“High production values plus audience insights” are the key to a successful podcast, according to the producer who makes the companion podcast series BBC Obsessed With… for shows such as I May Destroy You, Normal People and Line of Duty.
“Focus on your audience and give them an elevated but inviting, stimulating, playful conversation,” said Lily Ames, Chalk & Blade’s head of production and culture.
Ames, a Canadian who has been based in London for the past six years, was talking at an RTS Futures NI event in late August to Conor Finn, creator and host of the Finnterviews podcast.
She described Chalk & Blade, whose clients include BBC Sounds and the Guardian, as well as brands such as Net-a-Porter, as a “boutique podcast production company”.
Podcasts allows for “more complex storytelling”, explained Ames. “Because people are opting in, the content is hyper-focused to [a particular] demographic – it’s narrowcasting.
“With news, for example, podcasts are more opinionated.”
The market for podcasts is evolving rapidly, she continued: “The most exciting new market is under-21. People have woken up to the fact that young people listen to podcasts. Everyone is trying to understand what under-21s want.”
Turning a podcast into a TV show – as happened with US thriller Homecoming, which starred Julia Roberts – “is the dream”, said Ames. “It’s something as a production company that we try to do. More and more TV shows and movies are looking to option [podcasts].”
In podcast production, said Ames, there are opportunities for a variety of producers, whose roles include logistics, booking guests and studios, writing scripts, recording and editing.
Audio engineers or sound designers, who need technical knowledge, are also in demand. “The recording has to be perfect. People need to know how to use the equipment, mastering the mixing and sound design,” she said. For audio engineers, “there’s a real demand and less supply”.
The RTS Futures NI event, ‘Hit TV programme to binge-worthy podcast’, was held on 31 August, and produced by Conor Finn and Scott Duffield. It can be viewed at: https://rts.org.uk/video/hit-tv-programme-binge-worthy-podcast-rts-northern-ireland