Heller Center hosts narrative podcasting workshop 

The Heller Center’s fall event calendar samples a variety of artistic and academic events, including a narrative podcasting workshop with journalist and podcaster Maria Luisa Tucker, who encourages students to listen to the stories all around them.  

Tucker was the Heller Center’s fellow for fall of 2023 and spent a week staying at the center, engaging with students and faculty on campus. 

Tucker has built a career in journalism and made the switch to podcasting in 2019. She produced the critically acclaimed podcast “Death of an Artist,” and created “Three Million Acres,” a narrative podcast about the search for her missing father. 

The workshop, which was co-hosted by the English department, included a presentation on the basics of podcasting from Tucker as well as the opportunity for collaborative brainstorming among attendees. 

To start the workshop, Tucker encouraged attendees to think of podcasts they enjoy and brainstorm how their podcasts could be similar. She also asked the group to write a brief description of the ideal intended listener in order to consider how aspects of the podcast could appeal to a specific audience. 

Tucker explored the many genres and formats of podcasts. Though her expertise is in narrative podcasting, Tucker suggested interviews, co-host conversations and monologues as other ways to format podcasts.  

“Start with a simple format, like an interview format,” she said. “Use sources that feel ready to set you up for success, like if you’re doing an interview format you could go to the StoryCorps website and look at their questions.”  

Tucker offered advice on everything from brainstorming ideas to choosing editing software, and emphasized that anyone can start a podcast whether they have fancy equipment or not.  

“I would say start small. Start with like a ten-minute interview podcast and see how it feels to make it,” Tucker said. 

Throughout the presentation Tucker broke down some of the technical aspects of podcasting, explaining the different types of audio and how to use them. The three main audio components of a podcast are acts, which is the guest speaking; tracks, which is the host speaking and ambience, which is the background noise.  

In addition to mainstream types of audio, Tucker encouraged listeners to play around with sound. Tucker explained the value of including music, sound effects, and archival audio such as clips of broadcast news or speeches.  

Tucker recommended Descript as an editing program for beginner podcasters. “It just makes the actual technical process pretty easy and there’s a lot of video tutorials on how to do that,” Tucker said. 

Having worked in both written and audio journalism, Tucker explained her decision to switch to podcasting. “It exercises additional creative muscles, because in addition to writing and reporting you’ve got this extra component, and it felt like growth,” she said. 

The Heller Center will host another fellow, Dr. Paul Josephson, on March 7 for its spring semester fellowship. According to the website, Josephson will be discussing the lasting impact of nuclear development across western United States.  

Students can visit the Heller Center website to learn more about upcoming events and speakers. 

Photo courtesy of communique.uccs.edu.