How to Record a Podcast
Podcasts, user-distributed internet broadcast radio shows and talk programs, have blossomed in popularity since their inception. In the beginning, they were only accessible via a small selection of specialized internet portals, but modern podcasts are available through RSS website feeds, news sites, social networking venues and blogs. Creating your own podcast is easy, because a wealth of new technology means that you can get started in no time. For those interested in the recording process, here are some tips that will make it easy to create a great podcast.
Getting ready is easy with free software that also lets you edit your results. General programs like Audacity let you record, insert sound effects and edit, but a search for "podcasting software" will reveal a host of specific apps.
One needn't spend a ton of money on recording equipment, because most modern laptops and desktops can record at a quality level acceptable for podcasts with a regular mic attachment. Using built-in mics is generally ill-advised, unless one is podcasting from a PDA or other handheld computing device. Built-in computers mics generally add a great deal of noise to the recordings they make. This comes from the fact that they're often situated inches away from relatively loud computer fans, data lines that cause interference, whirring hard drives or optical media and other sources of degradation. The easiest way to avoid this is to isolate your recording technology, namely the microphone, by purchasing a simple plug in version. Podcast microphones with stands and high-quality USB connections are available online for under $20, and are perfect for recording with reduced background noise from any impromptu tabletop setup.
You'll also need some headphones, to help you by letting you hear how you sound without creating feedback. Inexpensive over-ear headphones are the best solution for long periods of steady use, and many headphone-and-mic sets created just for podcasting can be found for $30 and up.
Making sure your recording area is quiet, if not noise-free, is also important to any good podcast. Sound-proofing a space is usually pretty expensive, so most podcasters simply ensure they're in an area that doesn't have too much of an echo. It's easy to check which of your options is best by doing a series of test recordings in a variety rooms. You may find that your smaller rooms provide the best sound characteristics, but most importantly, you'll figure out how close you need to get to create good sound using your equipment.
When you're recording, remember that clarity is the most important factor. If you actively listen to enough news and other informational broadcast presenters, you'll soon realize that the majority of them speak at an insanely slow rate. As a general guideline, aim for 100 wpm. This is slow enough to guarantee that every word you say will be distinct from its neighbors, and you might need to practice speaking at this rate beforehand.
To get used to speaking clearly, make some test recordings. Use a predefined script or short news article you find online and record yourself reading it in your new setup. By cut and pasting your text into a word processor for a quick word count, you can set a target time goal. After you make your recording, review it closely and see how clear it is, paying attention to whether or not you can distinguish everything with ease. You don't have to be perfect, but doing test recordings like this can be a great way to develop microphone confidence. Successful podcasters aren't just interesting, they're also pleasant to listen to. By practicing your recording skills, you can deliver your content in a fashion and tone that appeals to people even if they completely disagree with what you're saying.
An Extra Note About Setups and Expansion:
When you decide to include another presenter in your podcast, remember to space everyone evenly from the mic so that nobody's voice gets drowned out. Even slight differences can result in huge variances in apparent recorded volume. When trying to get interviews, remember that you've got to make it worthwhile for your interviewees, so provide a comfortable, professional setting to the best of your ability, or structure your setup for travel.