Talking Podcasting with Kerry Donahue of PRX

We sat down with the instructor of the Made in NY Podcast Training Certificate Program to get her insights on the course and learn more about her perspective on podcasting.

This January, the Made in NY Media Center by IFP will be home to NYC’s first podcast certificate program. Instructor Kerry Donahue, Director of Training at PRX and former Director of the Radio Program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, played an integral role in the development of the curriculum. To learn more about the program and apply, click here.

Director of Training at PRX

Kerry Donahue

What can someone taking the certificate course expect?

This eight-week class designed for someone fairly new to podcasting who is eager to learn the basics of long-form, narrative audio storytelling. We’ll meet on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6-9pm from January 8 to February 28. In class, we’ll cover everything from how to record and edit interviews (using Hindenburg software), how to write for the ear, and story structure. We’ll also have guest speakers talk about their experiences finding remarkable stories, using music as a storytelling element, and what it takes to get a job in this industry. Podcasting is still so new there is no set path to success, but we’ll touch on how you can find and engage with your audience. The approximately 20 students in the class will work closely with each other and, we hope, develop a supportive network that will exist long after the class ends.


What kinds of guest speakers will there be?

The guest list is still being finalized, but NYC is home to some of the very best in the industry and we’ll have several prominent hosts and producers come in to talk about specific skills. The program also wraps up with an industry-focused networking event which will bring in more guests to connect with, offer feedback and provide support to participants.


What is your background?

I’m excited to be teaching this inaugural podcasting class at MiNY. Starting in January, I’ll be the director of training at PRX after five years running the audio program at Columbia Journalism School. I’ve also been teaching at Columbia for more than 15 years. I really enjoy teaching, especially beginners, and I love watching students fall in love with audio. In addition to teaching, I’ve worked as an executive producer at WNYC, as a producer at Marketplace, and as a reporter at WBGO in Newark. I’ve worked on several podcast pilots, been an editor on ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts, and produced an hour-long audio documentary, Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeffrey Schmalz.


What do you like about teaching?

I’ve always been a fan of bringing new people into this profession. My whole career dates back to my experience at my college’s community radio station (long live WOBC!). I stayed involved with community radio for years after college in my home state of Maine. I think a lot of these early days of podcasting have a community radio vibe, in the best way. I have also always loved the professional community of audio makers. I’m excited that programs like this one at the MiNY Media Center are encouraging new voices to jump in. We are strongest when we are bringing in and reflecting new perspectives.


What are some of your favorite podcasts?

I’m a journalist so I tend to listen to mostly non-fiction podcasts. I also hop around a lot to check out as much as possible. Here’s a short-list: The Daily; On the Media; Code Switch; Mom & Dad Are Fighting; Death, Sex, & Money; Nancy; Another Round; Still Processing; The Nod, Reply All, and Start Up. And of course I loved Serial (both seasons) and S-Town and I still regularly listen to This American Life. What an amazing time to care about audio storytelling.


Why is NYC the podcast capital?

Part of why NYC is the podcasting capital is simply an outgrowth of the density of creative people living in our amazing city – storytellers, producers, and technologists. I also credit the excellence of WNYC and This American Life being based here – add to that other big media organizations like the New York Times and Buzzfeed investing heavily in podcasting and you have some serious heat.