If you or your organization are interested in creating podcasts, I highly recommend reading NAI Podcastopia, put together by some members of the National Parks Service’s new media team. The site includes pre-production checklists, recording advice, engineering and post-production editing recommendations, as well as detailed advice about how to put your MP3 file up on ITunes. The site is totally bare-bones, but it has a lot of vital information. For those of you wanting to wade into the world of podcasts, I can’t imagine a simpler set of instructions.
And just how might your organization use podcasts? In the Public Humanities Toolbox Handbook (p. 47-49) we describe several potential uses of podcasts for a small organization: broadcasting lectures or public programs after a live event; creating audio tours of sites (especially sites that may not be fully staffed everyday with guides) or driving/walking tours of a community; sharing behind-the-scenes interviews with staff and volunteers, discussing their favorite object in the collection; or sharing edited oral histories or interviews with community members.
The NPS site has a list of some of the advisers’ favorite podcasts, but I thought I’d share a few of my favorite history-related podcasts that model how various organizations, large and small, use podcasts:
- Colonial Williamsburg’s Past and Present is a prolific series of interviews with staff who share all kinds of behind-the-scenes information that deepen listeners’ understanding of archaeology, new exhibit development, animal husbandry, and various aspects of colonial life.
- The American Social History Project’s podcasts are a combination of recorded scholar talks and interviews with historians about their work.
- The George Eastman Houses’s podcasts are “a place for staff, students, and volunteers at George Eastman House to share their unique experiences and insights about the Museum and everything that we do.”
- Okay, so it’s totally beyond the scope of what a small cultural heritage institution can do, but the British Museum/BBC collaboration “A History of the World in 100 Objects” completely blew my mind in 2010. Seriously, you just have to listen. But what’s not beyond the scope of a committed group of small institutions is a project like “A History of Cornwall in 100 Objects“:
Throughout 2011, Museums right across Cornwall, from the Atlantic coast to the Tamar, are telling ‘A History of Cornwall in 100 Objects’ – a project inspired by HOTW…The project is being run by the Museum Development Officer team who are based at the Royal Cornwall Museum, in Truro. The selection process has involved museums of all sizes – of which there are over 60 in the county – from tiny volunteer-run museums to major high-profile organisations. The aim is to get local people and visitors alike to see these unique objects and learn more about Cornwall’s history.
All of the podcasts I’ve listed are available to download for free from ITunes and many, if not all, also can be streamed straight from the organization’s website.
Happy podcasting! Let us know in the comments if your organization has started or is interested in beginning a podcast series or developing a set of podcast tours.