Making the Viva Survivors Podcast

I’ve been producing the Viva Survivors Podcast for around two and a half years now, and every now and then I get asked questions about how I do it and how everything works. One side of it is the interviewees and their stories, and I ask (a lot!) for volunteers to come and share their stories. Then there is the nuts and bolts of how I produce episodes. Podcasting is often seen as a useful means to communicate research and ideas about doing research, so I thought I would take an opportunity to talk about the tools and services that I use. Hopefully this is helpful to someone reading!

The Site

The website for the Viva Survivors Podcast uses WordPress as a platform for managing pages and posts. I have a couple of plug-ins which handle a couple of different elements. These include: Akismet, which stops spam comments; Blubrry Powerpress, which handles several of the podcast delivering elements; and Tilt Social Share Widget, which puts super-helpful buttons for social media sites on all of the posts. I host the audio files for the episodes, and the rest of the site, with a Manchester-based hosting company called 34sp. They have been ultra-helpful over the last five years since I first bought a domain and hosting for this site.

Recording

For the most part I conduct interviews over Skype, as most of my interviewees are not based in or around Liverpool. Fortunately there is software that can record Skype conversations, and I use a piece of software called Pamela to do that: it does exactly what I need it to do, and also lets me record the intros and closing remarks to each episode as well. I recently discovered (accidentally!) that it will also record video chats too!

Editing

I generally have four pieces of audio to combine to make the mp3 for each episode, so editing software is key. A few years ago, while working on the Manchester Local GRADschool I was introduced to Audacity, which is a great free piece of software that really does the job. It took me a little bit of trial and error in the beginning – and I’m sure that there are more things I could do with it now to make things even better – but it works for me. For creating mp3s you need to have downloaded an additional codec alongside the main software, but it’s all free and it all works great.

Sharing

There are Facebook and G+ pages for the Viva Survivors Podcast, and I share a daily LinkedIn post as well; however, most of the link-sharing, interviewee-finding and social media conversation for the podcast happens on Twitter. There is no way that I could do that without Buffer, a service that helps me tremendously: I can create tweets and social media posts weeks in advance, meaning that I can then spend my days actually working on new content and delivering workshops, rather than worrying about whether I have tweeted enough. Then my actual “in person” tweets can be all about responding to cool stuff I see, rather than remembering “I haven’t tweeted the new episode!”

The podcast has hopefully entered into a fairly stable routine of publishing new episodes twice a month; I had to take a long break while I adjusted to fatherhood! One more place that I’m sharing episodes and other things about the podcast is over on my Patreon campaign for the podcast. Check that out if you have time, and especially if you’d like to become a patron to the podcast!

Thanks for reading!

Nathan (@DrRyder and @VivaSurvivors)