Get Started Right … Five Great Places to Visit, Listen and Learn

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When it comes to listening to other people and learning from their expertise, I have several favorites I often frequent. Not only do they help keep me very up to date on what’s going on, but they also keep me on the cutting edge of the direction podcasting will take in the future. Believe me when I tell you, I know there are a whole lot more than these five sites that can do this and we will talk about more of them in the very near future, but, these are good places to go. Especially when you consider what my theme for this month is — ‘getting started right’.

So why do I choose these places? Well, I have to be honest; I just simply like them and what they have to say. I learn from them and they have proved to me over time that they know what they are talking about. They are right there at the forefront of the wave of this movement called podcasting. With people like this leading the way, it makes our journey much easier than it would be without them. These are not the only people out there that are leading the way but it is where I choose to start today.

So, who are the people and where are the sites? I’m glad you asked that question. I’ve been waiting here to tell you.

The first person and site I want to introduce you to is, Leo Laporte. (I know, I know; you’ve heard me mention him before.) This time, I want you to really go and check out his site named “Leoville”. He is top notch and many of you probably already know him from his TV shows a while ago, “Screen Savers” and “Call For Help”. This site I give you today is one I have shared with you a couple of times over the last several months. “Leoville” is a good place to go for stuff from Leo Laporte. One trip here and you will have plenty of stuff to look at for a while and you will find a lot of great information, sources and links. Now, remember — not everything is free. But the good stuff is hardly ever free. Just remember, some of his stuff is free, but the stuff he charges for, whatever it costs (which isn’t really that much) you will definitely get a lot for the price.

The second person I want to mention here is Paul Colligan. He is very podcast oriented. The site I mention here is the easiest to remember. It is “”. This is not his only site, but, when you go to this site, you will see just how much is available. Paul is definitely a class act, too. He talks about improving your podcasts and has really good info and links to other helpful people and sites. He, along with others, talks about how to monetize your podcasts and offers exceptional material on how to do so. I know you will come away from your visit to his site with a wealth of ideas and information on how to improve your podcasts and make money with them also. His is another site where not everything is free, but there is plenty there to wet your appetite.

The next place could actually qualify for three or more. I mention it to you, in particular, because it is a great place to get great input and direction. the site is called: This is a place with a wealth of podcasts to listen to and glean good direction for making your podcast better than ever. When you visit this place, you will notice that they have three choices of places to get podcasts of differing types. You really can’t go wrong with spending a little time checking out what they have to offer. I list the main things here.

  1. IT Conversations
  2. Open Source
  3. Podcast Academy
  4. “The Levelator” software
  5. Gigavox media Platform

See, I told you there is a lot there. Aw heck, just go there and check it out. I know you’ll like it.

Next on the list is Michael Geoghegan. His podcast, “Reel Reviews” is very popular and he is co-author of a book I have, and still do, highly recommend, “Podcast Solutions”. He and his co-author, Dan Klass, cover all the important information on how to get started with their ‘Complete Guide to Podcasting’. You will find just about anything you want to know about podcasting technique, equipment, software and legalities in this book. That is why I highly recommend you read it and use it as a guide to “Get Started Right”. It is well worth the price. It also has a CD with different trial versions of software you can try. This by itself is worth the purchase price.

The next person on the five favorites list is someone I find fascinating. He is more oriented in marketing and teleseminars, but works a lot with Paul Colligan.

Alex Mandossian is remarkable when it comes to getting his points across. He is well suited for his craft. You will be hard pressed to find a more influential person in the field. As I stated earlier, he is more marketing and teleseminar oriented, but, he does do other things and is good at anything he sets his hand to do because he strives to present his expertise and products in the best possible way. I think he does a great job and I always find him interesting. He has great guest speakers also. Alex and Paul Colligan have several projects they work on together and they have co-authored a book called, “The Podcasting Bible”. Pick up a copy. I know you will find it worthwhile.

I know I only promised you five but here is a place I just cannot quit talking about. I have an extremely high opinion of the site, “” Not only is it easy to get your podcast recorded and uploaded, but, it is free, (at least, so far). How can you beat that? I am particularly pleased with the way they offer quality reproduction and availability of a person’s podcast and I just simply can’t get over the fact they do it all for FREE! If you haven’t checked them out, please do. You will, no doubt be impressed, too. Remember, it is FREE for now so why not take advantage of it. It is just another way I think you can . . . “Get Started Right”

See ya next time . . .

Get Started Right . . . Just How Serious Are You?

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last few days while I couldn’t really do any writing. (It was just too hard to sit in front of the computer and suffer through the minimal eye strain pain. By the way, the surgery on my eye went very well. Next Wednesday, I get the other eye done.)

I have a lot on my mind about podcasting and where I want to go and what I want to accomplish with it. The big question is, “How serious are you about podcasting and where do you want to go with it?”

I still firmly believe there are ways to “test the waters”, so to speak, without spending a lot of money and I do think you should practice and experiment before you make a major invesment in equipment. However, there is point we reach when we have to decide where we want to invest our time and money for the best return. Of course, you understand that I’m not talking about investing in Real Estate or the stock market don’t you? I am talking about the investment of yourself and your most precious commodity — time.

I know I have spent quite a bit of time in the recent past trying to suggest ways to get started in podcasting with little or no investment of money, but there comes a time when we all have to make hard decisions. Some of those decisions can only be made by you. You are the final judge when it comes to your ideas for podcasting and the way you want to present yourself, or your podcast. How you want your final product to turn out will ultimately determine how much of a monetary investment you’ll need to make.

Please don’t be offended by what I say next, but, seek out good input for your podcasting ideas. Don’t just go to your friends, especially those that don’t want to hurt your feelings, but seek out some who will tell you honestly what they think and that will offer some constructive criticism. (Don’t deceive yourself about your podcasting ideas or talents like some singers trying to get on ‘American Idol’ do, but remember that a little reality check is not a bad thing. That’s why I ask you right now, “Just how serious are you and can you accept constructive criticism, both positive and negative. That doesn’t mean you won’t, or can’t, do what you want, but it does mean that you may have to work at the craft of communication a little more than you thought.)

Does that bother you? If so, you will have to evaluate whether it will hold you back or make you more determined than ever to go forward.

Personally, I am growing a little weary of all the things I want to go and listen to sounding like a radio program. You see, I like listening to people talk about things I am interested in, or things that catch my interest, but I don’t always want to be listening to a radio show.

Probably one of the things I dislike most is the really loud or distracting interruptions that totally kill my interest. Some call them commercials and I don’t really have anything against them in general, but I do have a real problem with major differences in volume and feel when it comes to listening to a program.

Please understand, I am just as critical of some of the productions that are turned out by people I know and work with at times. I just simply don’t agree with the “grab their attention by blowing them out of their seats” mentallity that permeates much of the broadcast industry these days.

After all is said and done, that is why people appreciate their mute buttons, DVR’s and Tivos. The commercials are so loud or distracting that they simply don’t want to be forced to listen to them anymore. Perhaps, (and this is just my opinion), the people that make commercials could work a little harder at getting their point across without being so obnoxiously overbearing. (Yes, I know this is a touchy subject, but with the monetization of podcasting at the present time, and in the near and distant future, it is something that should concern all of us and we should consider what the effects will be on our podcasts.)

For myself, I am looking at ways to present audio books, possibly have interviews and also just generally discuss things that interest people. I do struggle with presenting all of the above with a ‘radio show feel’ and I would like to try some different ways or types, but, as always, figuring what is best to do is the challenge.

Some things read like a book and I think should be presented like a book. Other things are simply conversations and should have minimal, if any, interruptions. This means we may have to foot the bill on our own presentations because no commercial spots really fit the format. This brings us to interesting propositions that I heard about from one of my favorite educational and informational people, Leo Laporte. He asks for donations and also charges a minimal fee to have access to some of his stuff. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about that now, but it is something I want to discuss later.

The important thing at this point is to consider how we can best present our ideas and only spend what we need to spend on the equipment and software needed to do so.

So, here are three things we need to think about to turn out the best possible product we can:

  1. Consider just how serious we are.
  2. Consider what it will take to best present our subject.
  3. Spend what is necessay to “Get Started Right”.

If you take the time right now to plan and figure a little, it could make a great big difference in how much it takes to get started with your podcasting ideas and turn out a great product you can be proud of.

‘Get started right’ and the rest may not be easy, but it will be worthwhile.

See ya next time . . .

April is no time for Foolin’ Around

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Well, another month has gone by and what do you have to show for it? Have you started actually doing your planned podcast? Have you laid out your plans for the near and distant future? Where will you be in relation to your plans thirty days from now?

I am going to pursue this month according to the way I planned it. I am going to produce my weekly podcast using the articles I write during the week and I am going to go back and organize my previous posts in a little different way. You will find, at least for starters, that any music I use will be original music so that I only have to pay myself for the usage. I am going to try and find some interesting people to interview in the near future and I fully intend to offer information that will help you either get started in podcasting or take your own podcasting to the next level.

Now, I have to tell you that the next two weeks are going to be a bit of a challenge for me. I have all of these plans for this month and I am going to have eye surgery over the next two Wednesdays. Nothing major, but, it is going to be interesting. I only hope I come out of it with better eye sight. As it stands now, I do struggle a bit and it happened relatively quickly.

Here is my newest schedule for everything, (at least, I hope this is how it goes.) On Tuesdays and Fridays I hope to have new entiries on the blog– more often when I can. I plan an extended podcast based around the blog subjects once a week, probably released on Saturday. Of course I will still be doing each of the articles in audio podcast form, individually, for those that would rather listen than read.

This is no April fool’s joke. I really am intending to do this. I also am working to get a couple of other podcasts going. I hope to mention more about them later on this month. Stay tuned for more ‘stuff’ that should be happening soon, right here on your source for podcasting resources,

See ya next time . . .

Following Up on the “Hums and Buzzes”…Podcasting Quick Tip #7

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I’m sure you all remember the time, recently, I was talking about hums and buzzes in my recordings, (Podcasting Quick Tip #5) and I told you I would fill you in on why I was having some ground loop problems when I knew more. Well, I did figure out part of it and the other I haven’t quite got a grip on yet.

The first problem was when I hooked up directly with my laptop to record stuff off of the telephone, (possible interview practice), an noticed I had a bad hum or buss in the recording. I solved it temporarily by removing the laptop power supply. But, the technician in me wanted to know where the ground loop was coming from so I had to try a few things.

I finally isolated it to my modem connection on my downstairs computer. You see, because of some of the work I do, I have and test some head-end parts for RF distribution. I have one of my computers connected to this system to play music and sometimes show stuff from ‘TSTN’ on my whole house system. I have experienced ground loop problems before with the system and thought I had it all taken care of. Apparently, I didn’t. Since I use the computer as my fax machine, it is connected to the phone line via the modem and also the head-end system. When I remove the connection to the modem of that computer, the hum goes away from my other phone connection to my laptop. I won’t go any further with that one, i just know where it is and I can deal with it.

The other one still has me a little baffled. Why my microphone does what it does I cannot say for sure. Perhaps I should try a USB input and see if it does the same thing. As it is now, I am using the mic input at the front of my computer and it has no buzz as long as I am not connected to the power line with my laptop power supply. It also seems to be pretty much evident with the mic I am using. Others I try are either not as evident or don’t have the hum/buzz in them. It is still a little confusing to me. Maybe one of you out there in the land of podcasting and blogs can help me this one. It really doesn’t bother me that much, but I would like to know why. If you have any input, please leave your ideas in the comments section.

I am going to be stepping up to a little bit different equipment in the very near future and I will probably solve my delima in that way. Still, my curiosity is arroused and I would like to know why it does what it does.

I have been extrememly busy lately and have had a little bit of a hard time keeping up with the blog. I have been forced, at least temporarily, to only update twice a week and I have moved it from Monday and Friday to Tuesday and Friday. I hope you won’t mind. Perhaps soon, I will be able to get back on the old schedule. In April, I will probably be turning out one podcast a week on this site, but it will be a compiliation of the articles and thoughts for the week. I will still be providing the podcast version of the articles for those that want to listen to them instead of read them.

See ya next time . . .

Before We Move On … Some Personal Thoughts On the Future for Podcasting

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As I mentioned last time, I am planning on making certain changes to this site and also expanding my podcasting adventures into other areas I am interested in. But before we move on, together, I just wanted to take some time to express my thoughts and feelings as far as the direction of podcasting for the future, in general and for myself.

I used to take certain things for granted. Things like, I never thought I would like being on the talking side of the microphone and now I find it gives me great pleasure to share what I know with those that want to listen. My problem now is trying to figure out what direction to go with my ideas of what I want to accomplish with podcasting.

You see, I know there are people out there that know much more about podcasting than I do and I know there are those that know much more about the software and available hardware. The real problem for all of us is, what do we really want to accomplish with what it is we do with this form of communication called podcasting.

Do we want to use it as a form of entertainment? Do we want to use it as a forum for our thoughts on current events and other items we find important? Do we just want to have another music based radio program or possibly a talk show? How about educational and inspirational programming? When it comes to video, will the same hold true, doing the same old, same old, or will someone find a brand new way of getting the job done? Will we continue on with the casual presentation of our creativity as is now so popular on “youtube” and other places or use it for things beyond our comprehension at this moment?

What direction will you take? Have you really thought about it?

As for me, I choose to use podcasting for educational and personal development purposes at the present time. It is a convenient way to present, or offer, input into peoples lives. It is possible to help many gain valuable input in this way and for me, that is important. I hope to make a positive impact on people and give valuable information and advice using my own life experience and that of others.

There is a wealth of information available and this is a way to make it available to all that desire it at a time convenient for them to listen or absorb it. Some of it will cost nothing and some of it will cost more than some think it is worth.

This medium will become an income producing venture for many and will be a fulfilling outlet for others. I only hope that it doesn’t become what TV and Radio have. They are more driven by income rather than importance. The driving force behind much of the programming in those venues is popularity and how much an advertisement will bring in because of that popularity. Of course, that is good business and will apply in some way to podcasts of all kinds, but it is very limiting. It means, especially in Radio and TV, that only programming that generates income survives whether or not it has any real value.

One of the most important values to this thing called podcasting is that it is not something that restricts someone from doing it. A person can start podcasting very inexpensively. Quality will always be of value whether it be the content or the quality of the audio or the video or both. With the technologies and services available these days, a person can turn out a very high quality podcast very inexpensively. That doesn’t mean a person will have to spend a fortune, but, it does mean they will have to spend what it takes to accomplish what they want to produce in the quality they want. Some things are easy to accomplish and some things are, or can be, very complex.

I can only speak for myself and the way I am. Mostly, I am a very laid back person. Does that mean I never get excited or exasperated. No, it means I don’t often yell and scream to get my point across. I just present it the way I see it and that is all I can do. Does that mean I don’t like those that do it the other way? No. Sometimes I think they go a bit over board and I can’t necessarily listen to them for extended periods of time, but, I do appreciate their enthusiasm.

So, the future of podcasting is in our hands, yours and mine. What we choose to do with it remains to be seen and I do firmly believe we have only scratched the surface. I know I never thought much about it until I began to use it to time shift my listening and learning experiences and then began my own podcasting adventures. It offers possibilities limited only by our creativity and imaginations. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The world is out there waiting for our input. Let’s get it to them.

See ya next time . . .

Why Not Use This To Get Started With Your Podcast?

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Okay, this is the last time I am going to talk about this for a while. I have been directing most of the last few articles at you beginners out there and this one is too. I have been talking about ‘’ a lot and I will probably mention it several more times in the near and distant future, but I cannot tell you how easy it is to use. You will just have to experience it for yourself.

If you are a beginner podcaster, or advanced, and you want to get started with your own podcast, don’t let anything hold you back any longer. You can get started in the next half hour simply by going to ‘’, signing up and start your very own , FREE, podcast from their site and you will be on and people can start listening within a few minutes of the time you click the “publish” button. What could be easier? (NO, they’re not paying me to say this!)

I know it sounds too easy. I know it sounds as if I want you to go there so I can make money off of your visit. The truth is, if you want an easy and inexpensive way to get your podcast on the web, I know this is one place that will work for you. It is simple, fast and easy. It works and does not limit you to only being on their site. You can also transfer your ‘cast’ to iTunes if you want.

Is this the only place you can go? No. Is it the best? I can’t answer that. I only know that it is easy and inexpensive and you can turn out a very good quality simple podcast. If you think you need a bunch of pricey equipment to try out your idea, think again. All you need is a microphone attached to your computer and you are ready. Try this if for no other reason than to find out if podcasting is for you.

By the way, stay tuned to this site. I am planning some changes in the very near future and I am excited. I hope you will like them, too.

See ya next time . . .

Podcasting Quick Tip #6

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You know I have been speaking very highly of the stuff available over at I have been so pleased with the quality and the ease of using their site, software and little recorder program that I can’t help but give them another big thumbs up. I have been using it regularly for a while now and have become just a bit spoiled I guess. It’s like I said before, “When something works, it works” ( see, ‘Beginners . . . podcast ‘on the cheap’), and I still feel that way.

So, if you’re a beginner and want to get started with’s “Mypodcast recorder”, I have a couple of helpful hints for you. Please remember, it is a simple recorder and not extremely versatile, but for what it is, it works great! If you just want a simple way of getting started recording your podcast, this is a great place to start.

One nice thing about this simple little program is it can be used immediately after you download it. As long as you don’t make any mistakes or have to restate a statement because you got tongue-tied, it is completely easy to use. It is when you have those moments of brain strained audio garble that it becomes a little tricky.

If you mess up right at the beginning of your talk, it’s probably best to start over from the very beginning. If it is a half a minute or so into it, you can stop, playback or advance to just before the mistake and pick it up from there.

So, how do you do that? I’ll try to ‘simply’ talk you through it. It will help if you have already downloaded it and tried doing a few things with it so that you are at least somewhat familiar with it.

First, when you open the Mypodcast recorder and click the record button (I’m assuming you have a microphone attached) you will notice it immediately starts recording. Notice the line that moves through the time graphic. As you record, it tells you where you are. (You can use this as your guide as you record your production for how much time has elapsed and it is also helpful for correcting a mistake.) When you click the record button again, it stops recording. If you click the record button again,(whether accidently or otherwise), you just erased what you just recorded and started recording all over again. That probably wasn’t what you wanted or expected, so, here is the first really big tip:

  • After you have recorded something, either listen to it by clicking the play button to advance it back to the end of the recording, or,
  • Manually advance it, either with your mouse or arrow buttons, to the end and you can begin recording again without losing any of the previous information

This particular feature is a mixed blessing. If you accidently double click the record button to stop and listen to your recording, it will stop the recording and start recording again, BUT, it will have quickly erased all of you previous work. I guess the best thing I can tell you about this is just don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and be cautious. While working on a recording, you can make corrections and add to the recording as long as you don’t save it. Once you save it it is fixed in stone, (unless you enter it into another program, like Audacity, for editing it that way.)

Here is hint number 2 for the day. If you are recording your program and notice that you have made a really noticeable mistake, simply stop recording and do the following:

  • Click play and listen to what you have recorded up to the mistake.
  • Notice where it was and click stop on the play button.
  • You can back up in small increments by using your left arrow key
  • Hit play and make sure of where you are in the recording
  • Hit stop one more time and back up to a good place for starting the statement over
  • Work at it until you are sure have the right spot
  • Click record and proceed from that point with your recording

At this time, I have found no way to do insert editing with this program. You can go back to where you want to pick it up from, but you cannot insert something in the middle. Once you back up to where you want to record something, the program erases everything beyond that point and starts recording new from that point. This one little drawback to this program is at times a nuisance, but as you get used to using it, you find how easy it is to work with this feature. With practice, you will find you can do things that no one will notice, including yourself.

Just remember, this works only in original recordings. Once you save the recording, it is not able to be added to or corrected unless you put it into another program to edit it.

See ya next time . . .

Is Your Podcast ‘Take It With You’ Material?

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Go ahead, check it out for yourself. There are more than a few places to go and check out information about podcasting of all different kinds. In fact, there are literally thousands and thousands of places. Do you find that a bit discouraging and overwhelming? It can be and it is for just about everyone, at times.

If you want to laugh, there are plenty of videocasts to tickle your funny bone. If you want to hear someone spout off about their latest aggravation, you will find them in thick supply. There are seminars, lectures and lessons available of many different types. There are those that are strickly for entertainment and there are those that are educational and informational. You name the subject, you will find something, somewhere, and probably multiple somethings in those somewhere places.

So what is it you want to do? If you want to become rich and famous by podcasting, you might want to give it a little time (because it probably won’t hapen too quickly, if at all). Now, every once in a while someone discovers a niche, comes up with an idea or stumbles upon a certain subject that catches someones attention and it travels the viral route to absolute star-status in a very short period of time, but, those are very few and far between.

Does it happen overnight? Sometimes. Does it make its creator rich? Sometimes. Is it something you can do for a while, sell to someone else and retire to some tropical location, sipping on what ever you like to sip on all day long? Maybe it does happen that way sometimes, but, it’s not too likely it will happen to you, (or to me).

So, many will ask the question, “What’s the use? No one is out there listening anyway.” It’s how you answer that question that can make all the difference in your life in podcasting and possibly the lives of those that listen to what you have determined to accomplish through podcasting.

I think the question you have to ask yourself is, “Why do I really want to do this?” Is it all about money? Is it about fame or power? How about simply to be recognized?

I have had to answer that question to myself more than once. The best reasons I have come up with to explain why I do this is because I like to do it and because I have always been a teacher at heart. I don’t like to hold on to, or hoard, knowledge I have acquired over time. I like to share what I have learned if someone is willing to learn from me. I like to share my experience with others and help them advance toward their goals. I have to be honest, though. I haven’t got all the answers and I still learn something new almost every day.

Some of the stuff I know is useless in this day and age and some of what I know you can’t put a price on. That’s why I like the idea and convenience of educational podcasting. I like the fact that knowledge or information can be readily available to anyone that wants it and that it can be downloaded and taken with you to be listened to at your convenience.

In fact, I am totally spoiled by podcasting. I spend so much time in my vehicle daily, traveling (or should I say, sitting in traffic), from one job to another, I want to spend that time wisely. I choose learning about, or being motivated by, the things that interest me rather than listening to the radio while I do so. When something I listen to at my computer can’t be taken with me, I am disappointed. (Now, I have a way to change that, but, it takes more time for the conversion process. It isn’t necessarily convenient but it does work. I will talk more about that very soon.)

Consider your podcast. Is it something educational or informational? Is it strictly for entertainment? Is it a teaching series? Is it an audio book of either technical knowledge or entertainment value? Is it technically well produced? Is it something someone would want to take with them?

See ya next time . . .

Beginners, Have Fun With Your Podcasts … The World Is Waiting For Your Input

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When I started actually doing this thing called podcasting, I did it because it interested me. I never claimed, (and still don’t claim), to know much about podcasting. In fact, my only claim in all of this is simply that I have a lot of experience in recording, both live and in the studio.

I’ve been around, and done, recording and worked as a sound tech both live and in the studio. I’ve had the great priviledge of doing it for broadcasts on radio and on TV. I’ve done the same for my own personal creations and for my own pleasure. (No big deal, just fact.)

Does that make me an infallible expert? No, it doesn’t, but, it has given me one thing many haven’t yet acquired. What is that one thing, you ask? Hands on experience, (or, ‘Seat Time’ as they say in racing.)

  • Have I done, and do I do, everything correctly? No, but I have learned from my mistakes.
  • Have I attained perfection? No, but I have become much better at what I do.
  • Will I ever “arrive”? Probably not, but I will enjoy the journey.

Probably the most important thing I have learned is just how much I don’t know. In fact, I would go so far as to say that is one very good thing that comes with experience and with growing older; you accept the fact that you don’t “KNOW IT ALL” and probably never will. I do know what I like in recording technique, sound and style, but, I try not to let that keep me from learning something new. If you have been a steady reader/listener of the info I provide, you know I am mostly audio oriented, but, I am also interested in the video side. I just have more experience in audio.

With the state of technology these days, I find it difficult to get too attached to any one thing for an extended period of time. The software and hardware constantly change, and not always for the better. Developing good habits and paying close attention to small details should never change because there is no substitute for quality. The better the quality of the product, the more we can be proud of the product we turn out and the more pleasing it will be to those that listen to it.

So, where does that leave you? Well, that is up to you. The nice thing about all this is that it is relatively new and is really seeking some well guided direction. Because it is so new, you just may be the one that has the idea or capacity to make a great impact on this blossoming industry or medium, (depending on how you look at it). That’s why it is important to remember this important fact:

You can have a lot of fun while you learn more about podcasting and you can develop your style and grow with the medium as you, and it, mature.

You may never know exactly what you are capable of attaining until you click open the mic and begin talking. And while you’re at it, “Enjoy the Ride!”

See ya next time . . .

Podcasting Quick Tip #5 . . . Got hum and buzz problems?

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Have you been hearing some mysterious hums and/or buzzing sounds in the background of your productions? If you have, it could quite possibly be associated with ground loops of some sort.

I came across this problem as I was trying out a new headset microphone to use with both, “Audacity” and “mypodcast recorder”. You see, I use my laptop for almost everything I do at the moment because it is my fastest and best computer, as well as the most portable. (It is also my newest). I have been trying a lot of new things lately, for my own benefit and, hopefully, for yours. This led me to discover I had the above mentioned problem.

While doing some practice recordings with “mypodcast recorder”, I noticed a buzz in the background of my recordings. It was probably always there, I think the new microphone just helped me notice it more. For that I am thankful, because I really don’t like hums and buzzing and I find them quite distracting.

At first, I thought it had something to do with the mic, but substituting a different one proved that theory to be false. (The substitute generated the same thing, only a little softer in the background). It was beginning to really bother me. Now that I had heard it, my hearing really began to focus on it. I was determined to get rid of it, so the troubleshooting process continued.

I decided to see if it was associated somehow with the software, although it didn’t make sense it would be. I tried using “Audacity” and found the same thing once again. There was that distracting buzz in the background. I decided to go one step further with “Audacity” since I was planning to use it to directly record interviews over the telephone. I called a friend up and recorded the conversation, (with his permission of course). The result was horrible, (and I am being extremely nice about it). I was really begining to think I had a major problem and began to worry that some of my plans for the near and distant future were going to be out the window. I have to admit, it had me baffled, at least for the time being.

I began to look for possible ‘RF generators’ like lighting dimmers or something similar. Nothing I checked made any difference. I was really beginning to get concerned when the thought finally struck me. In audio work, we often contend with ground loops of one sort or another. We can usually temporarily lift a ground to test and isolate the problem. The problem was, I was not using any plugs with ground pins in them, just the standard two prong, so how was I going to lift the ground separately. I remembered I didn’t have the problem when I used only my portable digital recorder, to capture with. Nothing else was attached to it, so, what was the difference between the two ways?

(Well, I hope you haven’t guessed yet, because that would spoil the rest of this article.) It was the fact that the digital recorder was totally self-powered by battery and I was using the power supply/battery charger for my laptop. When I removed the power supply cord from the computer and it went on to its own battery power, the buzzing completely stopped. My recordings were once again clean in both, “Audacity” and “mypodcast recorder”.

The problem seems to have been a difference in ground potential (a ground loop) between the phone line and the electric in my house for the problem with the telephone buzzing. Removing the connection to the power line, removed the ground loop problem between it and the phone line. Now I just have to consider laptop battery life into the extended phone interview equation for the future. Hopefully, that is just a minor problem that I will be able to wring out soon.

I have to be honest. I still don’t fully understand why that cured the buzz in the microphone, but my theory has to do with the stereo plug it has. I think it has to do with the way the plug makes connection internally in the computer. To be technical about it, it is like inserting a balanced plug into an unbalanced input, or vice versa. At any rate I will keep working on that and let you know when I totally figure it out. If you have any ideas about it, please, feel free to leave your comments!

For now, though, all is much quieter on the recording end.

See ya next time . . .