|Nancy Marvy and Al Molinaro on Happy Days.|
The average episode of our Happy Days podcast, These Days Are Ours, lasts only about 20-30 minutes. But those 20-30 minutes can take many, many hours to produce. Let me talk about what the process is like on my end. It can be divided into at least three distinct phases, some more fun than others.
Phase 1: Preproduction
First, naturally, I have to screen the Happy Days episode we are reviewing. I always watch each show at least twice: once straight through without interruptions to get a feel for the plot and the jokes, then a second time with frequent pauses as I take notes. Once I've taken notes, I then do my research on all the guest stars, songs, and cultural/historical references in the episode. This forms the basis for the script I use while recording the podcast.
Total time for this phase: About two or three hours.
Phase 2: Production
The next part of the process is actually recording the podcast This takes about 40 minutes and is by far the most enjoyable part of making These Days Are Ours. It breezes by. Generally, my cohost and I record on Saturday afternoon via Skype. That's a nice program to use because it has a built-in recording feature. We generally do not kibitz much before or after doing the show. We simply exchange pleasantries and get right into it. Whatever we have to say to one another, we save for the show.
Total time for this phase: Less than an hour.
Phase 3: Postproduction
This is where the real time is spent. You may not guess it, but These Days Are Ours is a heavily-edited show. Out of respect for our listeners, I take the 30-40 minutes of Skype audio and whittle it down to about 20 minutes of "good stuff." Once I add in all the various sound clips from Happy Days and other sources, that usually brings the podcast's total running time to about 25 minutes. (Although this varies from week to week.)
So much is left on the proverbial cutting room floor. My cohost and I are both prone to flubs and awkward pauses, for instance, and we tend to clutter our speech with filler words. ("Well, uh, like, I, uh, thought this, um, y'know, episode was pretty, uh, good or whatever.") I get rid of as much of this as I can. And then there are conversational threads that just don't lead anywhere interesting or stray too far away from the matter at hand. I can be especially guilty of free-associating and hopping from topic to topic.
There are also technical problems to fix. Maybe certain words or phrases didn't record properly, so I'll either have to edit around them or rerecord them. When we were reviewing "If You Knew Rosa" for this week's show, my cohost's audio was very quiet compared to mine. I basically had to fix this on a sentence-by-sentence basis. Hopefully, the end result sounds more or less like a "normal" installment of our podcast. All in all, the editing process for These Days Are Ours is time-consuming and tedious, but it's also where the show really takes shape.
Even then, the postproduction phase is not quite done. After exporting the audio, I have to upload each episode to Libsyn, which takes several minutes. There are a lot of screens you have to go through. Then, while the podcast is still fresh in my mind, I write one of these blog posts about it. On the day the episode drops (always Tuesday morning), I do a little flurry of promotional posts on social media.
Total time for this phase: Hard to say. It feels like six or seven hours, stretched out over several days.
So there you have it. A half hour of These Days Are Ours takes a minimum of ten hours to produce. Is it all worth it? You can decide for yourself when you listen to our latest episode.