Appendix C: Podcast Assignments & Examples

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Assignment #1: Ethics Discussion

Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are now widely available for podcasters – from doing mundane tasks such as transcribing, to the creative work of cover art and music, and more controversial uses such as cloned voices or creating entire podcasts from AI. See Ch. 1 for coverage of AI issues in podcasting.

Prepare for a class discussion on the following issues:

  • Are there “good” uses of AI in podcasting, if so, what are they?
  • Do you think there are downsides to using in AI in podcasting, and if so, why?
  • Since AI is built from existing data bases, do you have concerns over discrimination abuses against individuals or groups?
  • Should the listener be advised that AI was used in research, preparing guest bios, doing ads, or any other aspect of producing the podcast?

This exercise could also be used for Discussion Boards, Blog Posts, Podcasts, or written papers.

Assignment #2: Podcast Listening & Deconstruct

The goal of this assignment is to familiarize students with podcast variety and production techniques.

Students should take notes and listen critically, since this is not casual listening for entertainment but to study, think about, and probe HOW a podcast is produced (meaning how it is put together). Make your analysis clear enough that it would inform someone who has not listened to the show.

See Ch. 6 on how to do a podcast deconstruction – if you study how creators put together various podcasts it will help you shape your own because you will have knowledge about a variety of creative storytelling techniques.

Select an interview, conversational, or nonfiction narrative podcast (one example in this genre is This American Life) and listen to at least the first 20 minutes. (Do NOT include fiction podcasts, unless directed by your instructor) because they are far more complex and expensive to create.

Include a live link to the podcast episode and answer the following questions:

  1. Identify the podcast name and description; explain why they do or do not match the show content you heard; describe why the podcast music and artwork (include a link to the artwork) seems appropriate and compelling or not to the topic;
  2. Discuss whether the content of the show is interesting or compelling by identifying what makes it so with specific examples;
  3. Identify the show format – how the show is constructed? Is it a single host, co-host, or roundtable? Is it an interview, talk, or nonfiction narrative-where the story is told by the host and in edited audio clips of interviews; identify the genre (crime, investigative, sports, politics, pop culture, self-help, educational, a mix?);
  4. How well is the technical portion of the podcast done? Think about audio quality of the podcast and about the speaking clarity and energy by hosts and guests;
  5. Identify one thing that you DO & one thing that you DO NOT want to imitate; if anything.

ALTERNATIVE ASSIGNMENT: The goal of this assignment is to familiarize students with the multitude of podcast topics available by actively listening to podcasts and critically analyzing the differences among podcasts in content, style, and production.

  • Go to a podcast directory and select two podcasts on different subjects to listen to for at least 15 minutes.
  • Go to a podcast directory and select two podcasts on the same subject (hopefully on a topic you expect to cover on your podcast) and listen for at least 15 minutes.
  •  Write a 4-5 page critical analysis based on the following criteria:
  1.  Describe/critique the podcast name, description, music, and artwork;
  2.  How interesting or compelling is the content? Think in terms of quality, style, format, and genre;
  3.  How well is the technical portion of the podcast done? Think about audio quality and speaking;
  4.  Identify one thing from each of the four podcasts that you DO or DO NOT want to imitate.

#3: Podcast Pitch & Post

This assignment has two goals. The first is for students to make a written pitch for a podcast show they would like to do, with the information posted on the course Discussion Board.

The second part is to evaluate the pitch of a classmate with constructive criticism posted on the Discussion Board.

  • Podcast Pitch: Propose a name for your podcast; describe your podcast in 10 words or less;
  • Post: Review the podcast pitch of two other students and make useful comments; they may be critical, but your goal is to be helpful.

Assignment #4: Produce & Edit Podcast Open

The goal of this assignment is to create your podcast open. Use music and voiceover narration to introduce your show, edit the audio and upload them to your own free SoundCloud account. There is an audio example at the end of this exercise.

  • Find and select music for your podcast open using royalty-free tracks or original music, see Ch. 11
  • You will submit a written sheet that tells exactly where you got your music and that you have followed all copyright rules. i.e., if credit to the musician is required then signal that you intend to do that in oral credits at the end of the podcast and on your show website.
  • This show open is the standard podcast open used each week, not the individual opening. It should include the show nameyour name and a brief description of what the podcast is about. You can voice the intro or have someone else do that. An example is included below.
  • Lay down the music track on one channel and put the voice track on a second channel
  • Edit the tracks so you start with music at full strength, then lower the sound when the voice track comes in with the podcast show title and host. Once you have finished speaking, have the music come back up to full strength and then fade out within a few seconds.
  • Export as an MP3 audio file and send to your instructor.

{Audio Example}

Assignment #5: Create & Edit a Sound Story

The goal of this assignment is to understand how audio storytelling differs from written text. When using sound to tell a story, the listener must be able immediately to identify the sounds being heard. The power of sound in audio storytelling crosses all languages. There is an audio example at the end of this exercise.

  • Create a short fictional audio story of 50-to-90 seconds that uses sound effects, sounds you record, and uses only one to five words of narration.
  • Edit into an MP3 audio file, upload it to your SoundCloud account and send me the link.

In the example below, the story is that of a person walking to their car, getting in and starting the car, pulling into the street, fiddling with the radio, sighing, texting while driving, then screaming as she gets into a car accident and ends up in the hospital.

{Audio Example}

Assignment #6: Descriptive Writing & Recording

The goal of this assignment is descriptive writing – which is what audio storytelling is all about. Write to make a scene come alive in the mind of the listener so they can imagine what’s happening from the rich detail you provide.

You will pick a historic photo and use descriptive language but without using words that explicitly tell what is in the photograph. There is an audio example at the end of this exercise.

  • Select a photo from
  • Research the photo and write about it without telling the audience what the photo depicts. Use descriptive language with adverbs and adjectives that are strong and colorful.
  • Record what you have written, using vocal energy and clear articulation.
  • Edit into an MP3 audio file, upload it to your SoundCloud account and send your instructor the link.

{Audio Example}

Assignment #7: Deconstructing Audio Stories

The goal of this assignment is to research and analyze how audio in podcasts is used in storytelling. By carefully listening to every use of audio and looking at a story transcript (or creating a transcript yourself), you will dissect how the story was put together. Write your analysis and submit to your instructor.

Analyze NPR podcasts that use audio beyond just interviews in their storytelling. That may include natural sound from events such as a protest rally, historical archival audio, actor dialogue, news clips, music, person-on-the-street comments, an author reading sections of their book and such.

  1. Listen to the NPR podcast, “Thoroughline,” in an episode called “The Long Hot Summer,” from July 20, 2020.The podcast recalls the 1960s racial unrest in the context of the racial injustice protests of 2020. You can download the audio file, the transcript is here.
  2. Listen to the NPR podcast, “Radiolab” in an episode called “Dispatches from 1918,” broadcast July 17, 2020. You can download the audio file; I did not see a transcript.
  • Identify how the story begins: Is it narration? Sound?
  • What are the audio sources used and how long are they? Is it an interview; natural sound from a public event like a protest rally; archival audio from newsreels or current news shows; music; sound effect?
  • What do you notice about the writing? Are descriptions used of what a person or event looks like; is the writing style giving straightforward information or is the style building suspense?
  • What observations can you make about story structure? Does narration last long before you hear audio or is there limited narration; are the audio clips long or short?
  • How does the story end?

Assignment #8: Create & Edit a Mini-Podcast

The goal of this assignment is to create a mini-podcast, using previous assignments and putting them together with some new elements.

You will add three new elements – a narration, a bumper, and the show ending. The bumper reminds the audience of the program they are listening to and can be used to break up a long interview or to cover an edit. There is an audio example at the end of this exercise.

  • This podcast pilot show begins with your podcast open, then adds the audio sound story;
  • Make a voice recording of your descriptive writing-photo story, then add that to the audio file;
  • Create a bumper for the podcast by writing a short reminder of what the audience is listening to, for example: “You are listening to “Home Gardening Newbies’ – the show to help you develop a green thumb,” and then add that to the audio file. You could also use the name of the host.
  • End your show by thanking the audience for listening and giving them a call-to-action – how to find your podcast or website. You could also tell them what the topic will be for your next episode if you know that. But every story needs an ending.

Once all of the various audio clips are edited into an MP3 audio file, upload it to your SoundCloud account, and send your instructor the link.

{Audio Example}

Assignment #9: Create an Original Podcast

The goal of this assignment is creation, writing, hosting, producing and editing your original podcast episode.

  • Create an 8-10 minute podcast using at least one guest interview. Required elements include a show open with music, interview(s), bumper and show end.

Assignment #10: Create a Podcast Trailer

The goal of this assignment is to create an audio trailer to promote your podcast on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

  • Create a :30-:50 trailer of your podcast that showcases the best of what you have to offer.
  • Free tools to create audiograms are outlined in Ch. 8, using the Headliner app. A video tutorial shows the process of how to do this.
  • Examples of audio (and video) trailers are included in Ch. 9.Assignment #10: Create a Podcast Website/Blog

Assignment #11: Create a Podcast Website

The goal of this assignment is to create a website for your podcast.

  • Create a blog or website for your podcast using WordPress or another blog tool.
  • Embed the podcast audio.
  • Include a host biophotocontact information; name & description of the podcast; use of the podcast artwork.
  • Include a show transcriptshow noteslinks to additional resources.


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Tools for Podcasting Copyright © by Jill Olmsted is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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