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At AES: Building a Better Podcasting Studio

By Anthony Savona. Podcasting has taken the world by storm; WSDG recounts how it created production facilities for both Gimlet Media and Stitcher.

New York, NY (October 17, 2019)—It seems as though everyone wants to be in the podcasting business these days—content creators, marketers, distributors and studio owners. At the “Podcast Production Studios” panel held yesterday morning, John Storyk of the Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) led a discussion that covered what was learned from two recently completed podcasting facilities-Stitcher in Manhattan and Gimlet Studios in Brooklyn.

Both studios were designed by WSDG, and the panel featured Romina Larregina, project manager, and Judy Elliot-Brown, systems designer from the company. Also on hand were John DeLore, chief engineer for Stitcher, and Austin Thompson, technical director for Gimlet Media.

AES Off to a Strong Start

“Big money is being spent on podcasting,” said Storyk as part of his introduction. “Everyone is interested, but they are not sure what it is. It’s a bit like the Wild West on the facilities part.”

Though the two facilities shared some similarities, such as great locations, numerous podcast studios grouped together in a relatively small space and a live room for recording music, they each had their own set of challenges to overcome.

For Stitcher, many challenges came from the building itself. “This is not a good site,” said Storyk, referencing the space’s 9-foot, 9-inch ceilings, which can look good at the beginning of a project, but not when you have to float the room for acoustic isolation.

“It was challenging, but we made it work,” said Larregina. “We have a perimeter corridor, which helped isolation between the exterior of the building and studios, and we were not concerned with transmission to the lower level, which is a lobby. So the main concern was for the third floor tenants.”

For Gimlet Studios, the challenge was in the number of studios they wanted in the space, which jumped from eight to 13 early in the process. Plus, each studio has custom-designed furniture for it, depending by the number of people the room can hold.

The increase in the number of studios did not leave room for much else. “Unlike recording studios, which have corridors and storage closets-room between rooms, there is no opportunity for that in podcasting studios, where you are banging rooms up against each other,” said Storyk.

As a result, they were not able to float the rooms, but still attained acceptable isolation.

Another priority for Gimlet was that each of the rooms had to sound exactly the same, as sometimes podcasts were started in one room and finished in another, or pulled bits of interviews from different studios. Storyk remarked how difficult it was to get 13 rooms to sound identical. To test them, Thompson recorded the same script in every room to make sure the sound would match.

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One thing that surprised Storyk was that, though there was no contact between the two podcasting studios, they both wanted to include a live room for recording music.

“The music studio was big push for us,” said Thompson. “Theme songs, credit music, and so on is all written in house. We do mixing and sound design for all the shows.”

For more information on podcasting, check out today’s session, “Podcast Production,” at 10:45 a.m. in Room 1E12.