I’ve been doing a lot of reading on how to go about creating a podcast, and as well, some friends have let me know how they go about it. It turns out there isn’t one single simple technical solution, and different people try different approaches depending on their particular needs. I know that I need to create an MP3 file with my final edited podcast and then set it up so it will be playable on a blog post (I’ll have a podcast category), which can contain notes and comments about the podcast, and also on iTunes. I want to achieve sound quality good enough that it doesn’t pull the content down.
I’m now set up with a good quality USB mic, one that is good enough that I can also record some banjo music with it, mess around with different tracks and so on, something I’d like to have some fun with down the road. I also have an inexpensive item known as a pop filter set up in front of the mic. The pop filter is supposed to soften Ps and Bs and reduce breathing noise. Initially I’ll record in front of my computer without any enhancements to the room. If my sound is not good enough I might have to either find another place to record of figure out a way of tenting this space or taking other measures to improve the sound.
Initially, I think I’m going to record to Audacity or to Garage Band. I plan to do some editing of my podcasts so I can record segments and then chunk them together into shows. I think I’m going to aim for shows that are 20-30 minutes long. Podcasters who like to have phone conversations – in other words remote recording – on their podcast use Skype. I understand it is best if both parties are using decent mics and if each create their own audio file, which can be chunked together later. Down the road, I may want to do some remote interviews but for now, I’m going to record everything here at Studio 27th Street.
The next challenge is setting up the content. It’s one thing to have a bunch of ideas and decide to make a podcast. It’s another thing altogether to organize it into a coherent show that people might actually want to listen to. One of the questions I’m asking myself is the degree to which I will script it. On one hand, thinking it through and mapping out the content makes sense. On the other, over-scripting can suck the life out of just about anything.
When I occasionally do public speaking, a have a method of preparing that works very well for me. First I try writing out a draft of what I want to say, like a script and I work on that, adding and subtracting content until I have planned what I want to say. Then I choose a trigger word or phrase from each paragraph or section, write them down on a piece of paper and try taking away the script and only using the key trigger words to guide me. I’ve found when I do that, I include everything I want to include, but I come across with more spontaneity than I could achieve reading a script or memorizing a script. I’m thinking I’ll organize the podcast the same way, so if I’m talking alone, I’ll arm myself with some trigger phrases or words to help me through without giving myself the opportunity to read anything.
One of the segments I want to feature on the podcast will be a storytime segment. I’ll tell some stories and I’ll invite some other people to tell some stories as well. For telling stories, I find notes of any kind get in the way. I’m aware that sometimes the best stories are full of digression, and in fact sometimes I think storytelling is the art of digression. There is a story for sure, but the devil really is in the details and sometimes it can be really interesting to tell a story in a way that digresses in many different directions, held together by the thread that is the story. When I tell a story I usually don’t take the most straightforward route from beginning to end.
The next question is how to approach interviews and conversations. How much discussion should there be ahead of time? I think there are lots of approaches and it depends on the specific situation and the comfort level of both or all parties involved. For sure I don’t want to eliminate the possibility of surprise.
I’ve started preparing by making a list of segments I want to record. It’s a growing list. As I think of things, I add them. I’m keeping them as notes on my phone, and as I think of more specific things I want to approach in each segment, I’m adding to the notes, flushing it out.
The other related project is to record a musical opening and closing theme, and also some filler bits, short musical interludes to separate segments. I may also eventually include some live to tape musical segments along the way.
I’m going to start recording some initial segments soon. I expect it will take me some time to relax into a podcasting zone and I fully expect my first efforts to be disastrous. Once I have a bunch of segments recorded I’ll start putting together episodes and go from there.
I ask myself how I can expect to just sally forth and create a podcast, but then I think it isn’t much different from blogging. It just has sound and a host of different technical issues. When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing and where I was going with it. There still is no business plan, that’s for sure, although I have developed ideas along the way about blogs and blogging. This blog has never been hugely popular (and it receives relatively few comments compared to some blogs I read), but my goal has not been so much to achieve huge popularity but to find a niche, a little chunk of the cyber universe with a bit of a community around it, while still creating the content I want to express.
I’m thinking of a future podcast as a folly and as an adventure, and I intend to have some fun with it along the way.
“I am always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.” Picasso