Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Podcasting - How I'm Doing It

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am getting back into podcasting. I used to host two shows for Firehouse.com, Fire Marshal's Corner and Campus Firewatch Radio but now I am now hosting and producing two of my own podcasts, CRR Radio and Campus Firewatch Radio (links below).

Podcasting is definitely seeing a resurgence, and I find it a great way to learn more about the world, a short bit at a time. I know this is my bias, but I like shorter podcasts, about 20 to 30 minutes for a few reasons. It is about the length of an average drive that I'm doing, or if I'm doing a longer one, such as driving into Boston, it gives me the opportunity to listen to several right in a row. It is also the length of a good workout segment!

Recording interviews

In terms of production, I'm doing the interviews over Skype on my Mac and using the app Call Recorder to capture them. It is a pretty simple app and when I am done recording it then splits the conversation into two tracks, one for my end and the other with the caller. This is very important for the editing process.

Production

I'll admit, I cheat when it comes to editing and use Premiere Pro, a video editing application. Why?

Well, I started by using Audacity, a free app that is really good, but I do a lot of video editing and I'm pretty comfortable with Premiere Pro and I found myself stumbling whenever I tried doing editing in Audacity because it was just so slightly different. Yes, I know Premiere Pro is not built for this (Adobe has another sound editing app called Audition), but for me it really does the job.

But I'll bet as I get more experience I'll look back and say "why did I ever do it this way?"

One of the issues with using Skype is there is a slight lag between when I ask a question and the person responds because it is going out over VOIP. In editing, I'm able to tighten it up a bit so the conversation flows a little bit better.

I have also discovered how much, umm, you know, people use what is, umm, called "word whiskers" when, umm, talking, you know? When listening to someone speaking in conversation we tend to filter these out, but when listening to a podcast recording it can, sometimes, be problematic, so I spend the time to remove these as much as I can from the conversation. It can be tricky if the person is speaking fast and the words are all tight together, but I'm getting pretty good at reading the audio waveform to identify where they are and extracting them.

I'm working on getting a better ear for sound levels. All of the research I've been doing says that you should try to have the levels at about -12db, but when I listen back it just doesn't sound right. I'm trying to avoid letting my ears guide me versus using the sound meters, but I'm starting to think I need to really bump it up a bit. I was talking with a friend of mine who has been doing podcasts for years and he said the -12db rule comes from radio, and he tends to run his a little louder, or "hotter."

Getting people to interview is something that I'm finding to be fairly easy (so far!). I use my network, but I'm also thinking as I'm talking to people, "would they make a good interview?" I have a number of interviews in the can, so now I'm working on editing them together into finished shows...it's good to have content ready to go ahead of time instead of scrambling!

Hosting

I looked around at different hosting platforms and landed on Soundcloud, and I have no complaints so far. It is pretty easy and intuitive, and I'm using the free plan for now, which gives me about 180 minutes of hosting. As you bump up against it, you have to remove the older shows, so I'll have to upgrade to the Pro plan at some point. It also gives me basic stats on downloads and how many people stream it.

RSS Feed

An RSS Feed is how you get your podcast listed on platforms such as iTunes. Whenever I post a podcast, it goes into my RSS feed which in turn makes it show up on iTunes and other hosting platforms such as Outcast. This way people can subscribe to the podcasts and get them downloaded automatically to their smartphones.

Stats

iTunes is the big daddy of podcast hosting, but unfortunately they don't give you a lot of stats on how your show is doing. I use a third-party service called Podtrac to get some stats aggregated from iTunes and Soundcloud, but admittedly it is pretty bare-bones info.

So, take a listen, let me know what you think, I'd love to hear your comments!





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