A Podcast Mentors High School Students And Parents

Cody Mack
July 31, 2018 - "Test the crap out of your recording environment and run it through every possible variable for interviews BEFORE you do the interview."
Since 2017

►Tell us about you and your podcast

My name is Cody Mack. I have been acting as the post-production manager and producer for the Student-Tutor "Mentors 4 Teens" podcast since its inception.

Currently, I'm working on editing episode 30 of the series. The primary listeners of the series are students and the parents of students at the high school level. The series helps guide them become better prepared for the challenges of college and life after college by bringing in experts in education and scholarships, a diverse variety of industry leaders, as well as entrepreneurs and founders of groundbreaking start-ups.

In addition, I've recently taken on my first new podcast client and am working on the production of his first 6 episode series. More on that later ;)


►Why & how did you start this podcast? 

The Student-Tutor podcast was started with the intention to expand the reach of its vision to educate parents on the fact that the current education system is fundamentally broken, and there is much going on behind the scenes of college admissions.

The first episode was in August of 2017, and have since (at the time of writing) released 29 episodes, averaging about 2x per month.

The first few episodes took a VERY long time to get released. As an experienced music producer / audio technician, I'm a perfectionist. Before I even thought of launching an episode, I had to learn every single thing I could about podcast standards for audio files / loudness / length / and everything else I could before cutting into the edit portion.

The first few episodes, we went for a more "cinematic" approach, with sound effects and high-precision dialogue edits; but found the time required to do so exceeded that of the budget allotted for the project. After about 6-7 episodes, we transitioned into into a more standard format.


►How'd you find the time and funding to do this podcast?

The initial goal was to release one episode a week, but due to the amount of hours required to release an episode, even "quickly", that had to be extended to every other week.

The host / owner of the company wanted to get the episodes out as fast as we could, however, I was not willing to release a recording to our audience that was not of appropriate quality.

This podcast is funded by an education company, Student-Tutor. I'm no longer an active member of Student-Tutor, however, I continue to do the editing and production of the podcast on the side because it's what I truly love to do.


►What do you gain from podcasting?        

This podcast does NO sponsorship, any revenue it generates is through leads for academic tutoring / test prep services, and the mastermind program that teaches the skills discussed in the episodes.

The series has been incredible in establishing an additional level of credibility for the brand, and for me personally, has allowed me to build an impressive starting resume as a freelance producer.


►How does your podcasting process look like? 

The podcast is recorded during the mastermind program's community meetings, using zoom. The questions are pre-determined and the episode follows a standard format.

After each episode is recorded, it is processed through advanced studio tools to set it into a proper format for editing. After rendering this "editing" file, any broken or poorly recorded segments are repaired manually before it goes through a specific set of processing algorithms to remove excess background noise, mouth noise, reverb, and excessive signal level variations. After the "repair" portion is finished, the episode is arranged with its intro music, a call to action, and outro music. After the single arranged file is rendered, it receives a studio master to give it a final gloss, and the peak signal level and integrated loudness is set to match iTunes' standards for loudness and signal level. Finally, the master file is converted and exported in the target upload bitrate / format, the ID3 tags are updated, and the file is uploaded with a set of detailed show notes.


►How do you market your show?

Most people have been attracted to the iTunes download through our existing email list, but others have found us on YouTube and Facebook. No paid advertising has gone into the project.


►What advice would you share with aspiring (new) podcasters?

Honestly, if you're not deeply passionate about sound engineering and audio production... hire an experienced producer.

This is going to allow you to not upload low-quality episodes that could have otherwise been well-received by your listeners. If you're willing to invest the time to book interviews and record it, invest a couple bucks on having a professional render you a proper master file.

The most important thing to learn is the relationship of signal level and perceived loudness. If you don't take care of this, iTunes will... you DON'T want that.

In addition, make sure you TEST TEST TEST your recording environment. One of the most challenging things to manage in post-production is a dramatic difference between the two speakers volume. Ex. you're both speaking into one mic poorly centered in the middle of a desk. If uploaded, this is likely going to result in unsubscribers. If you're going to hire someone to fix it, it's going to be EXPENSIVE due to the fact it will take, on average, 2-5 minutes PER MINUTE of recording. Don't make this mistake. Test the crap out of your recording environment and run it through every possible variable for interviews BEFORE you do the interview.


►Where can we learn more about you & your podcasts?

The Student-Tutor podcast is hosted and can be heard at student-tutor.com/podcast.

For me, I'm currently working on launching my personal website, which will include my portfolio and a comprehensive E-Book / technical manual related to the podcast production process. In the meantime, I can be reached for questions directly at [email protected]

Updated: a year ago