On May 2021, the first episode of my first podcast went live. The podcast is called Intervista Pythonista and is co-hosted with Cesare Placanica. Cesare and I are members of the Python Milano community that helped us to kick-off the idea.
I am a heavy podcast listener. I love podcasts because they are dense conversations on topics I love. These conversations let me hear the points of view of experts in the field and stay up to date with new trends.
I prefer podcasts over videos for two reasons. First, I can listen to them while I'm doing something else (usually low-attention tasks like dish-washing or running). Second, I don't need to sit in front of a screen after I've been working daily for 8+ hours still in front of a screen.
Cesare and I participated as panelists in a community talk at last Codemotion conference. The panel was an informal discussion on topic like data team organization, learning tips, and latest trends in data science.
We had a surprisingly high number of attendees during the panel. I noticed that an informal chat between experts is a content that people were enjoying more than I expected. I suspect that people miss the informal chat they used to have during in-person meetups and conferences (ie suspended since the beginning of the pandemics).
So, I got back to Cesare with the idea:
Why don't we start podcasting?
Cesare was like: "tell me more about it". The idea was to interview an expert in Python or in its neighborhood. The format was inspired by Michael Kennedy's Talk Python to Me podcast. I was thinking to a similar format but narrowing it to an Italian audience by running interviews in Italian. The goal was not only to create valuable content for Italian Pythonistas, but also to give voice to local community members. Knowing with a direct interview the persons behind a tech community is a way to help the community grow by making it appear somehow closer to you.
The decision was taken. It was time to start.
How to run a podcast?
Neither Cesare nor I ever run a podcast before. None of us was expert of audio recording and audio post-processing. Fortunately, we live in a time where you can find plenty of user friendly tools to create digital content. After doing some research, I found Anchor by Spotify. Anchor defines itself as "the easiest way to make a podcast". And it probabily is.
Anchor lets you start a new podcast in minutes for free. You can record, cut, merge, and publish episodes directly via the mobile app. The app lets you invite guests to join the recording too. Anchor will then take care of distributing the content on major podcasting platforms.
What is missing? A website and a logo! It turns out that Anchor creates a podcast page for your podcast. I simply bought a domain and linked it to that page. Regarding the logo, I have to confess I designed in Power Point.
Ok, we decided how to record and how to publish. It's time to record our first episode... who should we invite? Cesare and I started listing names of community members, colleagues, and even friends that could be interviewed. We soon had around 20 names, and our first choice was Marco Bonzanini (thanks Marco again for your availability!).
We keep on updating a kind of kanban board that lists potential guests, guests that have accepted the invitation, and those that have already been scheduled. We decided to have a fixed schedule for recording (every 2 weeks, on the same day, at the same time). Having a recurring schedule reduces complexity and made things work.
At the end of every recording, we ask the guest to suggest us 1 or 2 names of potential future guests. This recommendation helps us filling the list of future guests with new names, and it lets us meet new Pythonistas outside of our direct network.
Two days ago, we published the 10th episode, and we have enough history to look back at numbers. As of 7th November 2021, we had 1,364 plays. Our top episode had 167 plays. The 84% of listeners are from Italy, and 2 out of 3 listeners uses their mobile device to listen to the podcast.
What I'm most glad of are not these numbers, but the messages we receive often via Slack or LinkedIn. Sometimes listeners writes us to say thanks for the valuable content they listened to. These messages are the highest reward for the time and effort we put into this podcast and the main reason we are doing this.