I’ve had an idea for a book in my head for a few years now. Since there
is was a challenge afoot, I started, November 2, 2010, to write that book. This blog will contain the very rough draft and I hope I’ll get a chunk of it out this month. No guarantee I’ll write everyday, but I hope this won’t be the last entry.
Naming, Framing, and Taming
Once you’re done editing a podcast, you might think you’re done, but that’s not exactly right. There are a couple of things to consider. I listen to enough podcasts that I’ve noticed some naming techniques that work and some that don’t.
Some shows number their shows in episodes. The problem with this technique is the generic nature of show numbers. “Episode 36” tells your audience virtually nothing. If it’s a daily podcast, it could be from your second month. If it’s monthly, it’s your third year.
If you’re not the only person to use just episode numbers, your audience can easily mistake one show for another if they have a playlist of all their shows mixed together as I do. It’s a little sad to be looking forward to an episode of your favorite podcast and hear your least favorite.
Naming an episode so that it includes the show title is helpful. In my case, “Tech, No Babel–Episode 15” might work, but the problem is that it’s only adds what show it is to the idea of episode numbers.
Naming episodes by the guest may seem like a good idea, but can be a problem when you have the same guest over and over again. If John Smith comes on once a month, even if he rotates with others on a panel of four, you’ll likely have multiple episodes entitled, “John Smith.”
Cute names can be problematic, too. Leo Laporte takes names from the odd conversation topics on his shows. If I see, “It’s Just a Guacamole Platform,” I don’t know anything about the content. For his shows, this isn’t a huge show because they’re mostly news-based. If the nightly news called each episode something different and apparently random, it wouldn’t matter because it’s news. You can’t really sum it up in a few words. The value of these titles is the levity they bring to the subject. It also becomes a game where the audience listens for the context that the title came from.
Some shows are named by date. The obvious problem, like episode numbers, is that multiple shows might be recorded on a single date. The other problem is that podcasts are inherently asynchronous, so while it matters that the show was recorded January 2, 2011 because the hosts were speculating on the features of the new iPhone. If you listen in March, you could feel like the information is inherently stale, whether that’s the case or not.
Let me suggest starting each show title with a unique number that will increase over time and adding short key words to the title in the case of an educational or topical podcast. To do this, I’ve come up with a formula that works for me. When I record a raw show file, I start with the date, year first followed by month and then day. For example, 110102 would be January 2, 2011. The reason for this is simple. In a list of files on a computer, each podcast will come before the next and they’ll automatically be sorted chronlogically as well as alphabetically. The number by itself tells me it’s a source, not edited, file without even previewing it.
Once it’s edited, I save it in it’s final form, “TNB110102–Episode 123: Naming, Framing and Taming”. That’s actually, not a bad idea for a show. This tells you it’s “Tech, No Babel” recorded 1/2/11, episode 123 and the show has something to do with those three words. This is the best of all worlds. As a member of the audience you might try and figure out what I’m going to talk about based on the title. In this case, it could be: naming your podcasts, framing a shot with a video or still camera, and taming rogue sounds in your home studio.
On many devices, the entirety of the title will scroll across the display, but since that’s not always the case, it might be worthwhile to shorten it a bit. I could try “TNB110102-123-Naming, Framing, & Taming”. I could even leave out the episode number because it’s not that important and just put it in the id3 tags for the file. “TNB110102:Naming, Framing, & Taming”is probably the best of these for brevity and information shared. I started with the first format, so I’ll probably stick to that for this show, unless I add more shows and make a network.