Lessons from producing my first audio story for podcast

They say that embarrassment over past work is a sign you’ve developed. Tick. I always had to start somewhere though and I learned so, so much from making my first story for audio. 

To get the introductions out of the way, my little 8-minute story appeared on FBi Radio’s All The Best podcast, episode #1624 Take The Leap. It’s about my friend Julio, who’s a former semi-professional soccer player from Mexico who’s come to Australia in his early 30s to pursue a new career in soccer coaching. Why would a Mexican come to Australia for soccer?

Honestly, I still don’t really know how to ‘sell’ my story. I can barely remember how I pitched it in the first place. Loosely, it’s about migration and self-care. In my life, I’ve seen my parents (who moved us to Australia when I was a four-year-old) work extremely hard to give their children the best opportunities they could provide. They’ve done an amazing job for us but it certainly hasn’t been without sacrifice. They haven’t always afforded themselves the luxury of looking after themselves in a more abstract sense. For example, by pursuing hobbies, meeting new friends or making sure they’re getting what they need out of life). That’s another reason why I like Julio’s story. I think it’s really cool how he’s come to Australia not only to work his socks off for a ‘better life’, but to follow what brings him joy and happiness, too.

First and foremost, I learned a ton about the technical side of producing audio in a very short space of time. Executive Producer Selena Shannon and my Supervising Producer Zacha Rosen were absolutely amazing tutoring me on how to use Reaper and holding my hand in the storyboarding at times. I was pretty impressed with myself for not getting completely intimidated by being around much cooler people than me at FBi Radio or apologetic for not knowing what I was doing ha ha.

I have listened to a lot of audio since I first got into the format in late 2012. This was as much a help as it was a hindrance. In making my story, I first got about 60 minutes of tape (my interview with Julio). I knew what I wanted to cover but had no idea how to whittle it down or refine it into the short piece I was aiming for. It’s definitely one of those things that are much easier to critique from the outside! One of those things that you can only get better at with lots of practice practice.

Self-identity is a curious thing, it’s never easy to explain. I’ve worn many hats in my lifetime but it’s been a while since I considered myself ‘artistic’. I had been so caught up in thinking about the message I was trying to convey that I was like a deer caught in the headlights when it finally hit me that I was also in charge of creative direction for my story. Music, composition, style – I hadn’t given it much thought until I was frantically putting the final pieces together the morning of.

I ended up putting myself into the story and explaining why it interested me personally. Even though it wasn’t really that revealing at all, I was very nervous and embarrassed leading up to broadcast time. It was a bit like stage-fright, only I had no control over it. It was going to air no matter how I felt. This was another reminder to respect the work of your favourite creators. Having said this, I do remember feeling a similar way when I started this blog, so the new format probably played a role in my emotions.

Possibly the thing I loved most about making my first audio story was enjoying the process. I had missed diving deep into a subject, holding it in my mind, sitting with it, swirling it around. This is what I always did at uni, especially in my Honours year.

A couple nights before my deadline, I brought it up casually with Mum. “Hey, I’m saying this and this on my podcast… Are you okay with this?” As I’d expected, she was, but I hadn’t anticipated the hour-long reflection on what it was like for her when we first moved to Sydney more than twenty years ago. The story was still so fresh in her mind you could feel every emotion she went through with every set-back she worked around, every favour she was grateful for. It was a beautiful conversation, I’m so glad we had it. Also, I hadn’t realised this but my parents were the same age as Julio when they came here.

Finally, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the Australian/Sydney audio-making scene better. On Thursday night, I went to Audiocraft’s first ever awards night, which featured 4 amazing audio stories (listen to them here: one | two | three | four) and a performance by the Bad Bitch Choir. I’m looking forward to getting more involved, for sure. But, for now, I’m thinking about producing my next story. One step at a time.

Thanks for stopping by! If you liked what you read, please subscribe to my newsletter in the right-hand column so you don’t miss a post. September will be a busy month, I’ll be posting regularly about my recent film photography in Peru. 

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