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Podcast Producing = Project Management (Keep It Simple)

By Hendel Levia | May 22, 2020

 

Last summer was my first time working as a production assistant for a filming crew. I wasn’t given many details about what the job actually was, just that it involved driving and lifting boxes. 

My first day was disastrously awkward. I mostly stood around waiting for directions, and at other times I attempted to make myself useful. I didn’t seem to get why I kept doing odd tasks as a “PA”, as they’re commonly referred to. 

It wasn’t until the middle of the second day that I whipped out my phone and googled “Production Assistant” and had an “aha” moment. 

A “Production Assistant” is like being a BUTLER on a set. 

From then on, I was fired up, and by the end of the shoot I had been complimented on my work ethic, and had finally been given (earned) one of the film crew’s hats. 

So what does that have to do with being a podcast producer? 

Well, that it needs to be broken down the same way. 

When I started as an intern at the Latinos Out Loud podcast, (starting my career over at 30), I thought the word “producer” was reserved for an elite tier of podcast creators and content makers. 

As an intern, the first tasks I was given were playing sounds off of an iPad, and taking minutes for post-production editing. Not glamorous at all. 

But I did them well, and my confidence began growing in approaching the crew in the post-recording debrief, and letting them know if we needed to re-do a segment, or whether we were all good to go home. 

A couple of months later, I was asked to be an associate producer to the podcast. 

I was still taking notes, playing sounds if needed, but now I was also overseeing all of the interns individual tasks, preparing with the talent before the recording, greeting and prepping guests, and taking charge of making sure we were leaving the studio at the 10PM deadline. 

And that’s it. Podcast producing is essentially project management. 

At the start of the next season I came back as a full producer, having graduated from once having started as an intern. 

A couple of months later, I was named Executive Producer for Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast at work --  now producing (project managing) at a top tier level. 

So there’s two pieces of advice I want to leave aspiring producers with: 

  1. Keep it simple. Be the best you can be at the smallest tasks and gain the experience needed to manage larger projects. These don’t even need to be related to podcasting right off the bat, but will eventually pay off in your work. 
  2. Everyone “produces” a podcast, but not everyone is a “podcast producer” right away. For me, I waited until others named me a podcast producer, before I officially embraced the title as a part of my identity. Be patient, and you too will get that moment of recognition for your work. Maturity and humility will take you a long way. 

I myself am still growing in this area, and I’m thankful podcasting is ever evolving in it’s different manifestations — which enables me to continuously grow daily on this journey.