Radio personality Oscar Santana Zeballos was looking for a new career opportunity after he graduated from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He happened to see a vacant office location while he was walking down Wisconsin Avenue in his neighborhood in Georgetown, and a thought struck him about opening an audio production studio there.
In 2014, Charlie Birney began a concept called Podcast Village in Gaithersburg, Md. Operating out of coworking spot Launch Workplaces, it essentially created a studio space to record podcasts. Birney asked Santana to come up and see what he was doing and invited him to take a look at the studio he had created in the coworking space. Santana, a podcaster and nationally syndicated radio co-host on the on The Mike O’Meara Show, thought it was worth hearing about. Birney, who also hosts the Bethesda Podcasting Meetup, introduced the concept and Santana thought that scaling and expanding the brand could be a good way to partner.
During their second meeting, the idea of having another studio location for Podcast Village was brought up. Santana had a gut instinct that there was a need for this type of studio in the District. Now all the idea needed was market validation. As more former broadcasters have gotten into the podcasting game, they are increasingly expecting higher quality audio and not compressed audio recordings that sound like they’ve been recorded through a tin-can wire.
Now, Podcast Village has a new location at 2300 Wisconsin Avenue in D.C. It has 13 members all based on referrals, a third of whom are broadcast professionals. At a soft opening of the space on December 8, members of the local podcasting community were invited to sit for a brainstorming session, ask questions of each other and share what they’ve learned.
“The space is built by podcasters for podcasters,” said Oscar Santana, co-host of Tech 411, Big O and Dukes, and producer of Boostrapped, a podcast by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. “We’re here to provide a space that is focused on helping creators create, and producers producing.”
The Georgetown location has two broadcast studios, with a control room area where producers can sit, and access to around four to five microphones for each space. There’s a voiceover booth and a greenroom area which can be also used as a conference room. There’s also an editing bay with Macintosh computers that offers cold and warm beverages to members. Santana invested in equipment to help users connect and link to other audio production studios using audio to IP with a solution from The Telos Alliance.
One of the Podcast Village studios also has video capabilities, so tapings can be captured and broadcast on Facebook Live, YouTube or other social media. Podcasters, audiophiles and other broadcasters can rent the space by the hour or they can join Podcast Village and get member rates and discounts on field kit rentals. There’s also the option of dropping by the studio, hitting record and handing off the editing to another member in the community.
The studios are open and available to anyone who is a member. There’s no need to have the technical know-how to operate any of the equipment with the idea to get independent podcasters comfortable with a more professional setup. Santana wants to keep members of the Podcast Village community engaged with a mentorship model situation where they have access to engineers and producers who are already veterans of the broadcasting industry.
While the studio won’t officially open until January 2018, the space is looking to offer discounted memberships as an incentive to the first few people to join. For experienced and aspiring podcasters alike, the place is looking to create a professional grade recording studio akin to what radio professionals get to access. Podcasters can focus on creating their content and not worry about the equipment, infrastructure, sound-issues, noise levels, and the many other variables they deal with on a regular basis.
Still, podcasting has a very no-frills, DIY quality that is at the core of its essence, with many of the early adopters famously geeking out about the audio equipment they’ve acquired. With many podcast producers hoping to attract new listeners, it will be interesting to see if Podcast Village’s coworking concept will be the answer for producers looking to step up their podcasting game.-30-
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