Podcasting tips from Backstory Radio


Backstory Radio has set the standard for history podcasting since its launch in 2008.  Over the years, the team at Backstory has assembled a Google doc with resources on how to teach with podcasts, create student assignments using podcasts, start a podcast or improve an existing podcast. The links and resources are reprinted below. Full credit goes to Backstory and their team for assembling them.




  • Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production . This book is full of tips on everything from ethical editing, to setting up a home studio. You can also find more tips on NPR Training’s website.
  • Radio Diaries: DIY Handbook. Another great guide from a giant in public radio; especially nice for those who might be thinking about incorporating oral history in a projects.
  • Radio: An Illustrated Guide. From the makers of This American Life, especially great for use with students who are interested in audio production. This illustrated guide covers the basics of recording and storytelling, and is just 30 pages long and $5 a pop.
  • Transom.org. Transom is an incredible online resource for audio producers and journalists. Updated frequently on all sorts of topics, their reviews of recorders, mics, and other equipment in the field and the studio are worth their weight in circuits. If you don’t know what equipment you need for your project, head to Transom for informed recommendations.


  • Free Music Archive. A big cost can be music rights. Head to Free Music Archive, and you can find many independent artists who are willing to license music to nonprofits for low rates, as well as music that can be used with an on-air credit for composers.
  • Internet Archive . So much more than just the Way Back machine. The Archive is a good first search if you’re looking for archival sound.
  • Library of Congress. The vast majority of music and audio you’ll find here is in the public domain, with reliable audio and video going back to the 1930s.


  • UnionDocs Center for Documentary ArtUnionDocs holds workshops from a day to a week long throughout the year. Some are focused on film, some on audio – most emphasize field recording, story telling, and intensive documentary skills. Located in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Transom Story Workshops. Running from 1 to 9 weeks, depending on the session, these workshops are usually geared towards new producers and feature workshops or talks with established producers. Located in Woods Hole, MA, with workshops offered periodically in other locations.
  • Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. Like UnionDocs and Transom, the CDS offers workshops in audio production throughout the year — but also offers online classes. Check out their continuing ed website for more information.
  • Third Coast International Audio Festival Conference. Three days of workshops, listening sessions, and general audio nerdery at what the New Yorker has recently dubbed ‘kind of a Sundance of radio.’ Held Oct 4-6 2018 in Chicago; there are usually discounts offered for those who can help man booths, screening, and panels.
  • Salt Institution for Documentary Studies. Long considered one of the finest programs for documentary radio, Salt briefly closed its doors in 2015. Back with a vengeance, Salt offers a fifteen week course that can provide a solid base if you’re interested in producing longform audio professionally.

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