How I Podcast: In conversation with Aaron Bernstein
We’re talking with podcasters from all walks of life about their creative process, best practices, and why audio is one of the coolest ways to tell a story.
It’s important to find a format that sets your podcast up for success and lets you be creative. One example of a podcast — where its distinctive format is just as central to the narrative as the content itself — is photographer Aaron Bernstein’s All On The Table. His strikingly contrasted photographs display how we eat and what we eat, while his podcast is about why we eat.
All On The Table’s format mimics the structure of how networks grow in real life; first they start as a series of one-on-one relationships, and then one person becomes the central connector between these disparate, yet like-minded communities. Each episode features a highly-personal discussion—about art, social change, childhood, digital culture, and more—over a meal with a guest, and by the end of the season, he brings all the people together for a culminating shared dinner party. Aaron is masterful at creating a podcast where form follows function.
We talked with Aaron about his process for thinking critically about format before starting his podcast and why, as a visual artist, audio was his medium of choice to document these stories.
What motivated you to start podcasting?
I wanted an excuse to host dinner parties in my apartment to connect with people I wouldn’t necessarily meet otherwise in New York City. There are so many intriguing, amazing people here but it is so easy to stay trapped within your own bubble of understanding. I wanted to find a way to document my conversations without being too invasive or taking away from the actual experience. Building a podcast around shared meals was an effective tool for opening up the intimate conversations.
How did you decide on your format?
I settled on this format through a LOT of trial and error, either overcomplicating things (too many guests, too many elements) or oversimplifying (not enough variety or uniqueness to the format). I like that the guests are recurring so the listener can feel as if they are joining us for each meal as well.
What’s your recording setup?
At maximum, I have a four-mic setup for the dinner parties, which are always haphazardly set up between various glasses, plates and dishes of food. Even with just one guest, cord control is never not a mess, as it all feeds into a mixer and then into my laptop, which stretches all the way into my kitchen (which is already a mess from all the cooking). I think it’s all part of the experience, though!
How do you promote your podcast?
I primarily promote the podcast through Instagram and Twitter, mainly through photographs of the food and the guests. I think there’s something special for listeners to experience these meals in a new way, with the visual context as needed but it not being a focus while listening to the actual podcast.
What’s your favorite Anchor feature to use?
I love the transcription video feature and how easy it is to export these clips in different ratios for different digital needs. It’s a great way to visualize soundbites and for me to share some key takeaways from each episode!
What’s your best podcasting advice?
Don’t overthink it! When I started this podcast, I had NO idea what I was doing and was unsure if I’d be able to successfully launch the project. Programs like Anchor make it so easy to jump right in and start, while allowing me to focus on the actual content of the show instead of worrying too much about the technical side of things.
How do you podcast? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram. If you’re looking for more tips, check out the previous edition of How I Podcast, and if you want to start your own, try making something awesome with Anchor.