Are you an aspiring producer? Want an understanding of the day in the life of a producer? This week we are featuring Star Lengas, whose start in audio began with a career pivot as a counselor. Star joins us today with insight on her current role, advice to podcast newbies, and helpful resources to bookmark.
Pivoting to Audio with Star Lengas
Tell us about your current role as Supervising Producer for Zuri Hall’s HOT HAPPY MESS.
My role is to oversee the overall Zuri Hall and Hot Happy Mess brands from a holistic perspective, ensuring that the strategic objectives set by the EP/host are executed and remain aligned with the ‘north star’ of the podcast. I work closely with the EP to set the tone and creative vision for the podcast. I manage the overall scope/deadlines, content strategy, guest bookings, creative development, developing a schedule and production timeline, and keeping daily operations on track. As the podcast is in partnership with iHeartRadio and Charlamagne Tha God’s The Black Effect Podcast Network, I also have the opportunity to serve as the primary liaison to our internal stakeholders (marketing, sound engineers, public relations, ads, etc.).
Listen to the latest episode here:
About Hot Happy Mess
Hot Happy Mess is executive produced & hosted by NBC and Access Hollywood’s Zuri Hall. Jam-packed with fun, informative, sometimes serious, sometimes-LMFAO real talk — about all the things we’re “supposed” to be “getting right.” Hot Happy Mess officially launched in Nov 2020 and is quickly rising in the charts to become iHeartRadio’s hottest podcast for badass diverse millennial women. Listen to Hot Happy Mess on the Black Effect Podcast Network, iHeartRadio App, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.
How did you get started in audio?
My start in audio began with a career pivot. I had been working in higher education and no longer found it as fulfilling, compared to my content creation/influencer hobby. So in December 2019, I resigned as a career counselor to focus on freelancing full-time, and the pandemic hit shortly afterward. In April 2020, my close friend asked me if I wanted to be the associate producer for her podcast, and the rest was history.
What technical skills are helpful/needed as a podcast producer?
Learn the basics of content marketing and hone in on what will help you expand your brand presence. For example, we know social media is here to stay, so learn how to edit/produce videos for short-form content.
What do you wish more people knew about your profession?
Podcasting is a full-time job, whether you’re independent or with a network. It can be exhausting as a digital storyteller, producing each episode and repurposing content from that episode. However, despite the chaos, it can be super fun. I enjoy learning new things; for example, I can tell you about the merits of web3 and another week about how to handle narcissists.
What advice would you give to aspiring producers?
There are no rules when it comes to podcasting, which is great because content creation on top of content marketing can be exhausting. Embracing the no rules mentality has helped a lot with brainstorming how we want to fine-tune our content strategy and creative development.
Build out your project management skills and establish a workflow. During the first year of Hot Happy Mess, we were a 2-person team, and while we understood our beautiful chaos, trying to explain our processes when onboarding new team members quickly became a hassle. I was introduced to Airtable by another fantastic producer, and it’s changed my life!
Batch! As Hot Happy Mess is a weekly podcast, my goal is to be batched out by three weeks for show notes/production notes/graphics/etc. This year we prioritized batching, and a good chunk of our episodes have been recorded and show notes written till August ‘22. This is awesome, as I work in tandem on our weekly episodes while planning out future content for season two.
What does a day in the life look like?
A considerable part of my role is prep, research, pre-production, guest management, pre-interviews, production, and post-production for each episode. Thankfully, due to the Black Effect Podcast Network partnership, we have an excellent audio producer who handles our audio needs. We work closely together to shape the weekly episode until we have the final mix. Throughout this process, I am also managing our team of interns and freelancers on our post-production needs (newsletter, social media graphics, video content, following up with guests, social media management, etc.)
However, an actual day in the life is a bit varied, as I have a 9-month-old, and she rules my life. I don’t have a set schedule, but something I’ve implemented these last few months is dedicating my mornings to family time. It’s important for me to note, that as the primary caregiver, I’ve learned to be unapologetic as, more often than not, my daughter will be on every call/recording session, unless her dad is home. When it’s time for podcast work, I can do a lot of the work from my iPhone – so that’s writing production notes, show notes, scripting host reads, and responding to emails.
What are helpful resources other producers should know about?
Twitter — has so many incredible creators and experts to follow; I always try to join/bookmark the various Twitter spaces. Here are links to courses, communities, and newsletters:
Why did you join WOC Podcasters, and what has it done for you?
Being in this community and connecting virtually with other women in this industry has also done a lot for my self-confidence as a self-taught podcast producer, I love the encouragement to brag about your accomplishments. I also love that the community serves as an active resource. As a podcast newbie, it’s been great to learn about what’s happening in the industry and see in real-time how people are building their businesses or expanding their skills.
How can readers connect with you?
Are you searching for a community of like-minded Women of Color podcasters and audio creators to reach your podcasting goals? Join WOC Podcasters Community for a supportive and encouraging space to launch, grow and monetize your podcast.
Brittany Ngo is the Opportunities Coordinator of WOC Podcasters (Women of Color), an organization dedicated to the growth and representation of Women of Color in the podcasting industry. In 2021, Brittany relaunched the WOC Podcasters Job Board with improved search functionality and shared over 200 paid jobs. These include a wide range of positions from producers to editors and hosts at award-winning organizations across the globe. Brittany also supports the community by coordinating events and connecting members to a variety of grants and unique opportunities in audio.