Cover Image: Make Noise

Make Noise

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This book was ok as an overview of podcasting but it didn’t get into a lot of practical details. It wasn’t my favorite.
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Veteran podcast creator and strategist Eric Nuzum distills a career’s worth of wisdom, advice, practical information, and big-picture thinking to help podcasters “make noise”—to stand out in this fastest of fastest-growing media universes.
 
Nuzum identifies core principles, including what he considers the key to successful audio storytelling: learning to think the way your audience listens. He delivers essential how-tos, from conducting an effective interview to marketing your podcast, developing your audience, and managing a creative team. He also taps into his deep network to offer advice from audio stars like Ira Glass, Terry Gross, and Anna Sale.
 
The book’s insights and guidance will help readers successfully express themselves as effective audio storytellers, whether for business or pleasure, or a mixture of both.
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I’m bloody annoyed that this book has been released.

When not editing Podnews, my job is a “radio futurologist” - someone that helps radio companies understand what the future is.

It’s a difficult thing to get a laugh from a conference audience, but for the latter half of 2019 I’ve been reading out a quote from this book when doing keynotes on the future of radio, and it never fails to get a laugh - because what better as a “futurologist” than to quote from a book that will be released in the future.

And now the thing’s come out, I need to retire that joke.

The quote, however, is still valid: which, in my pre-production copy, reads:

I often counsel radio broadcasters not to think of their product as a technology, and instead, see it as an experience. Stop thinking of yourself as a terrestrial FM broadcaster and start thinking of yourself as someone who creates audio experiences that accompany listeners through their life, regardless of the platform it appears on. I find myself more and more saying this same thing to podcasters.

This is the beauty of Make Noise, a creator’s guide to podcasting and great audio storytelling. Unlike any other podcasting book I’ve seen, it doesn’t focus on the technology: the RSS feeds, the podcast hosts, the different audio editors out there.

Instead, it focuses on the experience: storytelling.

The author, Eric Nuzum, worked for many years with NPR, the US’s public radio service, and has benefited from working in audio long enough to know what rules are important to follow, and which rules are fine to ignore. He’s read all the training manuals, so you don’t have to.

So we learn how to plan a show, how to do an interview, and how to tell a story. “Don’t be boring,” he says: the type of advice that seems blindingly obvious yet, surprisingly, beyond many people who produce audio stories.

His NPR connections mean we get to learn from people like Terry Gross, probably the interviewer most famous for being a good interviewer; and Ira Glass, one of the most well-known audio storytellers of our time. Highlighting Glass’s storytelling technique, we see his notes for one story: spidery and virtually illegible. It’s just one of a number of fascinating insights into shows you’ve probably heard.

Make Noise is about more than just the show itself. It also covers what happens next. There’s a long chapter with tactics on how to get an audience - which, as Nuzum points out earlier in the book, starts with working out who your audience is; and a further chapter on possibly the most difficult thing for any creative person: how to manage teams of other creatives. As someone who once did this, let me tell you that every one of the ideas in this chapter are golden, and obvious yet brilliant.

Throughout, the book is approachable, and - as you might expect by now - mainly done by… storytelling. Nuzum explains much of what he’s learnt by telling the stories that taught him what he knows: maintaining interest and keeping you curious for more.

You might be a little worried that it’s all NPR stories. Being fair, quite a lot of the stories are. To my British ears, much of NPR is a little clichéd: a sing-song carefully-modulated voice, inexplicable clips of awful jazz music, and a bit too much reliance on the training manual. So it’s a relief to note that Nuzum’s stories and experience, go wider than this - from his work with Audible, to other projects, too: many outside the padded walls of NPR’s Washington DC studios.

This is a great book: possibly the only book on audio storytelling that I’ve learnt lots from and enjoyed enough to keep reading for hours on end.

If you’re looking for a book about how RSS feeds work, the best way to edit audio on an Apple Mac, or how to choose a microphone, this is not the book for you.

But if you care less about the technology and more about the audio storytelling experience, you should rush out and grab a copy today. It’s a great investment, and will help you produce your best work.

Even if it does mean I need to search for a new joke for those conferences I speak at.
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Late review but this book is good. As someone who has toyed with the idea of making a podcast, this book is a good resource. The author is also quick to mention that even seasoned  podcaaters will be able to get some gems from this book. 

It’s easy to read and very practical and gives you more confidence that you can make a podcast. 

I almost want to start one already.  I just have to think of what story to tell

Thank you Workman Publishing Company for the copy of this book.
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Filled with anecdotes of the author's time working in both radio and podcasting, this was an interesting read with an "insider's look" feel to it. It was also more comprehensive than other basic guides of the same type. I liked that it covered so many types of podcasts, from talk show format to fictional narrative. A must read for beginner and intermediate podcasters.
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MAKE NOISE by Eric Nuzum is subtitled "A Creator's Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling."  In his introduction Nuzum notes that "many podcasts, or ideas for future podcasts, or really all forms of storytelling, could be much better than they are. That's why I wrote this book. I wrote it to make your work better."  I think that Nuzum has succeeded in providing a conversational and practical guide to improving podcasts.  Students (and teachers) would benefit from some time with his text which begins with a chapter titled "Story. Character. Voice." and then explores concerns like "echo" bookings and offers suggestions for more compelling stories, engaging characters, and unique voices.  Subsequent chapters deal with topics such as asking questions and how to tell a story as well as audience appeal. This very accessible text would be a useful guide for speech and media students especially.
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There are so many books on Podcasting and this one is OK, but not enough details and help to start someone on the path to making money or telling their story.
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There are times in all our lives when we find ourselves searching for answers. We usually have a good idea where we want to end up, but the path to get there is covered in heavy mist and smoke. For those interested in podcasting, there are thousands of examples to copy. We may prefer some more than others, but perhaps cannot articulate why. What we need is a map, a guidebook that promises not to take us in the wrong direction. The question is, what would that book look like?

At first glance, “Make Noise” might not appear to be the solution, with its vibrant cover and a title that might be more at home at a championship basketball game. However, it has all the right elements and even the title has a great story behind it.

Author Eric Nuzum is not someone who woke up one morning and, based upon hours of listening to different talk shows, decided he was qualified to write a book on the subject. Mr. Nuzum has been part of the industry for many years and has numerous accomplishments under his belt. Bluntly, he understands the nuts and bolts of podcasting.

Which would mean nothing if he wasn’t able to put together a book that makes sense, chock-full of solid suggestions accompanied by reasons why we should take his advice. Throw in stories of the mistakes he (and others) made and you have a map of what not to do (and it’s entertaining to read stories with a human element rather than slog through 300 pages of boredom). The book is laid out in a sensible pattern that is easy to understand, thus creating a recipe for success. 

Mr. Nuzum constantly reminds us of the work involved, from determining exactly what you are creating (your mission boiled down to ten words) to balancing the amount of prep before an interview or a show. Along the way the author opens our eyes (i.e., a group of interesting facts – no matter how interesting -- does NOT tell a story) and shares the secrets he has learned over the years. His methods do not encourage you to cut corners. Rather, he demonstrates how to successfully smooth and shape them so they match the end vision of whatever you are creating. 

While this is an outstanding book for those interested in podcasting, I would recommend it for anyone working to carve a place for themselves on the Internet. If you are hosting a show, streaming on a gaming platform, you name it – there are valuable lessons in “Make Noise” and plenty of strong advice to keep you traveling toward your goals. Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and Workman Publishing Company for an advance electronic copy of this title.
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The only radio I own is in my car, and it probably hasn't been turned on in a decade (which, for the record, is five fewer years than the age of said car). If you ever find me listening to an audiobook, start unzipping the body bag - I'm almost ready. Streaming, to me, means the fish are biting and an earbud is somebody's hearing aid. So for the love of all that's holy, why am I reading a book about podcasting and audio storytelling?

In a word, curiosity. Perhaps born of a childhood infused with party-line crank telephones and gearshifts on steering wheels, I'm enthralled by "newfangled" gizmos and gadgets and determined to learn all I can about them (at the rate technology is advancing these days, that keeps me plenty busy). Add in years as a journalist - an industry that might not even exist were it not for curiosity - and hey, bring it on.

Factor in also that while podcasts themselves aren't all that recent, they seem to be multiplying like bunnies of late. There are more than 700,000 of them in 100 languages, the author says, and I believe him. Every day, it seems, another dozen TV talking heads, business owners and (barf!) politicians are begging me to tune into their offerings. It's a trend that as far as I can see isn't going away anytime soon, and I want to find out more. Now that I've read this book, that goal has been achieved.

Years of interviewing hundreds of people has made me painfully aware that far more time is consumed in the preparation process than in the actual writing of my newspaper articles, so the author's insistence that the same is true for podcasts certainly didn't come as a surprise. But for those who are considering the possibility of starting one - and, hopefully, making a few bucks in the process - it's a full-on reality check. Put another way, if you think that sitting down in your garage and speaking your mind into a microphone you snagged for $20 at Amazon will make you an overnight millionaire, think again. If you need further evidence, consider this: According to the author, fully 40% of all podcasts are abandoned within a year. What's in this book can help ensure that yours isn't among them.

To be clear, this book is not a step-by-step outline of the specific equipment you'll need, how to edit your tapes (yes, that's a must) and other finer points of actual podcast production. Rather, it's a detailed and interestingly written overview - by one who clearly is an expert in the field - of what anyone who's thinking about starting a podcast needs to know before plunging ahead. The nucleus of the book, the author notes, is "finding a balance between confidence and humility, between being clear and focused while remaining open, and that there is always an opportunity to improve." Achieving success, he adds, requires compelling stories and ideas, engaging characters and a unique voice. Perhaps first and foremost is identifying your audience in almost minute detail, thus allowing you to "learn to think like they listen."

There's a good-size portion devoted to leading teams - and while it serves up excellent advice for anyone who is, or will be, in that position, I admit to speeding through this section simply because even if I ever were to attempt a podcast, I'm sure my production efforts never would reach the level of cubicles filled with worker bees and my motivational buzzwords. Moving on, I  thoroughly enjoyed the final section on the history of podcasting and learned a good bit more of what I'd hoped for when I picked up the book in the first place. The whole thing is wrapped up with a list of recommended reading and online resources - always a plus for a how-to book.

Beyond recommending the book to anyone who's interested in starting a podcast, or in the start-up stages, or simply wants to learn more about the process as I did, I won't spill any more bean pods and instead urge you to read it for yourself. I'm certainly glad I did, and I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read an advance copy.
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I'd never heard of Eric Nuzum before this book, but I'm looking forward to finding more of his work.

This book is part "the job history portion of my resume is amazing" and part actionable advice for any storyteller.  The focus is on audio, but almost all of the advice works for other formats.

Even the bragging and personal history is well done.  Nuzum throws credit to others like a rapper throwing bills to strippers- early and often.  

Overall: well written, well organized, a good read for anyone telling stories or someone wanting to appreciate storytelling more.

**I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Super helpful! As a podcaster with a unique niche (south asians), this was a great way to create stories that were both engaging and real, while talking about issues that face a community. This book helped me and my co-host tie together facts, stories, and narrative in a way that helped us create our best episodes yet!
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Offering basic advice on setting up a podcast, Make Noise has the key areas of consideration needed to get started. It's laid out in a way in which one needs to think about and then approach podcast planning and creation, though I can't help think it's not much more detailed than many good blog posts on the topic. While it may be what some need to get started, if one has any technology experience it may be too basic of a guide. Happy casting.
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Pros: This book is epic! It gets straight to the point. However, I will admit that I put it down at first, but I tend to get bored reading about someone's narrative. This time it was different. I got involved and joined in immediately. I learned a lot along the way. Get this book if you want to get on the path of making some noise. This author will show you how to do it correctly while having fun. 

Cons: None!
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This isn’t going to be full of new or innovative info for those who have looked into this topic with any real vigor, however it is nice to have it in one location.
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Eric Nuzum, longtime NPR producer and podcast pioneer, shares his philosophy and practices for creating a great podcast. This book is less about the mechanics of podcasting, although he touches on that briefly, and more about helping you hone your vision, learn to interview well, edit with purpose, and more. A great read with lots of interesting stories and anecdotes from his decades in broadcasting, whether you are interested in creating your own podcast or learn to conduct a really great interview.
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4 Stars

Review currently on Goodreads. Future blog review and possible inclusion in IndiePicks Magazine.

This book is an absolute MUST READ for any person looking to start a podcast. Told in simple, easy to understand and digest information, this book is LOADED with critical information to prevent mistakes for what is an expensive endeavor. What I loved most about this book was it has information applicable to the author, as well. 

Look for my full blog review closer to publication and possible inclusion in IndiePicks Magazine! 

Reviewed for publisher via Netgalley.
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"Make Noise" is a helpful book for those looking to start a podcast. It will give you very clear guidelines on the type and style of podcasts, how to execute it successfully, and popular examples. If you want to start a podcast and need some direction, this is the book for you. It doesn't include technical aspects of podcasting such as recording, equipment needed, or uploading, but with that known, this book is still very helpful.

Special thanks to NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
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In Make Noise, Eric Nuzum lays out an agenda that is at once extremely ambitious and directed at a narrowly defined audience: His intention is to explain to would-be creators of podcasts how to conceptualize, organize, and execute their vision in order to launch a successful venture.  What the book is not about is how any of the millions of potential users might select or evaluate the podcasts they listen to.  However, as the author notes, given that there are currently about 700,000 existing podcasts available to choose from, this is apparently an important problem to address, in terms of both improving current products as well as influencing the development of future ones.

Nuzum would seem to be the perfect person to write such a book.  He has a lengthy and impressive resume chronicling his work in this area, including program development experience in public radio and creating or producing some of the most popular podcasts in the market today (e.g., TED Radio Hour, Invisibilia).  For the most part, he succeeds in translating that experience into practical and insightful advice on how a would-be podcast producer should go about the task of creating and delivering effective content.  Beyond the substance of the message he conveys, Nuzum also writes in a down-to-earth style that is especially effective in getting his points across.  The use of many illustrative examples from his personal knowledge of the industry is helpful in that regard.

The book is divided into ten chapters (including the Introduction), each of which explores a different aspect of the podcast development process.  For me, the first several of these chapters contained the most compelling, interesting, and useful material.  In particular, the author describes the importance of developing a ten-word descriptive sentence that encapsulates the creative concept as well as the need to visualize the podcast’s specific target audience.  Following those discussions, Nuzum addresses the issue of how a good podcast should be structured, emphasizing both the function and the form of the product.  Above all else, he stresses the idea that podcasting is all about telling stories and that understanding the principles of how to tell a great story is the most important skill to have.

On the other hand, some of the material in the last few chapters was less effective at accomplishing the author’s pronounced mission.  Specifically, the information on finding an audience through “guerilla marketing” tactics and how to lead teams of creative people were verbose and largely unnecessary to the core purpose.  In fact, the latter chapter really read more like an excerpt from a general management textbook than advice tailored to someone interested in podcast development.  Beyond that, it is actually difficult to know how to evaluate the usefulness of any of this information until a person actually tries to put it into practice launching their own audio project.  Still, Make Noise is an engaging discussion from an author who writes with authority and passion, which makes it a worthwhile reading experience.
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