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402: The Roadmap of Narrative Podcasting
Episode 229th April 2016 • Podcasting Experiments • Joshua Rivers
00:00:00 00:24:37

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If you haven’t listened to the first episode of this series, go back and listen to that first. We covered what a narrative podcast is and whether you should or shouldn’t pursue this format of podcasting.

Assuming now that you’ve considered those, we’ll cover an overview of the process of creating a narrative podcast in this episode. We won’t go into a lot of detail, as we will delve into the different parts in future episodes; but you’ll be able to see the big picture.

This episode is going to be a little different than the rest. There are only going to be three guests with us – Jessica Rhodes, Erik K. Johnson, and Jessica Abel. The majority of the episode will be my voice. The rest of the episodes will be featuring more of the guests and less of me.

In addition to the overview or roadmap, I’ll be sharing a couple other things here that are key to making the process easier or better – or hopefully both.

From Interview Connections, Jessica Rhodes is the host of the Rhodes to Success podcast and the co-host of The Podcast Producers along with Corey Coates. She realized the importance of having a team.

I haven’t followed this advice yet, as I’m working on this series alone, other than the contributions from those I was able to interview. I am, however, talking with someone about helping form some of the later episodes. This should help make it easier and have a better product in the end. I’ll definitely report on this later.

Erik K. Johnson talks about crafting stories on his podcast, Podcast Talent Coach.

Erik shares 4 main parts of a narrative.

These four parts help to structure what you probably already knew in the back of your mind. For a more in-depth process for our purposes, though, I want to share the extensive process that Roman Mars shared in his presentation at Podcast Movement 2015. He is the host of 99 Percent Invisible, which is a narrative or journalistic style podcast with high production value.

Roman Mars has a team that he works with, and it take them several weeks to put together one episode of the podcast. I’m not completely positive, but I believe that they work on multiple stories at a time, overlapping them. I say this because they do release weekly episodes.

I know that this is a generalization, but I would venture to say that the average podcaster has a very simple process or workflow.


As a general rule, I believe that most podcasters are in a rush to release the episodes because they are trying to keep to a schedule or because they’ve already blown their schedule. This is mostly due to a little thing called life. This is completely understandable since the vast majority of podcasters are doing this on the side of their jobs and families. In the rush, though, the process is simplified and the easiest path is usually taken.

Roman Mars, though, shared his process, and the process is probably similar in other high production podcasts and organizations that produce audio like this. Here’s a quick rundown of this workflow:

Research enough to pitch idea to group
Research more
Conduct pre-interviews
Adjust story concept
Pick interview subjects
Write first draft of script
Second draft
Third draft
Full cuts
“Read to tape” as group
Group edits
Fourth draft
Rough mix
Listen to the rough as a group
Another group edit
Rough sound design
Listen as a group
Fix sound design
Pass off your final master
Final mix
Send out
Get notes
Fix based on notes
Review again
Green light

Are you overwhelmed at this list?