As the Head of Podcasts at Mamamia, one of the most frequent questions I get is… what do you actually do?
Well, I make a lot of shows and listen to a lot of shows. But I guess there’s a bit more to it.
You see, I didn't grow up wanting to be a podcast producer. When I was little, it wasn’t a job that existed. But bloody hell am I glad it does now.
Listen: Extraordinary Stories: Young Talent Time. Post continues below.
I started at Mamamia in 2012 as an intern. I was 19 and wanted to be the next Carrie Bradshaw, so I applied for an internship, got the job and decided I was going to make myself indispensable. So indispensable that when we were moving offices I offered to drive Mia’s car to drop off some old furniture at the Salvos. I drove into a pole reversing out of the carpark. And yet, I still (somehow) managed to keep my job. I stayed in the written team for two more years before I joined as a founding member of the podcast team, alongside Mia, Holly and our then Head of Podcasts Monique Bowley.
Joining the Podcast team felt like jumping on a rocket ship. In our first year, we launched four shows: Mamamia Out Loud, No Filter, This Glorious Mess and I Don’t Know How She Does It and achieved 1 million downloads.
Fast forward to 2021 and we have 40 shows, over 140 million downloads and a core team of 10. It’s insane how much we have grown, and continue to grow. And it’s my job to keep the shows and the team going and growing.
So what does a podcast producer do? Well, quite a bit. We plan shows with hosts, book in guests, record the interviews and then edit them up into the shows you love, adding music and fun sound effects.
Sometimes this can take 3 hours, but other times, it can take weeks.
Our new podcast, Extraordinary Stories, is one of the ones that takes weeks.
By now, I’m hopeful you’ve listened to the first five seasons, including our first: all about the Magazine Queens. For that season specifically, we spent four months planning.
Emma Gillespie, the host, and myself sat in a meeting room for two days doing heaps of research and mapped out a narrative arc. It looked a lot like this:
We watched a lot of documentaries on Kerry Packer, a lot of interviews on Ita Buttrose, and then we worked out what guests we’d need.After that, we started approaching a lot of people. And then, we started recording the likes of Ita Buttrose, Nene King, Paula Joye, Kirstie Clements and our very own Holly and Mia. Here’s Ita and Emma in the studio, taken from the producer booth:
Once we had all the interviews, we started transcribing them. Not by hand, by a fancy machine. And from there, our producers Em, Mel and Holly started building the scripts.
We knew each episode would focus on a different decade, so that made it easier because there was a clear ending, but they still had to make sense as a whole. Then, we wrote the narrative in, which is Emma’s voice over you can hear throughout the episodes.
And at that point, Emma and I headed into the studio and started recording.
For 5 episodes, we ended up with roughly 10 hours of audio.
And that’s when the fun bit started. I started building the shows in the editing software we use, Audition. And this, well, it took me a long time. I worked on the first episode for 4 days before I was happy with it, and it looked a lot like this:
All those different colours? They are the different audio files.
From there, we had a listening party with the podcast team, Holly and Mia. Where we all sit around and listen to the show and then give feedback to make it better.
And then, around 4 weeks later, we launched it on MPlus!
Extraordinary Stories isn’t your average podcast, so it takes a lot longer, but, I hope you’d agree that all that time is worth it. Because if I do say so myself, it’s the best show we’ve ever made.
And if you haven’t listened yet, what are you doing? There are so many seasons out now exclusively to MPlus subscribers - you can listen when you are logged in via the Mamamia App or website, or on Spotify.