How to Create a Blockbuster Podcast

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alex

“What makes ‘good tape’? That is the question that has consumed my life for the past 20 years, and I have an answer for you…”
– Alex Blumberg


How do you create a blockbuster podcast? This episode explores the tips, tricks, and best practices of a master.

My guest is Alex Blumberg, who cut his teeth on the king of all radio shows (This American Life) and recently co-founded Gimlet Media. Gimlet swiftly conquered the iTunes rankings with two blockbuster podcasts: Reply All and StartUp.

Podcasters everywhere asked: how the hell does he do it?  

This episode provides some answers. Part 2 also includes a sample of my upcoming episode with Arnold Schwarzenegger (!!!).

TF-ItunesButtonTF-StitcherButton

This discussion is split into two parts, and we cover a ton. Please listen to both parts, as they work together. We discuss what Alex learned from Ira Glass, his field recording gear, the nuts and bolts of producing world-class audio narrative, and much more.

Part 1 is my interview and conversation with Alex.
Part 2 is ~40 minutes of an amazing masterclass Alex taught on creativeLIVE, including the art of the interview, the power of the right question, and more (Get all 21 videos here).

This episode is sponsored by OnnitI have used Onnit products for years. If you look in my kitchen or in my garage you will find Alpha BRAIN, chewable melatonin (for resetting my clock while traveling), kettlebells, maces, battle ropes, and steel clubs. It sounds like a torture chamber, and it basically is. A torture chamber for self-improvement! Ah, the lovely pain. To see a list of my favorite pills, potions, and heavy tools, click here.

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.  Click this link and get a free $99 upgrade.  Give it a test run.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:  What are your 2-3 favorite podcasts and why? What makes them unique? Please let me know in the comments!

If you like this episode, you’ll also love my episode with Neil Strauss, 7x New York Times bestselling author. He’s cray-cray like me.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Selected Links from the Episode

StartUp | Reply All

  • Learn more about Pro Tools
  • Pick up Alex’s recommended equipment for field recording:

AT8035 Microphone | Tascam DR-100KII Recorder

Sony MDR 7506 HeadPhones | XLR Cable

Show Notes

  • On the 4-5-month startup burnout phase [3:24]
  • Defining tracking and work flow. What makes something worthy of being included in the show? [4:14]
  • What makes good tape? [6:14]
  • What makes a world-class editor? Acknowledging Ira Glass and his time at This American Life [12:15]
  • Defining the role of a “producer” [22:17]
  • The nitty gritty of producing high-level narrative podcasts. Includes: editing software, planning timelines, and much more [25:00]
  • Tools for capturing tape in the field [30:00]
  • The nuts and bolts of recording in the field, as well as tips for capturing the ‘vivid moments’ [31:14]
  • Microphone tips: directional vs. omnidirectional? [34:20]
  • Metrics used to define progress at Gimlet Media [36:00]
  • The story of acquiring a position as a top radio producer [37:29]
  • Transitioning from This American Life to Planet Money [49:12]
  • Why good radio doesn’t apply to television shows [51:00]
  • On the value of perfectionism [55:45]
  • Good and bad habits picked up from This American Life and Ira Glass [58:20]
  • Turning a bad situation into a good one – Deconstructing We Made a Mistake [1:12:20]
  • Rapid fire questions: most gifted books, favorite documentary films, and more [1:21:10]

People Mentioned

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Pavel Tsatsouline on the Science of Strength and the Art of Physical Performance

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Tim Ferriss and Pavel Tsatsouline on Strength

This episode was a real treat. It was one of the most enlightening and lucid conversations about physical training I’ve ever had.  If you want strength, power, endurance, and flexibility, it’s all covered in this one interview.

[UPDATE: Pavel also answered your 15 most popular questions in a follow-up episode, now below]

Pavel Tsatsouline is Chairman of StrongFirst, Inc. and was born in Minsk, USSR, which is now part of Belarus.

In the 1980s, he was a physical-training instructor for Spetnaz, the elite Soviet special-forces units. Pavel is now a subject matter expert to the US Marine Corps, the US Secret Service, and the US Navy SEALs. He is widely credited with introducing the now ubiquitous kettlebell to the United States.

Over the last several years, Pavel has become a friend, and his input was critical to the success (and experiments) of The 4-Hour Body.  His massively popular post on 80/20 Powerlifting and How to Add 110+ Pounds to Your Lifts appears on this blog.

Whether you’ve heard of him or not, prepare to have your mind blown, and I don’t say that lightly :)  Enjoy!

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s the most valuable exercise tip you’ve ever received or learned? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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Are We Really 10% Human and 90% Bacteria? Exploring The Microbiome…

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By popular demand, an entire episode dedicated to exploring the human microbiome!

Are you really 90% bacteria and 10% human? How can you manage or optimize your own microbiome? Should we do fecal-matter transplants from “untouched” indigenous tribes to reverse chronic illness? We tackle all this and much more…

Jessica Richman is co-founder and CEO of uBiome, a startup backed by Y Combinator and Andreessen Horowitz, which uses citizen science to understand the human microbiome.

Jonathan Eisen is a Full Professor at the University of California, Davis with appointments in the School of Medicine and the College of Biological Sciences. Dr. Eisen’s research focuses on the evolution, ecology and function of communities of microorganisms.

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:  What’s the most interesting or helpful thing you’ve ever learned from a medical or biological test? Please share in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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Ed Cooke, Grandmaster of Memory, on Mental Performance, Imagination, and Productive Mischief

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Ed Cooke on the Tim Ferriss Show

One tiny favor! If you’re enjoying the podcast, could you please take 30 seconds now to leave a brief review on iTunes? Just click “View in iTunes” under my pic here. Once I pass 2,000 reviews, I’ll reciprocate by writing a massive, behind-the-scenes post on everything I’ve learned about podcasting. I promise tricks of the trade galore, just as in-depth as the “Hacking Kickstarter” post. Speaking of which…

Ed Cooke is a dear friend and a Grandmaster of Memory.  In 2010, he was interviewed by a journalist named Joshua Foer. Under Ed’s Yoda-like training, Joshua became the very next American Memory Champion in 2011.  It took less than a year for Ed to transform a novice from unknown to world-class.

But how?!?

Aha… This interview explores Ed Cooke’s brilliant techniques (many of which I use), strategies, and practical philosophies.  To boot, he’s also a wicked funny bastard!  If you enjoyed the epic interviews with Kevin Kelly, Josh Waitzkin, or Maria Popova, you’ll love Ed.  He’s one of a kind.


This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What’s one mental feat you’d love to accomplish in 2015? Any tips or tricks you can share? Please share in the comments by clicking here.

Scroll below for links and show notes… Read More

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What I’d Add To The 4-Hour Workweek for 2015 (And Much More)

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mexico 4hww

(Photo: Aaron Benitez)

“Luxury is feeling unrushed. It is designing a life that allows you to do what you want with high leverage, with many options, all while feeling unrushed.”
-Tim Ferriss [30:36]

The short audio below answers your 20+ most popular questions, as determined by 7,000+ votes.  For those who missed it, I’ve included a bonus part 3 on how to avoid decision fatigue.



This was a fun opportunity to answer great questions, including:

1. “If you were to write The 4-Hour Workweek 2.0 for 2015, what would you change or update from the original version? Are there new tools, technology, business models, or ideas that would make it more adaptable to today’s realities?” – Matt Coughlin, Costa Rica [2:56]

2. “What is a main communication technique that you use to network with people of higher status, especially before you reached mainstream success?” - Andrei, Canada [6:26]

3. “Regardless of industry, what is a trend you see developing that you think most people are missing?” – Malcolm, DC [12:56]

4. “What is the one thing that you have absolutely have to do everyday no matter what your schedule is?” – Vik Dulat, Toronto, Canada [16:01]

…and about 15 more questions.

This episode is brought to you by Onnit. I own Onnit supplements (like chewable melatonin for jetlag and flights), maces, battle ropes (not “battle robes,” as I first heard it), kettlebells, and enough gear to ensure a lifetime of self-inflicted torture and higher performance.

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What would you like to see in an updated 4-Hour Workweek? OR Do you have any morning routines that make a huge difference in your day? Please share (or read others’ ideas) in the comments!

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
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Select Links from Parts 1 and 2

People Mentioned

 

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Dr. Peter Attia on Life-Extension, Drinking Jet Fuel, Ultra-Endurance, Human Foie Gras, and More

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Tim Ferriss and Peter Attia

“How do you balance the desire to live longer with the desire to perform well?” (Tweet It)
– Peter Attia, MD

This episode delves into all types of performance enhancement and tracking — optimizing blood testing, drinking “jet fuel,” training for ultra-endurance sports, consuming synthetic ketones, using metabolic chambers, extending longevity by avoiding certain types of exercise, and much more.

Peter Attia is the co-founder and current president of the Nutritional Science Initiatives (NuSI).

He is an ultra-endurance athlete, compulsive self-experimenter, and one of the most fascinating human beings I know. Peter also earned his M.D. from Stanford University and holds a B.Sc. in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He resided at John Hopkins Hospital as a general surgeon, then conducted research at the National Cancer Institute under Dr. Steve Rosenberg, where Peter focused on the role of regulatory T cells in cancer regression and other immune-based therapies for cancer.

PLEASE:  Join Peter and I (I’m matching up to $50,000) in supporting this high-leverage project, ideally before the end of December.

This episode is brought to you by Onnit. Joe Rogan introduced me to Onnit, and since then, my garage has resembled a showroom. I own Onnit supplements (like chewable melatonin for jetlag and flights), maces, battle ropes (not “battle robes,” as I first heard it), kettlebells, and enough gear to ensure a lifetime of self-inflicted torture and higher performance.

This podcast is also brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY:  What counter-intuitive physical “hacks” or dietary approaches have been most impactful in your life? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy! Read More

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Marc Goodman, FBI Futurist, on High-Tech Crime and How to Protect Yourself

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The Tim Ferriss Show with Marc Goodman

“The fact of the matter is, back in 2008, terrorists were using search engines, like Google, to determine who shall live and who shall die. I know it’s a black swan event, but when you’re sharing on Facebook, it’s not just the media and marketing companies that you need to be concerned about. When you share openly, everybody has access to it.” (Tweet It)
– Marc Goodman

[Quick announcement: The Tim Ferriss Show is officially one of iTunes’ “Best of 2014“! Would you or your company like to sponsor the show? Click here for more details.]

Marc Goodman has been a Resident Futurist for the FBI and a senior adviser to Interpol.  He is also author of the much anticipated Future Crimes.

In this episode, we’ll go deep into the digital underground to expose the alarming ways criminals, corporations, and even countries are using emerging technologies against you…and some simple steps you can take to decrease your vulnerability.

To start, 3-D printers can produce AK-47s, bio-terrorists can download the recipe for Spanish flu, and cartels are using fleets of drones to ferry drugs across borders (all of which we touch on), but what else is waiting for you? What else is potentially targeting you right now?

If you want to hear about current and future threats, and simple defensive steps you can take, this interview is for you.

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Have you ever been hacked or cyber-attacked? What practices are you using to mitigate the threat in the future? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. It keeps me going…

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
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Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • Rapid fire questions [7:45]
  • Marc Goodman’s daily rituals [11:55]
  • Surprising examples of Internet-based crime [13:25]
  • Personalized biological weapons, genetic sequencing, etc. [16:25]
  • 23andMe best practices: paranoia vs. preparedness [22:10]
  • Examining the urban myth (or not?) of personalized biological weapons [26:10]
  • Debunking the myth that terrorists and criminals are simply uneducated [28:10]
  • “Public safety is too important to leave to the professionals.” [35:55]
  • Do you think having iodine tablets and gas masks at home is overkill? [44:05]
  • Kidnapping in the modern world [45:40]
  • The story of Andy Grove and data infiltration in China [50:10]
  • Spear-phishing e-mails and how billions can be lost [52:50]
  • How to Armageddon-proof yourself [54:55]
  • The digital underground and how to access it [57:00]
  • The illicit drug industry and how disruptive technology is a threat to it [1:00:00]
  • On “Narco” R&D budgets, drones, submarines and shock and awe  [1:06:55]
  • Potential threats of artificial intelligence (AI) [1:12:25]
  • The scalable paradigm shift in modern crime [1:15:15]
  • A handful of simple steps to decrease the odds of successful attacks [1:18:55]
  • Low-hanging fruit in terms of security [1:25:25]
  • On cyber crime cottage industries [1:27:40]
  • Why there is a Post-It note on every camera of Marc Goodman’s devices [1:29:05]
  • How the Crowne Casino in Melbourne was hacked for $33 million [1:33:05]

People and Concepts Mentioned (Partial List)

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