Don't Worry, You've Probably Got Some Of It Already, Most Is Free, The Rest Is Cheap
Ok, so you want to create your own Podcast, what stuff are you going to need? You've already got a computer with an internet connection - let's get started!
We need some way of getting audio into our computer for our Podcast - so we need a mic and speakers.
At the moment I'm using a Skype USB Mono Headset, which is cheap to buy (Under £20), and the sound is ok, if basic.
It's important to have a USB mic to avoid much of the interference that can creep in if you use a microphone that plugs into your sound-card or PC input jacks.
For some higher quality options, check out Leo Laportes Podcasting Equipment.
Just ordinary PC Speakers are good for listening while you edit - makes it easier on the ears too.
To record our Podcast on our PC's we're going to use Audacity. It's free and relatively easy to use.
You can set the sample rate, record multiple tracks, and export to wav and mp3, and apply loads of different effects - including the essential fade-in, fade-out, changing volume, etc.
To export to mp3 you need to download the additional lame codec.
If you're doing Skype interviews, or recording your Podcast in separate sessions, or recording more than one person at a time, often the volumes of the different voices can be all wrong.
The Free Levelator is an amazing piece of software. Simply record all your voice audio, export it into a wav file, then drop it onto the Levelator, and it will do its best to even out the volumes in the different voices, and it does a great job, especially on recorded interviews.
Make sure you use the levelator on only the voice Audio of your Podcast - it doesn't work too well on music, so add that after your audio has been "Levelated".
If we want to interview people over the phone, have "round table" Podcasts, have a co-host from across the world, we need to do it cheap. We need to do it for free. We need to do it with Skype.
Skype is a VOIP service - it uses your computers internet connection as a phone line, and lets you call anyone else who's get Skype downloaded, for free. For as long as you want! You can have conference calls, Skypecasts (like a live Podcast), and you'll use the mic and speakers (or headset) that you'll use for you Podcast.
If you want to "Skypeout" and call normal phones it does cost, but they're very cheap - you pay local rates for international calls!
However, all you have to do is persuade your "interviewee" to download and run Skype, then it won't cost you anything at all.
There is one catch, Skype doesn't include a recorder, so we need:
Powergramo. If you download the basic version, you've got a free Skype recorder for Skype to Skype calls, for use in your Podcast.
With the basic version you can't record Skypeout conversations (where you phone a normal phone), or conference calls, but its ok for Skype to Skype. (And its free!)
It's essential that after you've recorded an interview, and put it in your Podcast, you use the Levelator to even out the volumes in the different voices.
(But I have to admit I just record using the normal Skype settings and Powergramo Basic, and Skype to Skype calls sound fine.)
Update: I've just discovered a free plugin for Skype that says it will record all Skype calls for free - Call Graph.
It's very simple and small, and it exports call recordings as mp3 files.
I'll be using it over the next few weeks to check out how it records skype to skype, skypeout and maybe conference calls - if it works, it's just the FREE solution I've been looking for!
Once we've made our Podcast, we need somewhere on the web for it to live, somewhere to host the files and the RSS Feed.
I'm using libsyn, a fairly cheap solution for hosting Podcasts, and they'll help you create the essential RSS Feed as well.
With Libsyn you pay for a monthly storage amount, say $10 for 250mb. So each month you can load up 250mb worth of Podcasts - which is more than enough. A 40 minute Podcast is usually about 40mb.
Now, after your Podcast Episode has been up on the Libsyn server for a month, it gets Archived. This means that it gets moved to a different server, but it keeps its web address, and the size of that Podcast is then made available for you to use in your media folder.
The beauty of this model is that you don't have to worry about band-width, you're paying a monthly flat-rate, and all your files will be available, for as long as you keep paying the bill. Recommended.
That's about all you'll need to Podcast. Other useful programs, which you probably have already, are Itunes, Windows Media Player, and a Picture Editor (like Photoshop Elements) to create your Podcast Logo.
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