#wcw Emily Shaw
If you’ve been to any Women Catalysts events in San Francisco this year, you may recognize this smiling face. If you haven’t, then we are thrilled to introduce you to Emily Shaw, a Bay Area podcast strategist and producer whose enthusiasm for the medium is contagious. She’s done work for a variety of big-name clients in addition to her personal projects, and she’s just getting warmed up. Emily’s leading a workshop for members next week about how to turn your creative passion into a career (you can register in the portal). We didn’t want to hog the entire Q&A time at the end of her workshop, so we got her to answer (some of) our questions ahead of time.
What is a podcast? (We know, but want to hear your definition.)
I’d define a podcast, most simply, as a series of audio files that include talking. Podcasts can range from long, unedited conversations, to highly edited audio stories that include multiple interviews, scene tape, sound effects, and music. I specialize in making highly edited, crafted stories.
What is it about podcasting that interests and excites you? And what have been the most challenging - and most rewarding - things about making podcasts?
I love the intimacy of audio, and the power of simply recording and sharing someone’s voice and story. I also feel like podcasts fit into my life more easily than any other media - for example, I can listen to a podcast while making lunch, running errands, or driving. And I feel like podcasters have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with audio, which really excites me. Some of my more experimental projects have included making personalized podcast gifts for family, and helping an app startup make entertaining, snackable audio lessons.
The most challenging thing about making podcasts is the balancing act between envisioning and planning for a series, and then executing that vision based on what happens in real life! The most rewarding part about making podcasts is hearing back from people who are moved and inspired by something I created.
What are your favorite podcasts and why?
The Shadows. It’s a fictional series about the rise and fall of a relationship and is the most daring, intimate, authentic, and creative audio storytelling I’ve heard.
The Other F Word. This is my audio comfort food. It’s not highly edited or extremely polished, but the hosts are so kind, funny, honest, and insightful as they explore stories of failure with weekly guests.
The Second Wave podcast explores the Vietnamese-American refugee experience through the personal storytelling and reporting of the host, Thanh Tan. I spent some time studying and working in Vietnam in my early twenties, so I already feel a special interest in the topic, but I especially appreciate the exceptional writing, reporting, and editing of these episodes.
Also: Love Me, StartUp, and Creative Pep Talk.
Imagine the MacArthur Foundation gave you a "genius grant" and you got to use that money for any kind of podcasting project(s). What would you do?
I’m insatiably curious about creative process and how art of all kinds gets made. (This is what inspired my first podcast Cozy Boat.) I’m also really interested in the psychology and therapeutic nature of making art. I would love to make a podcast that tells artists’ stories from a variety of angles - visiting their workspace, capturing the sounds of their process, hearing their origin story, and diving deep into their relationship with creating.
For Catalysts who love listening to podcasts and would like to try making one of their own, how should they start? What tools/resources/classes would you recommend?
The simplest way to get started making a podcast is to buy a USB mic and an easy-to-learn audio editing software like Hindenburg [if the name makes you pause, the company explains it here — Ed.], and start recording! Transom.org has an incredible wealth of resources, such as their Podcasting Basics series. If you’re interested in getting more serious about the craft of audio storytelling, a few schools that have great classes are Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, Women’s Audio Mission, and the Writing Pad.
What are you working on now and what's next for you, career-wise? How can the Women Catalysts community help you achieve your goals?
As a podcast producer and consultant, I partner with brands to create audio that feels fresh, authentic, and human. Right now I’m working on a new show with Gimlet Creative, and consulting with clients on a few emerging projects. Looking ahead, my aim is to continue honing my craft and to embark on exciting audio projects with new clients.
The Women Catalysts community can help me by checking out my work, connecting with me on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn), and telling the content marketers and media makers in their lives about what I do.