Quick Tip: HITT for your podcasts and live video

Could an intervals app help keep your podcast or video on track?

Andy Dickinson
Nov 12 · 3 min read

This week I’ve been talking to students about planning and timing for a broadcast assignment. They have to work in a team to produce a studio-based news programme. That means scripts, running orders and shouty directors. Timing is something that I’ve banged on about most — if you don’t know when each bit starts and ends, then the programme runs into the ground.

In the ‘old days’, you had a PA sat next to the director running multiple stopwatches, checking the timings for each element and making sure it all ran on time. Now studios have playout systems that track all of that for you. But that's in ‘fancy TV studios’. What if you don’t have that but still need to keep an eye on your timings. What if you have a live podcast and you want to keep to a basic structure but you don’t have the fancy kit (or a PA!)

As always, I’m interested in finding easy to access solutions to problems like this, so I started looking at apps that offered a way to set multiple timers.

The running order

Let’s say we have a running order that looks like this:

00:00:00 — Intro music

00:00:30 — sponsors message

00:00:50 — this week preview

00:01:10 — First Guest

00:04:00 — Second Guest

00:06:00 — Group Chat. No longer than 3:00 mins

00:09:00 — Next week and goodbye

00:09:30 — End credits

The standard alarm on most phones will allow you to set multiple times. So you could set an alarm for each section of your show. The problem is that you’d need to start your show at a preset time. More fundamentally, Alarm apps don’t do seconds and in the broadcast world, seconds count. So I needed something that would measure intervals in seconds. That’s when I thought of HITT trainers.

HITT recordings

High-intensity interval training is a popular way of getting fit (so I’m told!). It requires short intervals of high-intensity exercises with rest in between. To stay on track, you can get apps that track when to start each interval over a period of time. This seemed ideal for the job.

Replacing the exercises for the sections of a programme running order you can time your podcats or programme to perfection

So I found an interval timer called Seconds and set it up with sections of the programme instead of exercise intervals. The app allows for haptic feedback, buzzes or beeps as well as a voice that counts down. But most will give you some sort of buzz or feedback when each interval is due or you can mute them altogether. So you could have your device in your pocket, buzzing to keep you on track. Or set it to mute and have it on the desk so you can track the time.

What I liked about Seconds, in particular, was that it showed a countdown, the time elapsed and time remaining. All the timings you need to keep your broadcast on track. I’m sure this isn’t unique to interval apps but I’ve not dug too deeply.

Seconds helpfully shows multiple counters which really help with timing.

Hopefully, that’s useful. Not too left-field.

Let me know what you think.

After matter

Ben Smith, one of the producers of the 361 podcast, mentioned on Twitter that the team uses an online Pomodoro timer called cuckoo.team to do something similar to my HITT solution.

I really like this idea. The fact that it’s online means you can share it among the presenters and contributors which make remote contribution possible. A neat solution

Andy Dickinson

Written by

Online Journalism Lecturer and geek. More at http://t.co/9CpOuB7m

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade