A Few Reasons You Should Edit Your Podcast

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Take a serious look at the mood you want to convey with your podcast. From there, you can judge how intense your editing workload will be. The following explains some instances where editing is needed — and (trust us) your podcast will benefit from it:

  • Professional production quality: You can’t always get everything right on the first take — and sometimes not even on the second or third. Editing makes it sound like you got even hard-to-pronounce names and tricky tongue twisters right on the first try. What’s more, you can drop in preproduced clips with just the right amount of space before and after to give it that polished feel.
  • Removing boring material: You’ve probably watched a live show or listened to live audio that doesn’t go quite where it is intended. The content gets dull and uninteresting. As a listener, you can fast forward, change the channel, or just turn it off. As a podcaster, you can avoid this situation with editing. But even though it sounds easy to take out the boring bits, be careful that you maintain continuity. If edited improperly, the listeners may find themselves confused because the line of questions changed from space travel to herbs and spices in the matter of a few seconds.
  • Ambient noise: Ambient noise is the natural and spontaneously occurring noise you may pick up when recording your podcast. If you’re conducting an in-studio interview and suddenly a passing siren or the rumble of a garbage truck makes it into your recording, the noise can disrupt the momentum of the interview and distract the audience. In fiction podcasts, such as The Raven & The Writing Desk hosted by author Chris Lester, moods and atmospheres must be maintained. For Chris, however, both apply as he breaks up his fiction with interviews. Therefore, control and minimization of ambient noise is a must.
  • Running times: You just wrapped your latest podcast with a great interview, and you’re confident that you have plenty of material for your 30-minute podcast. And then you check again and realize that you have recorded over 90 minutes’ worth of interview. And you love all of it! Now here’s where editing works in your favor. Your listeners expect 30 minutes, give or take a segment or two, from your podcast.

You could run the whole thing, unedited, but that might test the patience of your audience members (not to mention your own bandwidth and file storage). Or you could split it up into two 45-minute interviews — or even three 30-minute interviews — breaking up the airplay of the interviews with two smaller podcasts in-between the segments. In this approach to editing, everyone wins.

Editing can easily increase your productivity with podcasts. True, some podcasters define editing as cutting and deleting material, but there’s more to it. Editing can help you rescue discussions and content that would otherwise be hard to shoehorn into one podcast.

  • Scripted material: Some podcasters argue that the true podcast is done in one take, but as podcasting matures as a medium, audiences grow more and more demanding. Expectations for a podcast change when your podcast includes scripted material. Editing is a necessity in these situations. With dramatic readings and productions, moments of “ah” and “um” should be edited out to maintain the clarity of the story, as well as maintain the mood or atmosphere established in your reading.

    With the popularity of storytelling in the podosphere, professionalism and performance are the keys to a good product — and usually that means (yep!) editing. Lots of it. If you feel that editing would mar the spontaneity of your podcast — but still want to present literature or other scripted material — ask yourself how good you think The Lord of the Rings would have been if Sir Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen did everything in one take. Imagine their dialogue sounding like this:

    • Gandalf: Frodo … he, uuummm, grows closer to, you know, the end. I wonder if, um, he’s, ahh … alive.
    • Aragorn: Ummm … what *sneezes suddenly — sniffle sniffle* … what does your heart *ahem* tell you?

      Not what most would call riveting drama. With scripted material, editing is a must.