Documentary Podcast: Tell True and Captivating Stories
A documentary podcast is an audio production that delves deep into a particular theme or subject, often through the use of interviews, narration, and sound effects. Education, eloquence, and knowledge are the three main elements of a successful podcast documentary, not to mention audio podcast editing skills and tools that come in handy in the pre-and post-production stage.
The popularity of podcast documentaries is on the rise, and now is an ideal time to launch one for your business, brand, or personal interest. You can focus on incidents that shaped America since its founding, great leaders who could change the course of history, or what’s happening in Syria and Iraq. It can also be a podcast about documentaries. Literally, it can be anything that goes deep into the heart of listeners, or influences news and culture.
British investigative journalist and filmmaker Josh Baker, who hosted “I’m Not a Monster” for BBC World Service, mostly focuses on humanitarian crises and conflicts around the world. Like Josh and many others, you can also pick a topic of your interest and make an award-winning documentary in 2023. We have compiled a guide on how to produce the best binge-worthy documentary podcasts, while also handpicking the top documentary podcasts that made history in terms of engagement. But before everything else, let’s delve into why you should care about it at all.
The Benefits of Creating a Documentary Podcast
Creating a documentary podcast offers a plethora of benefits for storytellers. One of the most significant benefits is the ability to delve deep into a subject and explore it from multiple angles. Podcasts offer a level of flexibility in terms of storytelling, giving creators the freedom to take their time and really dive into the details, providing listeners with a comprehensive understanding of the topic.
Another benefit of creating a documentary podcast is the opportunity to explore niche topics. Podcasts are not bound by the same constraints as traditional media, such as time and budget. This means that creators can focus on subjects that may not have mass appeal, but still have a dedicated and passionate audience. This allows creators to reach a specific and engaged audience who are passionate about the subject matter, which can lead to a more engaged and dedicated audience in the long run.
Finally, there is the potential for a large and engaged audience. Podcasts have seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years, with close to 180 million Americans who listened to a podcast in 2022 alone. This presents a significant opportunity for creators to reach a large and diverse audience, and build a loyal fan base. Podcasts can be easily shared and distributed, which can lead to organic growth and a larger audience over time. Also, Podcasts can be consumed at any time, and in any place, which makes them very accessible for the listeners.
Overall, creating a documentary podcast offers a unique opportunity for storytellers to connect with a dedicated and engaged audience, explore niche topics, and delve deep into a subject in a way that is not possible with other mediums.
Best Documentary Podcasts to Take Inspiration from
Top podcasters always aim at deeper engagement. If you want to take inspiration from the best and learn the tricks of holding the attention of listeners for 30 minutes or more, we recommend listening to these top podcasts. You can find these on the top podcast directories like Apple or Stitcher.
Join Nic and the Captain as they explore and investigate the world of true crime stories over a cold beer. Their garage may look like any other, but it serves as a gateway to a variety of real-life crime cases, both in the US and internationally.
Each week, they dive into a new case, providing a mix of serious discussion and lighthearted banter to make the experience more enjoyable. Whether you’re a mystery enthusiast or an armchair detective, you will love it as the True Crime Garage series investigates and offers a collection of missing persons, unsolved and cold cases, as well as accounts of notorious serial killers and solved cases to satisfy your curiosity.
American Scandal documentary podcast explores some of the most intriguing and controversial scandals in United States history. The show is hosted by Lindsay Graham, who also hosts several other history-focused podcasts such as American History Tellers. Each season of American Scandal focuses on a different scandal, delving into the details and providing a unique perspective on the stories of the murkier side.
What sets American Scandal apart is its use of dramatization to bring the scandals of politicians and moguls to life. The host, Lindsay Graham, uses fictionalized dialogue and narration based on his research to give listeners an immersive experience. The use of this theatrical element adds to the overall enjoyment of the podcast.
Dr. Leah Stokes and Dr. Katharine Wilkinson are two experts in the field of energy and climate policy who come together to host a podcast that delves deeper into the topic of climate change. Dr. Stokes is the author of the award-winning book “Short Circuiting Policy,” which explores the ways in which utilities have hindered regulation and promoted climate denial. Dr. Wilkinson is an accomplished author, strategist, and educator who has been recognized by Time magazine as one of the “women who will save the world.”
Together, they aim to provide listeners with a more comprehensive understanding of climate change and offer insights on how to actively participate in the fight against it. With the help of a wide range of climate leaders, the duo covers a variety of topics, including the stories of innovative solutions, campaigns, and efforts to address climate change, accounts of corruption and misconduct, and individuals who are making a positive impact. This podcast is an in-depth exploration of the issue of climate change and the ways in which people can make a difference.
Unobscured is a podcast that delves into some of history’s most mysterious and misunderstood moments, uncovering the truth behind the myths. The show is created, hosted, and produced by Aaron Mahnke, who has a passion for all things historical, mysterious, and unusual. Using his unique storytelling style, Mahnke peels back the layers of time to uncover the individuals, customs, and beliefs that contributed to these misunderstood events.
Throughout each season, listeners will hear from experts and scholars who provide in-depth commentary and analysis, offering a deeper understanding of the historical events being discussed. Unlike Mahnke’s Lore episodes, Unobscured provides an extensive examination of each case, making it just as intriguing and terrifying.
If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining escape from current events, Brooke Siffrinn and Aricia Skidmore-Williams have got you covered. Their podcast series delves into the lives of rich and famous families, highlighting their flaws and scandals in a humorous and well-researched manner.
Some of the families they cover include Beyonce, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton, and they always have new families to discuss, ensuring that there’s always something juicy to listen to. One of the world’s most talked-about families, the British Royal Family, was also covered by them in the past, in which they unearthed the mostly unknown side of the British elite family.
How to Create a Documentary Podcast?
Creating a podcast in your own style and earning critical acclaim is a process that involves several steps. The first step is research and pre-production. In this stage, creators must choose a topic, conduct interviews, and gather research. This is the foundation of the podcast, and it’s essential to get it right to ensure the final product is compelling and informative.
Develop an idea
As a podcaster, it is crucial to evaluate if the theme of your podcast is captivating to listeners. Although it is not mandatory to attract a broad audience, it is vital to pinpoint a specific niche or demographic that will be drawn to your content.
To make it a grand success, ask yourself pretty basic questions such as:
- What is my motivation for starting this podcast?
- What is the topic I am going to deal with?
- Is it intriguing enough?
- Does it stand out from the other podcasts?
These may seem like basic questions, but having definite answers to them is fundamental for creating a podcast that captivates minds. It is important for creators to take the time to ponder these questions to ensure that their podcast connects with their intended audience.
Be Consistent with the Format
Don’t create a podcast without deciding on the core format of the show. In this stage as well, you need to ask a few questions to yourself, such as:
- Will it feature a solo host or there will be interviews?
- Are you going to include commercial breaks?
- What should be the duration of each episode?
- What segments you are going to include?
Also, it is essential to decide on a fixed schedule for publishing new episodes. This helps in establishing trust and a connection with your audience. Regularity is critical when it comes to podcasts, the more persistent you are with your format and release schedule, the more probable your audience will consider your podcast as a regular component of their routine. If yours is a weekly podcast, make sure you release one episode each week.
Furthermore, decide on how much pre-written and unscripted material will be there in the podcast, as this will also affect the consistency of the production.
Consider Adding Artworks
Artwork is an important aspect of branding and should be considered alongside the overall format of your documentary podcast. The visual identity of your podcast, including the artwork, is the first thing listeners will see when searching for it on platforms like Apple or Spotify.
Make sure the artwork conveys the theme and style of your podcast and meets technical specifications set by podcast directories. Remember that the artwork may also be used on social media platforms, so create multiple sizes.
Use the Right Technological Equipment
Once you have completed creating your idea and production plan for your podcast, it’s time to focus on the technical aspect of launching your podcast. High-quality audio is crucial in a medium that is based on sound, so it is important to invest in equipment such as a microphone, preamp, and pop filter to ensure the best audio quality.
Additionally, having audio editing software is a must. There are a variety of options available, including basic editing on smartphones, third-party software such as Audacity and Alitu, or desktop software like Adobe Audition or Logic Pro.
When recording with multiple personalities who are not in the same location, it’s recommended to use software such as Squadcast or Zoom to avoid any audio issues. Don’t forget to market your podcast to increase its reach consistently.
Podcast Post-Production: What to Keep in Mind?
The final step in creating a podcast is the post-production phase, where efforts are made to attract listeners and keep them engaged. It’s important to remember that creating a good documentary podcast is a long-term process and not something that can be achieved quickly. Many podcasters make the mistake of expecting immediate results and getting discouraged when they don’t see them.
Instead of rushing to get a large audience, it’s essential to set realistic goals for yourself and your show. Unless you’re a well-known personality, it’s unlikely that you’ll have thousands of listeners from the start. Building a loyal audience can take time and requires careful planning, strategy, and marketing.
To evaluate the success of your podcast, it’s important to review the results after a few episodes have been published. This will give you an idea of how well the show is performing and allow you to set appropriate goals and predict future results.
Documentary Podcasts: What to Watch out for?
When it comes to sound effects and music, it’s important to remember that they should be used sparingly. Their main purpose is to enhance the dialogue, rather than overpower it. During playback, the dialogue should be the main focus, with sound effects and music serving as a subtle backdrop.
Despite this, it’s still crucial to make sure that the sound effects and music are audible and serve a purpose in advancing the story. One way to ensure the balance is by seeking feedback from your listeners and followers during the pre-release stage.
Create Your First Documentary Broadcast Today
Creating a documentary podcast offers many benefits, including the ability to tell stories in-depth, explore niche topics, and reach a large and engaged audience. As we mentioned, the process of creating a podcast involves several stages, including research and pre-production, production, and post-production.
To be successful, you must find the right story, create a compelling narrative, and build a loyal audience. Podcasts are a dynamic medium and creating a podcast can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. With the right approach, you can reach a dedicated and passionate audience.
Do not forget to submit your podcast to the most-visited directories. The problem with these podcast directories is that they have dedicated users who don’t tend to switch to other directories. For this reason, you need to submit your documentary audio cast to as many directories as possible. Start with the highest-rated such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, and then diversify your submission efforts. Let yourself be heard.