I am not a professional podcaster, but I’ve written two blog posts about what I learned while setting up a podcast last year–Part 1 and Part 2. This week a colleague at my university said she wanted to start a podcast interviewing professors around the campus, and she asked if I could help. I shared those two original blog posts, and said we should get together to talk it over. Then I followed-up with an email describing the three major steps of the process because I felt those 2 posts were too overwhelming as an introduction. So here is what I shared with her regarding a simple, mobile, inexpensive system. As a background, she mentioned she had done recordings with her phone in the past but that incoming calls had messed up the recording. Because she mentioned the phone, I included it in my list (airplane mode solves this problem).
Podcasting has 3 basic stages, more or less:
- Recording (studio/field audio recorder)
- Producing (studio/computer)
- Distributing (online)
STEP 1: RECORDING
Balancing quality, ease of use, and cost, I initially recommend one of these three options for recording:
- If you can convince professors to meet you in the university’s studio, your quality will be unsurpassed. If you have to go mobile, see the next two options.
(2) AUDIO RECORDER
- Audio Recorder: Zoom H1 ($80-100)
- Mics: Polsen OLM-20 Dual Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone ($45). The OLM-20 will allow you to record 2 people at once (you and the person you’re interviewing). If you just want to record yourself, the JK MicJ 044 Lavalier Mic is a decent cheap option.
- Earbuds (free if you already have some) OR
- Sennheiser HD 202-II Stereo Headphones ($25)
- NOTE: You need to monitor in real time how your recording is going. You want to know if there are problems there, not when you get back to the office.
- Total: $125-$150
- NOTE: A step up would be to use a Zoom H4N ($200) with 2 separate lav mics (need inexpensive adapters, but then mics like the MicJ 044 that need plug-in power [different from phantom power] won’t work, I’m told; read this, this, this, and all of these). This way they would be on separate tracks, so you could edit each track independently if needed. But this might be more than you need; I think the Zoom H1 would do very well for you.
(3) SMARTPHONE (iPhone)
- Rode smartLav+ Two Person Lavalier Interviewer Kit for iOS Devices ($190)
- Possibly use BossJock ($10)
- Total: $190-$200
STEP 2: PRODUCING
In this step, you’ll edit your recording and add the intro and outro, at a minimum.
EDITING SOFTWARE (on your computer)
- Audacity: Free and easy to learn. There are tons of YouTube tutorials.
- Adobe Audition: I have not used this, but it’s available on campus.
STEP 3: HOSTING & DISTRIBUTING
PODCAST HOSTING (online)
These are some of the most common platforms for hosting your podcast files. You can advertise your podcast anywhere, but when people click to listen, they’re actually accessing the file stored here:
- Libsyn: https://www.libsyn.com/plans-pricing/
- SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/for/podcasting
- Blubrry: https://www.blubrry.com/
- NOTE: Prices vary. The right choice depends on a number of factors. I use Libsyn. All my podcasting friends use Libsyn except one who uses SoundCloud.
You need to set-up a feed so people can subscribe to your podcast through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and other sites. If you want to make this super simple, just use the services offered by your hosting platform. To retain a little more control, see my comments in Part 2.
CONGRATULATIONS, you have a podcast! Now you can focus on your content!