Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling

Make Noise: A Creator's Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling. Writing high concept ideas. The Full Schwartz Method.

Welcome to the Sunday, Feb 19, 2023 Edition of the Torg Stories Podcast. My sister Anne and I discuss Eric Nuzum’s book, Make Noise: A Creator’s Guide to Podcasting and Great Audio Storytelling.

We at Torg Stories are an Amazon affiliate which means we profit if you click here to purchase Nuzum’s book Make Noise.

We begin the episode by sharing some “homework” that Nuzum assigns to readers:

  1. Write a high concept praise for the podcast.
  2. Write a 10-word description of what the creators of the podcast are supposed to be doing.
  3. Find an avatar for a listener or potential listener and write a bio for that listener.

A Nuzum inspired question for you Dear Listener…

  • If you enjoy listening to our podcast, would you send one person you know a link to an episode you think they would enjoy OR would you just tell someone to check out the Torg Stories Podcast?

My homework assignments completed:

Write a high concept phrase that describes our podcast. On page 21, Nuzam explains, “High concept is an immediately and strikingly clear idea,” and he gives examples of the film Snakes on a Plane oand the TV show American’s Funniest Home Videos. My three high concept descriptions of our podcast:

  • Torgs (what we in the Torgerson family are called) reading, watching, telling, or asking for stories and then discussing them.

Write a 10 word description of what we are doing or what we could be doing or both. Describe it in a way that would distinguish it from any other show. 

Examples we were given p. 33:

  • Ask Me Another: An hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia.
  • West Cork: An unsolved murder exposes the underbelly of a rural Irish town.
  • Invisibilia: A narrative journey through the invisible forces affecting human behavior.
  • TED Radio Hour: Fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, fresh approaches to old problems, and new ways to think and create.

Find an image to be an avatar for a listener and write a description of them: 

In this exercise you are going to go to an image search engine ( is a great place to start), enter some terms that you think describe your target audience, and find that perfect picture of your listener—the one person who is your avatar. One picture. A photograph of the one person who represents your audience.

This reminds me of Stephen King talking about writing for an ideal reader or perhaps a few ideal readers. I choose a mix of real people I’ve heard of, know, and made up some fake names for images of people I found online:

  • Danny Ainge. When I searched using terms common to our podcast, it was the former Celtic whose face came up first! Checking in with the average fan. Leadership. 
  • My real cousin Kristin! college grad. Kids swimmers. Daily walker. Sports fan. 
  • Karen: My friend and former co-worker at what was then Vance High School in Charlotte. Duke tennis. AD / Coach. Athlete. Exercise. Family. Sports
  • Ronnie. I made this name up. He’s a broadcast major. Writes about sports. Wants to write a novel related to sports. He is starting up a podcast and found us on the Apple Podcast App.
  • My co-worker Cayla. She was just telling me about some podcasts she wants to start. She’s working on a novel. She’s a singer, artist, writer, and writing teacher.
  • I know Kenny because he and I have coached our daughters. He once told me he listened to an episode. Retired postal worker. Musician. Basketball coach. Kids play sports. Sound production. 

Nuzum writes about something called The Full Schwartz Method. It’s a method for helping an interviewer help a guest tell a better story. We practice and have Anne tell a story about getting hurt on a trip to Hawaii.

(okay, this isn’t the Full Schwartz; it’s more of an almost half of the

Full Schwartz described in Nuzum’s book)

  1. Anne, I think you hurt yourself in Hawaii. Give us the basics of that…
  2. work with the subject to identify some key scenes in the story. Imagine the moment as if it were a photograph, and go over a lot of what was going on in that scene. While it is the subject’s story, it is really up to you to flag the pivotal moments in the story.
  3. In addition to describing the scene like a photograph, get the subject to focus on other internal details: What were they feeling at that moment? What were they thinking? Were there smells, sounds, or other sensations that stuck out to them?

Questions for discussion: 

  1. P. 27. The concept of voice applies to both kinds of podcasts, but in different ways. Anne, do you think you have found your podcast voice? 
  2. P. 103. BONUS EPISODE: Terry Gross Gives Advice to Novice Interviewers. Anne, you weren’t up for interviewing The Hawaii Vacation Guide. What made you not up for that? I’ve got a busy week next week. We’re going to try and give you the reigns and have you interview me about coaching my kids…maybe you can use this section for a few extras? “You should feel free to listen and ask follow-up questions, and follow the interview where it leads you, knowing that you have the structure to come back to, if and when you need it.”
  3. Near p. 164, Eric writes about forming a network of podcasts. I wondered, what would your podcast be if it was just you once a week? 
  4. Nuzam says this is similar to the “onliness statement” that author Marty Neumeier advocates in his iconic branding book Zag, where he challenges brand-definers to finish this sentence: “Our brand is the ONLY _____________ that _____________.” An example being “Our brand is the ONLY wheat distributor that sells grind-it-yourself wheat for the serious home baker.” It’s clear. It’s unique. It sets the boundary markers.

Golden Lines from the Book:

  1. What makes your project different? P. 181. I say Torg Stories is different every week. We’re talking about something that interests us in the moment, and it’s something that works well as a one off topic. You listen because of the variety and you listen because you enjoy our company.
  2. When we are bored, that’s one of the few times we allow ourselves permission to let our minds roam freely.
  3. I believe that you start with your destination and work your way backward from there. (John Irving yes and Stephen King no) 
  4. “When in doubt, leave the recorder going.” I certainly learned this in making documentary films. 
  5. For many years I have made a habit to praise. I try to send out praise to other creators at least twice a week. At times, I send a notecard to congratulate someone on work that impressed me. You’d be surprised how many people remember those notecards and mention them, even several years later.
  6. Ask the audience what they think and put as many decisions in their hands as possible. Ask them what features the service should have and how to make the service engaging, exciting, and fun. Have contests (with prizes) for those who suggest ideas that get implemented.
  7. “Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and the pig likes it.” (My friend Sheila told me that one about twenty-five years ago and I say it to just about every person I’ve worked with.)
  8. “You are a victim of the rules you live by”
  9. A poem is never finished, it is only abandoned. French Poet Paul Valery 
  10. Know what you are making. Stick to it. 
  11. There is an old bromide in radio that tells announcers and disc jockeys to phrase everything like they are speaking to only one person.

Books Mentioned: (affiliate links below)

Other relevant links: 

Nuzam writes about the different kinds of podcasts:

  • People Chatting including rants, the opening monologue and questions and answers.
  • People Telling Stories including Seasonal Narrative such as the Serial podcast. Episodic Narratives in which each show is a single story. Multiple Narratives as in This American Life.

Thanks for listening to our podcast!

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