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Sunday 18 August 2013

Coronation Street podcasting milestone

Regular readers might remember that one of our Coronation Street fan of the week posts was from Michael and Gemma who run the Conversation Street podcast.

Today marks one year since the launch of the Corrie podcast, Conversation Street.  To mark the annivesrary, Gemma and Michael tell us how it all got started, and what goes into the making of one of their podcasts.

"We’d actually been toying with the idea of a Coronation Street podcast for quite a while before we set about recording episode one last August. Both of us were already avid podcast listeners, after first discovering the medium via fansites of another TV favourite of ours, Lost. In fact, we were quite surprised that no other podcasts for the nation’s favourite soap already existed - it’s certainly popular enough, and with five episodes a week, a steady stream of cast news coming in, and a wealth of well-loved characters to discuss, we’d never run out of things to talk about.

Our strictest rule , though, is that we wanted to keep the show spoiler-free, which aside from some big cast news, such as Julie Hesmondhalgh’s departure, we’ve been able to stick to. We also try to keep all discussion as light-hearted as we can - after all, this is a Corrie podcast, not that miserable London soap!

First things first, though: we needed a name. We played around with a few possible titles for a while, but as soon as Michael suggested Conversation Street, we knew that that was the one. Next came the rather vital matter of how we’d actually record the thing. Podcasting websites recommended the easy to use Audacity software to record and edit our voices, and we found that the microphone that came built in with our laptop captured us just fine. Next we looked into some of the legal issues surrounding podcasting - some of which, such as fair usage of copyrighted material like audio clips has different rules in the US and the UK - and signed up for a free account with Podbean to actually host the files. Finally, we trawled the web for a free piece of music that we could use as our podcast’s theme tune - provided the perfect jingle.

With all that in place, we were ready to take notes for the first podcast. Every week, we’ve taken it in turns to make notes on each Corrie episode, including key plot points, favourite quotes, etc, which we use to record Street Talk - the first and longest section of the podcast. We also hunt around for interesting news stories about the cast to discuss, find out what happened that week in Corrie’s past, and put together a profile on either a current or classic character who links to the week’s stories. This usually takes quite a while and involves research at sites like Corriepedia, Wikipedia and, as well as some of the Coronation Street books we have on our shelves at home.

Recording usually takes place on Friday nights, with the two of us sitting at our dining table, laptop balanced on a cushion to muffle unwanted noise (it really works!), and due to various fluff ups and tea breaks, usually takes an extra 20 minutes or so longer to record than the length of the actual episode. First thing on Saturday mornings, Michael’s up editing, which mostly involves taking out any long pauses or bits we had to say again (and sometimes the odd comment that we later think might be a bit on the inappropriate side!). Once the music’s all added and the sound file is compressed, normalised and levelled - something that we admittedly don’t really understand! - the MP3 is finally ready.

The first episode of Conversation Street was published on Saturday 18th August 2012. Using communities such as the Digital Spy forums as well as social media like Twitter and Facebook, we did our best to promote the show, but it wasn’t until it was highlighted here on the Coronation Street Blog that the listeners really started coming in. We were excited when the first comments on the show started arriving - all positive, we’re happy to say! - and a feedback section was quickly added to the podcast.

As the weeks went on, the length of each episode increased, and before long we had to upgrade our Podbean account, providing us with more bandwidth each month. Since then, we’ve managed to keep up with one episode a week, apart from on two occasions when an extra episode was added: first, after the sad news of Bill Tarmey’s passing, when we decided to record a special tribute show, then again at the end of 2012, when we did a recap of the year which included the announcement of our uniquely named awards to the characters and stories that had impressed us over the previous twelve months.

All in all, we’re both really proud of what we’ve achieved with Conversation Street so far, but the best part for us is all the Corrie fans that it’s put us in touch with from across the world. Before we started, we just assumed that anyone who listened to us would be from the UK - we had no idea that Coronation Street had so many foreign viewers, especially in Canada. One of the biggest highlights was being able to meet up with fellow fans at the Corriefest in Manchester this year, including the lovely Glenda (Flaming Nora) from the Coronation Street Blog.

With one year behind us now, we’re looking forward to carrying on podcasting for a long time to come."

Listen to our podcasts here.

You can follow us on Twitter @CoroStreetBlog and Facebook: CoronationStreetBlog

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All original work on the Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License


Tvor said...

It's a great podcast and I really enjoy listening every week. I make sure I have watched all the episodes first so it can make me very impatient when I see the podcast has been published and I haven't seen Friday's eps yet!! I'll watch the eps and fire up the podcast without delay!

Gail said...

I also listen every week it feels like having a chat with two dear friends! Keep up the good work Gemma and Michael!

piedpiper67 said...

I also listen in from Canada and enjoy the rapport between Gemma and Michael. Although for us its 2 weeks ahead, some of us (like me) enjoy the spoilers of what is going to happen and I enjoy comparing what I see on the telly from what is shared in the podcast. Great quality and time commitment from both is appreciated across the pond.

Tvor said...

I post the podcast on the Bluenose Corrie Blog when each episode coincides with the Canadian timeline (click the Canadian flag on this page)


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