Podcasters looking to fund their productions are looking to a variety of methods to raise money. As I discussed Tuesday, many podcasts are taking on advertisers. Another tact gaining prominence is crowd-funding. Podcaster Roman Mars turned heads last year when his Kickstarter raised more than $170,000–more than 4 times his goal–to fund season three of his architecture podcast 99% Invisible. Mars has just a couple days left in his season 4 kickstarter and he has already more than doubled his season 3 total.
I recently learned that a successful podcast in my new home base of Portland, OR is also crowd-funding a new season right now. Destination DIY is a podcast and radio program that, as the name implies, focuses on do-it-yourself culture. It’s a program that I’d listened to before I had even decided to move to Portland, so I was excited to catch up with producer Julie Sabatier.
The letters DIY often bring to mind home improvement and craft projects, but Sabatier construes the idea much more broadly. For instance, this past summer she produced a story about a man who makes his own spacesuits, and the program has covered topics like at-home funerals and DIY disasters. The overarching ethos of the program is that you don’t need to rebel against authority, because “you are an authority.”
While the program is very much a DIY effort, Sabatier says she’s able to do it “because DIY doesn’t mean doing things all by yourself.” She is emphatic about this point, explaining, “I’ve been lucky to have people who want to work with me in various capacities.” This is a theme that comes across in listening to the show, as well.
After producing 10 episodes of Destination DIY on an irregular basis, Sabatier launched an indiegogo fundraising campaign to step up to a monthly production schedule for 2014. She’s motivated by listener feedback. “People find us, listen to all the episodes, and they say, ‘when is another one coming out?’” Sabatier explains.
She is looking to raise $20,000 by December 4. That money will go towards a variety of production costs, including studio time, equipment purchases and redesigning the show’s website. Importantly, money will also be paid to the producers and artists who have stepped up to work on the program. Sabatier makes it clear that it’s important to pay independent artists and professionals for their time and expertise. “Creative success is not a zero sum game,” she says.
Unlike what many people expect from a podcast, Destination DIY is a polished production on par with a national public radio program. This makes sense, since Sabatier is a Portland-based producer for Oregon Public
Radio Broadcasting’s midday Think Out Loud program. The show got its start on community radio KBOO, and its 10 one-hour episdoes have been aired on OPB. Still, Sabatier says “it’s primarily a podcast, especially in terms of how many people listen to it.”
At the same time the exposure to the public radio audience has been helpful for the program. “The thing we get from the radio that’s priceless,” she tells me, “is the
unexpected accidental listeners. You have to make it really easy for people (to listen), and there’s nothing easier than hearing it on the radio.” While the program has a loyal podcast following, she says “we don’t want to lose the radio” audience.
But being aired on a public radio station can be double-edged sword. “People hear us on OPB and assume that we have everything we need,” when in fact Sabatier raises the majority of resources it takes to produce the program. Another benefit is that she has found that “being on public radio lends legitimacy,” but then many listeners she meets “are excited about the podcast because it’s on demand,” and easy to find and hear.
A big challenge of of being on public radio is the format requirement. Public stations prefer one-hour long programs that adhere to a strict clock, with precise cutaways for news updates or other segments. “There’s a lot of non-creative work that goes into making an hour-long public radio show,” Sabatier explains.
In order to increase the frequency of episodes while also keeping it fun to produce Sabatier is changing to a flexible, story-focused format. New programs will not adhere to the strict one-hour clock. Instead, episodes will tackle just one story, and be as long as it takes. That flexibility will help the program stick to its monthly production schedule, too.
Changing format doesn’t mean Destination DIY is leaving the radio. Sabatier has formed a relationship with the Northwest News Network which has agreed to make these individual segments available to 12 member stations to integrate into local programs. She has already started dividing up past episodes into this format.
Destination DIY’s indiegogo fundraiser ends at 11:59 PM Pacific Time on December 4. Sabatier is offering up an array of “perks” to donors that reflect the character of Destination DIY. Listeners who give $20 are eligible to receive a flask with a leather cover laser-etched with the program’s logo, created by artisan Andrea Legitt who was interviewed on a recent episode. Sabatier is also offering copies of her own “How to Make Radio” ’zine series.
Folks in the Portland area can attend two events with Destination DIY
is hosting this week. Tonight, November 20, is the program’s monthly listening party at the ADX maker space, 417 SE 11th St. The event is free, and runs 7 – 9 PM. Attendees are invited to bring a project to work on while participating in DIY-themed trivia and listening to an interview with Cathy Camper, multimedia artist and author of the forthcoming graphic novel, “Low Riders in Space.”
On Friday, November 22, Sabatier will be telling a story at the Back Fence PDX storytelling series in the Mission Theater, 1624 NW Glisan St. The show starts at 8 PM and is 21+.
We cover podcasting news and analysis every Wednesday in our Podcast Survivor feature.