Heben and Tracy, hosts of BuzzFeed’s podcast Another Round, are two of the main speakers at the upcoming Podcast Movement on July 6th-8th. Heben was a senior editor at BuzzFeed and now works on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Tracy is a writer and humorist at BuzzFeed. Together on Another Round they cover everything from race, gender, and pop culture, to squirrels, mangos, and bad jokes, all in one boozy show.
So, as podcasters and as content writers, we think they can enlighten you with their opinions on how to build a successful podcast. Let’s start with the interview:
Heben works on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Tracy is a writer and humorist at BuzzFeed. Both of you are podcasters. How is it different, from a writer’s side, creating and producing audio content? What’s the workflow like when creating either kind of content? Do they have something in common?
Heben: An important part of writing and podcasting is structure and presentation, so a lot of the work feels similar to me. There are a lot of different ways to enjoy something and I like that audio really nestles in your head and becomes an intimate part of your life. It’s like how you won’t hear a song for 10 years and then it comes on and you still know how it goes. It sticks.
Tracy: Writing is different across mediums. I find that I worry less about perfection when creating audio content; since our show is such a laid back, conversational thing, its easier for me to let go and not worry so much about rhetorical devices and precise word choice. When people listen to my voice, they’re also listening to the inflections and audible emotion that I use, so the onus of interpretation is more on the listener than it is me as a creator. But still, writing is writing, and you never lose sight of the fact that the words that you string together are the lifeblood of the thing you’re creating. Putting them together requires real care and thought, because that is the only connection your listeners have to you.
You both interviewed Hillary Clinton, among many other influential people. How was it? Did you feel nervous?
H: My biggest worry was time. I came in under the assumption that they’d never let us speak to her again so my only concern was how much we can get in now. So it was pretty much your standard square off with ol’ Father Time there. Also, politicians be talking. There’s no time to be nervous—you got work to do.
T: I didn’t feel nervous until 5 minutes before the actual interview. Then I thought about how important it was that we utilize and maximize our time, that we not be too star-struck to ask her real, honest questions. Once she walked into the room, everything went black, and when it was over I was laying on the ground from exhaustion.
How do you each think that, in 5 years, podcasts will become a different medium than how we know them now? Can audio content be as viral as video is now, or should audio creators be open to cross audio with other mediums?
H: I never feel wedded to any medium but I get why some people just dig one. There’s still so much to explore with podcasts! In five years, there will hopefully be more that are not just the same type of white dudes having the same types of convos. We get it, you think about stuff. Cool. So does everyone.
T: The key to longevity in any medium or situation is the ability to adapt to change. To say “audio is only this and can only be this forever” is a kiss of death that we see and have seen happen in other areas. You either keep up or you get left behind. That said, I don’t think that audio has to become video to survive, nor do I think that being an audio purist is necessary. Fusing old and new is a great way to keep from getting bored, and it’s also how brand new mediums are invented!
What’s your advice to a person who is starting her own show, according to your experience?
H: Be comfortable growing in public. Trust your instincts. Learn how to give and take criticism. Ask for help. And, to quote the philosopher Nike, “Just do it. ”
T: Be patient, be diligent, be consistent, and be yourself. Podcasting is a very intimate medium, and listeners like to form human connections with you. It’s hard, but try not to feel pressured into being or sounding like everyone else. There’s already enough of everyone else and not nearly enough of YOU.
Tracy, which are the pros and cons of working with Heben?
The pros are that she is unbelievably smart, imaginative, creative, and funny in ways that she doesn’t know. She’s also much more focused than I am. The only con is that she doesn’t think my puns are as rib-crackingly hilariously as their are.
And Heben, how about working with Tracy?
Tracy demands to be herself in every space that she is in and that is the most beautiful place to start a creative project from. And what a treat that she does because her self radiates so much joy and wonder. There’s no one in Tracy’s orbit who doesn’t shine brighter because of it. You can always expect her to be thoughtful and honest and ridiculously charming. The cons are that she doesn’t like cinnamon buns, completely negating all of these great qualities in her character.
What’s your favorite podcast?
H: Bodega boys always makes me laugh, groan, and gasp on the subway.
T: I love true crime podcasts. My favorites are Sword and Scale, Criminal, Casefile, and a story telling podcast called This Is Actually Happening.
Well, thank you girls for all the details and the great insights. We believe you’ve given our readers enough material to start figuring out how to conduct and create their own podcast.
If you want to learn more about podcasting, you should definitely come on over to the Podcast Movement and check out Heben and Tracy’s sessions. You can also come and meet us at our booth in the exhibition hall. Until then, if you have your own thoughts or feedback about this post, please let us know through the comment section below.
PHOTO CREDITS: Jon Premosch / BuzzFeed