Saying it better withSaying it better with
Prepared by Mark Grabowski
• Podcasts are a type of multimedia tool you
can use in reporting for our Web
• This slideshow will cover how to make a
podcast from start to finish. There are links
to short tutorial videos that explain how to
record, edit, upload and embed your
What is a podcast?
• Basically, it's an audio file that's published
on the Internet for people to
download/stream and listen to or view.
• Note: You can also do this with video,
although that’s typically called a ‘vodcast’.
Producing a podcast
• 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.
Why do it?
• Podcasts attract a whole new audience to
the blogosphere. And some things are
better told through podcasts than text or
even video – like interviews, soundscapes
or special events.
Why do it?
• 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.
Video vs. audio
• You may be thinking: wouldn't video (or a
vodcast) be even better than audio (or a
• Not always. Think about it – why might
having just an audio clip be better than a
Video vs. audio
• Sometimes video isn’t an option. Bad weather,
poor lighting, phone interviews, camera-shy
• 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.
Video vs. audio
• 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
Video v. audio
• Audio is easier and generally quicker to
edit than video.
• Audio is typically more portable than
video. You don’t need to worry about lights
and tripods, for example. All you need is a
Video vs. audio
• Audio files are also smaller than video
files, making them less expensive to store
on a Web host and quicker to
• Audio doesn’t require as much attention.
Audio podcasts can be listened to while
completing other tasks, including driving to
college or work.
Types of podcasts
• 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.
Blogs and podcasts
• Podcasts can be hosted on any website.
But they are commonly used as blog
posts. It’s sort of like having a video
embedded in a blog post. The same can
be done with a podcast.
• Philadelphia Eagles’ player commenting on the firing of the team’s defensive
coordinator (scroll down and click red play button)
• NPR podcast story on Facebook (click blue play button on left side of
• Podcast on blog by student in last semester’s Web Journalism class (click
• Podcast on blog by student another student in class
• Podcast used as component in multi-faceted blog post
• Vodcasts by student in previous class on fitness, in which she
records a brief soundbite from a personal trainer. Here’s one:
• By the semester’s end, you should 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.)
• 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. Victoria 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 sources for their podcast
• 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 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.
• Discussions: General discussions in
social settings can reveal some great
conversations. Take your recorder along
to party or evening social and direct the
conversation along a theme or idea.
Planning your podcastPlanning your podcast
• 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
• 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.
Finding your voice
• 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.
Podcast toolsPodcast tools
• Computer: Mac or PC
• Recording device: DAT, smart phone or
even a Flip camera
• Sound-editing software: GarageBand or
• (Possibly) A special plug to connect your
recording device to the phone
Dressing up your podcast
• 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.
Dressing up your podcast
• 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
• 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
Types of licenses
• Commercial use: permits use of the content for
business and revenue-generating purposes
• Non-commercial use: you may only use this
media for non-commercial podcasts
• Attribution: the work can be used only when
credit is given to the creator.
• Derivatives allowed: the media can be cut,
chopped and excerpted to create new works.
• No-derivatives allowed: media must be left intact
Websites for music
How to record a podcastHow to record a podcast
• Here’s a short tutorial on how to record on
your smart phone and upload the audio to
How to edit a podcastHow to edit a podcast
• Here’s a tutorial on how to edit your
recording on GarageBand and make it into
How to upload a podcastHow to upload a podcast
• Here’s a short tutorial on how to upload
your podcast to the internet for free using
How to embed a podcastHow to embed a podcast
• Lastly, here’s a brief tutorial on how to
embed your SoundCloud podcast file in a
Explain the podcast in the post
Your blog post should
include a good title
and an explanation of
what the podcast is
readers will have no
idea what the file is or
why they should click
on it. See example on
E-mail Prof. grabowski at