What is a podcast?
A podcast is a digital audio show, usually more than one episode, that can be downloaded to a portable player (like an iPod), and most importantly, subscribed to so it is automatically downloaded to the listener’s device when a new episode is available.
A podcast can be about any topic. There are podcasts by comedians that have thousands of subscribers, while others deal with specialty topics and may have fewer listeners and subscribers.
In this class we will learn about some basics of podcasting, talk about gear, software, and mobile podcasting, and learn some more recent developments like cloud-based recording.
The simplified Process of Producing a One-Person Podcast
- Determine a topic and have some idea what you are going to discuss
- Record the podcast
- Edit the podcast
Determining a Topic
Will your podcast have a regular topic? Is it about cars? Music? Movies? Will you interview interesting people? Once you know what your podcast is about, when recording each episode it’s good idea to have some notes about what you want to discuss on the show. This doesn’t have to be complicated. A simple outline is fine. But it gives your show more structure and direction.
Recording the Podcast
You will need a microphone you can plug into your computer or some kind of audio recorder whose recordings can be downloaded into your computer for further editing.
Learning to speak clearly and with good tone takes practice. You may be surprised at the way your own voice sounds. Learning to talk about a topic for a few minutes without lots of unnecessary pauses and “uhhs” takes practice. This is all part of the recording process. One nice thing about a podcast, however, is that it isn’t live (at least not usually). If you really flub something, you can go back and redo it, repeat it more clearly, and then edit out the junk in the editing phase.
- Built-in microphone on your computer. Most computers now have some kind of built-in mic, which is useful for doing Skype, internet telephone, etc. If you are low on money, this is a good option. Sound quality will not be fantastic, but it may not be too bad either.
- Gaming Headset. If you play video games, you may have a gaming headset that will work pretty well for capturing your voice. Quality can be fairly good with this.
- USB Microphone. Recommended for new podcasters. Is what it sounds like, plugs into computer via USB.
- Dynamic or Condenser Microphone with a Mixer or some other audio connection interface. This is a big topic.
- Digital Audio Recorder. You can record your podcast into a digital recorder, then import the audio into your computer for editing via USB cable, or SD Card reader. One nice thing about his option is that you can take your recorder “on location”. Most of these kinds of recorders have very good built-in condenser microphones, and get excellent sound. A couple of nice recorders are the Zoom H4N, and if you are really on a budget, the Zoom H1.
You will need some kind of editing software with which to work on your audio files.
All good editing systems share a few similar characteristics
- They allow you to import the files you want to work with, and record directly into the software
- They allow you to create multiple “tracks”, so you can for instance have some music at the beginning and end of your show, and you can fade the volume in and out.
- They allow you to control the volume level of each track.
- They allow you to export your finished file in a common audio format, preferably .WAV or .MP3.
Free or low-cost recording and editing software for your computer.
- Mac users – GarageBand.
- PC and Mac Users – Audacity. (pic of workspace)
- Plano Public Library makes Adobe Audition available for use for free in our libraries.
Publishing the Podcast
The podcast must be published and available for subscription and for download if anyone is going to hear it! You will need to publish your podcast to a podcasting hosting platform that creates and updates your show’s RSS feed. These hosts also create a website for your podcast, and submit it to various podcast indices such as Apple Podcasts. Examples of such hosts are:
- Podbean : Podbean allows you to have a free account to try them out, with a limited amount of storage space (enough for a short podcast). A good way to get started.
- LibSyn (Liberated Syndication): LibSyn specialized in podcast hosting. They have a variety of hosting services available, starting at only $5 per month. A good deal, and a really good company to work with.
- Blubrry : Blubrry also specializes in podcast hosting, and is a great company to use.
- Spotify for Podcasters: the popular music site acquired cloud-based podcasting company Anchor.fm a few years ago, and allows you to record and host podcasts.
New Developments in Podcasting
- Cloud-based recording and editing
- Services like Tryca.st, Zencastr.com, came online to allow cloud-based recording and editing
- Other service have started online recording, such as Libsyn.
- Cloud-based recording is useful for recording interviews, or if you partner(s) is elsewhere
- Services like Tryca.st allow better audio quality than, for instance, recording a Zoom or Skype conversation.
- Video podcasting
- Some services, like Spotify, allow you to do a video and audio version of your podcast. Why use this rather than YouTube? Because of RSS and subscriptions.
- Mobile podcasting
- Some platforms, like micro.blog, have companion apps (like Wavelength) that allow you to easily record from your phone and upload to a blog page, while creating a separate RSS feed for your podcast episodes.
- This was pioneered by Anchor.fm, which was purchased by Spotify.
- Better microphones are available for most phones, allowing creation of a simple podcast that still sounds good!
Learn More – including Editing
You can access LinkedIn Learning with your Plano Public Library card. It contains many courses on both podcasting and audio editing.
One last suggestion!
If you are going to do a continuing podcast, make sure your hosting company allows you to map your podcast homepage to your own custom domain name (which you own).