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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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 22: Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, on Steve Jobs, Stories, and Lessons Learned

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Ed Catmull, President and Co-Founder of Pixar.

Ed Catmull, President and Co-Founder of Pixar.

NOTE TO E-MAIL SUBSCRIBERS: Please see this post in your inbox for a recording of the recent 2.5-hour live Q&A. Not on the email list? Sign up here and get extras like this for free.

Listen on iTunes, download (right click “save as”), or stream below now:

This podcast is brought to you by The Tim Ferriss Book Club, which features a handful of books that have changed my life. Here’s the list.  You can also find all 20+ episodes of this podcast here. Some are sober and some are drunk,  so you can roll the dice.

Now, on to our guest…

Ed Catmull is co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios (along with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) and president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation. Ed has received five Academy Awards, and — as a computer scientist — he has contributed to many important developments in computer graphics.  He is the author of  Creativity, Inc., which Forbes has said “just might be the best business book ever written.” (!)

This episode touches on a lot, including lessons learned from George Lucas and Steve Jobs, the origins of Pixar, personal challenges, routines, and much more.

Show notes and links are below.  Enjoy!

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed
Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here.  It keeps me going… Read More

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 21: Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park – Making Art, Making Music, Getting To 60+ Million Albums

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Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park.

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park.

Listen on iTunes, download (right click “save as”), or stream below now:

This podcast is brought to you by The Tim Ferriss Book Club, which features a handful of books that have changed my life. Here’s the list.

Now, on to our guest…

Mike Shinoda is best known as the rapper, principal songwriter, keyboardist, rhythm guitarist and one of the two vocalists (yes, an insane list) of Linkin Park, which has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide and earned two Grammy Awards in the process.

Mike has collaborated with everyone from Jay-Z to Depeche Mode, and he’s also the lead rapper in his side project Fort Minor, which I’m a huge fan of.

As if that’s not enough, he’s also provided artwork, production and mixing for all the projects mentioned above. The man is a beast… but did he start out that way? His answers might surprise you.

This episode covers how Mike got started, advice for aspiring musicians (or creatives/artists of any type), navigating “entertainment” and Hollywood, daily rituals, how he writes songs, how he rehearses, and much more.

Enjoy!

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed
Like these episodes? Want me to keep making them? Please leave a short review here. Even one sentence helps.

Show Notes and Select Links from Episode 21…

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 20: Dan Carlin – Hardcore History, Building Podcasts, Creativity, and More

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The inimitable Dan Carlin.

The inimitable Dan Carlin.

Listen on iTunes, download (right click “save as”), or stream below now:

This podcast is brought to you by The Tim Ferriss Book Club, which features a handful of books that have changed my life. Here’s the list.

Now, on to our guest…

Dan Carlin is the host of my favorite podcast, Hardcore History.

But… what?! History?! I know. I thought the same thing. How could a history podcast have a cult following?

And yet it did. During research for launching The Tim Ferriss Show, I asked many of the top dogs on the iTunes charts: what is your favorite podcast? Almost without exception, the answer came back: Hardcore History.

Since then, I’ve become friends with Dan (and more obsessed with his show), and this episode explores all the questions I’ve been dying to ask him, including:

– His early experiments
– What has worked and what hasn’t
– His habits, rituals, and routines
– How podcasting became his full-time job
– His “radio” voice and how to find your own
– Creativity
– And much more…

I hope you enjoy it, and listen to at least one episode of Hardcore History. They’re amazing. I’ve included a few of my favorites below.

Subscribe to The Tim Ferriss Show on iTunes.
Non-iTunes RSS feed
Like these episodes? Want me to keep making them? Please leave a short review here.

Hardcore History Episodes Mentioned — If In Doubt, Start with Wrath of the Khans

Show Notes and Select Links from Episode 20

  • How the concept of Hardcore History evolved into a massively successful podcast
  • The basic ingredients of Hardcore History’s recipe
  • How Dan keeps his signature tangents out of the “blue room”
  • Why he will never do an episode on the history of Southeast India
  • Advice to those searching for their voice
  • The dramatic effect Dan loves that would be part of every episode, if he could do it all over again
  • The upside of Dan’s special brand of masochism
  • Why he likens himself to a street performer on a really busy corner
  • Who really came up with the idea for Hardcore History
  • Dan’s definition of “success”
  • The gateway drugs of Hardcore History

Links

Books Mentioned in This Episode

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 14: Sam Harris, PhD on Spirituality, Neuroscience, Meditation, and More

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Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Sam Harris, Ph.D.

Listen on iTunes, download, or stream it in the below player now:

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest… Sam Harris.

Sam Harris is a neuroscience Ph.D. and the author of the bestselling books, The End of Faith, The Moral Landscape, Free Will, and Lying. His work have been discussed in The New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and many other journals.

In this episode, we explore the science of lying, uses and types of meditation, psychedelic drug uses and risks, spiritual experiences, and more. It’s really a discussion of the human experience, and how to optimize it without harming others.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Once you’ve listening to this episode, let Sam (@samharrisorg) know on Twitter what you found most valuable or compelling.

Enjoy!… Read More

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Not-To-Do Lists, Drugs, and Other Productivity Tricks

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This is a short post of things you may have missed.

First, three short (<15 minutes) podcasts I recently published:

The 9 Habits to Stop Now — The Not-To-Do List (iTunes or stream below)

Drugs and the Meaning of Life (iTunes or stream below)

Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) (iTunes or stream below)

Second, I’ve put up about a dozen highlights from other episodes — 1-3-minute clips on my YouTube page. If you enjoy them, I’ll put up more, so let me know in the comments!

Here are a few to start with:

Third, below are some podcasts with friends.  I had a blast on all of them, and all of them are different:

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The Tim Ferriss Show, Episode 10: Brian Koppelman, Co-writer/Producer of Rounders, The Illusionist, Ocean’s Thirteen

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The writing duo: David Levien and Brian Koppelman

The writing duo: David Levien and Brian Koppelman

This episode of The Tim Ferriss Show is sponsored by Bluehost, which I used for my first WordPress blog, and I still use them for sites today. Click here for a special offer!

Now, on to our guest…

“Everyday, it’s about building a practice that enables you to try and forget that you’re afraid.”
– Brian Koppelman

My guest in this episode is Brian Koppelman.

Brian is a screenwriter, novelist, director, and producer. He is best known as the co-writer of Ocean’s Thirteen and Rounders, as well as a producer of The Illusionist and The Lucky Ones. He has directed films including Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas.

In this episode, we explore how he got started, how he handles rejection, his big breaks, his creative process, and much, much more.

How does Hollywood work for writers?
How did he finally break through?
How did he discover singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman?
Will there be a movie for The 4-Hour Workweek?!?

His lessons and principles can be applied almost anywhere.

Click here to subscribe/listen to the show on iTunes.
Click here to subscribe to the show via RSS (non-iTunes feed).

Or stream the show in the player below:

If you have a second, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show tremendously, including my ability to bring on more incredible guests. Thanks!

Show notes and links are below, and please let Brian (@briankoppelman) know on Twitter what you found most valuable or hilarious. He’s a good dude and loves to teach.

Enjoy!… Read More

42 Comments / Leave a comment or question