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The Courage and Confidence to run a Podcast

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My podcasting work at the Edinburgh Fringe in the last fortnight has led me to think about what qualities are useful in podcasting and social media content creation. And I think I need to add another one to the list.

I just can’t make up my mind if it should be courage or confidence.

Let’s backtrack slightly. I’m doing a daily podcast from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2500 different shows over three and a half weeks). Each show is about forty minutes long, and follows a standard chat show format of jokey opening, news and recommendations, followed by three long interviews and some music to finish.

Each interview needs around 30 minutes of time in my diary (if I’m being generous) plus an hour beforehand to see the show, then some editing on top of that, and compile the final podcast each morning. It’s a busy schedule, but one that I’ve fine tuned over the years. The only potential wrinkle is that there is very little room for a second take if something is missed.

And that’s where the confidence comes in. Because when you have one shot at getting all your material recorded; when you have one shot at an interview; when you only have the time to do one take of the morning news bulletin or you irrevocably screw up the schedule for the rest of the day; you need to have confidence in yourself that your equipment will work, you can switch it on, start recording, and simply go for it.

I love the luxury of working at home in my studio, with the ability to retake a line, section or even the whole podcast, but at the same time there’s a certain daredevil in my psche that thrives in a high pressure environment that allows no mistakes whatsoever.

I know I can do it. I know it makes for a better podcast. That’s what I mean about confidence.

But it’s also courage to take chances, to go down an interview route where the outcome is unclear, because so much can change. Especially when interviewing up to 15 comics a day in a five hour window, it’s impossible to do the sort of preparation that I would do for a weekly 30 minute interview podcast with one guest. There’s a press release from their PR, some scribbled notes from their wikipedia page and website biography in my notebook, and that’s it. Open the microphone, welcome them to the show, and simply see what happens.

That’s what I mean by courage.

It’s a high wire balancing act that I do as often as I can. Anyone who’s done live TV or radio beyond spinning discs and introducing the bands will know exactly what I mean. There’s an energy that can’t be replicated in a studio or with a safety net, and I’d encourage everyone to take off the stabilizers and find out if you can balance the podcasting bicycle on your own.

Image Attribution: Vikki Spence


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  • Ewan Spence

    Just to stress, there are 2500 shows at the Fringe, I mange 4 previews and 26 daily shows (which have three or four interviews in each show). Just in case you tried to do the arithmetic and concluded I was working a little too hard.

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