One of the questions I am asked the most by my friends is ‘what are you reading?’ It is often followed up with ‘I like reading but I have no idea what to read.’ Over the last nine years of working for Bury Libraries and Archives, things have changed somewhat. As I served a gentleman around a year ago, we discussed authors we liked. The conversation suddenly changed when I commented that I didn’t rate a particular author. The room suddenly fell silent.
After what felt like an age, the gentleman smiled, raised his eyebrow and whispered, ‘I think, I agree with you, if I’m allowed to.’
In the months that followed I remember having several conversations with customers and friends about books and each time an alarming statement was made: ‘I don’t get to talk or hear people talk about books so much these days.’
Having been hooked by Serial, an investigative journalism audio series, I became a podcasting fan. As of June 2019, 51% of the US population had listened to podcasts – that’s 144 million people - and 19% of the UK population listened to a podcast in July 2019. Various conversations followed with my line manager regarding the idea of making a podcast which was all about books, reading and libraries but was friendly, warm and simulated friends talking honestly and informally.
On our return from our Christmas break, we gathered and attempted to record a pilot episode. During the recording of the episode, the podcast was renamed, new features birthed and planned features were scrapped. A week or so later I sent a rough copy of the edit to a few colleagues and we gauged feedback.
We were happy with the first episode of the podcast and released it, in the hope that someone would listen. To our utter amazement over 1,700 unique downloads of our first episode took place in the first four weeks and we had authors, libraries and book lovers tweeting and sharing our podcast. Eight months and seven podcasts later, we have had over 15,375 downloads, 57% of these are male listeners and half our audience is under 35.
So here are our tips for running your own podcast:
There are three items to consider when doing a podcast; a microphone, a recorder and a computer to edit and upload the podcast. The type of items you choose depend on budget, expertise and preference. We use three dynamic microphones and plug them into a digital interface which records straight into the computer. However, you can get great results with a single microphone like a Blue Yeti which plugs straight into your computer via USB.
We kept costs down by using microphones that we had from past events, and a computer that we already owned. Other costs include the £7 pounds a month we pay Audioboom to host our podcast (you can use Soundcloud for free although there are limits on monthly uploads), the outlay of the staff time and the cost of an audio interface in order to convert the microphone signal to the computer. These vary in price depending on how many microphone inputs you need but can be bought for as little as £70.
The main considerations I would factor in is deciding what your podcast is all about. From our experience, it’s essential to pick a subject and features that match your interests; speaking about what you are passionate about is always much more engaging. There is so much that we could include in a podcast but it is really important to decide the parameters of your podcast and to stick to them.
We have a great time recording and preparing the show because we love books, libraries and reading. We are still overwhelmed by the guests we have had the privilege of speaking to and the amount of people that have taken the time to listen.
We have lots of plans for the future of Dinosaurs Didn’t Read including some incredible authors, a podcast with other members of library staff from all over Greater Manchester, and lots more honest talk about reading and libraries.
To listen to the podcast visit: https://audioboom.com/channels/4988486
To find out more about the podcast email: firstname.lastname@example.org