This is the fifth and final article in our Field Guide to Podcasting series. These posts will profile the people and roles that come together to create a podcast. In the case of Pacific Content, that includes making a podcast with a brand partner. Read the other articles on the Producer role, the Showrunner role, the Sound Designer role and the Audience Development Specialist.
Executive producers make sure production teams have everything they need to create a podcast.
Making podcasts is creative work. Executive producers take great care to create conditions where that kind of work can thrive.
Let’s break it down.
Our teams at Pacific Content work behind the scenes to create podcasts for our clients. But all teams need support and that’s where the executive producer comes in.
Executive producers oversee several productions at a time. Showrunners and producers do the heavy lifting when it comes to production work, but executive producers play a vital role — they focus on the bigger picture and support production by sharing lessons learned and best practices between teams.
Executive producers are connectors, who ensure the company is running smoothly, both on the production side as well as the business side. They work closely with a number of teams in Pacific Content, including those from business operations, business development, finance, production, sound design and audience development.
Executive producers take a bird’s eye view of production, staffing, and client relations. They provide editorial support, advising on show concepts and providing feedback to showrunners on scripts. They step in to help research potential guests or book studios if the team is in a pinch. They also move showrunners and producers around to various projects to accommodate the ebb and flow of production schedules, to cover vacation days and to ensure work loads are manageable.
Basically, executive producers remove barriers — they spot future problems and solve them before they ever become production obstacles.
Executive producers also develop internal best practices, such as program development guides, professional development workshops, or show playbook templates.
But what is working as an executive producer at Pacific Content really like?
Pacific Content executive producer Karla Hilton shares her experience.
What does a typical work day look like?
When Karla sits down at her desk in the morning, she does what we all do — she checks Slack.
“That’s where we communicate internally. There’s often questions or things that need to be dealt with immediately.”
Sometimes a team member has called in sick and Karla needs to double check that the episode they’re responsible for is ready to publish. Other times a team member has a question about preparing for a client meeting that morning.
Then, Karla heads into meetings. Meetings take up about half of her day.
Meetings get a bad rep but connecting people and facilitating collaboration between teams, both internal and external, is a big part of Karla’s job.
And she spends much of her time preparing for meetings.
“If it’s a client meeting, often we’re doing some work in advance to prepare, either reviewing the production calendar or looking at what the client has requested and making sure we are prepared to answer their questions, provide resources, whatever they need in that meeting,” she said.
“Then there’s often staff meetings, where you’re talking to someone on a team and they are expressing, I need help with this, or, I’m not sure about this.”
Who do you work with most of the time?
- Other executive producers
What is your favorite part of the job?
The beginning stages of making a podcast can feel daunting but Karla jumps right in.
“I love working with a client on developing show ideas,” she said.
This is often the time when clients get their first glimpse of how their values could be reflected in a podcast.
“Who is your audience? Why would they choose this podcast? What show can you make that no one else is making? These are hard questions,” said Karla, “but these sessions always leave me excited about the kinds of shows we can make.”
What is your least favorite part of the job?
“That’s my least favorite part of the job — making slides,” said Karla.
While Pacific Content is an audio-first company, some things are best communicated through a visual medium. It can be awkward to work with, especially for audio enthusiasts like Karla.
“I’ve come to understand the value of a powerpoint presentation,” she said. “But I do not like making them.”
What’s something you found surprising about the job?
Coming from the public broadcaster, Karla is used to working at a blistering pace. But the creative range of podcasts offers a new world of possibilities.
“Unlike my job in daily programming, I have the benefit of time. We do have deadlines, but they’re very, very different.”
This breathing room makes all the difference when making podcasts that invoke everything from laughter to empathy to wonder.
“I’d say working on such a wide range of programming, that’s a real plus.”