Join the club: How to podcast!

A friend of mine asked today how to record phone calls for a podcast. It’s much easier than people think, and I passed on some basic info to her in an email. After I sent the email, I thought that I should share some startup podcasting information here. The future of broadcasting is on the web, and the podcasting world can only benefit from more enthusiastic participants.

1) Recording software. You need a program to record your show. I’m a Mac guy, and depend on Garageband for my sessions. The software isn’t all that intuitive, but once you figure out its nuances it’s a breeze. I’m sure that Pro Tools or any of the various freeware audio programs would work just as well for PC users.

2) Microphone and headphones. You’ll need headphones. Any will do, really, though my years in radio have made me a headphone snob who swears by Sennheiser products. As for a microphone, there’s a great one that’s custom-made for podcasting, “The Snowball” (thanks to my friend Mike for turning me on to it):

The Snowball (pictured) plugs right into a USB port and is perfect for home recording. I’ve been using it for all my podcasts. There are occasional voice distorts, but overall I’m very pleased with the sound quality of a microphone that’s being used in my living room.

3) Phone calls. Skype is the gold standard. You can dial people up right from your computer with total ease. Skype’s reliability was sketchy when I started using it (and I have the choppy podcast audio to prove it), but the latest version for Mac is a home run. I heard it’s even better for PC’s. It’s $30 for a year of unlimited outgoing domestic calls, which is a steal:

If you want your own Skype number for people to call,
it’s $18 for three months, $60 for a year. I just signed up for the three month deal a few weeks ago:

4. Recording calls. I’m not sure about PC software, but the Ecamm Call Recorder is essential for the Mac. The software is designed to integrate with Skype and automatically record every call made or received. There are easy-to-use tools within the call recorder which allow you to separate the caller and host feeds and convert files into MP3s. Once files are in MP3 form, they can be dropped into Garageband or your audio software of choice and edited from there. The call recorder runs $15.

5. Putting the podcasts on the web. The easiest to use free site I’ve found so far is the one I’m currently using, Publishing podcasts is ridiculously easy, and Mypodcast makes submission of feeds to iTunes absolutely idiot-proof.

Is there money in podcasting? No. Is it fun? Hell yeah. There’s no shame, no rules, and no reason to not do one. Get yours going and send me a link–I’d love to hear it!


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