How this Latina Built her Career in Podcasting: The Martina Castro Story

Martina Castro, an expert podcaster shared her secrets on the podcast industry, why she became an audio producer, and how to get started in the industry.

This article was created based on an interview where we talk almost one hour in Spanish, and later I translated it. If you don’t have enough time, you can check out the main topics in the following table of contents.

Martina Castro beginnings

Q: What do you consider yourself?

I definitely consider myself American because I was born and raised here. But I always had a long-distance love affair with Uruguay, because it’s where both of my parents were born. Also, since I was 6 months old I have been on a plane to Uruguay every year of my life. So, it’s not for nothing that I feel that connection with Uruguay.

Q: Did you study journalism? Or a related career?

I couldn’t study journalism because I was studying at a liberal arts college that didn’t allow me to study anything considered a trade. Their philosophy is to prepare you for any career. It’s a particular style of education from the United States.

Q: When did you start interacting with audio and journalism?

Actually, I’ve always been involved with singing. I would say that I come from the world of music, which is closely related to audio, and therefore, to the radio. The interest in journalism began when I was in college, and in my second year, I met my mentor, Doug Mitchell, who worked at NPR (National Public Radio).

When I met him, he was looking for someone to write a blog about what it is like to be young and enter the world of media. It ended up being the first blog in NPR’s Next Generation Radio program.

Then I applied for an internship at NPR that I didn’t get the first time, but did get the second time I applied. It was the summer after I graduated from college. It all started there.

I became more and more involved in radio journalism in the style of public radio in the United States. What is known in the world of podcasts as “audio storytelling” is born in the dedication that NPR has to tell stories using all possible resources to create environments designed exclusively for audio. The key is thinking and doing from the point of telling a story that is really born in that medium, not that it is an adaptation to the medium. That was where I learned about audio.

How to produce a narrative podcast. Tips from National Public Radio

Q: It’s much more than sitting in front of a microphone and speaking, but it is thought from pre-production, a script, and development exclusively in audio.

Exactly. Even getting sound recordings as footage to create realistic scenes. And it was also interesting in NPR that they had the luxury of having enough resources to always have a team working on each story. So I went out as a producer with a journalist. She focused on asking questions during the interviews and having me focused on the audio. I always put on my headphones and recorded everything. That dedication to the quality was so intense that it was my responsibility to stop everyone if there was any sound that interrupted the interview or if something happened with the audio that would impede the quality.

The sound quality was everything.

There I learned certain techniques and strategies to make it sound good, so that one can totally immerse oneself in what was happening in the audio of the stories. I also could observe how the best in the industry did it.

When I returned from recording scenes or interviews, I had to choose the best parts of everything we recorded. And then, while the journalist wrote the script, they asked me, “Choose that moment where they said this and when they said that.” Then we entered a production room with the editor to finish the assembly. And also, to avoid mistakes, we always read everything out loud, and while the journalist was reading aloud, I played the audios.

I learned a lot by observing that editing process and the care they gave to the stories. They thought a lot about where the story should start, and they said, “Well here I get a little lost,” “Here we need to replace the track,” “We need more ambient sound.” The key was how to write for the ear, and not thinking that someone could read it.

Like all those things that one might learn in the classroom, I learned it by doing it at NPR in those early years.

Q: This process that NPR led, sounds like the model of the narrative podcast that we know today.

How this Latina Built her Career in Podcast: The Martina Castro Story

Totally. It’s not for nothing that some of the most popular podcasts are produced by NPR. They are the experts and they have perfected it. But this happens when one has the resources. Sometimes one has to do everything alone.

I think podcasts are born in that self-determination of saying “I am going to make a podcast. I have a $ 100 microphone and I’m going to upload it to the internet.” That spirit of independence is the basis of everything we know now as podcasts. Recently, other forms, formats, and genres have emerged. In fact, there is a lot of controversy and discussion about how the world of podcasting is evolving, but I respect that initial entrepreneurial spirit very much and I hope it stays, even if there are production companies like mine who make things with multinational companies all over the world.

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