Research: Coalescing

Where all good podcasts start… in an IKEA furnished home office surrounded by Breyer horses, CDs, and a Cricut.

As I established a few weeks ago, research isn’t my strongest suit. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I read so slowly. The sheer amount of research I endeavored to complete in seven weeks was… ridiculous. But, after deciding to put the research for the third episode on the backburner, and really just focus on the first two episodes, I’ve begun to hit my stride.

This week, I turned my attention mainly to researching for episode two about the rise of the serial killer in California in the 1970s. This research has been second nature since most of the content that I consume on a regular basis is true-crime anyway. The only difference is that instead of vegging on the couch to a serial killer documentary or zoning out to a murder podcast in the car, I’ve had to pay close attention, taking notes when necessary. Through the research I’ve done over the last two weeks, I’ve decided to narrow my focus slightly to the killers operating at the same time throughout 1977-1979 in and around Los Angeles. The idea that several of the most prolific killers were all dumping victims’ bodies in the same city in a two-year period is b.a.n.a.n.a.s.

So, the research continues in earnest for Episode Two, and I am thankful that I’m only writing my outline because I was reminded just how long recording and editing audio can take if you want it to sound decent at all.

This week I set out to record the intro for the Convergence & Consequence podcast which I will use for every episode, plus my host and episode one introduction. The idea is that the podcast welcome and tagline can be reused with a new episode intro added each time I set out to record.

I don’t have a ton of audio recording experience, but I feel relatively confident with my abilities. That said, recording and editing the intro took far longer than I expected. I am extremely thankful that I set out to do this with two weeks left in my project – it was a good reminder to start the recording and editing process EARLY.

The first challenge that I ran into this week was coming up with a tagline for the podcast. I knew my podcast theme, so I hadn’t put a lot of thought into my tagline until I sat down to write out my intro script. I quickly realized that knowing what something is about inside your brain, and being able to write a concise and compelling tagline are two very different beasts. So… I started writing things down, took to power thesaurus to find a way to better describe what I was trying to say in fewer words, and whittled it down to my tagline – “the podcast that investigates moments in history forever changed by the intersection of individual stories.”

My other challenge was finding music to use in my intro. I have been using a royalty-free website called bensound for videos and animations, and as a default, I turned to them once again. I quickly found the audio that I wanted to use. It was quirky and fun and classic yet contemporary – I just… felt it. And then I looked into the licensing and learned that bensound music can’t be used in podcasts. I was bummed, to say the least. Could I have used the audio for my podcast for class? Sure. But someday I’d like Convergence & Consequence to see a life beyond a school project, so I decided to not just take the easy way out.

The audio that I had hoped to use for my into. If you know me at all, you know why this checked all my boxes. https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music/track/funny-song

I scoured several sites hoping to find something that elicited a similar feeling in me, to little avail. I did end up with some audio from pixababy.com that I’m fairly happy with, although it has a very different feeling to the original.

It’s a little spooky!

I just finished watching the show Only Murders in the Building on Hulu and I can’t help but wonder if my slightly spooky, mysterious music choice is a nod to that. Anyway, I’m fairly happy with how it came out, and I think it’s enjoyable enough to listen to. It certainly elicits a feeling of investigation, which is central to the theme of my podcast.

On a positive note, I finally have a mic stand rigged up out of my joby iPhone tripod, which makes recording audio SO much better than when I had to use my Nikon DSLR as the mic stand and scrunch my body way down in my chair to get close enough to the mic to avoid an echoey room. It made editing the audio so much easier than before.

Finally, I started writing my script for Episode One. I’m only about halfway through because everything takes longer than I think it will, but I’m also thanking myself for the very detailed outline that I wrote a few weeks ago (and for my background in English composition that taught me from an early age how to write a wildly detailed outline!) Once I get the draft finished, I’ll read it through aloud and make edits to help with flow and not sounding like a pompous, NPR nerd. I make zero promises on the latter, though.

This has been a tough process, but I’m really excited to finally see the research coalescing into a script and to begin recording. I do not look forward to listening to my own voice for hours and hours during the editing process. I’m hoping to bring in a co-host for future episodes to help with the research side of things as well as break up how much of me talking into the ether the podcast could become.

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