York’s Journalism Program Held Podcasting Enrichment Seminar

From left to right: Paula Szuchman, Mitra Kaboli, Neena Pathak, and Giovanni Anglin

By Angel Adegbesan 

The Journalism program in the English department hosted an enrichment seminar on how podcasting on the web for journalists is the future of regular radio journalism in October. A panel of speakers described how it works.  

The panel of speakers were Mitra Kaboli, a senior producer of a podcast called “The Heart,” Neena Pathak, a Buzzfeed producer of a show titled “Another Round,” Paula Szuchman, a Vice President of On-Demand Content at New York’s Public Radio, WNYC and Giovanni Anglin, a recent York alumnus who is the creator of the Black Seinfeld podcast. York Journalism professor Tom Moore moderated the event.

The seminar was hosted to give students in the journalism program an overview of the world of podcasting in audio journalism. A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the internet on demand that a user can download and listen to.

“The podcasts that we make are designed for people who have a menu to choose from or are deciding what to listen to,” Szuchman said. “We don’t have to stick to a broadcast time, it can be as long or as short as we want.”

. Different shows are in different ways. The recording, editing and designing of each show is balanced to fit the tone of the show. Pathak, a Buzzfeed producer, said her team’s main goal during production of an episode is to figure out the mission of the show and what it is set to accomplish.

“Another round is largely a chat show, but it’s also interviews with people and at our production meetings we try to talk about our timelines,” said Pathak. “We talk about themes of episode that we try to put together and where certain segments might fit.”

Kaboli talked about how sound is essential to a podcast. Her program, “The Heart” is a show about a first-person documentary of intimacy with defining features that is rich in the way it sounds. She said her production team conducts a creative brain storming session with exercises on how to add sound to the show to give it more life.

“Sound in our show is something we think about from the very beginning,” said Kaboli. “Sound is reflected in the quality of the thing that is made and when something is truly sound-rich, it’s part of the beginning not an afterthought.”

Kaboli stated that sound is manipulative in a podcast. She said that a story in a show is number one and that sound or silence can portray that. Szuchman agreed that when sound is introduced into a story, the words sound different in an unexpected way. She stated that people pay attention to how sound conforms with everything in every moment.

“We don’t go about our shows trying to sound like radio at all,” said WNYC’s Szuchman. “Part of the DNA of the show is being a movie in your ear, basically like a soundscape in your ear.”

The major source of income for podcasts and any piece of journalism is advertisements. However, advertisements prove to be a listening challenge to the audience of a journalistic work. This was the case of a certain student named Pedro Bermejo. Bermejo, 26, a Journalism major, came to the event because of his interest in podcasts and his desire to get tips from professionals in the industry.

“I found out about podcasts from friends,” said Bemerjo. “Once I started listening, I was hooked. I barely listen to regular radio in my car anymore. I just don’t like the commercials.”

The panel offered solutions to this problem. Anglin, a York alumnus, said “What I would do is find ads that apply to the people that listen to me. I would do something that applies to my audience, that’s pretty easy.”

Szuchman stated that advertisement was a creative challenge for the hosts and the producers. She stated that the listeners of the show should be allowed to enjoy themselves just as the hosts do.

“I think another thing that helps is having your host say the ad and not necessarily using the copy that was given to you,” Buzzfeed’s Pathak said. “You can kind of personalize it to make it more in line with your show. You have to figure out what lines you have to say and get around it by making something a little more creative.”

Szuchman stated that there are a lot of podcasts available and new journalists have to think about what is already available and what is unavailable that they could contribute. She affirmed that the listeners respond to the voice in their ears. She said it is important to keep the listeners closer because the show is similar to a personal event you are inviting people into.

She said, “It’s much more intimate and direct. A lot of people are drawn to shows first by the subject matter and then the hosts and the people who are central to the show. That’s why they stick around.”

Anglin, who is a WBAI, New York’s 99.5 FM radio station host, said that he has always wanted to work in a radio station. As a York College student, he gained some experience by hosting and producing his own show in YC radio, the college’s radio station.

“I think one of the best shows you can do is something that you are really passionate about,” Anglin said. “Do something that you feel like no one knows better than you.”

The panelists discussed that experience and proper educational background in journalism is recommended but not necessary for success in the field. Three out of the four panelists did not have an educational background in journalism. Their careers were not a straight path but their interest in the job and effort put towards being successful set their careers on track.

“You should lean into things that are scary,” said Szuchman. “It’s all about doing things that you are not sure you could do and trusting that if you are really interested and have good ideas and are surrounded by people who can help, you can make that happen.”

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