Write The Docs Podcast


Hello there,

I was chatting with someone this morning (well, my morning, their afternoon) about the potential of starting a Documentarians podcast, maybe under the “Write The Docs” banner, maybe not.

Likely a bi-monthly podcast covering news, techniques, case studies, new tools, interviews and more. I am also keen on broadening reach to ensure we reach people who are technical writers, but may not have that as their job title, Like myself, I edit and write tutorials, which is technical writing, but that’s not my job title.

Anyway, just posting this to see who may be keen or interested in discussing or getting involved.



@ericholscher and I discussed podcasts/audio archives of interviews with tech writers as part of my ongoing “history of software documentation” project. So I’d definitely be interested. I realize you’re asking about a broader set of topics, but these interviews could definitely be a subset.

That said, I’m moving across the U.S. next week to start a new job, so it’ll be a couple of months probably before I get anything underway.


Yea, I actually started a podcast a long time ago, and did a couple recordings, and only released one episode. It’s something I’m interested in, and would love if other folks also had interest in helping put together. I’ve found the main issue is with the editing of the content. Recording them is fun, but it takes a bit of work to get something that is ready for release.

All the infra is setup here: http://podcast.writethedocs.org/ – I’d be happy to reactivate the subscription for hosting the episodes if people want to help put them together.


Another idea I had was to release the audio version of talks that made sense as just audio, and use them as filler in the podcast as well. If we had someone really good at editing, it would be cool to get edited clips from the recorded talks, intermixed with interviews with folks expanding on the topics, like the TED Radio Hour podcast from NPR. That sounds like a lot more work though :slight_smile:


Speaking from abysmal ignorance here, I’d think that editing audio would be not unrelated to editing video – maybe Diana Potter could help us out here, either assisting with editing or training some of us in it? I’ll ping her separately – I don’t see her on Slack or on this forum.


I have experience with audio editing. I just don’t have the software. Eric- what did you use for editing? I am interested in helping, but it depends. I don’t have a Mac and can’t use all the awesome Mac tools. I prefer Adobe Audition because that’s what I have experience in.

I have a background in radio by the way. I had a show on campus radio for a few years, and I worked in commercial radio consulting for about 7 years. I know more about audio production than a technical writer should.


I am also an experienced video and audio editor, so no issues there. I will keep this thread open for now to garner interest and revisit to summarise in a few days :slight_smile:


More podcasts about technical writing would be a good thing.

I’m currently responsible for doing post production on the BlahCade Podcast (not TW-related) and you really can go down the rabbit hole with editing. It can consume hours. BandCamp makes it easy(ish).

I actually like the authenticity and rawness of podcasts with awkward pauses and other human elements.

The content is the important thing. I think the more people who would be willing to contribute, the better it would be for content variety, and for the WTD brand.


These are the notes I took when speaking to a podcaster at Write the Docs this year:
Pin a mic to the interviewer and the guest, or by cardioid (heart shaped) sound
Between $600 and 1200 for the hardware
Laptop with USB microphone with enough two way
Have someone else there to watch sound levels and whether there is “energy” in the interview
Adobe Premiere - sound and video
Audacity - free?
Adobe Audition - $500/yr
Adobe Audition - can edit out background noise

And I want to share what I learned about podcasting using Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. I recently found these two articles after speaking to a podcaster who was having sound problems using Skype for group discussion style podcasts: http://www.nightbluefruit.com/blog/2014/05/is-skype-an-appropriate-tool-in-corporate-environments/ and http://www.twistimage.com/mobile/blog/archives/hacking-skype-for-better-audio/ Might be helpful later.


Awesome. I don’t really care about the toolset. I think the main thing you need is intro & outro, and then the main content/interview. If folks are interested in helping produce it, and we have a couple folks willing to create the content, I think we could pretty easily put something together.

I love the idea of having a podcast for the community. My original thought was interviews & conversations with folks, which is a nice compliment to the work @bradamante would be doing. Having @reneehildebrand or @ChrisChinchilla help with editing would make the whole thing quite do-able :slight_smile:

I’d also be interested in maybe doing a more regular co-hosted show with segments, etc. kind of thing, if that is more interesting. I don’t really know what format would work well.



All noted, I would also like to do some presenting :smile:

I am away for work until about 12th October and then I will have a bit more head space, I will post back in this thread when I’m back and maybe we’ll start arranging something more concrete.


By the way, here is an article I wrote about podcasting with Skype. I was helping someone else from a different group and thought I should just go ahead and document it all. Cheers!


Hangouts on Air is our go-to solution.

Allows up to 10 guests to participate.

And then you just download the MP3 using any number of YouTube to MP3 converters. The WP8 codec they use now is very high quality.


Or I was thinking about using something like Blab to do a live “show” and then convert it to a podcast so people can listen later. I don’t know if it would work, but I watched some of the Blab podcast during International Podcast Day and a lot of podcasters liked the idea of doing it that way. But I think a Blab broadcast can only accommodate 4 people at a time.

On the other hand, what’s nice about Blab is you can have live comments from the audience, so it’s much more interactive.


I hadn’t heard of Blab before, so I’ll check that out. :smiley:


Just looking at Blab now and it looks pretty promising. For content creators, I like the fact you can do the live session then easily export the result to MP3, without using a YouTube Plugin. I also like the fact that it lowers the barrier of entry for people who don’t like google.

I’ll be doing a test on Monday at https://blab.im/jared-morgan-blahcade-test if anyone wants to join/test.


I love the idea of a podcast about technical writing. I would almost certainly listen to it.

As to methods of recording, those are many and varied. It’s probably a matter of trying a few methods and seeing which produces the best result with the least amount of effort. I know some podcasts record everyone’s audio separately, then combine it but that’s a lot of work. Others prefer to use a Google Hangout or similar and put it as just as it was recorded. I listen to many podcasts where audio quality does vary a little but there are none where I think it’s horrible. Some are more amateur than others, but otherwise they’re all OK.

Before getting tied up in recording details, you also ought to detail the format of the show, what you aim to achieve, number of hosts and other details. Perhaps there are podcasts in the sort of style or format you’re thinking of creating? If so, mention them so people know just what for what you’re aiming.

Once these details are sorted out, go ahead and do some recordings, then get feedback. Consider them test shows, never to be published.

There are many others things to be considered but I thought I’d mention just these, rather than rambling on. :smiley:

In short - I love the idea and would welcome the addition of a Write The Docs podcast.


Great! I am back from travels now and will get things progressed soon. Likely starting a meeting for those interested in taking part.

For my benefit, can you reply to this reply(!) telling me if you are explicitly interested in helping out and what role / skills you are interested in.


Chris, I’m interested. Eric and I have talked about me interviewing various folks who can speak to the history of software documentation – related to my ongoing project on the same subject. The podcasts would provide an archive of source material for the project :smiley:


Another thought is that we could publish talks from previous conferences that have audio that stands alone.

I’m happy to be involved. I’ve done the initial setup for publishing before, and I’d be happy to spin it back up.

I think it would be fun as a more formal show with segments every couple weeks (with guests?) or as something we publish a couple different hosts doing different things on.