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#7: Starting Your Podcast

By | January 12, 2007

Special RelativityLet me give you the rundown of a typical podcast. This is what goes on behind the scenes, in order to produce a good quality podcast. These are just suggestions and won’t fit into every type of podcast out there, but they will relate to most podcasts.

First, you do some research. Obviously you’ve selected a topic that you’re interested in. Hopefully it’s something that you know a lot about. You don’t have to be an expert, but your listeners will be able to tell if you know what you’re talking about, or if you just read a book and tried to ‘teach’ them you’re newly acquired knowledge.

With that in mind, it’s not bad to do some research if the topic merits it. If you were starting a Podcast on Physics and you wanted to do a show on the difference between General Relativity and Special Relativity, it’s OK to do some reading and refresh your mind. But, if you’re having a guest on the show, and you’re not claiming to be Mr. Physics Knowitall, let your guest do the talking and you just prepare some questions. Again, if you’ve chosen your topic correctly, you’re probably already keeping up on a lot of it.

Speaking of questions, when you hear a radio or even television interview, do you ever wonder how they come up with questions so easily and the guest just has the answer ready on the spot? Well, they don’t, most times. There are two little known secrets to producing a good interview. First, get your questions ready before hand. If you’re going to have a guest on for an interview, think about what you want to ask them. Think about what your listeners will want to know. Then give the guest a copy of the questions. That way, they have time to formulate the answers and not sound like an idiot!

The second secret is, Internal Edits. Once the interview is over, you’ll go back and clean things up by removing dead space, fumbles, or boring parts of the interview. That way both you and your guest sound like professional individuals! Now don’t go overboard with this. It’s OK to sound human. It’s OK to say ‘Um’ once in awhile. It kinda depends on the balance that you want to strike, between an NPR broadcast and a live radio show. Again, formulate your questions, give your guest the questions ahead of time, and things should go pretty smooth.

This advice, of course, is only helpful if you’re planning on doing interviews. You don’t have to, but interviews do help liven up your podcast and they’ll definitely keep your listeners attention if your podcast is longer than 20 minutes. And I’ll give you a bit of helpful advice on time, try to keep your podcast in the 7 to 21 minute range if it’s just you talking. People will lose interest after that.

Another popular technique in recording is a co-host. This also helps liven things up. If you’ve got a friend who’s interested in the same thing you’re interested in, have them co-host the show with you. If you’re into astronomy and you’re part of an astronomy club, see if anybody there wants to do an astronomy podcast.

Recording Your Podcast
Assuming that all your ducks are in a row and you’re ready to click ‘record’, go ahead and record your first podcast.
Once it’s done, you’re gonna edit it. Once you’ve edited, go back and listen to the whole thing to make sure you didn’t make any editing mistakes, after all, you have millions of potential listeners and you don’t want any mess ups!

Now you’ll put that voice file into a multi-track session. You’ll bring in some audio for an introduction and an outro. Next you’ll do any processing of your voice track. Clean up noise. Amplify or normalize it. Tweak the EQ a bit if you want to make it fuller.

You’ll arrange things so that your music comes in (and this is just a sample, it’s what we do on this podcast, you don’t have to do it exactly like this), but you’ll play your music, then start your voice audio. You could have an introduction audio clip, followed by the main clip, or you could record it all at once it depends on your show’s format. You’ll probably lower the volume of the music for a bit and talk over it, then fade the music out. At the end of your podcast, you reverse it by fading the music in and then it ends. In other words, you’ve got a little bit of production work to do even after you have a good voice file.

Don’t worry if we’re going too quick here because believe me, I’m gonna be very particular each step of the way. Right now I’m being very general, just to give you an idea of what’s involved, but when we actually go through the process, each step is gonna be spelled out very clearly.

After everything sounds good, you mix it down to a single file, because remember that all your elements are on different tracks. That single file will be uploaded to your server, and then you’ll create your blog and point it to the audio file.

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Topics: Audio Recording Software, How to Podcast, Podcast Promotion | No Comments »


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