In theory, it's simple: You go out into the world, record some audio, edit it on your computer, and then upload the files to your blog for release onto the Internet. The files can either be downloaded or streamed by your blog's readers, who can still leave comments and interact with your blog in the usual way.
Many people like to read and enjoy taking in a well-written blog post. However, some blog readers enjoy listening to what you have as an audio recording. This is especially true if you have a compelling voice or record interesting sounds. You can show off much more of your personality than you can with just a text blog and demonstrate things that might be difficult or impossible to convey with just words.
Sometimes video isn ’t an option. Bad weather, poor lighting, phone interviews, camera-shy sources.
Sometimes video is overkill: a post-game press conference, for example, with people just speaking at the podium speaking doesn ’t gain much through visuals. Same goes for a professor’s lecture. And listening to an orchestra. Etc. And video may distract audience members from paying attention to audio (or the words being spoken) which is the real focus.
Additionally, audio is easier to produce than video due to a larger availability of open source software; most software for professional video editing is expensive. FinalCut Pro for example costs about $1,000. Audacity, by contrast, is a free audio editing program that you can download online.
Like blogs, podcasts come in all flavors. You can find personal podcasts, technical podcasts, sports reports, interviews, music samples, recorded social gatherings, previously recorded radio broadcasts, book reviews and audio books. If you can think of a topic, there ’s probably a podcast for it. On a related note, your news videos are one form of a vodcast.
By the semester ’s end, each of you is required do at least one podcast for your blog. It will add some diversity to it. It will also count as a substantive post. You may even have some fun doing it. (Note: your news video does not count as fulfilling this assignment.)
Please check with me on your podcast idea before doing it.
Important: you must record, edit and produce the audio – getting audio from someone (e.g. a politician ’s website) or somewhere else (e.g. YouTube) does not count.
One-on-one interviews: Fascinating people in the fields you blog about are just waiting to get on your podcast – especially people involved in a cause, an organization or a business. Audrey and Lindsey both did this in the sample podcasts you just heard.
Show your expertise: Show off what you know and share your knowledge with others – maybe even teach your audience how to do something. Be aware, though, that you need to have expertise to do this. If you don ’t, talk to an expert, instead. That’s what NPR did when they interviewed a CareerBuilder.com spokesperson.
Soundscapes: All around you are fascinating sounds you can document. Record yourself walking through a forest or park. Make some observations about your surroundings and describe what each of the sounds is and how they ’re important to you. Remember, what’s ordinary for you (waves at a beach, a passing subway train, construction noise, or an owl) might be fascinating for someone living on the other side of the country. This is what Leslie Fazin did in her podcast about Adelphi’s bells.
Events: A performance at your local coffee house, a city hall meeting, a press conference or a speech might all make for an interesting podcast. Make sure to get permission before recording your podcast. The podcast of Alex Rodriquez came from a post-game press conference.
If you take the time to plan out what things you want to share with your blog audience, you can make it happen. With a recording device, a plan, and someone else to talk to, you can have a complete podcast in no time.
The first thing you need to create a podcast is the desire to make it the best experience for the listeners possible. If you aren ’t having fun, it shows in the final result. Remember, even if your very first podcast is a little frustrating, it’ll get easier.
You don ’t need to write a script every single time that you decide to record a podcast – although some podcasters do this – but it helps when you jot down a few notes or create an outline to follow. If you frequently use fillers when you speak (um, like, you know), a script and some practice may be necessary. But try not to sound too rehearsed.
Technically speaking, you can use as much or as little time as you want in your podcast, but you may find that your end product is better when you give yourself some time limits. Give some thought to how much time you can reasonably expect your audience to pay attention.
When you want to record anything, you need to take into account environmental considerations before hitting the record button. Is the environment you are in quiet enough? Are there fans or computers running in the background that will annoy the listeners ’ ears? Try to eliminate distractions, like phones ringing or people walking by. And, if you can, do some test recording that you can listen to or watch so that you know what the quality of the final product will be before you record your entire podcast.
A single podcast, like a blog entry, can be about anything, so it helps to have a clearly defined topic before you start. Unlike text editing, where you can just rewrite and rewrite, producing a podcast can be a one-shot situation. If a phone rings in the middle of an interview, you ’re in trouble. Try to organize your recording session to minimize that kind of disruption. Also, make sure you have enough time to record the entire podcast in the same location so you don’t have awkward changes in the background noise that distract your listener.
You need to establish the tone of the piece before you go forward. How is the format of your overall podcast going to determine how you record it? Will you have some kind of traditional show format, or will you improvise the entire podcast? Taking these kinds of questions into account when you ’re planning out your first podcast can help you make your podcast a success.
Introductions: If listeners just hear someone being interviewed without first knowing whom is speaking, what they are speaking about and what their qualifications are, they will likely be confused. It would be like having a newspaper story with just quotes but no lead sentence or attribution to a source. So, you need an intro and you need to explain what the listener is about to hear. If you switch from one source to another, or one sound to another, you should interject with a voiceover and first explain what the listener is about to hear.
Music: In some cases, background music, or music bookending your podcast, can be a nice way to spice it up. But podcasts, even if they ’re produced and released at no cost to the listener, aren’t exempt from copyright restrictions. The trick is to find music and/or images that are in the public domain or that are licensed for republication.
Let me be clear: Even if you use only a little bit of a copyrighted song or give the performer credit, you ’re still violating copyright if you don’t have a license or other permission to use the music. The same goes for copyrighted images and video clips in vodcasts.
The good news is that plenty of music is available for you to use. The term podsafe has appeared to describe music, sounds, and other clips that are made available for free unlimited use in podcasting, but there ’s no one specific license that means podsafe, so be sure to read the terms and conditions before you integrate sound or audio into your productions.