COM473: Podcast Production

Spring 2018

Instructor Information

Dr. Steven Hammer
301 Bronstein Hall
office hours: 1-4pm Wednesdays or by appointment
for appointments:

Catalog Description

In this course, students will focus on producing podcasts, from understanding form and genre to techniques in working with digital sound production. Students will learn advanced audio recording and post-processing techniques and tools, integrate music, write and revise scripts, publish and promote their work digitally, learn and practice interviewing techniques, and work collaboratively to create a cohesive series. Previous experience working with audio recording and editing will be helpful, though it is not a prerequisite.

Learning Objectives

In this course, students will:

• learn and practice the genre conventions of podcasting;
• create quality field and studio recordings;
• develop post-production audio skills (mixing, mastering);
• produce work that is engaged with the greater community

Required Materials


COM Gear Room Policies & Procedures


Academic Honesty
Please familiarize yourself with the University’s Academic Honesty Policy.

Accessibility and Disability Support
If you have any concerns as we begin–or throughout–the semester in regard to the accessibility of course materials or presentation, please contact me as soon as possible.

In accordance with state and federal laws, the University will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. For those who have or think that you may have a disability requiring an accommodation (learning, physical, psychological) should contact Services for Students with Disabilities, Room G10, Bellarmine, 610-660-1774 (voice) or 610-660-1620 (TTY) as early as possible in the semester for additional information and so that an accommodation, if appropriate, can be made in a timely manner. You will be required to provide current (within 3 years) documentation of the disability. For a more detailed explanation of the University’s accommodation process, as well as the programs and services offered to students with disabilities, please see the Student Resources Page. If you have any difficulty accessing the information on-line, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities at the telephone numbers above.

Collaborative Work
This course is highly collaborative in order to simulate professional production situations you may encounter after the semester. Sometimes, part of that experience is frustration, conflict, and/or unequal workloads. If you experience conflicts you are unable to resolve by communicating with one another directly, please contact me.

Attendance (being in class, on time) and participation (engaging with us while you’re in class) are vital to your success in this course. You are allowed two for the semester without penalty, so use them wisely. If you miss three to four classes, your final grade will be lowered by 10%. If you miss five classes, 15%. If you miss six, you will automatically fail the course. If you do miss class, you are responsible for the content you’ve missed (please don’t email to ask me if we did anything in class on the day you missed). If you miss days in which your group requires you, your grade for that project will likely suffer.

Assignments & Evaluation

There are 100 points available to earn this semester. You will have an opportunity to revise all of your assignments once.

Final grades will be determined using the following scale:

A: 94-100; A-: 90-93
B+: 87-89; B: 84-86; B-: 80-83
C+: 77-79; C: 74-76; C-: 70-73
D+: 67-69; D: 64-66; D-: 60-63
F: 0-59

Listening/Reading Notes: 20%

To succeed in this class, you will need to listen to a lot of podcasts (to understand the genre and production conventions) and read a lot (to learn about equipment, techniques, and best-practices). As such, you will create and maintain brief reading notes in a Google document, share it with me, and receive credit for that work. There are a total of 13 days on which a reading is assigned, so you will have a total of 13 entries at the end of the semester. Complete the entry by class time for credit.

Your Tasks/Requirements

  1. Create a Google Document titled “COM473 Notes”
  2. Change the “Share” settings to “On-Anyone with the link” and “Anyone…Can comment”
  3. Send the link to
  4. For every day that the schedule says “Read” or “Listen,” complete an entry that addresses each piece.

Tips for Successful Notes

Point Breakdown & Evaluation Criteria:

18-20 A – You completed all entries (on time), all entries were complete and thoughtful.
16-17 B – You completed all entries, most were complete and thoughtful.
14-15 C – You completed 11+ entries, most were complete and thoughtful.
12-13 D – You completed 8-10 entries, most were neither complete nor thoughtful.
0-11 F – You completed less than half of entries.

Audio Podcast Analysis/Review: 30%

To successfully understand and create your own podcast, I first want you to be able to understand the conventions. For this assignment, you will listen to at least four hours of one of these successful podcasts: Intersection, The Read, The Heart, or Ear Hustle. Please be aware that some of these podcasts deal with difficult subject matter and/or contain explicit language.

You will write, record, mix, and publish a review/analysis of the podcast that first, introduces it with some background and basic information as well as the episodes you listened to. Next, address its:

You are highly encouraged to use clips from the podcast to make your arguments.


Collaborative Podcast Series: 50%

In groups of 3-6, you will plan, produce, publish, and promote a podcast series on the topic of your choice, provided it engages with a (not-for-profit) organization or community off campus. Your series must contain at least one interview per episode, and you must conduct research that yields accurate and reliable information. Your series will consist of at least four episodes; each episode should be between 15 and 30 minutes. While you will all work on all parts of this series, you will each assume a primary role:

PreProduction Team

Production Team

PostProduction Team

This project is worth a total of 50 points. You will be evaluated in three areas:

30 points: Overall quality of series. Audio quality, strength of series theme and episode cohesion, promotion and listenership statistics, attention to podcasting conventions, relevance to target audience, ability to work together as a production team. All members of the group will receive the same score here.

20 points: Individual. Based on your above description and responsibilities, you will receive an individual grade. You will write a 500-word evaluation memo, describing each member’s greatest strengths and weaknesses (including your own), group communication dynamics, labor breakdown, and overall evaluation of your contribution to your episode and the series.



WeekOne 1/17: Introductions and Listenings.

Listen: S-Town, ep. I

Topics: Intro to the course and assignments, Genre/ReadingNotes Discussion


WeekTwo 1/24: The Podcast: History, Genre, Convention

Listen: S-Town, ep. II
Listen: One hour+ of your podcast
Read: 10 Years of Podcasting

Topics: More podcast discussion and analysis. History and present state of podcasts.


WeekThree 1/31: PreProduction

Listen: S-Town, ep. III
Listen: One hour+ of your podcast
Read: Writing for RadioWrite How You Talk

Topics: Writing, Scripting, Revision, Recording


WeekFour 2/7: Recorded Sound: Concepts, Tools, Techniques

Listen: S-Town, ep. IV
Listen: One hour+ of your podcast
Download/Install: Audacity
Watch: Audacity Basics

Topics: Microphones, Recorders, Field Recording, Studio Recording, Audacity


WeekFive 2/14: PostProduction: Editing, Arranging, Mixing, Mastering

Listen: S-Town, ep. V
Listen: One hour+ of your podcast
Read: Editing with Ears, Adobe Audition Tutorials (Watch “Audition for Beginners” Videos)

Topics: Audition, from import to export. Normalization, transitions, saving, exporting, etc.


WeekSix 2/21: Studio

Listen: S-Town, ep. VI

Topics: More S-Town and genre discussion/analysis. Studio time for projects.


WeekSeven 2/28: Critique, Revision Workshop

Podcast Review/Analysis Due 2/30

Listen: S-Town, ep. VII
No One Should be Doomed… (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

Topics: S-Town wrap up, including discussions of ethics. Critique of reviews/analyses. Brainstorming podcast series topics.


WeekEight 3/7: PreProduction, pt. 2

Read: Intros, Workflow, Story StructureStory IdeasRadio 101How Stories Begin

Topics: Group formation: use this Blueprint to develop your podcast concept in groups. Outlining series and episodes. PreProduction takes the lead.


WeekNine 3/14: Spring Break. No classes.


WeekTen 3/21: Production, pt. 2

Read: Vocals, Active Sound, Production Terminology, Ambience, Scoring, Reporting, Field ReportingChecklist

Topics: Site Design and Social Media Promotion, Music, Ambience, Reporting and Interviewing, moving from PreProduction to Production.


WeekEleven 3/28: Studio


WeekTwelve 4/4: No Class. Work out in the field.


WeekThirteen 4/11: Studio


WeekFourteen 4/18: Studio


WeekFifteen 4/25: Studio


WeekSixteen 5/2 (Last Day of Class)

Series goes live by start of class.


Finals Week