The Jacksway Collective: Philosophy & Fiction

Life After Arts Degrees

Starting a Podcast: From Those Who’ve Endured the Struggle

Four months ago, we were crazy enough to think we could start a podcast.

So you want to start a podcast? Hell, it seems like just about everyone has one. Where’s yours? Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place--The Jacksway Collective. We’re 10 Episodes in, and while we still have a lot to learn (obviously), we think that this two-digit episode milestone gives us permission to chat about such a subject. So here’s what we’ve learned so far.

Starting is the easy part

With apps like Anchor and Zencastr, all you need to get going is a friend and a good internet connection. One of these is more important than the other. You decide which.

Back in July 2018, when we started recording episodes for The Jacksway Collective, we used Anchor. It was super simple to use and the audio quality was decent considering we were both using standard Apple headphones. Things were looking good.

Unfortunately, using Anchor began to get tricky. On several occasions we experienced dropped calls which was terrifying (“Did we just lose all of that material!?”) and zapped the energy of the conversation.

And so we moved onto Zencaster. At first we thought this platform would solve all our problems. We could record on multiple tracks and there was even a built-in soundboard to add some extra flare--amazing! But as soon as we began editing our episodes, we came face to face with The Zencaster Drift--an annoying error where one person’s audio is no longer in sync. And sure, you can easily fix this problem if you’re a proficient audio editor but when you’re just starting out, you’re probably not.

Currently we’re recording on our own computers while conversing on Google Hangouts. So far it seems to be working.

Your original creative vision will NOT be the final product

The original idea for our podcast was to read slowly through tough philosophy books and chat about what we’re learning along the way. As you can see, it soon morphed into a 3-4 person short story podcast that sprinkles philosophy throughout. It’s now a fully-fledged discussion and hot take-based podcast, as opposed to one where two guys slog through Being and Time.

Embrace these changes as you go about making the product. You are NOT stuck within a template after your first episode, revise, revise, revise. Your podcast will be better for it (ours certainly is). We still find ourselves in the process of reevaluation and we're assuming that will never stop.

That being said, the essence of our podcast has stayed the same throughout. We’d always wanted to dance between academic/thoughtful discussion and off-the-rails madness. We think we’ve struck that balance pretty well in recent episodes.

Editing Sucks

There’s no getting around this part. If you want to have a podcast, someone’s gonna have to put their head to the ground for a few hours every week to edit the pod. We utilize a hired gun on to do the first “rough cut” for us--optimizing audio quality and consolidating the multiple audio streams into one. After that, it’s on us to open up Logic Pro X or Garageband and go in for that final cut.

Editing uhms, uhhhs, likes, and other nonsense takes a ton of time. Also, a large number of editorial cuts take place on this final pass since we tend to go off the rails A LOT. It’s awful, but turning an hour and a half of choppy nonsense into something (somewhat) worth listening to is quite satisfying.

A lot goes on between the record and the post, so although editing is a huge time sink, it really is what makes the podcast listenable. Thankfully, the rest of what surrounds the podcast--graphics, copy, marketing, reading--ranges from bearable to genuinely awesome.

You don’t need to be an expert on anything

We certainly aren’t. We read, we record, we ramble, and then cut and cut and cut. We have mere bachelor degrees and read the odd book on the side. Actually, the fact that we’re not experts and don’t claim to be emancipates us from any sort of academic or professional responsibility. We can say what we want, and if we’re wrong or misrepresent, so it goes.

That being said, you learn as you go. The reason we started this podcast in the first place is so that we can learn, that we can read these great stories, and 10 episodes in, we’re still no closer to being experts. Knowing things is not a prerequisite for recording a podcast, we wouldn’t be surprised if some of our listeners knew more than we did about the text at hand. We embrace that and encourage those of you to right our wrongs! (send us an email).

People are genuinely interested in your creative projects

Regardless of who we’ve talked to, philosophy grads to Instagram models, everyone is genuinely interested when they find out you have a podcast. People want to know what it’s about, how you record and why you decided to start--they also have strong opinions about their own favorite podcasts as well.

Perhaps people are interested in those who’ve followed through with their creative projects. Everyone has their own creative project in mind, but few follow through on it. To be the people who actually have accomplished something like that, however small, you open yourself up to many interesting conversations with others.

Where we go from here

So many directions. Currently, we aim for recording once a week and often have very little prep time before we hit the record button. The three of us rarely, if ever, talk about the story beforehand (aside from notes on a shared Google Doc) and then we basically just wing it.

We’re looking to tweak this by moving to a bi-weekly cadence, upping the amount of discussion we have before hopping on the mic, and maybe adding some secondary literature. One of the best things about our most recent episode with Sarah Johnson was the amount of background reading she had completed. Her expertise on gothic literature turned the show from a solely discussion-based podcast (this isn’t changing) to something that was educational for the rest of us (and hopefully the listener) We welcome this change and hope to implement it soon.

We’re gonna start introducing ourselves at the beginning of each episode and teasing what we’re going to be reading for the next episode. Also, maybe more secondary literature? We’ll see.

Let us know what you’d like to see from the Jacksway Collective.
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