Podcasting Resources for Beginners (and the rest)

This will be short and to the point today. I have been reading, then skimming, then re-reading and absorbing some great information from two books. They are both different, and yet, they are much the same. They have great information for those that want to get a good start with their podcasting ideas and I can do nothing else but recommend that you get a copy of them. Even though I am basically directing this to those of you out there that are beginners, there is also a wealth of information in these two books for the advanced podcaster as well as the veteran.

I don’t say they are the end of the search, I merely suggest they are a good place to gain valuable information and they are written by people that are highly respected in the industry. The one, is the book I recommended for this month called, “Podcast Solutions” by Michael Geoghegan and Dan Klass, (see “This Month’s Book Review/Recommendation”.)

The second is called, “Podcasting — The Do It Yourself Guide” by Todd Cochrane of “www.geeknewscentral.com” fame. I have read much of them with interest (there is just too much information to say I have read every word of them) and I use them to reference my research for better ways of getting things done in Podcasting.

If someone or something could save you time and money wouldn’t that just make “sense”. These are two good books that can help you get a great start whether you just want to listen to Podcasts or if you want to make your own. They contain information on software, hardware and technique. I realize this industry is changing at a rapid pace, but these two books contain priceless information that will last a long time. They can help you get a strong start and bring you up to date on the birth of this industry and what it hopes to accomplish, as well as where it has been.

See ya next time . . .

Here are a couple of links to quickly add these to your library:

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)Podcasting: Do It Yourself Guide

Podcasters Should Pay Attention to the Details? (Honestly, It Won’t Hurt.)

Do you believe it is really true what they say, “The devil is in the details?” I don’t and I have some pretty strong feelings when it comes to paying attention to the details.

Since I have made just about any mistake you can make when it comes to recording, whether it be live or in the studio, I think I can speak a little more knowledgeably and forcefully on this subject. (After all, I have been doing this in one form or another for over thirty years.) I can hear some of you now, saying, “So What?!?” . . . (Well, you’re entitled to your opinion also.)

If anyone thinks that everything can be done “on-the-fly” when it comes to recording for a broadcast, podcast, or anything else for that matter, that person is sadly mistaken and is going to have some disappointing “setbacks” and some rather excruciating “learning experiences”. Now, what do I mean by that? I mean, they are going have some important recordings that will only be able to be used as ‘learning experiences” because the only thing they will be good for is saying, “I won’t make that mistake again”, or, “I wish I would have been better prepared for this interview, (or studio time, etc, etc)”.

There absolutely has to be some pre-planning and some thought given to what it is you want to accomplish. Even things that are ‘spur of the moment’, or casual in nature, still require a little fore-thought. There still needs to be at least some semblance of a plan. At the very least, when you have a direction you want to take in your monologue, teaching time, interview, conversation, or dissertation it is easy enough to take a few detours along the way and still end up where you were headed. (Sometimes, those detours take you to the place you really wanted to be in the first the place and because of your forethought, you got there). Please understand, I am not talking about a script (althought there are times that is a good idea, also). I am talking about even the simplest plan to follow.

After you’re finished and it is time for editing, there are a few things you need to check as far as what the final product will be. Is there good balance between transitions from speaking to music or breaks. Is the level between two or more speakers relatively the same. When you listen to your recording, are there places that cause you to be irritated or distracted, (such as noises, poor levels or glaring level mistakes). Believe me, if they catch your attention, your audience will catch them too, and they may be distracted enough to turn you off permanently.

I have always believed it is worth the extra effort to pay attention to even some of the smallest details, both pre and post production. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced veteran, paying close attention to small details can make an enormous difference in your final product. As I said in the title, paying attention to the details won’t hurt (and it definitely won’t cramp your creativity). Besides, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better your product can be and amazed at how many people will be pleased to tell others about you and your effort.

See ya next time . . .

Beginner Podcaster . . . ?

Everything begins somewhere. If you’re a beginner podcaster, you need a place to start and today’s world makes it easier than ever for you get a good start on your chosen subject or subjects.

There is hardware and software — some inexpensive and some not — that can turn out just about any quality of production you desire. Free stuff is available, whether it be information or programs or sites, and it is easier than ever to be syndicated.

There are so many people out there in the world that are creative in many differing ways and their ideas for podcasting (both audio and video) cover the spectrum from “the ridiculous” to “got to have it daily”. I am quite amazed at how much diversity really is available. Some of it I like and some of it is absolutely useless. (Oops, there I go getting opinionated again.)

If you are a beginner, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research on the history of this popular medium called podcasting. You don’t have to let that keep you from getting started, but it is always good to know the roots of your chosen interest. This will help you understand where it came from, but more importantly, it will help broaden your vision for the future. This is a relatively new industry and it is looking to go forward and not repeat the mistakes of the industries that preceded it and yet take the best things from those predecessors and build on their positives.

If you think it is easy to turn out a quality product without forethought and effort, you can rest assured that your stay in this arena will be short. Whether you offer daily or weekly broadcasts similar to radio or TV, or information on your favorite handy tip for around the house, you will soon recognize that quality is going to become more and more important. People want to listen to a good sounding program or see a good looking video product. That is why you will want to experiment with different hardware and software to find what works best and easiest for you. Spending a little time with some demos could possibly save you a bundle in the long run, when it comes to investing in those products you want to, or will, use. Reading about or listening to some veterans’ thoughts on the type equipment that can work best for your situation is always a good investment.

It is work (although it can be a lot of fun) to turn out a product that will cause your audience to want to return again and again. That is why it is so important to enjoy what you are doing. When you’ve had a rotten week and the world has crashed down around your shoulders, your podcast can be a sanctuary for you. It can be the place you forget about all of the problems and stresses and just enjoy doing whatever it is you do and offer people a place to come and enjoy that very same thing.

Beginning at the beginning seems to be a good place to start BUT it doesn’t have to hold you back. Spending some time studying and listening to the veterans will make your advancement take place more quickly because you won’t have to stumble around in the dark, looking for the right equipment and software to turn out your best product.

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)That is why I do highly recommend this book, Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions). It is a wealth of information and really is a “Complete Guide to Podcasting”. If you are a beginner in podcasting you won’t regret the investment. The same holds true if you are an advanced podcaster. It is a good investment!

See ya next time . . .

‘Free Stuff’ vs. ‘Pay Stuff’

Everybody likes ‘free stuff’. I am no exception for, you see, I like ‘free stuff’ too. There will always be ‘free stuff’ available and it should be that way. ‘Free stuff’ is good, but, not always the best. ‘Free stuff’ is sometimes free because it has little or no value or, it’s free because the info is somewhat outdated and only useful to attract your attention to newer ‘stuff’. At other times, some ‘stuff’ is really good and very valuable but it is free just because the person that makes or owns it wants to give it away no matter how much value it has.

Now, even though I say free stuff isn’t always good, I do have a great resource spot you need to check out. It is free and, even better, it is good. It is made for beginners in podcasting as well as helping the experienced podcaster make his/her podcast even better. You really should give this place a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. You can find it at, studio.odeo.com/create. If you want to create something new or just listen to others let loose their creativity, this is a ‘must do’ place. (Besides, it’s f-r-e-e, so what do you have to lose.)

I was introduced to this site by a very good friend of mine named, Christer Edwards. He is a very knowledgeable internet marketer and educator. (You can, and should check out his blog at www.christeredwards.com. It is full of great! information, and, by the way, he has a vast amount of technical knowledge and skill and is more than willing to share it.)

Now, getting to that ‘pay stuff’. When someone has something they (or we) perceive as valuable, we are willing to pay for their knowledge or product. If we don’t perceive it as valuable, we may find their asking price too high or their knowledge lacking in some fashion. Either way, we as the customer (or audience) make the choice as to how much value is placed on the product(s) in question which determines its monetary value and “staying power”.

This is also the way it should be. The question now becomes, “Who and what should we be willing to pay for and how much is that information or programming worth?” If we are making our product available for free, does it contain value for those that receive it even though it may have a sort of ‘hook’ attached to it? When it comes to podcasting, it is my personal opinion that ‘value’ is a very “key word”.

See ya next time . . .

(Podcasting Quick Tip #3) Try this . . .

A short while ago, I talked about using a digital voice recorder to record something and then load it into your computer later using audacity to edit it. (That was in podcasting quick tip #1 if you would like to check it out.)

This one is for beginners and advanced users alike. It is either good in a pinch or as a quick way of having a backup for a phone interview. It could possibly even help with a quick live interview that you weren’t really prepared for or one that happens on the spur of the moment.

Now remember, this isn’t being captured in your studio, so it won’t be perfect, but, it will turn out remarkably well. You can enter it directly into your computer and use your digital voice recorder as a hand held microphone. On thing I really like about this is it allows a better quality input because you are entering it directly into your computer as if you had a hand-held microphone. It also leaves you with a backup copy on your digital voice recorder just in case something goes wrong with the computer copy.

Once again I am using an OLYMPUS digital voice recorder,WS320M. I really like the way it records, (I use it in HQ record mode). It is a 1G voice recorder and mp3 player. It also has a USB direct connect input for your computer. (This makes it quick and easy to enter into your computer, later, should you need to.) To Try This . . . you will need:

  • The Olympus digital Voice recorder (or a good substitute)
  • An 1/8 inch (at both ends) stereo cable (preferably a minimum 6 feet long)
  • Your laptop(or desktop computer)
  • Audacity software

The other thing I like about this is that it is really simple. You will have fun with this. You can even use this as a way of getting a quick start for your podcast.

(For starters, be sure to turn down your speaker volume control to eliminate possible feedback while you are trying to record. Audacity has settings for being able to listen to what you are recording. Let’s keep it simple and have fun. There’s plenty of time to confuse ourselves, later.) Here’s how to do this:

  1. Plug one end of the 1/8 inch stereo plug into the earphone jack of the Olympus.
  2. Plug the other end into the Mic input of your laptop
  3. Open Audacity and set it for Mic input. (Click here if you don’t have Audacity)
  4. Press record on the audacity program
  5. Press record on the Digital Voice Recorder
  6. Run a test recording of the input to set your levels
  7. Press “control Z” to erase the the test recording (for the computer)
  8. Press stop button on digital voice recorder (manually erase)
  9. Repeat steps 4 and 5
  10. Start talking and watch the magic happen.
  11. When done stop both recordings and you are ready to edit and upload or store.

That’s easy, huh? With practice, you will be very pleased with the end results.
Just a couple more things you will need if you want to use it for recording a telephone interview. You will need a tape recorder to telephone adapter for recording you and your interviewee from the telephone. (I got one at Radio Shack. There are other places to get them.) You may not need this next item but it is nice to have and it makes everything work much better. An 1/8 inch monoral/stereo adapter for adapting the telephone adapter to stereo input. This can help eliminate problems with noise, hums etc.

See Ya Next Time . . .

“Podcast Solutions”by Michael Geoghegan and Dan Klass … This Months Book Review/Recommendation

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)(click on the pix to get it quick!)

This is my recommendation for the book to read for the month of February if you are a beginner looking to get started, or simply like would like some great info for making or improving your podcast.

I realize there are a lot of books on the market for podcast beginners and advanced users. I think this book is well worth the investment whether you are a beginner or an old pro, (maybe even a young, old pro). Because there is so much in this great book I just want to tell you a little of what it contains. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t be metioning more about it later, it just means I want to tell you a few things about it at this time and hope you will pick it up as a valuable resource you will be able to refer to on a regular basis. These guys KNOW what they’re talking about.

From the pages of this book you will harvest a wealth of information on things like:

  • How to use “podcatchers” like iTunes, iPodder Lemon, and iPodderX
  • Secrets of creating the perfect podcast
  • Expert advice on how to design a successful show
  • How to set up an effective studio in which to record your podcast
  • Includes the complete “Podcast Studio Buyer’s Guide”.
  • Everything you need to know about recording, editing and encoding
  • Everything you need to know about uploading your podcast
  • Information on using music “legally”
  • Attracting sponsors, advertisers and other evenue sources for making money with your podcast

Michael Geoghegan and Dan Klass are pioneers in podcasting. (You can find out more about them by clicking the links in “Podcasting Quick Tips #2” This book a not just something you will want to have for one read. It is something you will want to refer to often even though podcasting is a technology that is changing rapidly. This book is jam-packed with great information and I like the way they offer the important information and yet keep it simple and straightforward. They present it in an understandable way and that is a BIG plus for those that pick it up to get a great headstart on podcasting even though they may be absolutely new to the technology.

Now here’s another thing about this book I really like. It comes with a CD, (worth the price of the book by itself), packed with useful programs, although mostly trial versions, for getting started in podcasting. Even though some of the programs are trial versions they will give you a good feel for the programs BEFORE you invest your hard earned money and that can help you get started on a shoestring and move up as you progress or start up without having to go at the programs ‘cold’.

All in all, I guess you can tell I like the book. I would rate it at least four and a half stars.

See Ya Next Time . . .

Podcasting Responsibly

I know, I know; that has an ominous ring to it.  What I have to say today I have strong feelings about.  I do not, and will not, tolerate censorship because I know that I am pretty much in control of what I read, watch and listen to.  It is my responsibility and I cannot blame someone else for my choices.  However, when someone else’s actions give me, or someone else, no choice, then I become a little more reactionary.  One thing I feel very strongly about is people unwilling to take responsibility for what they do that can have an adverse affect on others.  The second thing that aggravates me quite strongly, is people not looking far enough into the future and weighing the possibilities of their actions on others, in particular, on young, impressionable children that can be inadvertantly affected whether directly or indirectly; intentionally or unintentionally.

I guess this is somewhat prompted by the recent death of the lady by water toxication.  Even though the person had signed a release, the people running the contest/promo for the radio station were given opportunity to prevent what happened, but did not.  They were advised as to what could happen and they chose to ignore that advice in the name of a signed release and a contest.  In my thinking, this is inexcusable. 

I don’t want to get into a legal discussion and I don’t want to get hung up on the non-issues of this incident.   I merely use it as an example of what can happen when we, as people in the world, act irresponsibly.  This incident is a great example of how something that was intended to generate interest and lightheartedness could turn into such a sad disaster.  I really don’t  think the people involved intended for it to turn out the way it did, BUT, it did anyway and it is their responsibility and they should accept it. 

The decision they made to let her continue was based on ignorance I am sure but that does not relieve them of their responsibility in the incident.  Their decision leaves a family without a mother and a number of people upset with their unbelieveable stupidity and insensitivity.  Maybe all of them should have known better, but none of that will change the present.  (We all know that hind-sight offers the opportunity for 100% perfect sight.) 

I have to admit, this is an unusual subject for podcasting.  I bring it up because it shows what can happen when we don’t consider the consequences of what we call our “right” to say and do anything we want with our podacsts.  Although we do have the “right”, we also need to be responsible enough to pursue our movement forward with a vision for the positive advancement of the medium.  Yes, it is true the audience will, in the end, dictate who stays and who goes.  If we present  our podcasts responsibly, there is no limit to the freedom we can experience with our divergent forms of expression.

See ya next time . . .

(Podcasting Quick Tip #2) Try this. . .

Podcast Solutions: The Complete Guide to Podcasting (Solutions)There is a lot good stuff going on the software and hardware areas of Podcasting these days. I am always looking for ways to make things easier for myself and I am favorably impressed enough with this piece of software that I am willing to recommend you try it.

First, let me tell you how I came across it. There are millions of search results for anything to do with podcasting. So I don’t generally go that route. I tend to use people’s sites that I have come to trust over time. One of those is Paul Colligan. I visited his site again a few days ago, (something I do quite often), and he mentioned this software that is available from GigaVox media. It is called the “LEVELATOR” by GigaVox media. (Although it is free for personal use at the moment, there will probably be a reasonable charge in the future for those that will be using it commercially.)

It is the “podcasters dream” as they say. It is able to take uneven audio (like when you interview someone over the phone or in another type situation and your audio is not at the same level for both speakers) and it levels out the audio (bringing the two into a much closer reference level). It should be used before you convert the file to mp3 and it only works with WAV files.

I tested it with a very bad beginning to a taped seminar. To add a slight twist to this particular test, I had to convert the mp3 file back to WAV (which I did with ‘audacity’) and then run it through “Levelator”. I have to admit, the result was quite acceptable. I was very pleasantly surprised and pleased, I will admit, it wasn’t miraculous, (it could not bring back what wasn’t there) but it did a good job of what it was made for. Give it a try. I really think you will like it.

By the way the book shown above is co-authored by Michael Geoghegan (CEO of GigaVox media) and Dan Klass (“The Bitterest Pill”) . It is a good source for podcasting because it covers the whole world of podcasting, whether you’re just a listener or a podcaster. (Just clickon the picture above to purchase it) Be sure to visit the GigaVox media site for more info on the “Levelator”. They are also a great source for info and all kinds of related ‘stuff’ to podcasting.

See ya next time . . .

Podcast? Webcast? Netcast? The Name Debate . . . (What’s it gonna be?)

There’s a lot of talk making the rounds these days and that is, “What should this form of communication take as a name?”  In my research so far, there are several that are most popular at the moment.  They are the already well-known iPod derivative, “podcast”; one of the more descriptive possibilities, “netcast”, and another good descriptive term, “webcast”.   There are, and will be, others I assure you. 

The debate surrounds several things including the contention that ‘Apple’ seems to think they own anything with the word “pod” in it.  (At least, that is my understanding of their contention so far).  They feel strongly enough about it that they are beginning to pursue legal means for proving it. 

Once again, I have to agree with one of my favorite “informed” people, Leo Laporte.  (See previous post, “What is Podcasting?  (my view pt 2)”).  I do appreciate all that Apple has done to advance this type of medium.  I like and use iTunes and others and I don’t think the name “pod”casting is going to go away, BUT, for Apple to think that the rest of us are going to go away, quit using the word “pod” or even that they have some legal right to those three letters is ridiculous in my opinion.  Once again, this is where I feel major corporations step over the line when it comes to “branding” rights.  I am sure that I am not alone when it comes to being weary of some of the corporate arrogance that is out there. 

Besides all this, one point that keeps resurfacing is, many people are convinced they need an “iPod” to receive any podcasts at all.  This, too, is good for Apple to have such an impression left in the minds of people, but is also totally false and leaves many without a strong voice to the otherwise.  Many devices  and services exist to play the ever-growing amount of downloadable files out there.  The “iPod” is only one, (as good as it may be).

Now, don’t take me wrong.  I think it is good that this debate has started so early in this process.  It tells me people are thinking in the right direction.  I am thankful there are people concerned about such debatable things as these.  I only hope cooler heads prevail when it comes time to make some of the more important decisions.  There will be a large responsibility on the courts and legal professionals.  There is already a great responsibility on those of us close to these issues and we can’t afford to be reactionary.  We need to fully think through the issues facing us and make calm, yet solid, decisions concerning this issue and others facing this blossoming industry.  Open communication in both directions is going to be key in the near and distant future.  Let’s all stay informed and do what we can to make a positive impact on the future.

See ya next time

What Is Time Shifting? A Major Podcast Plus . . .

I had an interesting question asked of me the other day. The person asked me what “time-shifting” was. I really did think everyone knew what it was so I was a little taken by surprise. I guess I thought everyone was up on the technology of today. (Like I have been at least a few times before, I was mistaken.)

Time shifting is not a new thing. (In fact, I’ve alluded to it before, “What is Podcasting? My View… pt 1” and “What is Podcasting? My View … pt 2”.) It has been in use for many years now. In the “old days”, time-shifting was generally done with reel-to-reel tape machines, audio cassette recorders and video recorders (both Beta and VHS). It was a way of saving something of importance to be viewed, or listened to, at a more convenient time for the person desiring it. Continue reading What Is Time Shifting? A Major Podcast Plus . . .