A Master Podcaster Shares His Advice
So you want to start your own audio podcast?
Perhaps you always dreamed of having your own radio show.
Or perhaps you just want to document your travels for your friends and family.
You can create your own internet radio show by creating a podcast.
The first thing that a podcaster needs to do is determine if they have enough content ideas to create more than one episode. If you are on the road traveling this should be pretty simple. Create a list of 10 different ideas for different episodes.
The Equipment for Audio
To create an audio podcast you need a microphone. Some podcasters record their show directly into their laptop using the built in microphone for the laptop which can work but you are going to pick up a lot of undesirable sound like fan noise. To figure out what microphone you will need you have to figure out what kind of show you will be doing.
- Single person show recorded in the “studio” – The easiest podcast setup is when you are the only person who will be on the show. So if you plan just on having a monolog with your inner DJ all you need is one microphone. I would recommend a decent USB headset microphone since the sound quality will be more constant when you use a microphone that moves as you move your head. A decent starter microphone would cost you around $40. The alternative would be a podcasting kit with a USB microphone, pop filter and stand but that will cost over $100.
- Multi-person show recorded in person – If you plan to sit around the computer and record a podcast with friends then the simplest setup would be to get one microphone that can record a room. A well regarded microphone is the Blue Snowball USB microphone that can plug directly into your computer. You can pick up a Snowball microphone for around $70. A higher end setup could get much more complicated with separate microphones and headphones per person and a mixing board, but that can’t wait until later.
- Multi-person show recorded via the internet – There are numerous shows with more than one host (like my shows This Week in Travel and the Amateur Traveler) that have 2-4 hosts but these people are seldom if ever in the same room. In this case you need the same setup for a single person show and the free program Skype. You can record both ends of a Skype call using either HotRecorder (Windows) or CallRecorder (Mac). If your guests are don’t have a Skype setup you can call a regular phone number through Skype.
- Field Recording – If you want to record in the field to capture the sounds of a location then you will want a small portable recorder. A popular field recorder is the Zoom H2, but recently podcasters have increasingly started using their iPhones or iPods with an external microphone like the Blue Mikey to avoid having to carry another piece of equipment.
After you have recorded a podcast episode you will probably want to be able to do at least a minimal amount of audio editing. How much time you spend editing a show is very much a matter of personal taste. Some podcasters say that podcasts should never be edited and others (like me) spend an hour editing each 10 minutes of final audio to produce a cleaner sounding show. The most popular editors for podcasts are Audacity (Windows / Mac) and Garageband (Mac). Audacity is free and Garageband is part of iLife which comes with each new Mac.
The most frustrating technology for many new podcasters is the RSS feed. You can just create audio and attach it to your blog posts but if you want to get more traffic and truly have a podcast rather than just internet audio then you need to create a feed that people can subscribe to with programs like iTunes that will notify them of new episodes. The most common solution to this is to either host your audio files at a podcast hosting site like Libsyn.com (inexpensive) or Mevio.com (free but they will insert ads) which will create an RSS feed for the audio files or run your podcast from a WordPress blog and use a WordPress plugin like PowerPress to create the appropriate podcast ready RSS feed.
Podcasting equipment does not have to break your budget. You don’t need to create a $40,000 dollar studio… Although I know a few podcasters who did. For as little as $100 dollars you can create an audio podcast that will capture the sounds or experiences of your travel.
Are you a Podcaster? Share your advice!