Make your own podcasts
By CJ Kazilek
Podcast Tools and Equipment
Join the revolution. You can now produce podcasts for classroom, school, and beyond. Very little equipment required and costs are low. The benefits can be high. Clearly there are many different learners and the types of media that are effective for reaching them continues to evolve. Audio media is one more tool that can reach students.
This page lists the technical side of podcasting. We also have a series of podcasts that deal with the tips and techniques for interviewing and editing broadcast media. Since technology keeps changing almost daily, we will work to keep the latest equipment, and software information on this page. These are just recommendations, but by no means all the options you will find as you begin to research the area of sound recording software and equipment.
Just about any computer since 2002 should be able to be used to record and edit podcasts. The key features you will need to look for are:
- Hard drive storage space (at least 1GB of free storage beyond the system requirements)
- Sound input and output (if you plan to record directly into the computer)
- Headphone jack (for editing podcasts)
- Headphone jack splitter (if you want two people to listen while editing with headphones)
- Built in microphone or a input for microphone.
If you are going to head to the field for your interviews, you may not want to take a large, and expensive computer, even if it is a notebook computer. Here are some other options for recording interviews in the field. The most important features are the files are recorded digitally, and that they be in a non-compressed format such as WAV. This will give you the best quality file to work from.
Zoom H2n Handy Digital Recorder from Samson.
Zoom H4N Handy Digital Recorder from Samson
(under $240.00) Best when matched with the Audio Technica ATM 8033 Mic
Sony PCM-M10 Portable Stereo recorder. Very compact and versitle recorder.
Software should never be an issue for podcast production. There are free software options that work quite well for someone beginning to produce audio files. In some cases the fee-based software may have more file format conversions and output options. They also include sound effects and short music clips you can use to liven up your broadcast.
- Free software
Audacity (PC/Windows - Mac - Linux)
- Software with a cost
Adobe Audition (educational discount available - PC/Windows)
Garage Band (Mac)
One of the most important things for producing quality podcasts is the microphone. You cannot fix poor quality recordings that often result from low quality microphones. Do not skimp in this area. Also be sure to pick up a compatible microphone cord!
If your computer comes with a microphone, you might find this to be the least expensive, but not the best option for quality recording.
- Medium ($50 - $100)
Audio-Technica PRO 41 Cardioid Dynamic
- High-end (over $150)
Audio Technica ATM 8033 Mic
Just as with microphones, a good quality set of headphones will make editing your podcasts much easier and also improve the final quality of the podcast. You will see that you do not have to spend a lot of money even for the higher quality headphones. The key is to get studio monitor type headphones. These are the over the ear headphones and not ear buds.
- Inexpensive (under $20)
- Medium ($20 - $100)
- High-end (over $100)
Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling
Publishing your podcasts
Now that you have a great podcast ready, what next? You need to get it out to the world. Here are options for publishing you podcast programs and MP3 audio files.
One way to distribute your audio files is in MP3 formatted files. The files can be burned to a CD or DVD, they can also be placed on a web site to be downloaded. The Ask-a-Biologist site does this with the podcasts. This is a quick way to get you programs up, but not as an actual podcast where people can subscribe to a show and have it automatically downloaded. You need to use iTunes or another web technology that provides program feeds also called RSS feeds.
- Create a free Blogger.com account, which may need to be enabled for podcasting
- Upload podcast media to Ourmedia.org (free account required, no storage limits);
All good and all free.
With the growth of iTunes, you might want to submit your program to be part of that distribution system. Keep in mind, that a podcast should be something that is produced on a regular basis that would encourage someone to subscribe to your show.