How Do You Podcast? Podcast 101.

Hey!  I got a request for a blog.  I’m pretty stoked about that.  Cleveland and I are sitting here to answer the questions of a student in a college far far away.  I was asked, “how do you podcast?”.  Well.  I just yak mostly, so I asked Cleveland to help me answer this question.

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First, let’s talk content, and then we’ll get to tech:

Most podcasts are fairly “off the cuff” or capturing a conversation of sorts.  My idols for podcasting are Dan Savage of Savage Love, The cast over at Life on the Swingset, Cunning Minx at Polyamory Weekly, Sex Nerd Sandra, and Gavin and Shira Katz of Pedestrian Polyamory.  I’m not saying they’re necessarily the best podcasters ever, although I love them, but they are wonderful sex podcasters, and well… that’s kinda my bag.  I always have dreams of doing more of a This American Life, Radiolab, or All Things Considered sort of show, but those are radio shows with huge staffs and lots of time and hands for editing.  I’ll keep dreaming.

For our content Cleveland and I kinda podcast about whatever we’re thinking about or running across that we think we could have a conversation about for a podcast.  I like topics that have enough that we can fill about a half hour with topical conversation and work in a little bit of research or info to give out.  We’re still figuring out the right scope on that, as some of our topics have been, well, a little broad.  Kink?  Really?  I thought we could do a podcast about a topic as vast as an intro to kink?  Heh.

Anyway….

On to tech:

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because the “dead kitten windscreen” makes it less intimidating until you know the fuzzy ears are called that…

First, you are going to need to record.  You do this with a audio recorder.  You want something that can capture high-quality low-noise audio and save it onto a flash drive.  You want it to be able to record directly to a WAV file.  That means it’s uncompressed and doesn’t take away quality at the source.  In human language, this means that you will not sound like you are underwater or talking in a tin can, and people will actually want to listen to you and hear what you are saying because the noise isn’t making their ears hurt.  You want something that will do a minimum of CD quality because you’ll need a little extra headroom when you’re editing.  So, that will be at least 44.1k 16bit stereo.  For example, let’s look at the Zoom H4N.  You can see it HERE on Amazon.  This is kinda a nice one.  It costs $270.00.  It is nice because it lets us record even higher quality.  That lets us tweak the audio more in the editing process while keeping as much of the audio quality as possible.  You could actually go for a more intro level sort of thing like the Zoom ZH1 Portable Digital Recorder.  It costs $99.99 and you can see it HERE.

When you have the recorder, you set it up to record by selecting the defaults because the manufacturer sets it up reasonably well.  The biggest thing I’d worry about is setting the levels so you aren’t clipping while you’re recording.  This means that the loud bits won’t be too loud to record without distortion, or that the loud bits fit within the range you select.  Picture your voice making a sine wave and the tops and bottoms being cut off because the wave is bigger than the dynamic range you selected.  You don’t want that.

You’ll need to test a couple of recordings to see what level works.  Select different ones and say what you have selected, and then look at them in the editing thing we’ll talk about in a second and see which one fits the best without clipping.

The recorders come with everything you need such as microphones and such, but some require you to buy a flash drive.  Check the specs to see if you need one, and batteries are rarely included.  The cool thing is that you can use these recorders to also record concerts, classes, and pretty much anything else you wanna record.  Hell, I think you can use one to make your fancy schmancy This American Life Style program.  Cleveland would be shocked if the pro’s over there didn’t have a few of the fancier ones we showed you above.

Now about editing:

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An audacity screen shot showing a sound wave. Don’t worry. It’s apparently fairly simple to use and just looks weird at first.

You record your audio onto your flash drive and pop it into your computer.  Duh.  You can use a program such as Audacity, which is a free audio editor to clean up your audio.  You can find that HERE.

The primary thing that you want to do with editing is edit out the beginning and ending silence on your recording and delete big silent gaps.  You can also edit on intro and outgoing music there as well.  You’ll definitely want to do whatever noise reduction you can because no matter how quiet your space is, unless you are in a professional recording studio, you’ll have sound just from air moving around and such.

The other thing you’ll likely want to do is apply a compressor effect.  This makes the quiet sounds a bit louder while not making the loud sounds louder, meaning it evens out the audio recording.

Now, you wanna put it where people can get it:

There are a few places that will host podcasts and most of them will charge you money.

Podbean will do it for free.  We haven’t used them, but it’s worth checking out.

We host ours on Amazon S3.  It’s Amazon’s cloud hosting service.  It’s a highly available storage solution.  (… according to Cleveland).  He had trouble describing it this way.  Apparently if you are a geek you might enjoy finding out what an Amazon S3 is.  I’ll leave you to that.  If you wanna go there, it’s HERE.

If you would like to make your podcast even more accessible, you might want to connect it to an RSS Feed.  This makes it possible to listen to it via a podcast app.  Otherwise, it’s just a audio file you can download or stream online.  If it’s available in a podcast app it’s even more user friendly.  You connect it to an RSS feed depending on how you are hosting your blog.  I would Google for whatever posting method you have for your blog (wordpress, blogspot, blogger) and “podcast into RSS”.  Then follow the Google trail.

There.

Now go podcast.  And if you do.. maybe comment here so we can listen… ok?

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