written by
David Hooper

Do You Really Need to Edit Your Podcast?

Podcast Hosting Skills Podcast Production 4 min read

The short answer is yes. Not being mindful of the content you release via your podcast is an insult to the people who listen.

You can't have a quality podcast without editing. This editing can happen before you turn on the mic, through careful planning of what you're going to record, or you can edit after you've recorded, cutting out what doesn't add to the episode, if needed, and rearranging elements that do.

Ultimately, you'll do both of these things — editing what you think you're going to say before you turn on a mic and editing/rearranging what you've actually said afterward.

Every single episode.

"Not Editing" Isn't An Option

This isn't the "good old days" of podcasting, where people were completely enamored by the technology and had low standards for what they listened to. Today, people want a podcast that is to-the-point and organized.

If you don't give listeners something to-the-point and organized, they’ll go to somebody else who will. For example, top podcasts by big media companies like National Public Radio, such as This American Life.

this american life podcast

How much editing is done on This American Life? This job listing will give you an idea…

The fellow will be provided a monthly wage of $3,750, before taxes for the duration of the production fellowship. We are committed to providing payment in part because the work hours are long. We feed the show on Friday nights at 8 p.m. Eastern time, so as we get closer to the end of the week, the hours become longer. The typical work week varies between 50-60 hours. As a result, we feel strongly that this be our fellow's sole commitment during these months, i.e. no other jobs or classes. Also important to note: we do not offer college credit and cannot accept college students. We have no other internship or fellowship programs, so if you're in school you'll have to wait to apply until you're done. Also, we cannot accept international applicants who are not residents of the US.

This is for two available six-month production fellowship. Six months.

Companies often do these "limited-time only" job offers when they’ve got a tough job to fill and they're not sure somebody is going to work out. That way, if somebody doesn’t work out, there's an easy way to get rid of him, without things getting awkward.

This American Life has two people doing this.

More of what they require...

This American Life production fellows are required to have experience with Pro Tools or similar digital editing software and are responsible for producing rerun episodes, weekly promos and show segments out of the gate. Our fellows transcribe tape, learn to structure and mix a radio story, and perform assorted menial tasks that are true signs of an apprentice program like this. By the end of the program, fellows are encouraged to produce their own pieces, including editing and mixing voice, sound and music.

This is what editing looks like. It's not simply removing filler words via Pro Tools, but actually structuring stories.

This American Life has a full-time staff of over 20 people. And while they’re not all "editors" officially, all are editing.

Editing Your Podcast - Where To Begin

Something worth noting when discussing This American Life or any podcast that's also distributed via broadcast radio is that these shows all have a finite length. As an example, my broadcast show, Music Business Radio, only has 60 minutes of airtime available, so each episode is edited to 54 minutes exactly, which allows for six minutes of commercials.

Edit For Time

While podcasts don't have the time limits broadcast shows do, a self-imposed finite length, even if it's not to-the-second, is a good place to start when planning and recording your episodes. Having limited time to say what needs to be said will focus the direction of your content and squelch Parkinson's law.

Edit For Clarity

Comic and podcaster, Rik Roberts, host of The School Of Laughs podcast talks about "writing tight." In other words, getting to the point of what you're saying as quickly and with as few words as possible.

This "less is more" philosophy should be followed when planning and organizing your podcast episodes. It will help you to keep time limits in check and also improve clarity of your message before you record anything, which will save you a lot of time on the backend.

Anything that doesn't add to what you're saying is, at best, neutral. At its worst, this extra content takes away from your message, because it's distracting. It's no different from having a random guy talk over you.

Final Thoughts

People are already distracted. They're already having a tough time focusing on your message. Don't make it worse by not editing out "filler" content that takes away from what you're trying to say.

For more thoughts on editing your podcast and clarifying your message, read 3 Questions for a Tight Podcast Edit (and More Listeners).

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