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 (, which is shareware, and iPodder Lemon (, 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 ( ). 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 ( 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= 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 He can be reached at


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Planet Diver guide - How to survive long...
Planet Diver is an endless arcade game about diving through planets while dodging lava, killing bats, and collecting Starstuff. Here are some tips to help you go the distance. [Read more] | Read more »
KORG iDS-10 (Music)
KORG iDS-10 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Music Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: ** Debut Discount: 50% OFF! Sale Price US$9.99 (Regular price US$19.99). Other all Korg apps are also 50% OFF until Dec 28! **... | Read more »
World of Tanks Generals guide - Tips and...
World of Tanks Generals is a brand new card game by the developer behind the World of Tanks shooter franchise. It plays like a cross between chess and your typical card game. You have to keep in consideration where you place your tanks on the board... | Read more »
TruckSimulation 16 guide: How to succeed...
Remember those strangely enjoyable truck missions in Grand Theft Auto V whereit was a disturbing amount of fun to deliver cargo? TruckSimulation 16 is reminiscent of that, and has you play the role of a truck driver who has to deliver various... | Read more »
The best GIF making apps
Animated GIFs have exploded in popularity recently which is likely thanks to a combination of Tumblr, our shorter attention spans, and the simple fact they’re a lot of fun. [Read more] | Read more »
The best remote desktop apps for iOS
We've been sifting through the App Store to find the best ways to do computer tasks on a tablet. That gave us a thought - what if we could just do computer tasks from our tablets? Here's a list of the best remote desktop apps to help you use your... | Read more »
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade guide - How...
Warhammer 40,000: Freebladejust launched in the App Store and it lets you live your childhood dream of blowing up and slashing a bunch of enemies as a massive, hulking Space Marine. It's not easy being a Space Marine though - and particularly if... | Read more »
Gopogo guide - How to bounce like the be...
Nitrome just launched a new game and, as to be expected, it's a lot of addictive fun. It's called Gopogo, and it challenges you to hoparound a bunch of platforms, avoiding enemies and picking up shiny stuff. It's not easy though - just like the... | Read more »
Sago Mini Superhero (Education)
Sago Mini Superhero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KAPOW! Jack the rabbit bursts into the sky as the Sago Mini Superhero! Fly with Jack as he lifts impossible weights,... | Read more »
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes guide - How...
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is all about collecting heroes, powering them up, and using them together to defeat your foes. It's pretty straightforward stuff for the most part, but increasing your characters' stats can be a bit confusing because it... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

World’s First USB-C Adapter For MacBook Suppo...
Innergie, a brand of Delta Electronics, has announced its official release of the world’s first USB-C adapter supporting four DC output voltages, the PowerGear USB-C 45. This true Type C adapter... Read more
13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for...
B&H Photo has 13″ and 11″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 11″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $819 $90 off... Read more
13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for up to $150 o...
Take up to $150 off MSRP on the price of a new 13″ MacBook Pro at B&H Photo today as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only. These prices are currently the... Read more
13-inch 128GB MacBook Air now on sale for $79...
Best Buy has just lowered their price on the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air to $799.99 on their online store for Cyber Monday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale... Read more
Best Buy lowers 13-inch MacBook Pro prices, n...
Best Buy has lowered prices on select 13″ MacBook Pros this afternoon. Now save up to $200 off MSRP for Cyber Monday on the following models. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if... Read more
Cyber Monday: Apple MacBooks on sale for up t...
Apple resellers have MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and MacBooks on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for Cyber Monday 2015. The following is a roundup of the lowest prices available for new models from any... Read more
Cyber Monday: Apple Watch on sale for up to $...
B&H Photo has the Apple Watch on sale for Cyber Monday for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - Apple Watch Sport: $50 off - Apple Watch: $50-$100 off B... Read more
Cyber Monday: 15% off Apple products, and sto...
Use code CYBER15 on Cyber Monday only to take 15% on Apple products at Target, and store-wide. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-... Read more
iPad Air 2 And iPad mini Among Top Five Black...
Adobe has released its 2015 online shopping data for Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. The five best selling electronic products on Black Friday were Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox... Read more
All-in-one PC Shipments Projected To Drop Ove...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that all-in-one (AIO) PC shipments may drop a double-digit percentage on-year in 2015 due to weaker-than-expected demand, although second-largest AIO make... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* New Products Tester Needed - Apple (...
…we therefore look forward to put out products to quality test for durability. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store, continues Read more
Software Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Apple (U...
# Software Engineer, Apple Watch Job Number: 33362459 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Jul. 28, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Read more
SW Engineer - *Apple* Music - Apple (United...
# SW Engineer - Apple Music Job Number: 40899104 San Francisco, Califo ia, United States Posted: Aug. 18, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Android Read more
Sr Software Engineer *Apple* Pay - Apple (U...
# Sr Software Engineer Apple Pay Job Number: 44003019 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 13, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Apple Read more
*Apple* Site Security Manager - Apple (Unite...
# Apple Site Security Manager Job Number: 42975010 Culver City, Califo ia, United States Posted: Oct. 2, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Apple Site Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.