Most podcasting tutorials suggest three things: a recording device, space to upload it to and something to say. PodcuateMe identifies the microphone as one of most important requirements. You can use a webcam to record audio but a colleague loaned me her headset that she uses to make overseas phone calls online using Skype. A headset is preferred over a webcam for sound quality. A built in recorder was not recommended in PodcuateMe or the CNET tutorial as you get a lot of noise from the computer.
After watching the CNET video and accompanying tutorial, I thought I was ready to go. A friend had downloaded Audacity to my computer about five years ago. I was surprised that the version didn’t need to be updated. At first, I wasn’t able to record, or rather, I could record but I couldn’t hear what I had recorded! Nothing that unplugging and replugging the connection from the headphones into the USB port couldn’t solve.
Next, for something to say. Formal pieces are scripted, informal pieces are unscripted and the rest are somewhere in between following an outline. Although reading off of paper, or in my case a screen, was not highly recommended by Will Richardson in Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, I did choose to do this. I figured that I am practicing how to make a podcast and not perfecting my performance right now so I opted for this time saving option. I chose to go with a text that I had shared earlier in the course with my class. That way, my podcast listeners could compare how they heard my piece when they read it in their mind to how I interpret my own writing. I thought it would be like hearing an author read their own book.
I couldn’t believe how easy it was to delete dead air or stumbles – just highlight and hit delete. I also couldn’t believe how I could use the time shift tool to line up two tracks in sequence. When I saved them, the two track became one. I can see how easy it would be to interview, add music or sound effects. I hope to try adding sound using those available available at Wikipedia Commons or Valenza’s Copyright Friendly Wiki.
The next hurdle was downloading the converter to switch the Audacity file to an MP3. The third time I downloaded it from yet another site I was finally able to unzip it and convert my Audacity file to MP3.
I didn’t expect to have any trouble uploading. Little did I know you can’t upload audio files to WordPress unless you upgrade which I wasn’t prepared to do. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I re-recorded my audio file from 7 MB to 1.5 MB because at first I thought the file was too big and that’s why it wouldn’t upload.
Thank goodness for other websites that will host audio for free, such as Internet Archive, and create an RSS feed for you, like Switchpod or Odeo, so other people can subscribe to your podcast through their podcatcher. Ovadia warns, though, that if these companies can’t make money off of advertising they will fold overnight providing a strong reason to ensure you back up your online files.
*I liked the phrase “podcast soundstage” when I read it in Brian Keney’s blog. I use it rather tounge-in-cheek as my soundstage is very primitive as are many podcasters. This is part of what makes podcasting so great – it is accessible to everyone!