On the fourth Thursday of every month, a 59-minute long radio show produced by the MEDLab airs on KGNU Radio. Looks Like New features conversations asking old questions about new technologies with scholars, community members, activists, experts, and more. Behind the scenes and screens, there are many processes that must occur before the finished production. This portion of the handbook explains and offers useful tips for navigating it all.
Try to complete these first few steps at least 5 weeks before the episode should air.
Step 1: Guest Identification
One of the trickiest and most important parts of LLN is figuring out who to chat with. Here are some tips:
- Consider thinkers you're excited about, new books, or articles you're reading. Be ambitious! The more visible our guests are the more people will want to listen.
- Review the website and podcast streaming platforms to see who has already been featured on the show.
- Note the topics that have already been covered. What are your interests? What is a new conversation or one that builds on previous episodes?
- Check over CU’s faculty bios, reflect on guest speakers who have presented, think about your contacts (or the contacts of your contacts).
- Look through the potential guest’s CV, website, and media. These are often great resources to consider what the theme or the question of the episode will be!
Step 2: Make Contact
If you already have a guest identified, great! It is important to get approval from your supervisor about the guest and the question/theme of the episode.
- Contact the potential guest. It can seem intimidating, however, remember you are offering an opportunity for them to share their work and have something to share with their networks too.
- Establish a time for the conversation (interview). It is recommended to schedule the interview anywhere between 1-2 weeks before the episode airs.
- It is helpful to block one hour of time on the schedule for the interview.
Step 3: Script Prep
With the question/episode theme in mind, the next step is designing the script for the conversation. While there are some generic items, there is a lot of flexibility in steering the conversation. Reference the script available in the LooksLikeNew folder on the Cloud.
- Be sure to include a bio for the guest speaker. This is often the easiest portion to write!
- Write some questions. It is important to avoid asking closed questions or leading questions. Reference previous scripts if you need some help forming questions!
- Think of the episode as a traditional narrative progression, where there is the opening and background information that builds to specific questions that cover the episode’s question/theme.
- Write an opening. The opening should include a personal connection to the theme beyond the classroom/school.
- Consider what transition phrases you will include. While interviewing it can be difficult to come up with transitions in the moment. Do yourself a favor and write some out in advance.
- ALWAYS, always think of the audience. Use language and ask questions that are not entrenched in heavy jargon, be sure to define words and phrases if needed.
- Go through rounds of edits and review with your supervisor.
Step 4: Send Script, Recording Link
At least 48 hours before the interview, be sure to follow-up with your guest. In the email, attach the script and offer the chance for their edits and review.
For recordings, you can use Zencastr, or just record a Zoom call. The advantage of Zencastr is it records audio locally, so it won't be affected by connection issues. While making the meeting, you can invite guests using their email address. They will be sent an invitation which will take them directly to that meeting space on the day of recording.
Step 5: Record the Conversation
The script is ready, testing of the equipment and links are done. You are ready! When the guest arrives for the interview, begin by explaining the process. It is important to mention there will be breaks and how you plan to do those breaks. It is also helpful to overview the way you will begin recording, to make sure you can hear the guest on your end, and to remind them of how it will be a 50-55 minute conversation.
- To begin the conversation, thank the guest for being here and then jump into the questions.
- Don’t feel obligated to closely stick to the script. Listen actively and adjust questions or the conversation as necessary.
- This is a conversation! Don’t feel shy about engaging and sharing your own perspectives on what has been said.
- Pause on items that might need more defining. Reflect on what has been said and see how you can build on it.
- Aim for 50-55 minutes of a conversation. It's easier to cut out content than create content that hasn't been recorded.
- Also note the length of intro, outro, and breaks. The total length should be between 58:00-59:30
- Introductions, breaks, and closing statements can be recorded separately from the conversation and sent as their own files.
It is helpful to have a microphone to connect to your computer while interviewing and recording. CMCI loans equipment to students and there are lots of inexpensive microphones available at other retailers. Use of proper equipment is recommended to maintain good sound quality.
Step 6: Record the Intro & Outro
Using software like Audacity , record the introduction and conclusion of the show as separate segments. Then add the audio files you recorded during the interview. It can be helpful to record these segments separately so you can make adjustments to them based on what happened in the guest conversation.
Step 7: Editing
It is recommended to wait at least 24 hours before editing the episode. The distance can help.
- The important things to reduce in Audacity include the pauses, extra breaths, any excessive fillers like “um” and “uh,” and any parts that perhaps didn’t go smoothly. This is a real advantage of pre-recorded submissions!
- Import the Intro and Outro to the file.
- Add music and longer breaks throughout the episode to keep it engaging.
- Once you have the edits completed, export the MP3 file from Audacity, making sure the episode is between 58:30-59:30 minutes cumulatively.
- Upload the MP3 file to the Radio folder and notify your supervisor of its completion.
- Wait for their edits, and then make adjustments accordingly.
Step 8: Write the Blurb
Each episode has a summary paragraph that accompanies the episode submission. This paragraph should be succinct, include the question/theme of the episode, and list a line of the guest’s bio at the end. There are samples in the Radio Files for reference.
Step 9: Upload the MP3 for KGNU
Once you have final approval on the episode, complete the KGNU episode submission form. Be sure to note the following:
- Select “It's the Economy,” “yes” for evergreen content, and list the air date as the date of the 4th Thursday of the month.
- It is important to try to submit the MP3 file and blurb to KGNU the Monday before the episode should air to allow enough time for them to prepare the file to air.
Step 10: Add to the podcast
First, add the file to Internet Archive:
- Log into the MEDLab Internet Archive account; credentials here
- Go to the upload page
- Choose the file you want to upload; use a standard filename: lookslikenew-YYYMMDD.mp3 [with the date added there]
- Use the show blurb in the description, plus a link at the bottom: “More details at lookslikenew.net”
- Add a few relevant tags for the topic
- Creator: “Looks Like New by MEDLab”—this is really important, because this will enable us to collect them all in one place
- Collection: “Community audio”
- Language: English
- License: “Creative Commons”
Next, create the episode on the website:
- Log into https://lookslikenew.net/wp-admin
- In the left sidebar, choose Podcasting > Add New Episode
- At the top, enter the episode title and the blub (and transcript if you have it) below
- Only force capitalization of the first letter of the first word
- Then add metadata below the post content, leaving all as default except:
- Episode file: At Internet Archive, get the URL of the file (not the page); it should end in ”.mp3“ or another audio extension
- Episode image: Upload a square image to go with the episode; make sure we have rights/permission to use it
- Duration and file size will populate automatically; date recorded can be left blank unless you have a good reason to specify it (e.g., a time sensitive topic)
- In the right sidebar, under Episode:
- Publish: Set for 6 p.m. on the day the episode airs on KGNU
- Author: MEDLab
- Featured image: The same as the episode image
- Use the Preview function at the top right (left of Publish) to review the page before posting.
- Publish when ready
When you publish, the episode should be automatically distributed to the podcast services and to our social media accounts.
Final Step: Listen & Share
Congratulations! Tune in to the radio when it airs or listen online as a podcast if you still want to hear your own voice again! It is important to promote the recording on social media as well. Feel free to tag the MEDLab, retweet if others post about it, tag the guest’s accounts, etc. Finally, email the guest with links to our website and streaming platforms.