Podcasting for storytelling

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Opening activity: in pairs, tell a story from your org that has gone unsung. Switch. Report back – listener tells back the story they heard.

Story themes

Narrative of work got lost in power dynamics of org trying to grow power vs grow issues Reliance on quantitative data overshadows human stories, even though those are the ones that are most impactful Intense context org – comms focus on features, vs the human element Behind-the-scenes close connections of how the org actually works not part of the formal storytelling (and this led to org's collapse) Org can tell narrative of whole ecosystem, but ppl receiving services aren't seeting the story/connection Daily life impacts for people affected by policy change "expert at adaptability" – communicating throughline to potential employers stories coming from clients that don't fit into predetermined ways of telling stories through comms channels/don't align with existing campaign goals/needs survivors of extreme political suppression – emotional disconnect between facts and experiences workshop-focused program style gives outward appearance of "parachute organizing", even though there is continued, diffuse contact over time

podcasting – way to democratize this level of storytelling. Barrier for production and distribution is very low.

What are some different formats you've seen storytelling that really work?

  • longform article formats that integrate photographs and infographics and audio
  • rec: sports illustrated scifi piece about voyager probe becoming sentient and earth sending football games to it
  • see also: espn's "30 for 30" series
  • medium has capability for ppl to do this in grassroots way
  • question: what is word length to be "longform"?
  • >500 words. ~1000 words ends up taking 15 min to read. If using multimedia, words need to be extra concise bc readers are skipping ot that stuff.
  • miniseries structure – build commitment piece by piece instead of requiring large initial time investment from audience. Breadcrumbs vs whole loaf.
  • For surfacing stories, using prompts is really helpful. E.g., "what I need you to know is…"
  • Builds trust, particularly when used in repeated way over time
  • Filmed spoken word pieces –lot of shareability with young people especially
  • Rec: Button poetry does this well. Shoots from slightly below and at oblique angle so that can capture max facial expression and puts speaker in powerful position
  • Super compelling with fixed shot – just listen and not distract with fancy visuals
  • Videography decisions all make big impact on reception of story

What are the blocks/barriers that keep us from using these forms in our work?

  • Feeling that isn't enough time in our work to do it
  • Being measured by funder epxencatiosn that already know how to tell our stories, so feel werid toask them for $ to be able to tell our stories
  • Capacity – would ove those fun animated explainers, but is high level skill that requires steep learning curve, and don't have $ to contract it out
  • But we don't need to look super polished – grainy cell footage can look authentic
  • Can also give direct feedback to ppl shooting their own video, e.g., "this room will be great, but in afternoon so light doesn't wash you out"
  • Client privacy issues, particulary with kids and other vulnerable pops. Consent, legal issues, documentation.
  • The threat models are real
  • I don't like the sound of my own damn voice! Don't want to do podcast and listen to myself over and over.
  • I witnessed someone getting over that this year, so I feel more hopeful about being able to get through. Try it and don't feel like you have to publish it. Can try as many times as want and not pub. Just getting over the first hurdle is the hardest part.
  • Securing the material when working with vulnerable pops
  • Pressure around what constitutes impact. From both funder side as well as media side.
  • Feeling that someone is in solidarity with you – difficult to measure!
  • Expectation to report quantitatively, when impact is emotional.
  • But we think prob the fnders /would/ be excited to hear emotional side, bc they are humans.

Let's look at podcasting as a medium!

  • Can actually produce short pieces pretty quick – medium captures conversations very well.
  • Supa cheap. $25 USB mic and free software like audacity/garage band – that is full produxn studio on laptop.
  • Can get content on big broadcast channels (itunes, stitcher, spotfiy, radio public) within a couple of days
  • Hungry, hungry audiences at all levels. Medium is SO POPULAR right now. So hot.
  • Yes, there high production value stuff out there, but low prod value stuff (verbal pauses like "um", bumping mic, thinking out loud) can actually be really engaging bc sounds more human
  • Awesome way to build community with ppl around you – listen together in the car, and then pause and have conversations. Because you don't have to look at it, you can visually communicate with person you're listening with. Enrichment.
  • What are best practices for distribution?
  • Pippa.io, soundcloud, etc – they will give you an RSS feed
  • Then you go to itunes, google play, stitcher, Spotify, etc, and fill out some forms including thumbnail photo, some descriptions, episode numbers and stuff, and you're in. bam!
  • So then you post episode on your website or blog with brief description, include the file, and the RSS feed picks it up.
  • Once someone subscribes, then whenever you post they'll get it.
  • Transom.org has good resources for ppl new to audio production

For ppl who have wanted to start podcast at org, what is block?

  • Time
  • I'm really new
  • Can we come back to me? Content wasn't brainstormed UNTIL TODAY.
  • Just DOING it.
  • Content dev. What am I going to say? Vetting content if speaking in org's name.
  • Ditto.
  • Time and confidentiality.
  • Content – what would it be?
  • Org still thnks it's trivial

What 1 podcast should Lindsay listen to?

  • Wolf 359
  • Insecurity (Insecure show after show)
  • Intercepted (from the Intercept)
  • 99% Invisible started group of podcasts called Radiotopia
  • Reveal
  • On Being (Krista Tippet)
  • Crossing the Threashold.net
  • Benjamin Walker's Theory of Everything
  • No Such Thing
  • No Such Thing as a Fish (yes, different from above)
  • All music
  • Song Exploder
  • 2 Dope Queens
  • Ear Hustle
  • In costa rica, there isn't as much public demand for consumption – there are only a few podcasts – ppl still listen more to traditional radio
  • Imaginary Worlds

Pitch Circle:

  • Land Rights podast
  • Post-apocalpyic novel that I'm writing in serial installments
  • UCSF projects – ppl with cancer healing through writing
  • Young people community journalism program – they graduate and go other places, want to pick back up with them after they finish the program
  • Show experts learning things they don't know about and also teaching about thigns they do know about (paired)
  • Peak performance and accelerating progress toward goals – series on ppl who've taken on impossible goals and what happened, whether it succeeded or not


  • If you reference a youtube video/article/etc, link to it in show notes and mention in audio
  • Transcriptions – Pippa.io will spit out autotransscription (you still have to edit it), but it does it by itself
  • Networks of podcasts – e.g., gimlet media, maxfun – they can do marketing for the network as a whole and link like-minded listeners
  • There is not yet a network of progressive podcasts.


  • Getting away from advertiser model and going more into micropayments – e.g., give $10 to network and choose which podcasts it goes to
  • Note on patreon/flatter – can work well if you already have a following
  • Do you own your content on these platforms? Bc you don't on facebook.
  • Depends, read fine print carefully!

Sidebar on augmented reality – is anyone using it? Answer was not yet, but maybe a little. Cool example of hidden things in AR comic book. Also ikea app.