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College 101: Debating Different Directions

I need some help brainstorming ideas for our university radio station. They asked for suggestions from listeners about ways to improve their content, especially the newer podcast episodes. I’ve been making suggestions around story ideas for several weeks, but more recently I noticed that some of the audio quality is fairly poor, which definitely impacts my own listening experience.

Is that something I should bring up to them, and what kind of solutions could I propose? Any guidance would be appreciated.

You should be commended for being so proactive about helping. Most publishers ask for audience feedback but only a fraction of them have enough actively motivated listeners to collect informative data. As for your question, the best way to answer it is by helping frame the broader context.

First of all, a successful podcast doesn’t come easily. Some people are under the impression that it’s as simple as recording two or more parties exchanging dialog, but that’s not the case. Success is, in fact, only achieved by orchestrating a host of different variables, which means there’s probably a lot that any given podcast might reasonably improve.

Consider guidance from Zach Cutler, the Founder of Cutler PR, who highlighted five steps to a successful podcast. His fourth major pointer is to “produce high-quality audio” and describes that the same mentality should also apply to video content. Alex Kontis, a contributor to Sonic Podcasts, also published a relevant Medium piece further emphasizing the importance of a podcast’s audio quality. His most convincing argument is the fact that all of the most highly rated and easily recognizable podcasts have impeccable audio quality, which further enhances the listening experience.

This is all to say that ideas liable to improve your university podcast are probably going to be welcomed with open arms--although that will likely also depend on how good those ideas are. Brian Casel explained seven podcasting tips on Mashable that could be relevant to your research. He even goes so far as to list numerous technologies to explore (e.g., Skype, ScreenFlow, etc.). The downside of many showcased examples is the fact that they’re not necessarily the best for producing audio at the highest possible quality.

You should bring a wide range of possibilities that land across a spectrum of value versus cost. That could mean proposing premium video conferencing options like Polycom as well as lower-grade ones that rely primarily on price-competitiveness. While that might seem unnecessary, the reality is that a university podcast with an established audience is likely to have enough resources (and sufficient motivation) to make a larger investment. Such an investment won’t be made, however, without fully comprehending the associated tradeoffs.

That’s why you should spend considerable time conducting an evaluation of your own. Utilize online resources like Capterra to examine the best web conferencing software and make meaningful comparisons. Revealing the relevant pros and cons should make it much easier for decision-makers to reach a consensus. In a best-case scenario, they’ll choose of the solutions you’ve proposed!

“You’re only as good as your weakest link in the ecosystem of sound, of audio.” -- Jimmy Iovine

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