Making WP Twenty Nineteen Work as a Podcast Theme

I do not like paid WP themes.

Let me amend that — I like paid WP themes just fine. I dislike the subscribe forever or the theme will break and/or expose you to risk element. I’ve used paid WP themes in the past. It’s true that you get what you pay for in getting something that sort of works out of the gate. But it’s also a lifetime expense for updates. Or until the developer goes out of business, or decides to abandon the theme.

All things considered, I’d rather make a core WP theme work for me as a theme for this podcast than spend money on a paid theme.

I also want to self-host. I know there are some advantages to specific podcast hosting platforms (and other advantages to WYSIWYG platforms like Wix and Squarespace, etc.), but ultimately I’m paying for hosting, so I’d like to get 100% of that value and not spend more money on themes, or specific podcast hosting.

And, deciding that, it seemed like it might be of use to keep track of what I’m doing to the WordPress Twenty Nineteen theme to make it work for me.

What I know going in:

  • I have 20 years of WordPress experience. Back when things were simpler, I could built a WP theme from scratch, but that was 13-14 years ago. I essentially lost the plot when “hooks” became a thing. I could use existing templates to build PHP pages and make WP work back in the day. I can’t any more. But I come to this with some understanding of what’s happening under the hood.
  • Modest HTML/CSS skills. Not enough to “really” make things happen, but enough to follow a recipe or cut and paste things. I can use the Inspect Element command in Chrome or Firefox to identify a problem, but don’t have the skills to solve it.
  • I self-host the podcast and know my way around PowerPress and FTP/SFTP. I can increase the PHP upload limit in WordPress manually using PuTTy and instructions from my host.

Things I’ve done so far:

Made a child theme. I’ve ‘cheated’ and used the free Child Theme Configurator plugin — while I used to know enough to make one from scratch, the days of just brewing up some PHP files and calling it a day are over.

I’ve read up on some adjustments to Twenty Nineteen and make a couple of them. I’ve copied and pasted (with my own colour hexes) a code block that lets me customize the shading of the dark overlay on the images in the blog, in this case matching it to the darker blue in our l’il logo.

Set up and configured PowerPress. I used to keep a separate FTP folder for MP3 uploads for podcasting, and manage that manually, but with the ability to adjust the WordPress upload limit in PHP directly, I’m now just loading the audio files directly into the WP media library.

Made what I consider “the usual adjustments” to WP. Goofy little things like getting rid of that line that appears automatically above post. A couple of minor spacing adjustments. All this also in the Custom CSS entry under Appearance/Customize (and this is why the child theme is so important — I don’t want a theme update from WP to overwrite my changes).

Next up is a podcast feed that makes sense. I may need to do a lot here; a category view for “Podcast” seems like it should make sense, but the auto-trim features are always a pain. I think that getting play links in the summaries will not be evident either. But I’m confident I can peck away at it until it works.