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podcast production

Staff Feature - Jerry Payne

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Staff Feature - Jerry Payne

From the Air Force to Audio Engineer

Jerry has always been a wild child, so when he left the Air Force, it was back to his old ways. It wasn't like he was up to no good, well, unless you consider him playing rock and roll 'no good'! Sometimes it was loud, sometimes it was chaotic, but it was a fantastic way to release all that pent up energy he kept inside while he was in the service.

He always had a love for radio, so when he left the Air Force, he decided to go to college where he majored in communications. After hearing that one of his favorite morning radio hosts would be at a Flaming Lips concert, Jerry went down to search for (and destroy!) him. Without having any idea what he looked like, he somehow found him in the crowd (wearing a Santa Hat), introduced himself, and then lowered the morning host's defenses just enough so he was able to intern for him. He ended up interning with the station for 2.5 years without pay, but he doesn't regret a second of it. That experience was what kicked off his career and got the ball rolling for him.

He eventually worked with a local radio legend named Kim Peterson. Jerry acted as 'the voice of the millennials' by explaining to Kim, a baby boomer, what the heck his generation was doing, and what social media was. It was here where Jerry learned recording techniques, how to make a show compelling, and most importantly, how to tell a story.

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Aside from working as a team leader and audio engineer for Podfly, Jerry also works as a production editor at Impact Partnership, a financial marketing organization that works with financial advisors to help them find new leads. Because some of their financial advisers have their own radio shows, Jerry has access to one of the nicest studios in all of Atlanta. Throughout his career, Jerry went from Rock Radio to Top 40 to Talk Radio, and he's now in Retirement Radio. However, Jerry has no plans on retiring from the industry any time soon.


Deftones, the Gateway Drug to Becoming a Musician

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Jerry currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia. And what do Georgia boys usually do? Well, he grew up on country music until he was 12, but afterwards started listening to the Deftones album Adrenaline, which is when things drastically changed for him. That album made him want to play music and pick up a bass guitar. He would have picked up a 6-string guitar, but he says his fingers were just too fat for it. Jerry doesn't have a passport, but he travels all over the U.S. to see bands and attend concerts. In fact, he's been to the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee 8 years in a row, because he loves real drums, real strings, and people singing. However, when Bonnaroo started having more EDM acts, it was time to move on to other shows in Colorado, California, and more.

When Jerry was in a band, he says the drummer was the best musician out of all three of them. He was a classically trained drummer and very original with the sounds he was able to produce. The band wrote lyrics, but the funny thing was no one wanted to sing them. So, they decided to put a laptop on stage and have the laptop 'sing' in a robot voice as it read the lyrics out loud. Band life was incredibly fun for Jerry and what made this particular band special was how everyone was open to experimenting and trying new ideas. Unfortunately, the band had to be put on hold as the band members’ family commitments began to increase. But, as Jerry says, “The last band I was in was the best band I was ever in.”


How to Tell Engaging Stories

When people try to tell stories, they tend to get caught on the details and sort of derail from there. This can take somebody out of the experience. As William Shakespeare says, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Don't get too caught up in the irrelevant details. Shows like Serial focus a lot on details; however, they always relate it back to the main story. You can do this too by being prepared and by focusing on the larger point you're trying to make. People love to be hypnotized by stories. Jerry believes that stories are the secret to really captivating and maintaining someone's attention.

Another way to tell an engaging story is to slow down. Even Jerry struggles with this. You need to be able to let a simple sentence 'breathe'. If you speak slowly and clearly, people will listen to you in a closer way and it's much more compelling. People try to talk fast because they feel like they need to get all their points out on the table, but if you can just slow it down and let the story breathe, it gives the listener a chance to create an image, or a story, in their head.


Words of Wisdom from a Radio Guy

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In the radio business, Jerry was trained to 'create and establish a theater for the mind'. It is so important to create a story for the listeners that is in their head. As the guy or gal behind the mic, you're in control of your audience's imagination. Don't forget that. The perfect example of a host creating this 'theater for the mind' is host Dan Carlin of Hardcore History. He does a 6-part 4 hour episode series on World War 1 and you can just see and smell the battlefield that's he's describing. He's a true master at what he's doing.

How do you turn a hobby podcast (or even a business podcast) into theater? Well, you don't need the whole podcast to become an elaborate story, but do not underestimate the power of what a good example can do for you. Laying out the anecdotal stories in advance and then referencing them casually in the podcast is a great tool people can use. Bring Your Whole Self to Work, a podcast Podfly produces, is a fantastic example of this.

Host Mike Robbins is so polished and comfortable behind the mic while he's telling a story. Jerry really looks forward to listening to what Mike has to say each week because he does a fantastic job at communicating while also making it captivating.

Another tip Jerry learned in radio is to always speak directly into the mic. When hosts are interviewing people, this is a tip people quickly forget as they get distracted and become comfortable in their surroundings. By not speaking directly into the mic, you can lose audio quality and people can miss out on what you're saying. Also, audio quality is the main focal point in a podcast and if you lose it (or if it's low quality), you also lose your listeners. There are so many great sounding podcasts out there, so if yours doesn't sound good, listeners will tune out and not be engaged. This is why it's so important to aim for the middle of the mic, and to stop moving around in your chair while looking at your ceiling! It goes a long way in audio quality.

Oh and one more thing, don't forget you can always do a second take. It's not hard to correct the material or edit it in post-production. So, just be comfortable while you're doing it and don't be afraid to do more than one take until you feel like you've got it down. In this case, more is always better!


Why Podcasts Are a 'Thing'

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Podcasts are growing and radio has taken a backseat. People can get what they want on demand, but Jerry doesn't think radio will ever go away completely. It's still very passive. Afterall, every car has a radio in it. If you can't get cellphone service, you can probably still get a radio station. Due to time constraints in radio, podcasters have much more freedom of expression.

Podcasting has its niches, whereas radio has to be broad to satisfy advertisers and a wide range of listeners. For example, one of our Podfly podcasters, Tim Hanlon of Good Seats Still Available, covers sports leagues and franchises that are no longer around.

He often covers teams that most people have never even heard of. He's trying to preserve history by remembering these precious moments, and unfortunately, a lot of the people involved in these old school teams have passed away and their stories are gone. So, Tim is on a mission to uncover these fascinating stories about teams long past and the podcast format makes it ideal for him to carry out this mission. 

Another benefit about podcasting is when you're talking to someone and they're listening to you, whether they're in their car or at the gym, you have their attention. You're taking their mind off the mundane tasks that they're doing. Jerry believes audio formats like podcasts and radio are more influential than TV or movies because you have an active listener who isn't distracted by what they're seeing.  


 

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Client Feature: Jennifer Ebeling of The Still Growing Podcast

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Client Feature: Jennifer Ebeling of The Still Growing Podcast

Podcasting Made Sense to Jennifer

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It took Jennifer ten years to start her blog, 6ft Mama, but it took her just a week to begin podcasting. Jennifer's husband left for a one week business trip and when he came back, she had a podcast! In 2013, Jennifer discovered the Stitcher app and searched for gardening podcasts. There weren't any on there and she knew she was the lady to fill that gap. In just one week, she had her intro, already contacted potential guests, and ordered about $1,000 worth of equipment on Amazon. 

Jennifer felt comfortable diving head first into the space because, although she is an avid gardener, she does have a techie side to her (as well as a background in TV and radio).

Fast forward to today and she has over 580 podcast episodes on iTunes. What makes her unique compared to other garden podcasts in the space is her long-form show. She often goes over two hours on each episode and, guess what, her audience loves it! For those experts out there who tell you to keep your podcast at a certain length, just remember Jennifer Ebeling from the Still Growing podcast breaks those rules and is very successful at it.

 

Building a Strong Community of Raving Fans and Avid Gardeners

Jennifer has a very engaged Facebook group. At the time of this writing, she has a little over 700 members in the group and they're constantly posting updates and questions about their garden. One thing Jennifer has noticed over the years is that it doesn't matter whether you've been a gardener for a year or 25 years, gardeners never feel like they know 'enough'. She started the Facebook group back in October of 2016 and it has grown into a booming community, with both listeners and the podcast guests joining the group.

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Listeners have a unique opportunity by joining the group because they can ask Jennifer's guests personal questions in the community and have it actually answered by them! As Jennifer's gift to the podcast guests for joining, she lets them promote anything they want. Of course, as she says, many of her guests do not abuse this and the group is very respectful towards each other's time and advice. On her show, she also gives between 10-30 minute highlights of what has happened in the group and it's quite amazing to hear a podcast host say your name and give you shout outs! Her absolute dedication to her audience is what keeps them coming back for more.

 

Podcasting and Raising 4 Children

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Jennifer is the mother of four teenagers and, as many parents know, that's a full time job in itself. She often drives them to school and to their respective hobbies (basketball, piano classes, etc), so it's a wonder how she works on her podcast, attends to her listener community, and gets her gardening done; which she also says is a full time job. 

In fact, Jennifer estimates she spends roughly 30 hours on her podcast each week. It's a lot of work, but she wouldn't have it any other way!

When it comes to editing her show, which admittedly takes most of her time, Jennifer listens to the raw audio file and edits it before she sends her show off to Eric, the audio engineer. Then, after she receives the edited version, she tweaks it once more. She says she wishes that the editing process was just a once-and-done event, but she simply can't let it go unless it's been listened to at least twice. Her children are used to hearing her show on their way to school and have become mini editors because of it. Whenever Jennifer 'goofs' her children write down the time stamp so that she or Eric can fix it in post.

In their car rides, Jennifer's children get to learn quite a lot about gardening, home grown food, and insects/mammals. This knowledge has developed some very interesting conversations between the family on their way to school and it has brought a better understanding, and appreciation, to what Jennifer does when she works on her garden.

 

Productivity: How Does She Do It?

Jennifer has become savvy with delegating and leveraging technology to help her cultivate resources for her community, her show, and her garden. When I sat down to chat with her, she was more than helpful to share her productivity tips. The top 3 things she uses to keep her community updated on garden news is Feedly, IFTTT, and Evernote.

She is subscribed to many garden-related news sources on Feedly and often tweets out interesting things her community might enjoy. Whenever she tweets, she has IFTTT (If Then Than That) connected to her Twitter and it automatically gets sent to Evernote, where she will use those resources to include in her podcast and in her garden community. Jennifer is always on social media reading and listening to garden-related news.

When it comes to managing her garden, she is partnered with her local school to have student gardeners come over and learn how to care for the plants. This helps her care for her garden and it puts her in a prime position to teach others how, and why, the garden is so important for our world. On her podcast, she even dedicates an episode to how you can make your gardening experience much more productive.

 

 

Thoughts From Eric Begay:

Eric has been the audio engineer on Jennifer's podcast since May of 2017 and one of the things he's noticed is Jennifer's speaking voice. “Jennifer is a really good speaker. I think she may script everything out, not sure.” He continues to say, “One thing I really like about her is there's no actual content editing. I don't have to fix things. Out of the whole two hours she records, what may need some editing as far as fixing some ahs and ums, pauses, and audio glitches with the call.”

When she’s doing all of the different parts of her podcast, whether it’s welcoming new members to her Facebook group or talking about news within the community that she built, she does a very good job. It sounds very professional.
— Eric Begay, Audio Producer
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When I asked Eric what was challenging about editing a long-form podcast like Jennifer's, this is what he had to say. “When I get the raw files,” Eric says, “They're usually about 3 hours long total. By the time I'm done editing I take out about 30-45 minutes of just pauses in there. There's hundreds of pauses and because of it you have to make her (and her guests) sound like a continuous interview. That's the challenging part there.”

As far as the topic of the show, Eric has learned a ton about gardening and the various plants out there that exist. He says, “I always get curious about these plants she names. These different things she has in her garden. I get curious, like, one that really stood out that I never heard of was the 'Jack in the Pulpit'.” When he heard of that plant for the first time, he had to pause what he was doing and look it up. “I went to Google and Googled it and literally it does look like a Jack in a pulpit. It's pretty funny.”

Another thing Eric has noticed with Jennifer's show is the ability she has to convert it from a hobby to a business. Here's Eric discussing Jennifer's business sense, “Because she built such a huge community, I didn't know this about, I guess, the business sense when you build a podcast. How big of a community she's built and just how excited she is about it.” He continues to say, “Really, that's what excites me too is just the many different angles that she does to bring traffic to her podcast and make a business out of it.”

“You're not just learning about plants, you're also learning about her business too. If you really listen closely to how she curates information and delivers that free information and then she takes that free information to get traffic to her website. You get to learn the business sense about her and learn plants, learn how to garden, at the same time.”

 

 

Thoughts From Ayn Codina:

I've been Jennifer's copywriter for the podcast since August of 2016. Yes! It's been over a year of gardening. I remember when Jennifer first started her Facebook group. She was so consistent with it even when she had less than ten members. She always told people the benefits of why you should join during the intro of every show and she kept up with it.

I didn't join her group until a couple of months later. She had all these interesting resources that I couldn't help but check out. I am not much of a gardener, but both my parents left city life to raise farm-ish animals, like chickens and goats, and with that came a passion for gardening. Whenever I listen to her podcast, I am reminded by why my parents love to grow and also why they freaked out that one time when my dog ate their big, ripe, and juicy tomatoes they spent months pining over and loving.

Actually, when I first joined her group, I heard my name on her show thanking me for joining. It was a shock. I mean, how many times do you hear your own personal name on a show? It was a nice added touch and she does this with every member who joins the Facebook community.

Also, what's really neat about working on Jennifer's podcast is that she thanks the Podfly team towards the end of her podcast on every episode and I get to hear my name there as well! I've saved clips of it and bragged about it to my friends, who still don't think I have a real job.

There have been a lot of really great episodes from Jennifer. There are two I really, really enjoy and keep coming back to. The first is when Jennifer and guest Dawn Pape talked about educating children about bees. I really like bees and that episode was really educational on why they're important for our environment. The second one which is by far my favorite of all time is her Basil Mania episode. Oh. My. Gosh. If I could scope bucket loads of pesto into my mouth, I would die a happy death. It's on my list to try some of those pesto recipes because they sound to die for. If you love pesto or basil, then her episode is a MUST to listen to.

 

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How to Rebrand Your Podcast with Jessica Rhodes

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How to Rebrand Your Podcast with Jessica Rhodes

Last week was another reminder of how much I adore podcasting. I had the opportunity to visit the Interview Connections office and podcast studio in Warwick, RI. Jessica and her team were warm, gracious and welcoming. Taking advantage of the visit, I was invited to appear on the freshly, rebranded show Interview Connections (formerly Rhodes to Success), where Jessica and Margy help their listeners "rock both sides of the mic". 

Check it out!


Given their recent rebrand, they snagged me on mic for a quick, 30-minute show to discuss:

  • What’s the difference between a rebrand and a tune-up?

  • What does it mean to rebrand?

  • How do I rebrand my podcast?


You can find Jessica and her awesome team over at InverviewConnections.com

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See You At Podcast Movement!

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See You At Podcast Movement!

Podfly is happy to see everyone, new and old, at Podcast Movement this year. We've got some exciting things coming your way, but be sure to stop by our booth to say hi! Our two co-founders Corey and David will be at the booth along with team members Aty and Eric. 

By the way, Corey will be speaking at Podcast Movement this Friday the 8th at 9:15am in the Columbus GH hall. He will be discussing podcast editing from start to finish and will be giving you a walk through on how to take raw content and polish it into a professional sounding podcast - all under an hour. Sounds impossible? It isn't, but you won't learn the trade secrets unless you stop by his workshop this Friday! You can learn more about Corey on his Podcast Movement speaker page

See you guys there! 


About Podfly:

Podfly is a boutique podcast production company that turns amateur podcasters into professionals. We have a staff of highly skilled audio engineers and show note writers to craft the perfect podcast. If you're new to podcasting and don't know where to start, then Podfly has some great packages for newbies who want to get their podcast off the ground. Contact me personally at Ayn@Podfly.net or reach Podfly through the contact form for more information. 

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 8 of 10 - Controlling and Validating Your RSS Feed

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Podfly Academy - Lesson 8 of 10 - Controlling and Validating Your RSS Feed

Validating Your RSS Feed

Now that we've created our RSS feed, we need to validate that feed before we submit it to any directories. iTunes is very particular, as are other directories, so we want to make sure we don't have any odd characters or anything unusual in our feed before we begin the submission process. Let's take a look first at a free service in order to validate your new feed. No matter how we created our RSS feed, we're going to end up with a RSS feed address. This URL is similar to that which you will find on a website. Starting with: Http://thenameofyourshow.hostingcompany,com/rss.

 

Finding Your Feed in Libsyn

In this case, let's take a look at one of the shows that we manage here at Podfly. We manage this particular show in Libsyn. By visiting the destinations page on Libsyn, you can see some of the quick links that are available to you. One of these quick links is the RSS feed.

 

FeedValidator.org

This RSS feed will never change as long as you stay with the same hosting provider. In order to validate this feed, we simply need to highlight the feed, copy it, and paste it into a free service called FeedValidator.org. When I copy in my feed, I simply click validate. We're looking for the first word being 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'. This means that this feed is available to submit to directories, which we'll be looking at in the next tutorial.

Following that are great recommendations from Feed Validator to make sure we don't have something that might be incompatible with a directory. Though many of these recommendations may seem inscrutable to the average user, they are valuable for the advanced user who wants to really tweak their feed. This gives an opportunity to insure that you are 100% compatible with all the directories that are available. However, for the purpose of validating your feed, we're only really looking for 'Congratulations, this is a valid RSS feed'.

 

Working With Text

Within the blogging community it's been a well known rule of thumb to never use Microsoft Word. If you're copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into a website, into a blog, or in our case, into an RSS feed, there tends to be an issue with something called 'special characters'. Microsoft Word uses special characters and these can break our feed. Let's take a look at some of those special characters and try and remember to use the same rule of thumb as bloggers do. Never Use Microsoft Word.

No matter what type of content we're putting on the internet. It is always advisable to be working in a plan text editor. Microsoft Word is a great, beautiful, powerful tool for doing office work and creating documents. However, it is not a good tool for creating text to be used on the web.

I point to a C-net article here on tips to make sure you do not break your podcast feed by using special characters that are often and involuntarily put into your document by Word. We can see here in this article a couple of special characters that are marked as bad and good. However, again, to avoid these issues, it's always advisable to simply use a plain text editor. These are provided by your operating system whether you're using Mac, Windows, or Linux.

 

Check Your Feed With Each New Release

We've learned now no matter how we created our RSS feed, whether it be using an online service, a program such as FeedForAll, or hand-coding our own, it's important to check and validate that feed. We also advise with each update and release of a new episode, you take a moment and check that feed as well. We sometimes forget within the show description itself, that feed can be broken. Using this free service is a great way to  make sure all of your content gets out to your audience trouble free.

 

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