Starting a Podcast, Part 1

During the conference, I will be strategically located at a table or booth with a laptop and a couple microphones. If you're attending the conference, I may just grab you for a 10-15 minute interview. I plan to then offer up a series of 20-30 minute podcasts in the weeks following the conference. I will also be documenting the development of the podcast on this blog site as a basic guide for arts organizations interested in using the technology for further engaging their audiences.

To find the best podcasting software and hardware to meet my needs, I decided to do some online research. By Googling terms like "podcast," "podcast software," "podcast hardware," and "podcast microphones," I was able to find countless product reviews and general podcast articles.

What most people don't realize is that an individual with a decent computer can start a podcast for next to nothing, because most of the best software is open source (aka free) and a basic laptop or desktop microphone will serve a lone podcaster with no real audio quality demands.

For the TitA podcast, I decided to go with Audacity, a free podcast recording and mixing software. Audacity lets you record multiple tracks and then overlap them creatively. In order to convert the audio files recorded with Audacity to podcast-ready MP3 files, you will need to set up LAME MP3 according to these instructions.

Once you have Audacity with the LAME MP3 encoder properly installed and configured, you will be ready to record your first "podcast." I use the term podcast loosely here, because an effective podcast requires planning. Click below for my first test podcast, for which I broke my own rule and refused to plan. This is simply to prove that podcasting can be extremely cheap.

Click to hear me rambling while a presumably deceased man sings the blues in the background.

If this were a real podcast, I wouldn't simply link to it; I would also submit it as an RSS (see my recent post about RSS feeds) so people could subscribe. But I'll discuss that process in a later edition of my podcast blog series.

Because I want to set up my podcast area at the conference in an interview-friendly fashion, I decided to go with an external mixer and two standard microphones. The mixer and mic setup will provide higher sound quality and the ability to adjust interviewer/interviewee levels on the fly. Based on affordability and favorable online reviews, I opted for the Behringer UB802 mixer and two Shure PG48 microphones.