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The number of podcasts has exploded over the past decade: Nearly 60 percent of American consumers listen to one or more of the 2 million podcasts available today. And someone’s got to produce all those podcasts!
While many novice podcasters do the heavy lifting independently, there are podcast professionals for hire. After all, planning, producing, and promoting a podcast is a time-intensive endeavor.
Podcast producers are responsible for pitching show ideas, finding, researching, and booking guests, prepping hosts, recording, editing, publishing each episode, and promoting the show. Sometimes, podcast producers are also responsible for finding advertisers.
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To illustrate, we interviewed digital media producer Jeffrey Crane Graham. Jeffrey produces podcasts for some big-name talent; think actor and journalist Maria Menounos, Emmy-nominated actor Illeana Douglas, and award-winning screenwriters Meg LeFauve and Lorien McKenna. He prefers to do the behind-the-scenes work but will pop on to co-host every once in a while.
He lent us his expertise on the topic of podcasting. What does a podcast producer do, and what does it take to be successful? In this article, he gives us a rundown of his day-to-day podcasting life so you can decide if it’s a career path for you.
Podcast producers are responsible for just about everything that goes into making a podcast, “but I think it depends if I’m co-hosting a show or if I’m just a producer on a show,” Jeffrey began.
“I really think the job of a podcast producer especially is to do everything you can to create the path of least resistance for the talent to produce the product that they want,” Jeffrey told us. “So, you know, a podcast producer is a lot like a television producer or a film producer in that you’re creating a path for whoever is the creative behind the idea, be that a writer, a director, a host, you’re creating the conditions for them to thrive in the best way they can.”
Podcast producers are responsible for pitching show topics to the show owners (typically the host(s)), researching those topics and potential guests, vetting guests for expertise, and scheduling them.
“So as a podcast producer, I might be putting together a rundown to help steer your hosts or your talent to create the best show possible,” Jeffrey said.
Some podcasts are scripted, and others aren’t, but almost every podcast relies on some outline or rundown. These rundowns should include the show stack, including the opening, introductions, topics, commercial breaks, future show promotions, and the amount of time each section of the podcast is slotted.
That way, when it comes time to edit the show, you’ll have a solid foundation that should fit neatly into the typical length of the show you are producing.
“I also edit, so I’m editing our shows as well,” Jeffrey said.
After recording a podcast, the podcast producer will go into editing mode. Some podcast interviews may require heavy editing to trim the length of the show down or to remove content that isn’t relevant to the show's topic. Sound will often require some editing to ensure it is smooth, audible, and clear. Additionally, the editor will cut in the show’s intro, tag out, commercials, sound effects, and music.
“And then social media, as you know, has become a huge part of the digital media landscape,” Jeffrey said. “So, marketing the show through social is an important part of being a podcast producer as well, and then also bringing in advertisers.”
If no one hears your podcast, did it even happen? While some of us might get personal fulfillment just from producing a blog, most of us probably want others actually to hear it. Promotion is almost as important as production in the world of podcasting. And it doesn’t stop with promoting the show a few times; you should promote every episode that airs and cross-promote with your guests.
Building an audience for your podcast is easier, of course, if you’ve already built an audience on social media (TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, etc.).
Once you’ve achieved a strong listenership, you’ll be able to identify the demographics and psychographics of your audience, then use that to find appropriate advertisers for your podcast. Advertisers will want to know who’s listening to your episodes to understand if their ads will be relevant and reach a wide enough audience on your show.
While podcast hosts often get the limelight, the producer often does the bulk of the work. Between researching, scheduling, outlining, editing, and promoting, this role is best for someone who likes to be behind the scenes, ensuring everything goes off without a hitch.
“Yeah, I’d say creating a path of least resistance for your hosts or whoever you’re working with to thrive, and then creating a platform to buttress the show to reach as many people as possible is the job of a producer,” Jeffrey concluded.
Did you hear that?