What is a Podcast?

A podcast is an audio broadcast distributed in various ways on the internet. An effective podcast often tells a compelling story using a combination of structure, pacing, characters/hosts, themes, emotions, music, sound effects, and scenario to capture attention and engage with listeners. 

Possible Learning Goals and Outcomes

  • Awareness of editing software (Audition and audacity)
  • Awareness of podcasting equipment and technical resources (microphones, headphones, Zoom, etc)
  • Basic understanding of storytelling
  • File management and other digital literacies
  • Awareness of copyright, intellectual property, fair use, creative commons, and public domain
  • Digital publication options and resources
  • Digital publication questions of audience and community

Possible Assignment

Assignment Overview

For the podcast assignment, I want you to choose an engaging theme or topic related to the [subject] (identity, society, societal or political forces, etc.) that will be the focus of the story you aim to tell in your podcast. Consider the level of prior knowledge you expect your audience to have with the subject; in other words, they will probably want them to have a good understanding of their surroundings, unless you choose to use the fish out of water trope in your story. With this in mind, decide what story you want to pitch. You will then be divided into groups, based on your feedback. Your group will write a treatment/script for your podcast, which may include archival research, secondary and primary sources, interviews (previously recorded and/or new interviews), and/or discussions between hosts to tell an analytical story, among other methods discussed in class. Finally, your group will record and edit both a rough cut and a final cut of your podcast.

Podcast Final Project: The Parts 

(XX% of final grade)

Working in groups, students will create and publish a podcast, 5-10 minutes in length, about a topic that expands on a course theme. The formulation of the topic, the creation of the narrative, and the planning, recording, editing of the podcast will be part of an ongoing process that will take place over the course of the semester. 

Once the groups are assigned, each group will submit their treatment, rough cut, final cut, release forms, and supporting documents to the corresponding folders (Google Drive) throughout the semester. 

  • In-Class Podcast Project Pitch (X%)
    • Individual In-Class Podcast Pitch by [date]
    • Podcast Pitch Rankings [form linked] by [date]
  • Podcast Treatment Draft (X%)
    • Post in Google Drive folder by [date]
  • Rough Cut of Podcast
    • Post in Google Drive folder by [date]
  • Final Podcast Project, Treatment and Supporting Materials (XX%)
    • Post in Google Drive folder by [date] and/or
    • Post in anchor.fm 

How to get support:

Schedule an appointment with the professor to chat about sources, themes, and how your podcast relates to the class. 

Schedule an appointment with Thomas Espy to chat about your pitch, treatment, putting a podcast together, telling a story through a podcast, and/or all technical aspects of your project. 

Recommended Sessions

  1. Storytelling and Podcasting; Overview of Project
  2. In-class pitches
  3. Podcast Recording Tutorial
  4. Editing Tutorial
  5. Rough Cut Feedback
  6. Workshop

What is a Podcast Pitch?  [For your assignment.]

The pitch is you describing your podcast idea to your classmates. Everyone will present for 3.5 – 4 minutes. 

We recommend that you spend 2.5 to 3 minutes on the story that you want to tell.  

  • What is the hook to your story?  
  • What is the title of your podcast? (This can be a working title)
  • What is the theme that you will focus on in your podcast? Share the main theme/story of your podcast for the first minute and/or minute and half. 
  • Who is the main character?  
  • Why are you the person to tell this story? 

And spend 30 seconds – 1 minute or so describing the technical aspects of your podcast.  

  • Will it be an interview, fictional story, docu-series type, discussion based, or some mixed method? 
  • Whose perspective will be highlighted? 
  • Sounds? Techniques? These can be potential ideas—they don’t have to be set in stone. 

Your Digital Learning team consultant will record the pitches and you can go back and listen to them if need be. However, by [date], you need to rank your top 10 choices of which podcast you would like to work on. Pitch Rankings [form linked] 

What is a Treatment? [For your assignment.]

This is the script for your podcast. Just like a written essay, it should have an opening, body section with supporting evidence, and conclusion. But, in a podcast, your opening should be the hook to your story that introduces listeners to you and your topic while pulling them in to listen more. Check out some ideas on how to start. The body of your podcast can be thought of as segments rather than paragraphs. Check out how you might break up your segments. And, the conclusion should tie the podcast to your larger “so-what.” In the case of a fiction/ historical-fiction narrative podcast, the “so what” is the conclusion to the story, which could be open-ended (how did the characters’ change, what did they learn, how did they grow, etc.).

You can always book a meeting with a member of Digital Learning to learn more about how to write your treatment/script. The amount of detail in the script is up to you. It can be an outline, or it can be word-for-word, but/and this choice will likely be dictated at least in part by the format you choose for your podcast (A roundtable discussion? An interview(s) with an expert? An unfolding narrative? Mixed method?)

Recommended Assessments

Your podcast will be evaluated according to the criteria listed below.   

Group Grade

Makes connections between this story and the [subject of the class]: 20 points

Overall story structure (a clear beginning, middle, and end):   20 points

Organization facilitates comprehension and keeps listener interested via:

  • An intro that establishes clear purpose and engages listener immediately 15 points
  • Smooth transitions between segments/scenes 10 points 
  • A conclusion that summarizes key points and provides a final “So what?” 15 points

Delivery is well-rehearsed, smooth, and conversational: 10 points

Includes at least 3 audio samples that enhance mood, quality, & understanding: 10 points

Total:       100 points

Peer Evaluation Submission: 

Each group member will fill out the attached peer evaluation sheet assessing their partner’s contributions to the project. The purpose of this is to hold each other accountable for robust participation in the project. As long as you submit this under the Peer Evaluation assignment tab (rather than posting it to the forum), only I will be able to see what you’ve written.