researching dirty words, conducting a survey, analyzing the survey results, creating an outline, and writing a script. Production tasks included the recording of the podcast and postproduction included editing the podcast and promoting it.
I also included tasks for researching technology, purchasing the technology, and testing it.
The Tracking Journal
Tracking the amount of time each task took was important because it allowed me to see where I was putting my efforts the most. Each week, my goal was to spend at least 20 hours working on the podcast. The time could be spent researching, testing, recording, creating, or promoting the podcast in some way.
The idea behind the journal was that employers or clients will want to see how much time you spend on each task. Ultimately, time equals money, and clients and employers want to make sure they are not wasting any resources.
Outlines serve as another type of roadmap, when laying out a podcast from start to finish.
As a writer, I sometimes need to create brainstorms with lines and circles to get a bunch of ideas together. The same concept was true when putting together the Oh Fudge! Podcast.
The show will start with an intro, which will then lead into an opening monologue giving a history lesson of the seven dirty words. After that, the word of the day will be presented along with definitions, synonyms, and how the word will be used in a sentence. With a better understanding of the word, the audience would then be ready for a story from me about my experience with the word before jumping into survey results. Once survey results are given, I will pose the question of whether the word is so bad and then go into songs and audio clips where the word is spoken. To close out, I ask the audience for their thoughts on the matter and give out an email address for feedback, before playing the outro.
I originally jotted down the outline on paper, then created a flow chart using www.Lucid.App.
To read more on my process during pre-production, please check out some of my blog posts:
Pre-Production: Audio Testing and Equipment
With an outline in place, I needed to start looking into equipment and techniques.
Several blogs on podcast equipment gave recommendations for microphones and mixers that did not break the bank. With little to no budget, cost was an important factor when deciding what equipment to use. Coming into this project, I already owned two Tonal condenser microphones that picked up sound great. After reading some expert advice on types of microphones to consider, I decided to purchase a Behringer dynamic microphone because the sound was more direct. The difference between the condenser microphone and dynamic microphone was how it picked up sound and the range. For instance, the Tonal microphones I own pick up sound 360 degrees around the microphone, whereas the Behringer microphone picked up sound directly in front. Some sound was picked up by the Behringer on the right- and left-hand sides of the microphone, while little to none was picked up from behind.
Doing this podcast from a home with fans and heater units constantly kicking on and military helicopters flying over several times a day, I needed something that would not pick up every little sound.
Testing both microphones was important when deciding which microphone to use as my “Master,” or host. Just as important was deciding which mixer to use. Another piece of equipment I owned coming into this project was an AudioBox USB mixer with two XLR connectors in and a USB out, which I could feed into my Microsoft Surface Book 2 laptop computer. I also owned a Zoom H4N audio recorder with two XLR inputs. Using the H4N, I could record directly onto an SD card and copy the files onto the laptop, where the AudioBox device fed the sound directly to the laptop.
Another piece of equipment that I owned prior were two pop filters which are helpful when creating clean sound. The filters eliminate “s” and “p” sounds.
In early testing, I connected both the dynamic and condenser microphones into the AudioBox, fed the box into the laptop, and mixed audio using Adobe Audition. This setup created the cleanest sound when compared to the dynamic and condenser microphones being fed into the H4N.
Using the better setup, I recorded the intro, outro, and segment break for the first podcast.
With outlines and technologies in place, it was time to start writing the scripts for each podcast. NPR had a few great tutorials on how to speak for the air, which I kept in the back of my head when writing the scripts.
I really wanted the scripts to sound natural. When I normally write, I do not use contractions, but when we speak, we use contractions. I made sure to make the words and sentences sound as natural as possible so that when I read them out loud, they sounded like I was talking to my friends.
The scripts were written in a way that each element was spelled out and color coded. Things written in green were audio clips and things written in black were spoken words.
In the first recording session, I noticed that the sound was tinny and had a bad buzzing sound in the background. The setup I initially started with was the dynamic microphone with the AudioBox, fed into the laptop.
Because I ran into issues, I modified my setup so that I recorded everything into the Zoom H4N, using the dynamic microphone.
The end result was not perfect, but with a little processing in Adobe Premiere Pro, I could clean up the audio.
To read more about the production and audio techniques I used, check out this blog post.
With all of audio clips in hand, I turned to Adobe Premiere Pro instead of Adobe Audition, to lay down the tracks. I chose Premiere because I am more familiar with the controls in the program because of my video editing background.
As I put the podcasts together, I noticed some of the audio was not as loud as the other audio, so I made modifications using the Audio Gain feature in Premiere. I also noticed a humming sound, which I nearly completely removed using audio effects.
Like many other podcasters who do the producing and hosting, I have over edited my podcast and still find issues, and that is ok. This is only my first attempt at putting together a podcast, and I know I will improve as I produce more and more. You can already notice a difference in production value when you listen to the first podcast and compare it to the third.
Once all three podcasts were produced, I uploaded them to BuzzSprout.com, a website with tools that help facilitate the uploading of the podcast to various platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Stitched.
Before the Oh Fudge! Podcast went live, I needed to create a promotional strategy that incorporated custom graphics and social media.
The first thing I created was a logo made up of blocks of fudge. Using Adobe Photoshop, I sketched the blocks of fudge, colored them brown, and added the words “Oh Fudge! Podcast.”
The logo was uploaded to Buzz Sprout to be packaged with the podcast.
After that, I created a social media strategy that covers a week’s worth of promotion on Facebook and Twitter.
As part of the social media strategy, I created four graphics that were almost identical, but included different words. The first graphic is an image of a microphone with words regarding censorship coming out of the mic. For the second, third, and fourth graphics, I changed the words with alternative terms of the vulgarities that each of the podcasts is about.
Here are the graphics I created:
In addition to the graphics, I plugged into several social media groups that focus on podcasting and then began liking and commenting on posts.