Headliner Highlight 013: Scott Gurian – Far From Home

For Headliner Highlight 13, we hear from Scott Gurian of Far From Home.

Tell us about your podcast.

My name is Scott Gurian, and I host and produce a podcast called Far From Home. I describe it as a show about my unexpected adventures and chance encounters with interesting people around the world. It’s a narrative, first-person, documentary-style show, drawing upon my years working in public radio, and I’ve just recently finished my first season where I documented an 11,000-mile road trip I took all the way from the U.K. to Mongolia in a little tiny car with my brother and some friends, raising money for charity.

Why did you start podcasting?

I’ve been podcasting now for just about three years. I started my podcast specifically to document this trip, though I plan to continue the podcast into a second season, which I’m working on now. It will not be a serialized podcast going forward, but more individual episodes.

I’m telling stories from my travels around the world. In the upcoming season, I share stories from Tuva in southern Russia, where I took Tuvan throat singing lessons. Chernobyl, which is the strangest, eeriest place I’ve ever been. Japan, Peru, Mexico, and Spain; basically all over the world.

How do you promote your podcast episodes?

Usually, every time I release a new episode, I post it all over social media, both on my own Facebook account and my podcast’s Facebook page, as well as over a dozen other Facebook groups, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn.

What has been most effective? Least effective?

I found my Instagram posts seem to get the most traction, but I never seem to have much luck with Twitter for whatever reason.

Maybe I don’t have as many followers, or people don’t seem as engaged on Twitter, at least my followers don’t seem to be.

Why do you make Headliners?

I don’t make Headliners for all my episodes, but I do with some of them because I’ve noticed that videos seem to get more attention than anything else I post on social media. Sometimes I’ll post a short video clip I’ve taken in my travels that are from a specific episode I produced, but when that’s not possible, I’ll make a short Headliner audiogram, and people usually seem to like it and comment on it quite a lot.

Current podcasting setup?

My normal recording kit when I’m stateside is a Marantz PMD 661 digital flash recorder, a Rode NTG 2 shotgun mic.

On my road trip to Mongolia, I couldn’t bring all my fancy gear because I was going through a lot of authoritarian countries; driving through places like Iran, and Turkmenistan, where I couldn’t risk being flagged as a journalist. We had border guards searching through our luggage, I didn’t want to bring anything too conspicuous, so in that case, I just brought a couple of little handheld Tascam DR-40 recorders with built-in microphones. And sometimes, I just recorded on my iPhone when I had to be more discreet.

I edit my podcast in Hindenburg Journalist Pro, which is a really great program from Denmark. It’s actually designed specifically for radio and podcast producers, and it’s great because it’s a small company, if I ever have any technical problems I just email them, and they’ll get right back to me, once they even issued a patch to the software based on a glitch that I found.

I use either my desktop computer or my laptop, which is a Panasonic Toughbook for all of my travels. It has a spill-proof keyboard, and could be dropped from a few feet on concrete–it’s very sturdy. I actually have an old Toughbook CF-53 model that I’ve been meaning to upgrade to something a little bit more current and lightweight.

What is something you think is overrated or underrated in podcasting?

I think what’s underrated is field audio. So many podcasts out there are just people, basically, two guys, chatting in an echoey room about whatever. Even in the vast majority of travel podcasts, they’re sitting in their hotel room at the end of the day basically talking about what they did. But, I think the power of good audio is that it transports you places, so I don’t wanna hear just people talking about a place, I wanna actually hear the sounds of that place–the street sounds, the accents–all of that kind of stuff. So, I would really love to hear more audio recorded out in the field because it really makes things come alive.

If someone was to only listen to one episode of yours, which one would you send?

It’s hard to choose, but I would probably say episode 11, “Just Plain Weird.” That was my episode from Turkmenistan, which was just the oddest place I’ve ever been to. We constantly felt like we were being watched, and it was just an extraordinary, authoritarian country.

Do you have a favorite podcast?

The first season of Crimetown, and 99% Invisible.

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