How to Make a Specialist News & Interviews Podcast, With Patrick Gray, Creator of ‘Risky Business’
Risky Business is a multi-award winning cyber security podcast that has been in continuous operation since February 2007. Created by Patrick Gray, the show has a dedicated following among cyber security professionals, government policymakers, and in the law enforcement and intelligence communities.
Gray is a journalist who's been covering cyber security for 18 years. Prior to founding the Risky Business podcast, he worked as a print/written content journalist, filing stories for Wired.com, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, ZDNet and many other outlets. Below he takes us through how he creates Risky Business from start to finish, giving us insight into what's involved in producing an excellent specialist news and interviews podcast.
After working on staff with ZDNet for a year, I moved on to freelancing and relocated to Australia’s Byron Bay in 2004. I really liked it there but I realised that if I was going to stay long term I needed to find a better way to make money than writing about security for mainstream audiences.
I actually really like security and wanted to do something for practitioners instead of writing the same old stories for general IT audiences that I'd already been belting out for years. Other people in my situation were starting blogs and newsletters, but I'd done some community radio as a teenager then regularly contributed to an ABC News Radio show while working at ZDNet, so I started a podcast.
THE PROCESS: RESEARCH & PREP
Risky Business is largely a news-focused podcast, so a lot of my time is spent selecting news items for discussion and reaching out to various contacts to better understand the context of what I’ll be discussing on the show with my co-host. I also collect audio from a bunch of these contacts that I can play during the news recording session for added context. Once I get these audio clips, I edit them then load them into the SFX pads on my RØDECaster Pro so I can just hit a pad to play excerpts during our news recording.
THE PROCESS: RECORDING
Once the run sheet is done I send links to everything over to my co-host for them to read. After they've had a couple of hours to read everything, we record the segment either via a VoIP app or – increasingly – a double-ender interview recording platform like Zencastr.
By this stage, I've already recorded a sponsor interview and sometimes a feature interview. Those interviews are already recorded and edited by the time I do the news recording.
THE PROCESS: Editing
Once the news slot is recorded, it’s time to import the audio into my DAW (always multitrack) then edit the news down to a suitable running time and leave anything that wasn't interesting on the cutting room floor. Then it's time to write and record my introduction and links, then stitch everything together, adding theme music and bumpers as I go. From there, I tag and upload, publish and promote.
THE PROCESS: ADJUSTING WORKFLOW
The RØDECaster Pro is new to my setup, and while I initially thought I'd use it just as a travel rig, I have a feeling it'll be my primary equipment when I return from my current travels. Loading clips into the SFX pads has allowed me to shift some of my post-production to pre-production and the pre-amp quality is surprisingly good for such an affordable piece of gear. My deadline days are pretty hectic so shifting some tasks to pre-pro has definitely helped me to create a better workflow.
IT’S A CAREER
I've been doing Risky Business as my full-time job since 2007 and it's taken until 2018 for better podcasting technology to materialise. The combination of the RØDECaster Pro and double-ender, store-and-forward platforms like Zencastr are particularly exciting to me. The portability of the RØDECaster combined with Zencastr’s ability to compensate for sketchy internet connections I encounter around the world means I can record interviews from anywhere provided I have access to a rudimentary internet connection, or even a voice-only mobile phone signal. Who knows? Maybe we'll just stay on the road this year now it's possible!
THE HARDEST PART?
The hardest thing about doing the podcast is the relentless deadline pressure and the knowledge that these days some very important people listen to the podcast. Every journalist's dream is to set the agenda, but be careful what you wish for: it comes with stress.
Find out more about Risky Business below:
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