I originally wrote this blog for our board game company on running the Happy Mitten Podcast. I’ve updated and tweaked some of the content for the purposes of JeffLarge.com.
Lately we’ve received a lot of great feedback on the podcast. So what actually goes into producing the Happy Mitten Podcast? Over the course of our next two blog posts, I’m going to give you an in-depth look at the production of our podcast from idea to finished product.
As a young company, we’re running on a tight budget but still want to make an early impact on the board game space. From the start, it’s been our hope to help grow the hobby and help the community with quality resources. Thus, the reason for much of our content-based marketing strategy. By giving you quality content on a weekly basis, hopefully we’re giving you a reason to trust us before we ask you to support our games. The podcast is a crucial part to that formula.
Currently, the podcast is bi-weekly and is typically an hour long. Our hook is in the title, “Board games, business, and…” With each episode, the title brings in whatever topic we’re discussing or person we’re interviewing. We try to look at gaming from the business angle by talking with designers, publishers, artists, or other important people and by covering topics like best practices or industry happenings. Last, we keep the tone of the show G to PG. We want to appeal to a wide audience. Most of the time, if my 8 year-old wouldn’t be able to listen to it, we’re not going to air it.
All of our shows are planned ahead of time and we typically know what we’re doing at least a month in advance. If the show is just Leandra, Kyle, and I, we decide on a topic that interests us ahead of time and do a little research about it. Next we map out some general talking points and let it flow. If we’re interviewing someone, it always starts with a professional contact email to see if they are interested in being a guest on the show. If the person/ people agree, then we write about 10 questions specific to our guest and their niche to help guide the interview.
We include the following in our first contact email to our potential guests:
- Our name and the name of our podcast
- The URL/ website of our podcast
- A brief summary of what our podcast is about
- The length of our podcast/ the length of recording (we factor in about 10 minutes on the front end for sound checks and 10 minutes after for wrapping up once the show is done)
- The general time, including time zone, that you record (for example, we always record at 10pm EST, yours might be more flexible)
- We make sure we are familiar with our guest and their work as well
If the person I’m asking agrees (which most people in the board game space do), I follow up with an email including:
- 2 or 3 date and time options (including time zone)
- A reminder of the length of the time it will take
- Our Skype name/ ask for their Skype info
- State who will call who (we typically call our guests)
- Ask if they want the questions in advance. *We never ask anything of our guests that would require them to do “homework” so to speak. Some people like knowing ahead of time.
- Last, I always send a reminder email with the necessary information a few days before the interview.
Equipment and Setup
This is an area where many people have different preferences on the best way to record, what equipment to use, and so on. While there is no single right way to do it, certain ways are better than others.
Fortunately for Happy Mitten, because of my experience performing in bands, I owned a lot of our equipment before starting our company and podcast. My experience comes from years of performing in bands/ solo as well as DJ’ing a variety of special events.
Our equipment includes:
- 2 Shure SM58 Mics
- 1 Shure SM57 mic
- Live Wire XLR Mic Cables
- 3 Nady Pop Filters
- Mackie 1202
- Roland R-05
- iPod (for open/ closing music)
- Behringer HA400 4-channel headphone amp
- Desktop computer for Skype calls and minor editing
- Audacity, Levelator, and ID3 Tag editor software
- Other random cables and adaptors
Tips on the Equipment
Microphones- Many people prefer using condenser microphones. The problem with condenser mics is the space you are recording in needs to be “sound-friendly” considering those pick up EVERYTHING. I enjoy the cardioid mics because you can get a really clean sound without picking up as much room volume. Plus at about $100 a pop, the Shure SM58 mic gives you great sound at a reasonable price.
Cables- They matter and can make a significant difference. My favorite are probably Mogami or Live Wire but most of the medium to higher end cables will work fine.
Mixer- One of the best features of the Mackie 1202 is that it has 2 AUX outs instead of one. These inputs are necessary if you want to run a mix-minus setup for Skype calls or Google chat interviews. Basically it’s a way for your interviewee to hear everything (voices, music, etc) without hearing the echo of themselves.
- Mackie 1402VLZ4 (14 inputs instead of 12; 6 XLR instead of 4)
- Mackie 802VLZ4 (8 inputs instead of 12; 3 XLR instead of 4)
Recorder- I heavily debated between the Roland R-05 and Tascam DR-40. Both have many perks but I decided to go with the Roland because I trust the brand, it’s more portable because of its size, and because I like specific features of the recorder like the ability to pause the recording instead of stopping it. My only complaint so far is it records on the quiet side/ I have to max out the input volume.
Headphone Amp- The Behringer Headphone Amp basically splits the output volume into 4 different controllable channels so multiple people can monitor the recording. This specific model is cheap (both in price and quality) but it was a way better option than paying $150 for a rackmount unit.
The 3 of us each talk into our own mic that is covered with a pop filter. Those mics run into their own channel on the mixer board. The iPod is on it’s own channel for the opening and closing music and the desktop computer is running a mix-minus on its own channel and AUX for when we do interviews. Last an output goes from the mixer to the recorder.
End of Part One
On my next blog post I’ll cover my workflow for recording, editing, and posting the podcast to the web.
Something unclear? Curious about something I said? Feel free to post any questions or thoughts you have in the comments below.
Location: Main work desk
Music: Brother by X Ambassadors
Beverage: Jim & Ginger
*This article contains some affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission if you make a purchase through select links. I recommend this equipment because it rocks and personally use it. The commission is a small bonus for me and way for you to “say” thanks if you enjoy my recommendations.
Image copyrights & trademarks are held by respective owners. Use of these works is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law.