This series is all about Libsyn’s podcasters. Its sole purpose is to introduce these awesome podcasts to the world as well as share their podcasting insight to empower the community!
Q & A with Laura from Keep It Lit
My name is Laura Herrick and my co-host is Laura Cooley. We live in Austin, Texas and are the co-creators of a literary podcast called Keep It Lit.
When did you start podcasting?
We started playing around with podcasting in this past spring, but began recording for Keep It Lit in June.
We have preferred to tape at least two episodes at once in order to always have some cushion in case things come up that prevent us from getting together each week.
Why did you start podcasting?
Cooley and I both taught AP Literature and Composition to high school seniors.
Our first podcast was a three-part series on Brave New World that we recorded for our students. When we recorded, we had a great time discussing the themes of sex, drugs, and religion in the novel, and we couldn’t help but crack raunchy jokes to make each other laugh.
We ended up having to edit out a lot of funny content in order to make the pod “school appropriate,” so we decided that once summer vacation arrived, we’d create a podcast about literature for which we would not have to censor ourselves.
Around the same time, I decide to leave the teaching profession, which has worked out great. While Cooley has been busy getting ready for the new school, I still have time to manage pod-related tasks and make sure we’re pushing out new content every week.
Plus, it allows me to continue talking about literature with a good friend! For now, I am really enjoying having time to flex my creative muscles with new projects like this without the constraints of the classroom.
What’s the name of your show about and what is it about?
Our show is called “Keep It LIt.” The original title was ”Let’s Get Lit” but we decided it sounded a bit too wild, particularly since Cooley is still teaching.
We didn’t want it to sound like we were promoting binge-drinking or getting high. Obviously, it’s a play on words, but some school administrators and parents don’t have much of a sense of humor!
When I was packing up my classroom, I found an index card on which a student had written the answers for a short quiz on one side and on the other side had written: “Keep It Lit #Herricknation.”
I knew that should be the new iteration of the name. It not only reminds me of my time in the classroom but echoes our desire to keep the focus on literature while still being a little tipsy and silly.
Ours is a light-hearted podcast that takes literature quite seriously. We share a drink and laugh throughout the recording, but also feel passionate about highlighting great storytelling.
We assumed most listeners would enjoy the pod more if they were able to read the stories ahead of time, so we decided to limit ourselves to short stories rather than novels.
Each week we begin by sharing a “daily dystopia” which is an anecdote about how our real lives resemble the dystopian vision of some of the writers we love.
Then, we share a cocktail recipe that we’ve found or created that somehow relates to the themes of the text and mix up the drinks to enjoy while we chat.
Before the full discussion of the short story, we always challenge ourselves to tell a 60-second recap.
Interestingly, we rarely include the same information in these quick retellings. The meat of the show is analyzing the story and discussing its themes. We try to keep it light and crack jokes, but also try to provide an in-depth examination of the work.
What’s your podcasting set-up? Hardware, software, CMS, etc.
We record on Garageband using a Mac and a lovely Blue Yeti mic. I am seriously considering changing our software to Amadeus as I think it will speed up editing, etc. and someday hope to have a set up where we can get a bit more comfortable while we record.
Our current setup requires us to sit at a desk, but I’m striving for a future that involves couch podcasting!
How have you promoted your podcast?
Our website is an important piece of the program in that we post upcoming short story links, cocktail recipes, and brief overviews of each episode.
So far we have promoted it through our personal social media accounts, using Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. In addition to that, we talk about it everywhere we go, trying to extend our reach through friends of friends of friends.
Soon, I will have some guest co-hosts in order to give Cooley time to do the important work of teaching. I think that in addition to lessening the demand on her time, it will also allow us to pick up new listeners when our guest hosts post about the experience on their social media.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
I wish we’d realized the importance of good equipment!
We recorded our first four episodes in a marathon recording session using a low-quality mic. When we listened back to them, we realized that the audio was poor enough that some listeners would turn it off.
No one likes to listen to low-quality audio, so we knew we’d have to re-record. This setback also allowed us to realize that we weren’t having meaty enough discussions in those first episodes.
They felt more like required coursework than an entertaining podcast. As a result, we have never posted those first episodes., and refer to them as the “lost tapes.”
Lastly, in retrospect, we were pretty naive about the time and commitment that goes into creating content, producing quality audio, and managing the supporting social media sites.
Just today, I planned to upload a new episode and my new puppy danced across my keyboard somehow deleting about half the tracks of the newest episode. As a result, I’ve spent all morning trying to recover the files and making a contingency plan so we can still deliver content on time.
We are still on a learning curve in regards to many aspects of the project, but are definitely having a blast figuring it all out!
Podcasting is an incredible asset if you’re looking for more creative expression beyond professional commitments. If you’re up for starting a podcast, we’d love to help you! We have a free Podcasting Quickstart or if you’re ready to go, then we have great hosting plans to get started!