When It’s Time to Hire a Producer for Your Indie Podcast
by Madeline Wright
If you’ve ever launched a podcast then you have a pretty good idea of what it takes to be a great podcasting producer. Keisha “TK” Dutes, an executive producing consultant who currently leads the team for the Hear to Slay podcast with Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom, shares what to look for and when to know it’s time to hire a producer for your indie podcast.
What is a podcast producer and how can they help a podcaster with a show?
TK Dutes: Podcast producers are the MVPs! They generally will make and shape the show; collecting and cutting tape with a creative angle in mind. Here is the hierarchy.
A producer is the middle management between everybody. The associate producer (AP) is underneath or adjacent to them. There’s the executive producer (EP), or whoever’s on top. And then there’s your host. Sometimes hosts are also producers.
Producers are your right-hand person for the show, giving you feedback, direction, questions for the guests, research, cutting tape, but also doing so in a way that is less of you giving them the direction of ‘I want you to cut from 20 seconds to 30 seconds’ and mostly you trusting them to cut tape.
A producer can do all the things for a show that they’ve agreed to do but try to keep experience levels in mind. For example, I wouldn’t ask an associate producer for a creative cut per se, but I’d trust a producer for a creative cut. I would give an associate producer more of the work like doing show notes and social media.
How do you know the time is right to bring on a producer?
TK: If you’re just starting a podcast you’re the producer! You’re the host, producer, and associate producer which means there’s a lot of self-editing. You have to be ruthless with the tape. You have to do research. You’ll have to do everything.
If you can hire one person, get one you value, who values your thing, and who can do all the things you need. Not everyone has the luxury to have an AP through EP. With one producer, they’re your partner. You’ve got to treat them like a partner in this. It’s not something to take lightly.
I think there’s no shame in knowing that you have a fully-fleshed out idea that you need a producer for. I think a lot of folks also don’t have that fully-fleshed out idea and they go, “I want to make a podcast.” Don’t waste your call on this level of questions. Call me when you have the whole thing fleshed out and then I will bring my expertise to the table. I’ll ask:
- What equipment do you have?
- What’s your budget?
- Where can we make or do this?
- Who do you have as your first couple of guests?
- Can we make this happen?
- And if you don’t have those things, let’s talk about it.
But if it’s not fleshed out, if you’re just yelling into the void, don’t waste that yell on talking to a producer when you don’t have any idea of what you really want to do.
Looking to hire on a tight budget?
Get a consultation
TK: If you’re the host/producer and you don’t have the budget for a producer continually, get a consultation. Even if you have no idea, at least you can say that. “I have no idea but I have money for a session to talk to you.” If that person is good at what they do they will set you up in that session to think critically about what you’re trying to do. They can, for example, assess your equipment, and tell you whether you’re on the right track. Meet with them again for a follow-up. Make an episode and have them listen to it. If they’re good, they’ll know how to give you the valuable feedback you need to make adjustments.
Use these resources to find producers
TK: Reading these newsletters and sites will provide you with a lot of useful information.
- Nic Quah’s Newsletter
- Third Coast Newsletter
- Alex Laughlin’s transmitter.fm Newsletter
- POC in Audio Directory
Do you know about a great resource to hire great podcast producers? Leave a comment and share it with the WOC Podcasters community.
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Keisha “TK” Dutes presented a session at the Werk It Festival Bootcamp, spoke on a panel on the main stage, and produced the “Hear to Slay Live” Podcast evening event. You can connect with TK Dutes on LinkedIn and via social media: @Bondfireradio and @tastykeish on Twitter and Instagram and via AIR where she is also a board member.
Madeline Wright is a writer, musician, hiker, and an avid reader based in Los Angeles. She enjoys injecting humor into her stories and learning new things to keep her brain happy. She produces A Mad Vox, a podcast that explores the art of tackling ambitious challenges, and encourages you to try amazing things to make your inner kid proud.