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How to Make Your First Podcast
by Richard Arfin
You want to podcast but you don’t know how to start. The good news is that creating a podcast can be easy even if you only have limited knowledge of the tools. Here’s a quick primer on how to make one and get the ball rolling.
What You Need
To start, you need a microphone, a recording program and Apple’s iTunes (you can also use Windows Media Player but iTunes has some spiffy presets that make the job easier).
There are many microphones available at a low price (under $100) that will do the job. These mics connect to the computer through the USB port.
The Recording Program Audacity is one of several recording programs available as a free download. Garageband will work, too. You can even use Windows Sound Recorder to record.
iTunes. iTunes is a free download that includes some excellent shortcuts to convert your recording into an acceptable format for publishing your podcast.
How to Do it
Prepare your show first by writing an outline of the topics you want to cover. You might want to practice this script a few times just to get comfortable. Then, set up the software so it recognizes your microphone input and test it out so you know that it is recording and playing back properly.
Now, get comfortable, place the mic about 1 to 2 feet from your mouth, press the record button and start recording. Try only a few minutes at first to make sure that everything is functioning normally. Listen to it and make some adjustments like better mic placement or slowing down your delivery.
When you are satisfied with your performance, stop recording and save the file. If you are familiar with the basics of the recording program, you might want to clean it up to remove any mistakes or flaws.
Congratulations. The first step is done. That wasn’t so hard, was it?
See: The Basics of Home Recording
How to Convert it
Here is where iTunes comes in. While there are many other programs available to convert the file, iTunes simplifies and automates this step.
First, you must set up iTunes to convert your recording into podcast format (MP3, 128kbps/44100Hz, Stereo). Here’s how to do that:
- Open iTunes and go to Edit>Preferences.
- Click the Advanced tab.
- Click the Importing tab and set it to “Import using MP3 Encoder.” Set the encoder to “Good Quality (128kbps).”
- Now, drag your recording into the iTunes Music window. Select your recording and right-click on it. Select “Convert Selection to MP3.”
See: How To Convert Audio Files Using iTunes
Add the tags
You have to identify your recording with metadata tags called “ID3 tags.” Again, iTunes makes this easy.
When the conversion is complete, right-click on the file and select “Get Info.” Now, fill in the blanks with the name of the podcast, the artist, the genre, the copyright and so on. When you are finished, close the window.
Your podcast is almost complete. Listen to it and critique yourself. When you are satisfied that it is done, drag it out of iTunes onto your desktop.
You need access to a server in order to publish your podcast to the world. There are several ways people can listen to it.
Linking to it. If you create a Web page with a link to your podcast, the podcast will play through the audio player in your browser.
Downloading it. The listener can also click on the link and choose to save the file. He can then listen to it in his player offline or load it into his MP3 player.
Feeding it. Up to this point, you have really only created an MP3 recording. It is the ability to subscribe to your recordings and automatically download them that defines it as a podcast.
By creating an RSS (“Real Simple Syndication”) feed, you complete the podcast process. It’s not hard to do. Just follow the guidelines in a simple text editor. Once the RSS feed is written, saved (with an .xml extension) and uploaded to your server, anybody can subscribe to your podcast. Any future podcasts you create can be added to the RSS feed and automatically downloaded when your music program is opened. It can then be automatically fed into your iPod or MP3 player.
See: What Is RSS?
In a nutshell, that’s it! As you become more familiar with the process, you can add all the bells and whistles you like (sound effects, music, etc.). Let your imagination and creativity run wild. Have fun.
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