Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 29, 2009 2:31 PM

The Lowdown On Audio Podcasting

Interested in starting your own audio Podcast?

There seems to be a slight rise in interest in audio podcasting and its value in the Marketing (and Personal Branding) food chain. There was this article, Voices Kept In Tune, in the Montreal Gazette business section published yesterday that was written by Steve Faguy about some fairly well-known local radio DJs who have taken to Podcasting. On top of that, back in April, some interesting statistics on the growth and audience of Podcast listeners was published here: Podcast Audience Up 22% Since Last Year. With all of that came a steady stream of queries via emails, tweets and Facebook messages about how I create the Six Pixels of Separation and Media Hacks audio Podcast.

Here's the rundown on how to create an audio podcast...

First off, understand that I am not an audio engineer, and have no interest in the audio editing process. It's a mixture of laziness, lack of interest and lack of time. It's not an excuse, it just "is". My set-up to record the show starts with the Logitech Premium Notebook Headset plugged directly into my Dell Latitude E4200 ultra-portable laptop. I use a software called, CastBlaster to record the show (by the looks of the site, it seems like the product has changed to something called, StudioRack). I sometimes use music from the Podsafe Music Network (which, apparently, is now called Music Alley) - wow, this should demonstrate how infrequently I pay attention to the tools/software.

That's pretty much it.

From there, the show is posted to my Blogging platform, which notifies iTunes that a new show is live.

But wait, there's more...

In order to get the Podcast "out there" on the Intertubes, you need to have a Blog platform which can house the Podcast (MovableType, WordPress, Blogger will do just fine) and you have to register your Podcast in the many Podcast directories (iTunes is the 800-pound gorilla, but there are many others). Simply look for the "submit your Podcast" link/button on their respective websites/platforms.

You can do better than that.

My set-up is pretty ghetto, and you can amp up your set-up by buying a real microphone, mixing board and audio editing software. It's not necessary, but it will increase the audio quality of your show (on many levels). Beyond that there are some additional things you can do/should know:

  • Audacity is an excellent piece of free audio editing software. I use Audacity mostly to transfer raw interview files in .WAV audio format over to .MP3, but it's strong enough to record, edit and create a full-on show.
  • For recording conversations in-person, I swear by the Olympus LS-10 PCM Recorder (I used to have the M-Audio MicroTrack). I record the file in .WAV format and then use a free piece of software called, The Levelator, which magically levels and equalizes all of the voices. From there I transfer the file to MP3 format using Audacity.
  • Recording phone conversations have been brutal, so where possible use Skype and record that conversation. To record Skype calls, I use a free software called, PowerGramo. Same as above, record in .WAV format, levelate it and transfer the file over to MP3.
  • To record Media Hacks - which is multiple hosts calling in from multiple locations - we use an online service called, Blog Talk Radio. Although this is predominantly used to have live radio-like programs over the Internet, we simply use the platform, export the audio file and then edit it using Audacity.
  • Getting people to call into the show and playing them is pretty easy as well. I use a free service called K7.net, which assigns you a free phone number and gives you a free voicemail box as well (there are some limitations, so make sure to read the fine print, etc...). It then emails the files over in .WAV format, which can be inserted into the Podcast. Keep in mind that the free phone number assigned is not toll-free, so those calling your show will be charged for the long distance call.

What else you need to know: 

  • Prior to recording anything, I use a notebook to jot down ideas and concepts that I would like to explore during an episode. I create my shownotes (which you can see in the body of the Blog post for the show) and use those as the "script" for the episode. I never write out segments or read something specifically when I record. I prefer the conversational approach versus the scripted approach, but this is not for everyone and it will take you several episodes and tweaks before you really find your "voice."
  • The length of an audio Podcast has always been a hotly debated topic. Some people say to keep under twenty minutes, others say to make it as long as you feel it needs to be. My general rule of thumb is to make it the right length. Meaning, whatever works best for your audience and the integrity of the content. Some stuff can be done quickly, while other topics might require more attention.
  • Beyond that, do you own research. There are tons of Blogs, Podcasts and articles dedicated to this topic. Check them out, take some notes and make some strategic decisions about whether or not audio podcasting is the right channel for you. There are also some great books on the topic including: How to Do Everything with Podcasting by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson and Podcasting For Dummies by Tee Morris and Evo Terra.
  • If you're interested in video podcasting, look no further than the book, Get Seen, by Steve Garfield. In fact, just following Garfield online will ramp you right up to speed on the video podcasting space in no time flat.

Happy Audio Recording!

By Mitch Joel


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