TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Podcasting 101

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 2
Column Tag: New Technology

Podcasting 101

by August Trometer

How to create your own podcast

Living The Dream

OK, I admit it: I've always wanted my own radio show. You know, a show where I could talk about the things that interest me, play the songs that I like, and interview fascinating people. The unfortunate truth is that radio is a tough business to get into, and I never got to have that show. Until now.

Podcasting is the hottest new term on the internet. In the last few weeks, a Google search for podcasting has gone from only a few hundred results to well over half-a-million. Some media analysts predict that podcasting is going to change broadcasting forever. Why? Because with podcasting, everyone can have their own show. Instead of a huge studio, all you need is a computer and a bit of software. In fact, in the method I'm going to describe, you can begin podcasting for under $50. This article will show you how.

What Is Podcasting?

The idea behind podcasting is simple. It's like Tivo for internet audio. The term podcasting is a play on the word broadcasting, but it turns traditional broadcasting on its head. Programs aren't streamed, like radio, but instead delivered, like magazine subscriptions, right to your desktop. With the right client software, all this happens transparently, and you wake up with fresh content to listen to all day long. The beauty of this method is that you're no longer tied to the show's schedule - you can listen to the programs when you have time, rather than when they're "on."

Podcasting works using syndication feeds, such as those using RSS, to deliver these shows to you. If you use a newsreader, you already know how to subscribe to a podcast, since it is exactly the same as a newsfeed with just an enclosed file. Podcast clients let you subscribe to syndication feeds. If there are any files available, the client automatically downloads them for you.

There are hundreds of people producing podcasts, and more shows are popping up every day. Even some of the big media names are starting to take interest as more and more people turn to podcasts rather than regular radio for their information and entertainment.

Even more interesting is that anyone can create and distribute his own podcast. The power of today's computers and the vast reach of the internet mean that having your own radio show is nearly as easy as hitting record on your Mac.

Receiving Podcasts

Before you start creating your own show, it's probably a good idea to listen to some of the other podcasts out there. To do that, you'll need a podcast client. For the Mac there are currently two clients available, iPodderX (http://iPodderX.com), which is shareware, and iPodder Lemon (http://ipodder.sourceforge.com), which is open source. Both have their own set of features, but the basic functionality of each is similar.


Figure 1. iPodderX


Figure 2. iPodder Lemon

Download and install the client of your choice. Launch it, and you can begin adding feeds. Both clients feature an integrated podcast directory listing many of the available podcasts, so feel free to browse and choose the podcasts that interest you. Both clients can also be set to automatically download podcasts, so you don't need to manually activate the downloads. I highly recommend that you find this setting and turn it on.

Once you're all set up, the fun begins. Whenever your client checks for podcasts, it looks at the list of feeds you've subscribed to. If there are any available files, it automatically downloads them to your computer. Now the magic: if the file is an audio file, it will be automatically moved to iTunes for you, where you can listen at your leisure. If you have an iPod, the next time you sync, all those podcasts will be copied to your iPod. You'll have fresh content to go!

Your First Podcast

Now that you've familiarized yourself with the client-side of podcasting, it's time to start thinking about your own show. What kind of show do you want to do? The sky is the limit. Some shows are over half hour in length and feature music, commentary, or interviews. Others are short. KOMO, out of Seattle, has brief two to three minute podcasts containing their news stories. One podcast I know is simply a guy reading a bit of poetry each day. Use your imagination, and who knows what you might come up with.

After you've decided on a format, the next step is a bit of paperwork. I've noticed that the most popular shows are the ones that are the most professional. By professional, I don't mean slickly produced. Instead, I'm simply talking about a little preparation so your show goes smoothly, so taking a few minutes to organize yourself will help increase your eventual listenership.

I suggest sitting down and drafting a brief outline of your show. Perhaps you'd like a music intro. Then maybe a few minutes of commentary. Then another song. Whatever you decide, put it on paper. That way, as the show goes along, you can refer to the outline to make sure you don't have any embarrassing gaps of silence in the program.

Tape the outline to your computer monitor so that it's in easy view. If you've ever been to a real recording studio, they do the same thing. You don't want the sounds of rustling paper to be recorded, so with it taped to the monitor you can refer to it without handling it.

The Gear

There are probably as many ways to set up a podcasting studio as there are podcasts. The method I'm going to show you I use for two reasons. One, it's easy to set up. Two, it's cheap. For under $50, you've got a podcasting studio that's ready to roll. I suspect that sooner rather than later someone will develop a Podcasting Studio application. Until then, we need to use several bits of software.

Here's the list of things you'll need:

  • A microphone. Most Macs have a built-in microphone. If you'rs doesn't, you can use an iSight (you've been looking for an excuse, right?) or a USB mic, such as Griffin's iMic. This article will assume you're simply using the built-in mic.
  • Headphones or earphones. You'll need to wear earphones during the entire podcast, otherwise, you'll end up with feedback which will ruin your recording.
  • iTunes or QuickTime. You'll use these to play audio files.
  • iChat or Skype. If you want to interview remote guests, you can do so using an Audio iChat or Skype.
  • WireTap from Ambrosia Software (http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/freebies ). WireTap is freeware, and it's what we'll use to capture your computer's output and record the audio.
  • Audio Hijack Pro from Rogue Amoeba (http://rogueamoeba.com/audiohijackpro/). Audio Hijack Pro is $32. There is a Demo version, so you can try it before paying for it. If you have GarageBand, you can use it instead of Audio Hijack Pro, but it tends to be a little more resource hungry.

Setting It All Up

The job of creating the podcast breaks down into two basic tasks: recording what you say into the microphone, and recoding the audio output from your Mac. While recording, you want to make sure that nothing is recorded other than the show. So you need to be in a quiet room, with the TV and stereo turned off.

You'll also need to make sure that any error sounds from your Mac are not recorded. The easiest way to fix this is to turn them off. In your System Preferences, choose the Sound panel, then choose the Sound Effects tab. Make sure the checkboxes for playing interface sounds and volume sounds are unchecked.


Figure 3. Sound Effects Off

While you're here, click the Input tab and check your microphone settings. These will need adjustment as you become accustomed to how your particular setup records sound. The idea here is to make sure your recording levels don't clip, but the sensitivity is still strong enough for you to be heard.

You also need to make sure to quit any non-essential applications. Recording audio can be a processor intensive task, and any stray processes running on your system will slow things down considerably. You'll also want to make sure you turn off the automatic checking on your podcast client. Invariably, as soon as you set down to record your client app will start downloading files, causing you all kinds of headaches.

Plug in your headphones, put them on, and launch all the apps you are going to use for your podcast, including WireTap and Audio Hijack Pro. You'll also want to get any audio clips you want to play ready as well. Put them within easy reach or in a playlist in iTunes. Finally, if you're going to have a remote guest via Audio iChat, it's time to get them ready as well.

We're going to use WireTap to record all audio output by your Mac. It's very easy, just configure it the way you like, and press the record button. WireTap always saves your file as an AIFF audio file. Once it's recorded, we'll convert it to an MP3 or AAC in iTunes.


Figure 4. WireTap Settings

The main problem with WireTap is that it won't record the input from your microphone. We need to use another application to monitor your mic that WireTap can record from. That's what Audio Hijack is for. In Audio Hijack, you'll see a list of potential sources in the left hand pane. Choose System Input (Default). Then, click the Hijack button in the main window. You do not need to turn on recording - that's what WireTap is for.


Figure 5. Audio Hijack Settings

In Audio Hijack, you can also add some effects to your voice. In the lower right corner, click the Effects tab. Click any space to insert an Effect, and a list of possible effects will pop up. Choose what you'd like here, but unless you have a specific purpose in mind, don't go too crazy. A robot voice is fine for a few seconds, but several minutes of it can be tiresome. I use the Bass and Treble effect to boost the bass in my voice. It helps give me that "radio sound" that we all know so well.


Figure 6. Adding a Voice Effect

The Curtain Rises

You're all set to go! In WireTap, press the Record Button to begin the show. Follow your outline. If you need to play something in iTunes, go ahead, and WireTap will record it automatically. Call up your pal on iChat, and they can be a guest on your show as well.

When you're done, just click the Stop button in WireTap. The entire file will be saved to your hard drive in the location you specified.

That's it! You just recorded your first podcast!

At this point, you're finished with the recording. The method described above will give you a single file, nearly ready to publish, but you could just as easily record small clips and edit them together with an audio editor to form a longer piece. If you'd like, you can also edit to remove any long pauses, erms, and ahs from your recording.

Coversion And Publishing

As I mentioned, WireTap records the file in AIFF format. We need to convert that to either MP3 or AAC.

Drag the file into the iTunes window. The podcast will be copied into iTunes. In the iTunes Preferences, choose the Importing tab. Set these preferences however you'd like them. You'll want to use either MP3 or AAC. Set the bitrate to whatever you'd prefer, but keep in mind that the higher the bitrate, the bigger the file. This means longer download times for the listeners and higher bandwidth usage for you.


Figure 7. iTunes Import Settings

Control-click on the podcast file in your iTunes library. A contextual menu will pop up. Choose "Convert Selection to AAC" (or MP3), and iTunes will convert your AIFF file to the proper format.

Finally, we need to change some ID3 tags so that the listeners will have it properly added to their iTunes library. Select the converted file in iTunes, then type Command-I to bring up the file's information. Change this as you see fit. Generally, you should put the name of the podcast ("Mac News") in the Album slot, while the name of the individual episode ("MacWorld 2005") goes in the Name blank. It's also nice if you set the Genre to 'Podcast', so those who subscribe to your show can sort by Genre in iTunes to get all of the podcasts. You can also, if you'd like, give the file some "Cover Art." Simply drag an image, say the show's logo, into the image well in iTunes. It will be converted and stored in the ID3 tag.


Figure 8. ID3 Tag Settings

Getting It Online

OK. You've got the show recorded, and you've got it converted to MP3 or AAC. All that's left is getting it on the web. Upload the file to a webserver you have access to. This could be your .Mac iDisk, an ISP, or even your own home computer.

You've probably already got a weblog, and if you've got a weblog, it's most likely already got a newsfeed. More and more weblog publishing tools are adding support for podcasting. WordPress and MoveableType both have plugins available that will format your RSS feed for podcasts. If yours doesn't, you'll need to hand code it. While syndication feeds are far beyond the scope of this article, I'll show you the one small change you need to make to your RSS 2.0 feed.

In the RSS 2.0 feed (2.0, only, not .91,.92, or 1), between the <item> tag of the appropriate item, you need to add an <enclosure> tag with the following format:

<enclosure url=http://your.podcast.com/file.mp3 length="5404566" type="audio/mpeg"/>

The url is the URL of the file, the length is the size of the file in bytes, and the type is the MIME type of the file. All three are required.

Once that tag is added to your feed, any podcast client that has subscribed to your feed will automatically get your new podcast.

A Couple Of Concerns

Since podcasting is such a new phenomenon, there are few kinks that still need ironed out. One of the big ones is bandwidth. If you have a successful podcast, for example, be prepared to use a lot of extra bandwith. If your file is, say, 10MB in size and 500 people listen to it, you're looking at a pretty big bandwidth bill if you pay by the GB.

To alleviate the bandwidth concerns, both client developers and content producers are experimenting with alternatives such as BitTorrent, but there's no real magic bullet yet. Your bandwidth costs will likely go up, so just be aware of that.

Also, be careful of the music you play during your show. If it's copyrighted, and you don't have the rights to play it, you could be opening yourself up for legal trouble. There is a lot of Creative Commons music available online that is royalty free, or you could create your own with GarageBand. Above all, be careful with what you publish.

Not Just Audio

We've spent this entire article talking about audio, but syndication enclosures can be any type of file. With a good podcast client, images will be moved into iPhoto where they can be synced with the iPod Photo, while video podcasts (which can't go on your iPod yet) will be saved to your hard drive where you can watch them with QuickTime. Even sharing Applications is possible in a podcast feed! Use your imagination - there's no end to what can be done with this technology!

The Show Must Go On

Now you know how to create and publish your own podcast. But that's just the beginning! You've got to keep going, creating more content. Like anything else, podcasting takes practice. In fact, I recommend producing several podcast shows just to get the feel of it before you actually publish anything for the world to hear. Once you get the hand of it, add the shows to your feed, and you're on your way to being an internet icon!

Good luck - I can't wait to hear your show!


August Trometer is the creator of iPodderX, a podcast receiver for Mac OS X, as well as the .Mac-centric website dotmac.info. He can be reached at BlueGus@mac.com.

 
AAPL
$101.99
Apple Inc.
+0.41
MSFT
$46.77
Microsoft Corpora
+0.25
GOOG
$588.15
Google Inc.
+3.38

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Xcode 6.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Apple Xcode is Apple Computer's integrated development environment (IDE) for OS X. The full Xcode package is free to ADC members and includes all the tools you need to create, debug, and optimize... Read more
Apple Safari 7.1 - Apple's Web brow...
Apple Safari in OS X Mavericks brings you all-new ways to find and enjoy the best of the web. It works with iCloud to give you a seamless browsing experience across all your devices. It looks out for... Read more
Delivery Status 6.1.2 - Check delivery s...
Delivery Status displays delivery status of packages for a variety of shipment services. Can't wait for your packages to arrive? Don't waste your time checking the site constantly, just open this all... Read more
Mavericks Cache Cleaner 8.0.9 - Clear ca...
Mavericks Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for OS X. MCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many OS X functions. Novice and expert users... Read more
OneNote 15.2.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Apple Configurator 1.6 - Configure and d...
Apple Configurator makes it easy for anyone to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in a school, business, or institution. Three simple workflows let you prepare new iOS devices... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.16 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more
OS X Server 3.2.1 - For OS X 10.9.5 Mave...
OS X Server is the next generation of Apple's award winning server software. Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, host... Read more
Apple Security Update 2014-004 - For OS...
Apple Security Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://support.apple.com/... Read more
OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 - The latest versi...
Apple OS X Mavericks is the latest release of the world's most advanced desktop operating system. Now free! With more than 200 new features, OS X Mavericks brings Maps and iBooks to the Mac,... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Sling Adds Chromecast Support Through Sl...
Sling Adds Chromecast Support Through Slingplaye​r Mobile Apps Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
How to Completely Delete Your iPhone’s C...
The iPhone 6 is out tomorrow, and plenty of people are excited about it. So much so that they’re planning to – or already have – traded in their old iPhone to go towards it. The thing about trading in hardware is it’s very important to make sure... | Read more »
Dragon Quest I Review
Dragon Quest I Review By Andrew Fisher on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THINE QUEST AWAITETHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Its historical significance aside, Dragon Quest 1 is a fun, campy, difficult, thoroughly... | Read more »
It Came From Canada: Overkill 3
Overkill 3 is like every trope of big modern gaming rolled into one. It’s a sequel to an action-packed military shooter. It’s flashy and scripted and flaunts its sophisticated graphics. And it’s a mobile game with a heavy emphasis on in-app... | Read more »
New Modes and Leader Boards in Update fo...
New Modes and Leader Boards in Update for Rules! Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
TwistedRun Review
TwistedRun Review By Rob Thomas on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DON'T TWIST YOUR ANKLE!Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad TwistedRun is kind of like running up a giant curly fry into the sky. Or maybe that was just... | Read more »
Scope Review
Scope Review By Jennifer Allen on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: LOCATION AWAREiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Want to easily find photos from around the world based on their location? Scope is a... | Read more »
HipstaFox Review
HipstaFox Review By Jordan Minor on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FANTASTIC MR. FOXUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad HipstaFox is a great single that makes players long for the whole album.   | Read more »
Ninja Raft (Games)
Ninja Raft 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** Special Launch Price ** "Ninja Raft is definitely the game to play if you’re into Tower Defense games and want to play something... | Read more »
Paste+ | Clipboard Action Widget (Produ...
Paste+ | Clipboard Action Widget 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Powerful clipboard widget for iOS 8. Reimagine what you can do with your clipboard! Paste+ is a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $300 on the price of a new Mac wit...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
13-inch 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
16GB iPad Air on sale for $449, save $50
Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air WiFi on sale for $449 on their online store for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup. Their price represents a $50 savings over standard... Read more
13-inch 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1099,...
B&H Photo has the 2014 13″ 1.4GHz 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1099.99. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Toshiba Introduces TransMemory ID High-Speed...
Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today introduced the TransMemory ID USB 3.0 Flash Drive, a simpler storage solution for people who... Read more
New iPads and OS X Yosemite Release Coming Oc...
The DailyDot’s Micah Singleton reports that Apple is planning to hold its next product announcement event on Oct. 21, at which it will unveil the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 and release a final build... Read more
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Cross-Platfor...
Logitech has an enviable track record of making some of the best computer keyboards and mice. At least in my estimation, the best freestanding keyboards I’ve ever used have been Logitech units,... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished iPad Airs and iP...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
Sprint offers 16GB iPad mini for $199.99 with...
Sprint is offering 1st generation 16GB iPad minis for $199.99 with a 2-year service agreement. Standard MSRP for this iPad is $429. Their price is the lowest available for this model. Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini remains on sale for $549, sav...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.