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Jan 24, 2020

POD SAVE ASTORIA WEEK: How to Start Your Own Podcast with Chris Gersbeck

When we started looking into local podcasts a few weeks back for story ideas, there were so many good opportunities for content that we decided to make it a week-long (…)

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When we started looking into local podcasts a few weeks back for story ideas, there were so many good opportunities for content that we decided to make it a week-long series! So, welcome to “Pod Save Astoria” Week, where we’re interviewing local podcasters about joining a super popular medium, recording locally, the laughs (and tears) along the way, and so much more. Enjoy (and start downloading…now!).

Like many current podcasters, Astoria local Chris Gersbeck fell into the medium by way of comedy. But instead of being in front of the mic, he’s a master behind the scenes: editing episodes (he once spent four hours editing an hour-long interview because the guest started every sentence with a long “uhhhhhhhh”), doing promotion and publicity, and even building recording studios. He ended up creating his dream job, but of course, it didn’t start out that way…

Chris majored in communications because he wanted to work in radio, but quickly realized there wasn’t much creative freedom in the industry and that jobs were scarce. That left him with a lot of audio production knowledge though, and when his friend Colin Fitzgerald started producing his surreal comedy podcast Cosmic Castoff around 2014, Chris would write sketches and make appearances.

That led him to stand up comedy, which he officially started in 2015, right when QED Astoria happened to open.

“Two years fly by and I was working there full-time as their social media manager, publicist and door manager, while also producing and booking regular comedy showcases and events,” he explained. “So when Kambri Crews (QED’s owner) wanted to build a podcast studio, I consulted her on equipment and space needs. Once the studio opened, I had the opportunity to really cut my teeth on both producing and engineering podcasts.”

The QED recording studio. Courtesy of QED.

About a year later he insisted on producing his friend David Hill’s podcast when he wanted to relaunch it (Dave Hill’s Podcasting Incident), and everything just clicked.

“Once I got into the routine of releasing and promoting a weekly podcast I was like, ‘I need to do more of this because I’ve basically carved out my very own dream job,'” he said.

Lots of his comic friends then started creating podcasts and asking him to help publicize them, like Ted Alexandro’s A Little Bit Me and Carolyn Bergier’s Dyking Out. As his talents spread by word of mouth, he ended up getting gigs doing publicity for long-running podcasts like RISK! and Keith and The Girl (did you catch our interview with them on Monday?!).

“I love podcasts because of their ability to connect people who have very obscure interests, all around the world,” he said. “It’s what I tell people when they’re coming up with an idea for their podcast: make the show that you would want to listen to. The more obscure your interest, the better.

“Say, for example, you’re a huge fan of the 1996 family comedic ape movie Dunston Checks In. There is literally a podcast called Dunston Checks Min wherein the hosts discuss Dunston Checks In, one minute at a time. This is real!”

Chris says that over the years he’s watched podcasts go from a niche hobby that required a lot of technical skills to a mainstream medium that doesn’t require much financing or tech knowledge to produce. Still, he says people underestimate just how long booking, recording, editing and promoting just a single episode of a show takes. He said to make sure you have a fair amount of free time before you jump into it, and to tell your guests to be aware of their “uhhs,” “likes” and “erms” because that can cost you a lot of editing time.

He of course recommends trying out the QED Podcast Studio, partly because he outfitted the space itself, but also because the sound quality is top-notch and it’s super affordable. Plus, there are tons of comedic talent opportunities to have on as guests! As for what else makes a successful podcast?

“I think first and foremost, your passion and commitment to your podcast should be your #1 priority,” Chris said. “Most of us aren’t going to become millionaires from podcasting, so if that’s what you’re in it for, you’re going to get really frustrated, really fast. Like I said, your best bet is to make the podcast you would want to listen to…Even if that means breaking down Dunston Checks In, one minute at a time.”

If you’re serious about taking the next step with your podcast idea, Chris is hosting the “Intro to Podcasting Class” at QED on Saturday, January 25 at 12pm and February 22 at 12pm.

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