Q&A WITH LAURA FROM THE BEANIES
Our 2018 Best Family & Kids Podcast category was won by musical performing group The Beanies, who have released over 30 episodes of their Kinderling-hosted podcast since late 2017.
Below this photo of an innocent sandcastle being destroyed, Laura Dawson from The Beanies takes us through their team process, equipment used and what has inspired the success of this podcast for kids and parents.
Aus Pod Awards: What is your podcast origin story? Do you have a podcast 'spirit animal'?
Laura Dawson: When we first started making podcasts a few years ago, there was a distinct lack of on-demand audio content out there for children. Adult podcasting was booming (this was right in the middle of ‘Serial-mania’!) and there was a lot of talk about ‘screen-guilt’ in parents. We saw this as a great opportunity to combine our love of music, story telling and teaching into a medium that was easy and guilt-free for parents.
What preparation goes into an episode before you begin recording?
Laura: Each of our (now 30) episodes have an original song, story and lesson, so there is a lot of preparation! At the beginning of a season, we brainstorm all of the wacky ideas we have, and we pick our favourite 10. From there we write a song for each idea (with the help of our music wizard, James Court) and the stories and lessons are written once we have a good idea of the direction. All three of The Beanies contribute to the writing of the podcasts, however we have worked hard on creating a solid structure and voice of our content. After all, children find comfort in and enjoy familiarity, so maintaining this is very important to us.
What mics, editing software, studio gear and facilities are used to produce your podcast?
Laura: We recorded the season with a simple setup using a single Rode NT-USB microphone into Audacity. The Rode was also used for recording vocals on the songs, and using Abelton software for instruments and composition. We were careful about what room we recorded in, making sure there was no echo or background noise so we could get a clean recording, and used post-processing in Audacity to edit down tracks and compress to get smooth and consistent levels throughout, and added simple sound effects to create an environment inside our recording and make it come alive!
What aspect of podcasting takes up the most time? How time-consuming is it?
Laura: Luckily, The Beanies never seem to run out of silly ideas and stories, so creating content has never been an issue for us. Usually the initial writing/editing process takes the longest, as we probably have 3-4 brainstorming/rewrite sessions of each episode before recording it.
What advice would you give to a podcaster who's just starting out?
Laura: Take the extra time to add depth with music, sound effects and ambient noises. While your content may be great, these things will add a whole other layer to your work and really help your listeners become enthralled in the story.
Please complete this sentence: "I feel most connected with my audience when..."
Laura: We hear from them! Most podcasters make their content on shoestring budgets in their home so it’s easy to forget that people all over the world are listening. Hearing from parents (or even video messages from our mini-beanies!) always blows us away and reminds us that we’re not just 3 silly grown-ups singing songs about shoelaces!
Where should people start if they want to discover The Beanies?
Laura: Picking a favourite podcast is like picking your favourite child! However our most popular episode to date is My Shoes from Season 2 (Imagination Station)
Our 3rd season has just been released! It’s called ‘The Beanies Big Day Out’ and is the first season that has a chronological story thread throughout – So join the Beanies as we have an exciting day at the beach!
If you enjoyed hearing from The Beanies, discover our recent profile with Across the Aisle here.