For the record, yes - those are actual turntables behind me, I'm wearing a Blue Oyster Cult T-Shirt that is still in my closet and that production board I have my hands on had actual dials. It's retro all right and it was on the top 10 list of things I did and had a blast doing!
Radio 64, WDTU Delhi - or as we called it "Delaware Counties Leading College Radio Station" The secret was, we were the ONLY SUNY college radio station in Delaware County so that was the joke! Why am I sharing this? For one thing almost ANYBODY could have joined the station (and they did) but all you needed to be successful was have a willingness to be yourself, enjoy your style of music, and have fun.
Not a far stretch for the same requirements to host a podcast!
In Atlanta GA at the 10th annual NonProfit Technology Conference I was extremely fortunate to sit in on an awesome "We Are Media Podcasting Workshop" — As part of the We Are Media Project, my bud and co-presenter Chad Norman, Blackbaud’s Internet marketing manager and host of The Baudcast, let me crash the workshop on podcasting basics for nonprofit.
I found the session to be one of the best hands on experiences at a conference such as NTC - we actually broke into teams of two and using simple, free tools set off to create a pod cast. My co-podcasting partner was Leah Hazard marketing/social media for Mercy Corps, she can be found at http://twitter.com/lhazardous Leah was a natural at conversation, even though she complained of being jet lagged. Having a conversation is half the effort. This concept may scare off some of you but here is the secret: it's easier then you think AND all you have to remember is to be yourself.
One of the DJ training concepts I used while managing the WDTU radio station was to tell potential DJ's to relax and just think of the microphone as a friend you are having a conversation with. I believe people see a microphone and they naturally tense up. I have a friend who says I have an Al Michaels style - not sure I buy that and apologies to Al but if you listen to Michaels style, he's just talking, there is nothing forced when the man speaks and that my friends is the key.
One of the many fine points Chad made during the workshop was to be prepared. If you are taking this medium serious and keep in mind, audio pod casting has an audience and should be one of the many tools you keep in your "how you market / message your brand" toolbox. Know some background of the folks you're talking with, have an outline of talking points related to the topic in order to keep the conversation moving - you want to be able to interject if you feel the person you are interviewing starts rambling and more importantly you want some sort of flow. You are the moderator or Chevy Chase said in Caddyshack, BE the ball!
Conversation is great but in the end, where is the conversation going? Sticking to a theme is typical of what one expects of this medium, you don't want to drone on for too long but don't be afraid to go off message if the talk is engaging or entertaining. Part of this should be fun but for goodness sake don't read a script and keep in mind, the attention span of your listener is SHORT. Play to that concept. The worst thing you can do is have a podcast where it sounds like you're reading prepared script.
The We Are Media wiki has some good talking points and simple directions for getting started.
Software tools to create, edit and publish are plentiful. Audacity is an awesome free tool for the capturing and editing process and we all know how iTunes can distribute, hosting services is key if you want to make the files available and stored for your program. Skype is another service to use if you plan on doing your interview in different locations. And don't worry about Mac vs PC, there is a solution for everybody.
Do you need to spend a small fortune on equipment? NO I'll say that again: NO. Using Amazon you can find M-Audio options along with some very inexpensive microphones to start your audio integration kit and for under $300 I was able to set up a two mic stand system and mixer that connected via USB either for the Mac or Windows platform. Piece of cake. If you want even simpler, just pickup a $40 headset with a mic and earphone jack - now we're talking on the cheap!
So here it is: the tips, suggestions, strategy of the workshop. Hope you have fun and stay tuned, I'm looking forward to saying: "Do you believe in miracles?" or was that Al - I should try something original . . .
Notes from Audio Podcasting at the NTC 2010
Schedule - how often should you do a podcast? bi-weekly may have higher hit rate then weekly, gives them time to catch up
Setting up the software to bit rate of 128 is fine - LAME is the plugin for Audacity that creates the standard MP3 file format. mp3 encoder is necessary for Audacity - search for the right platform of LAME on audacity web site
In the settings of Audacity you can adjust the dynamic range if your recording sounds too tiny - ratio 6:1 threshold -22 db - will change how people sound, play with the settings
Plan on an hour for every 10 min for editing
Do you want to add music to your Podcast? Lots of music requires royalty fees but if you want "safe / free music" - musicalley.com
Recording in Mono allows for smaller file sizes
Using Effects in Audacity - can slow down a fast talker, Noise removal can also be useful if where you are recording has background noise that is distracting but be careful using this as you need a noice sample first,
Fade in and out is your friend
Save your file and save often, Audacity has bad habit of crashing - keep in mind, it's free and you get what you pay for!
Using Export as MP3 starts a dialog box, this where you put in a title for tagging purposes, metadata is stored at this level - descriptions feeds into the iTunes library
Once the file is opened in iTunes - right click and select Get Info
144 x 144 are safe deminsions for artwork logo
Keep in mind, iTunes points to files, they don't host it, you still need a hosting service. Libsyn for $5 a month great source for holding the files. They will also produce the RSS feeds automatically. RSS drives every podcast and used for subcription -
If you go for your own hosting this is where a little know how comes into play as tweaking the XML file is what will drive subscriptions and notify your followers of new additions to your podcast library.
Measuring the success of your listeners will be important for showing that all important metrics or ROI. Using Feedburner to get Metrics or Google reader is another option, you won't get metrics with just iTunes
Another hosting service http://archive.org/details/audio is a free hosting service
Know the audiance - ask questions based on knowledge, do homework - don't be afraid to let control go - moderate, sometimes you can prep your guests and ask questions ahead of time, as a moderator keep the flow going
Have permission that you are going to post / publish before the interview - remind those on the show you will be recording the session and make sure you capture that in your original raw MP3 file. Your finished product should always have a different name then the raw file you capture during your "conversation".
Have FUN - relax, it's not brain surgery - it's Podcasting.