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How to Produce a Podcast: Using Interviews to Research, Structure, and Create Content

Podcasts have surged in popularity, becoming a powerful medium for storytelling, education, and entertainment. Producing a podcast involves several steps, from initial concept development to the final edit. One of the most effective techniques for enriching your podcast's content and structure is conducting interviews. This approach not only provides valuable insights but also helps in shaping the overall narrative of your series. Drawing from my research experience, including undertaking a PhD, and my experience of producing podcasts, I’ll walk you through how to use interviews for your podcast and how to analyse them using thematic analysis. 


Step 1: Define Your Podcast Concept and Goals 

Before diving into interviews, clearly outline your podcast’s purpose. What topics will you cover? Who is your target audience? Defining your goals will guide your research and interview process, ensuring you stay focused and relevant. 


Step 2: Identify and Reach Out to Interviewees 

Interviews are a cornerstone of quality podcast content. Identify individuals who are knowledgeable or have unique perspectives on your chosen topics. Consider experts, practitioners, or those with personal experiences related to your theme. Try to include a range of experiences and viewpoints. Once you’ve identified potential interviewees, reach out with a clear, concise invitation. Explain the purpose of your podcast, why you’re interested in their insights, and what the interview will entail. Be respectful of their time and make the process as convenient as possible. 


Step 3: Prepare for the Interviews 

Preparation is crucial. Develop a list of questions that will elicit detailed and thoughtful responses. Start with broad questions to give interviewees the freedom to share their stories, then narrow down to more specific queries. When producing a podcast series about to raise awareness of depression in older people, I interviewed older people and started by asking about their overall experiences of getting older before asking how it impacted their mental health and moving to more specific questions about depression. Since I was not an expert in the subject area, I also asked mental health professionals to review the questions, to ensure they were appropriate, and I was not missing any important questions.  


Step 4: Consent for interviews 

Ensure that you gain consent from your participants. Consent is crucial for ethical, legal and relational reasons. We took a two-stage approach, first gaining consent to conduct and record the interview. This ensured that the participants were fully aware of the purpose, scope, and potential audience of the podcast, allowing them to make an informed decision about their involvement. It also ensured that they knew what would happen to the recordings, who would see them, where they would be stored and what would happen to them after the podcast was produced. The second stage of consent happened after we had identified which bits of the interview we wanted to use as direct quotes in the podcast. We sent the recordings to the participants, asking for their consent to use those specific quotes in the podcast. This process fostered trust and respect, creating a positive and cooperative environment that can lead to more open and honest conversations, ultimately enhancing the quality and credibility of the podcast.  

 

Step 5: Conduct the Interviews 

During the interview, create a comfortable environment for your guest. This will encourage open and honest communication. Active listening is key—be prepared to follow up on interesting points and dig deeper where necessary. If you are planning on using clips from the interview in the podcast, you may need to ask the interviewee to repeat and rephrase specific points so that you have succinct quotes that can be woven into the podcast. Finally, record the interviews with high-quality audio equipment to ensure clarity and professionalism. 


Step 5: Transcribe and Analyze the Interviews 

After conducting the interviews, transcribe the recordings. Using the transcription service within your recording software can be a great place to start and saves time. With transcripts in hand, you can start to look for themes within the interviews. 


Step 6: Thematic Analysis 

In research, thematic analysis involves systematically identifying, analyzing, and reporting patterns (themes) within your data. In a podcast, the themes are used to build the narrative arc of your podcast. I used an adapted thematic analysis method to storyboard each podcast in the series. Here’s how I did it: 

  1. Developing the thematic framework: Using the topics and goals I identified at the beginning of the process, I decided how many episodes would be in the series, and which broad topics would be covered in each episode. I used this as a framework for analysing the interviews.  

  1. Familiarisation: I listened to the interviews and read through the transcripts to become deeply familiar with the content.  

  1. Searching for themes: I identified sections of the interviews that fitted with each topic that I had identified at the beginning of each process. I set up an audio file for each topic and copied the relevant sections into the file. I then generated a transcript for each topic file. If topics came up that were not in the initial framework, I created a new topic file for them.  

  1. Coding: Within each of the topics I identified significant phrases and ideas and coded these. Coding is tagging parts of the text relevant to the podcast's objective and goals. 

  1. Reviewing codes: Within each topic I reviewed the codes and grouped them into similar themes. Whilst doing this, I highlighted any quotes from the interviews that I wanted to include in the podcasts to help tell the story.  

  1. Storyboarding: This is the process of actually writing each podcast. I used the codes and themes to tell a story in each podcast, deciding what to include, and in what order to create a narrative arc to keep listeners engaged. I wrote the narrative about the themes and used direct quotes to exemplify each theme. 


Step 7: Quality Assurance 

In research, it is good practice to have another researcher listen to the interviews and verify your themes. I would highly recommend the same process in producing a podcast, especially if it is an educational podcast. Find an expert to review your storyboard. This will ensure that the information is accurate, and you have not misinterpreted the interview data. For each podcast in the series I produced raising awareness of depression in older people, I identified an expert who was the theme lead. For example, I worked with a mental health pharmacist to ensure the accuracy of the podcast about treatments for depression. Each theme lead co-presented to podcast with me.  


Step 8: Recording and Editing 

With your structure in place, record your episodes. Combine your narrative with interview excerpts to create a dynamic and engaging listening experience. Edit for clarity, pacing, and sound quality. Include music, sound effects, or other audio elements to enhance the production value. 


Step 9: Publish and Promote 

Choose a hosting platform for your podcast and publish your episodes. Promote your podcast through social media, blogs, and collaborations with other podcasters or influencers in your niche. 


Conclusion 

Producing a podcast through interviews not only enriches your content but also adds depth and authenticity. By leveraging techniques such as thematic analysis, you can systematically dissect and organize interview data to create a well-structured and engaging podcast series. Drawing from my own research experiences, I can attest to the power of this method in crafting content that resonates with audiences and provides valuable insights. Happy podcasting! 


If you would like to listen to my podcast series - please head over to Spotify:

 

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