What to look for in a podcast editor

[00:00:00] Carrie: Who do I even start looking at? Because there are so many people out there who are doing this work um, which is good, but then I feel like a decision paralysis.

[00:00:10] Mark: Welcome to What's Your Problem? The podcast where I sit with a podcast and get to the bottom of an issue, that's been bugging them so they can find and keep hold of the joy in their work. This week, I'm joined by Carrie Gillen of the Vocal Phrase podcast to help her with a question of how to find an editor who can take on some of the work involved in putting episodes together.

[00:00:34] Editing an episode with more than two participants can get pretty overwhelming, especially if you're working with people who aren't used to guesting on podcasts. Whenever I discover a pain point in someone's process, I like to dig into it and find out what's underneath it. So that's how my conversation with Carrie kicked off.

[00:00:54] Carrie: Sometimes I'm excited to do it, but usually there's a feeling of dread because there's multiple people that I have to edit. And if anything has gone wrong, I have to. Yup. So for example, the one I'm editing right now the guests at uh, audio is really, echo-y like in a way that's clearly mechanical as opposed to from the room or whatever. And that's new to me. And I, luckily we'd also recorded the Zoom, which is not the greatest audio, but it was a better, definitely better. And uh, so I can still salvage what's going on.

[00:01:29] Plus on my end, I had stopped the recording. Cause I thought I hadn't been using my mic uh, started again. And the file is just there's a file there, but it's just blank. There's no sound. So I also needed the Zoom for that. So double lucky we have that, but it's just, I don't know. It's starting to get to me.

[00:01:48] Mark: That is going to happen. I I think it happens more often with a sort of double enders where you using some kind of. Service, whether it's Zoom or Skype or whatever. And I used to do it back in the what feels like a millennia ago where I used to do it in Skype, and we would have, there were four of us and we'd have three people with sort of okay sounding audio, and then one person who always, it was always the same person, always sounded like he was talking into a potato. And there was just nothing that. I tried all sorts of things to help with his mic to get it set up, but there was just. And our recordings would go for so long and we didn't get that much time to recruit. It was always, you know, a hassle getting us all together. So I just barreled through it and made it a problem for future Mark. So as a note to the listener, we encountered some uh, technical difficulties and I could have made that future mark's problem.

[00:02:40] Carrie: Yes, that's true.

[00:02:41] Mark: And said, I'll figure out how to get rid of this weird audio artifacting, I'm sure it will be fine. And I think it can be tempting to do that as well with certain guests. If you've got a guest in your very that you might not get this time again, but I think, and that's, that's getting into a different question, but where I'm thinking there is first off, what can we do to remove some of that pain so that you don't feel quite so much dread and maybe you feel a little bit more energized because then you can edit for the fun things that you want to do in your podcast. Because I'm going to assume there are bits about editing your podcast that you enjoy.

[00:03:19] Carrie: That is true. I like being able to shape the eventual outcome. So, you know, there, there, there are certain parts of the conversation that just don't work, or I think are somewhat problematic because you know, we're linguists and we have particular views on how language works. And sometimes when we have non linguists on, they still have ideas that are, like some varieties of English are better than others, and we definitely do not want to be propagating that message. Uh, so, you know, Stuff like that. I, so I do feel good at the end of the process okay, look I've shaped this into something that makes sense for us as a podcast. And as I, sometimes sounds better than other times, but at least is, conversationally what I want.

[00:04:00] Mark: Yes. So I would wonder, and I see, I know there's so many people that are going to hate what I'm going to say because I was one of them. I think I used to think that audio quality, that sort of almost nebulous, like audio quality, whatever that means really matters. And it does to a degree there are aspects to which it matters, but I think what matters more is the presence and how close you are to the microphone, because that's to do with how close you are to this and his ears.

[00:04:30] If someone sounds like that, feet away from the microphone, then that's no good. But if the, if you're on a zoom call and if everyone's Mike technique is okay, then maybe the zoom call audio is good enough and you don't need to get everybody to record their side of the audio maybe?

[00:04:46] Carrie: Yeah, maybe. I mean, I definitely, uh, So for certain guests, we definitely do that. So the most recent person that we recorded, he's retired, didn't want to try and make him record himself. There are certain people who are retired, who would have had those skills. He was not one of them. And so we definitely did not want to make his life miserable. And yeah, we definitely recorded the zoom. I haven't listened yet, so I'm not a hundred percent sure. What it's going to sound like, but yeah.

[00:05:16] Mark: There are also the other tools and I won't name the one that we use because we did encounter a technical difficulty, but there are tools that may alleviate this process. Yes, it's another subscription, but. It might be that is the thing that tips you over into being able to enjoy the process a little bit more and actually probably spend less than you would on an editor. Um, Here's me not actually answering the question that you asked me to address, and instead of trying to answer the question I want to address um, but just because I think it will be helpful.

[00:05:48] So you've got Riverside and SquadCast, which I think are really useful tools for this kind of thing. That's exactly what they're there for. They're great for people who don't necessarily want to get into that whole aspect of, you know, What do we do here? When people use audacity and why do I have to download it just to record myself and send you a WAV file?

[00:06:04] Then Riverside tends to be, if I'm honest, when I have the more experience with, and I find it pretty frictionless. Once you understand there's a couple of little quirks, but once you understand that it works really well. Uh, I do also use SquadCast and I think both are great. I would look into that because that at least takes, at least for the most part, we'll give you uniform audio. The WAV files that it gives you all be in sync and you can stop and start recording if you need to, but crucially even if you do stop and start again, those files are still going to be in sync. So you're not having to align all the recordings and do all of that admin stuff. And you don't have to deal with drift. I'm sure you know, As you've been editing conversations, slowly, the conversations get out of sync?

[00:06:52] Carrie: Yes.

[00:06:53] Mark: Not a problem. When you use these tools they automatically correct for that. I don't know how to do it as magic, but they do.

[00:06:57] Carrie: Yeah.

[00:06:57] Mark: And so that ends up being a thing you don't have to deal with. And then it just becomes, it's a question of how anal you want to be about certain things. I am anal about pauses caused by lag internet.

[00:07:09] Carrie: Yeah, of course.

[00:07:10] Mark: And especially if you're trying to have a snappy dialogue and there's this beat, and then someone comes in with a big laugh. It's just, there's not tons you can do any, any internet communication you're going to have that issue. But then you've got tools like Descript which will make it easier to deal with that kind of stuff. It makes it easier to deal with the gaps between words when people are speaking. That's the software that I now use with all my editing clients. And it's the tool that I recommend and I'm teaching it to people because uh, you don't need it from the point of view of you know how to edit audio, but you might find a great example, it's really good at helping you spot and remove repeated words. So someone gets halfway through a sentence or they say well, the thing is, thing is the thing, you know, and you know, you know, and they're sort of stumbling through that kind of stuff, you can actually see those words and easily to deal with them if you want to.

[00:08:04] Carrie: I have used Descript and I think I need to try it again because I found it a little frustrating. Uh, It would change who the speaker was after I'd said, no, this is me.

[00:08:16] Mark: Oh yeah. It does it do that.

[00:08:17] Carrie: Yeah. I don't know. I found that frustrating, but I

[00:08:20] Mark: There are ways to correct it and it has got better at that kind of stuff. Uh, but then not super as a few of those things that are not super intuitive, but there are ways that yeah. Cause it will get that stuff wrong. Uh, But there are ways to correct it and then it will still fight with you. But, it's the, The options there. But let's really tackle them. The question of, if you go through all of that stuff and you still sit down at the edit bay and you're like, yeah, no, this is sucking the life out of me. Then the first thing to do is do you have a problem finding people? Is it like, who do I even talk to

[00:08:53] Carrie: Yeah, who do I even start looking at? Because there are so many people out there who are doing this work um, which is good, but then I feel like a decision paralysis.

[00:09:04] Mark: Yep. Absolutely. So there's a really simple, I think an easy answer to this, which is Steve Stewart runs the Podcast Editors Club uh, which I believe is also on Facebook. And you can also go to stevestewart.me, and one of the things, one of the services that he provides is if you are looking for a uh, an editor rather than post on the Facebook group, I'm looking for an editor, cause then you'll just be deluged by replies, he gives you a recommendation of a Google doc that you can set up and he says, these are the kinds of questions that are recommend you setting up or asking which could be things around experience, what software do you use? Cause I think if you understand uh, Adobe Audition or Logic, it's good to work with someone who also works in that tool, because then you can have a bit of a handoff, if you want to be able to tweak something and you've got a shared language.

[00:09:57] So you can ask like what software they use, how long they've been doing it, what are the kinds of podcasts they edit that kind of stuff. What they, you know, how do they price? Because some people will price per hour. Some people will price per episode. Some people may be a mixture of the two, depending on the length of the episode and the complexity of the edit and all that stuff. But what it will help you do is you can take that Google, um, Yeah, create a Google sheet, create a format of it, send that link to Steve and he will then post it to his community and help you then collate the replies. So you you'll manage all the process from there, but he will at least send it out to his people. And I found that to work. Uh, I found a, I found a good editor that I worked with through that.

[00:10:39] So yeah that's a nice one. And then I think. You'll get quite a few. And once you are able to whittle down to the ones that you want to work with, or the ones that you think would be worth working with, I think it's good to have a listen to some of that stuff. Make sure that it meets the kind of quality that you want, you know, try and spot those edit points. I think one of the things is if you can hear the conversation, if you can hear the edit points, then maybe that's not a great editor because the, the best work is invisible to us.

[00:11:10] It's, It's still a skill I'm learning. I've been editing podcasts for since 2008. And even on this one, I still notice not necessarily technical things or there are some of those more like pacing it's too trippy. Like it's too. I don't give the listener time to breathe and all these kinds things.

[00:11:27] So have a listen, once you feel that you found and a couple of episodes that fit the kind of tone that you want to go for, then have a conversation with them, get on a Zoom call or whatever, and just get, see if you've got a good feel for them. I tend to find that if you understand, if both parties understand where we're each one is coming from, again, it helps with some of that shared language.

[00:11:51] I think there's this personality in an edit, in, in a way, in a way that I can't really put my finger on, but you understand what I mean? And I think that will come through when you start to have a conversation.

[00:12:01] Carrie: Perfect. This is really helpful actually,

[00:12:03] Mark: There's also Steph Fuccio runs Podcast Editing Plus, which I think she's growing into a community as well. So definitely look up uh, Steph, Uh, she'll be she'll be a great one because I think. One of the things that I was dancing around and I had a great conversation with someone recently is on values. And I think it's nice when we can work with people where there's connected values. Um, That's not important to everyone, but if it's important to you then again, like getting to those conversations as early as possible and figuring out like, are we speaking the same language in terms of what we value in communication? What we think is important, whose voices we want to amplify or. Those conversations is good.

[00:12:42] Carrie: Exactly. That's exactly true. I hadn't even thought of that aspect, but yes, we really care about that aspect. So thank you.

[00:12:49] Mark: The difficult bit is some people get a little antsy about this and I've seen people I've gotten fights with people on Facebook groups about this, because there are lots of people who want podcasts, editors. And so podcast editors are now they're feeling a little bit, some of them, not all, but there are some of them who are feeling a little bit, plumped up in a little bit, cock of the walk, like I'm a commodity. It's a sellers market or buy it or whatever. Um, and, and so it feels like things are in their favor. There is plenty of demand. And with that, there is a degree of complacency forward slash arrogance that can come out. And again, having these conversations will really help. But what I'm leading to is some people will bristle at the idea of, can we do a trial, but consider whether that's something that you want to do, see if, feel that out with the editor, if That's something they're comfortable with. I don't know if I would be uh, just based on the amount of time that I have available, I might say why don't you just pay me for one episode and then we'll see how we go from there. So just have that in mind as well that it's possible you might have to do one or two trials. And again, the nice thing is that Lee. If they're using the same software you are, and there's only a couple of things that you want to tweak, you can at least make those tweaks or, or whatever. So,

[00:14:09] Carrie: That's a good point. Yeah. Cause sometimes I, I mean, I know that something will bug me and cause I'm not even that much of a perfectionist when it comes to audio, but just, I know there's going to be something, but so if I can just like tweak it and that will not make me feel as overwhelmed. It will just be a nice little polish.

[00:14:28] Mark: Absolutely. And it might even be that there are certain aspects of the editing process, especially again, if you're in the same app and this can be true of Descript as well, but if you're in the same sort of ecosystem working on a shared project, you might be able to still get access to the bits that are fun for you. So get them to do the admin bits, uh, and aligning the tracks and getting all of the volumes Right. And dealing with all the processing and maybe removing some of those ums and the gaps, and then giving you something back, which you can then listen to and edit for content or even listen through and then give, put markers in, say, remove this or do this, you know, it's, it might give you the opportunity to still have that ownership, but also because yeah, that control, it could be, you know, if you've been used to exercising it as painful as it can be at times it's still that thing of yeah, I know that if there's that little bit there, I can remove it or whatever. So.

[00:15:23] Carrie: So yeah, I definitely want someone who cares about other human beings, who thinks that it's important that we, I lift up voices that have not been heard as much before. And so maybe people who are slightly less picky about audio. So for example, we had Alice Wong, do you know her? Okay. So she's in the, she's in the disability community. She has a podcast as well, so she is on a C-PAP machine and you can't. Not have that. She can't, she ha you know, so when we're recording, you can hear that sound. And so stuff like that, people have to be totally okay with, oh, there's going to be this weird sound in our audio.

[00:16:05] Mark: Yeah. And then there's a thing there, and that gets into all sorts of stuff about. Because there is a temptation there to, to we'll remove that, but to some degree it's, and maybe it's a conversation that you would have with the guests. I wouldn't want to assume, but I would think you don't want to leave, you don't want to process that. Because it's part of the story. So yeah, it's, the question has come up with people with like with speech impediments and stammers and things like that. There were conversations, I think, in the podcast editors, Facebook group about what's appropriate to do there, and when you're dealing with someone who literally is just trying to think of what they're saying versus when you're messing with the personality or the pattern of someone's speech, and that can be a fine line as well.

[00:16:50] Carrie: Absolutely.

[00:16:51] Mark: That's the danger of some of those tools like Descript is, they can if you wield a heavy hand, they can destroy the pattern of people's natural speech.

[00:16:59] Carrie: Yes. Yes. And I, I definitely don't want to do that. I, there, yeah, there is like a, oh, this person let's just start at the beginning of the second time. They tried to say the sentence, that I definitely do. Versus, yeah, this is just how they talk and we just have to be okay with that.

[00:17:15] Mark: Yeah, absolutely. Um, how sensitive is nice to you? Don't have to give a number, but is that a, how much of a consideration is that?

[00:17:25] Carrie: It's somewhat of a consideration. We're, you know, indie. We do have our very first sponsor. I mean, We have Patrion money to thank you. So maybe going forward, we might have more money and it might not be that big of a deal. We definitely have enough to cover it. So yeah, I just obviously don't want to be spending all of our Patriot on money on it.

[00:17:46] Mark: No indeed. But the beautiful thing there is that it's going to free you up and you're not just your time, but your energy as well to potentially spend on the things in the podcast as well. Do you get help from the sort of other people on, from co-hosts and things, they help them with stuff?

[00:18:03] Carrie: I do have a cohost and I've been trying to encourage her to do more of the marketing side because I just don't have the energy for it. And I think neither of us are great at it. And I mean, we share like the guest scheduling side, it kind of depends on who's interested in what but yeah, I definitely had do most of the work because of the editing side. And then I, have to upload it and all that stuff. I mean, the uploading is relatively easy, but you know, it's still like one more thing that I have to write up, who's Who's the guest and all that.

[00:18:32] Mark: That's the, yeah, that was literally my next question is, cause that is, that sometimes gets bundled into, cause I feel like podcast editor is somewhat of a nebulous term. And so Yeah, I guess you don't need someone to help with the title and the show notes and stuff like that.

[00:18:49] Carrie: No, I mean, probably I can do a better job of that side of it. I mean, you know, the person's not going to probably know the guest. I mean, Sometimes it might be a famous person, but most of the time it's just a linguist that, only linguists know.

[00:19:04] Mark: Well, What we'll say today is as someone who's edited a lot of people that are maybe famous in a, in a big fish, in a small pond, Google's a wonderful thing and it can make you sound very smart and um,

[00:19:16] Carrie: right. That's

[00:19:17] Mark: true.

[00:19:17] I do that because the way I add it is some people do a sort of hunt and pack where they just go and they find certain bits and they remove them, whereas I'm listening from the beginning through to everything, deciding what to do as I go. And in most cases, I'm writing the show notes as I go, because my working memory, like I'm not going to remember the salient points at the end of the conversation. I need to be able to be writing them down.

[00:19:39] And so when guest uh, w you know, when there is a guest, I literally I'm just Google or LinkedIn and get a few details there, try and get a succinct bio, quick description of the conversation. And then the links to things people discussed in chronological order. That's my formula because it just, it's nice and quick and simple. So that's not everybody's, you know, there are, there are episodes with beautiful and much more complex show notes and yeah, podcast editors, not necessarily going to help you with that, but some will help you. And again, this is something you can ask. Is there some you wouldn't help with, that some of them will help with the show notes and taking some of that work off your plate as well?

[00:20:17] It depends what energizes you really cause some of that stuff for me. Yeah. I'd rather not.

[00:20:24] Carrie: Yeah.

[00:20:25] Yeah, yeah. That's where I'm at. I I don't mind doing the show notes as much that it feels like a lot less work to me. And also the title can be fun to come up with.

[00:20:35] Mark: Yeah.

[00:20:35] Carrie: Sometimes I struggle. So it might be good to have a, a third brain in the mix.

[00:20:41] Mark: Yeah, if you've covered like three, four different topics in an episode, and then like, which one of those do you make your main title of Europe at the ads? It's difficult.

[00:20:51] Carrie: Yeah, exactly.

[00:20:52] Mark: And then I guess the last thing is, what is your release like schedule, what's your cadence?

[00:21:00] Carrie: Yeah. At the moment, it's once a month, but we were doing it by bi-weekly. So it would be great if we could get back to the biweekly, and so even if maybe once a month, someone else was editing and I was doing the other one, that might be good.

[00:21:14] Mark: Yeah. I mean, you could always start with that and then a time to tap the Patrion button and and ask people and let them know, Hey, you know, we can bring this up with a bit more help because that's one of the things I tend to find when you come to doing, but when you're asking for money is to be able to say, this is specifically going to help with X. You know, when I was raising money for my last show, I just said if we get up to whatever it was a month, then that will pay for hand-written transcriptions, which would make the podcast more accessible and just having that goal in mind. So, If you don't already have a goal like that on patron it might not be a bad thing to say. It's just, if you get us up to X amount of money, it means we can release more episodes because we'll be able to hire an editor and I will have more energy.

[00:21:55] Carrie: Yeah, that's a good point. I hadn't thought to do that, which is silly because of course I did the transcript thing. But uh, yeah, that would make a lot of sense and I'm sure there'd be people who'd be willing to help us get there.

[00:22:06] Mark: Yeah, I think it helps make the money aspect it helps make the target more real and understandable and tangible to people that they've got something to help you aim for and that, they're there cause they support you. And so once they see what the mission is, I think I've, I've literally done that before when people have said um, show I listen to, they were going to bring on a a new correspondent, um, and they said if we get to this amount, then we'll be able to bring this new person. And I was like, great new voice on the show. I'd like to help. And so I upped my patron as a result. So it does happen.

[00:22:35] Why don't you tell us about your show and where they can find it, please?

[00:22:40] Carrie: Sure. I'm the co-host of the Vocal Fries podcast, the podcast about linguistic discrimination. So we talk to, we usually talk to a guest or two about maybe the research or maybe some aspects of their language that they've been judged for. Uh, So we talked to people who work on black English. We talk to people who Newfoundland English, London. Um, We've also talked about, you know, like, uh, people from Ghana, uh, the most recent episode is about Myanmar, which that's a whole can of worms that we couldn't even get into the whole situation there. But yeah. So you know that these are the kinds of things we talk about. Discrimination through language, which is just a proxy for other forms of discrimination. So sexism, racism, classism, whatever ism or phobia you can think of. We do it through language, just as much as we do it or anything else. And you can find us at www.vocalfriespod.com.

[00:23:43] Mark: That is magnificent. And I think you've got a new listener because that is a trap that I often fall into and then feel really bad about. And It's so it'll be nice to to just hear more conversations from people who are on the thick end of that wedge, because I'm sure that's the wrong phrase, but yeah. Who who feel those barbs because yeah, like language snobbery and communication snobbery is a thing and um, yeah.

[00:24:06] Carrie: It's a really a thing. And it's really snaky because we're taught to do it, especially in school, but not necessarily in school. And we think it's fine and normal, and it's not it's bad. We just start taught that it's bad. So, yeah.

[00:24:23] Mark: not fun and normal. It's bad and wrong.

[00:24:25] Carrie: It's bad and wrong.

[00:24:26] Mark: my thanks to Carrie for joining me on this episode, you can find links and a full transcript of our conversation at whatsyourproblem.me/6 where you'll also find a form to sign up as a guest. Don't forget to check out the Vocal Fries podcast and I'll speak to you again very soon.