Pod­casts let you live your ra­dio-show dream


Sim­i­lar to the rise of blogs in the late 1990s, to­day it seems every­one knows about a pod­cast “you should to­tally be lis­ten­ing to right now.” While the term pod­cast was first coined by BBC jour­nal­ist Ben Ham­mer­s­ley in 2004, pod­casts trace their lin­eage back to ra­dio. To­day, there are pod­casts that cover every­thing from true crime, such as CBC’s “Some­one Knows Some­thing,” to celebrity in­ter­view shows, such as the “WTF Pod­cast with Marc Maron,” and al­most ev­ery other con­ceiv­able topic.

Pod­casts aren’t lim­ited to en­ter­tain­ment. They can be a great ad­di­tion to your busi­ness mar­ket­ing plan as well as be­ing a valu­able re­source for pro­mot­ing your per­sonal brand.

Along with a burn­ing de­sire to be heard, you need a name for the pod­cast that iden­ti­fies you and your point of view, along with the de­ter­mi­na­tion to find and main­tain lis­ten­ers. You need con­tent that at­tracts and in­forms, and you’ll want to col­lab­o­rate with peo­ple who can help ig­nite and ex­cite your fol­low­ers so they’ll keep com­ing back.

Record­ing and edit­ing

Other than a good mi­cro­phone, you prob­a­bly al­ready have most of the gear to record a pod­cast around your home or busi­ness.

If you are go­ing to use a Win­dows or Mac lap­top, you’ll just need a good USB mi­cro­phone. The Blue Snow­ball ($85, var­i­ous stores) is a great en­try-level mi­cro­phone that can be used for every­thing from pod­casts to mak­ing your Skype or FaceTime con­ver­sa­tions sound bet­ter. One of the fea­tures that makes the Blue Snow­ball a great choice is that it has two cap­ture modes to help you get the best sound pos­si­ble. You can cap­ture from a sin­gle di­rec­tion, such as a solo pod­cast, or cap­ture in 360 de­grees with its om­ni­di­rec­tional cap­ture mode, which is great for when your pod­cast in­cludes a guest or two.

At the higher end, the Au­dio-Tech­nica AT2020USB+ ($209.99, Long and McQuade) is an ex­cel­lent choice, but one that is de­signed for cap­tur­ing a sin­gle source rather than a group of peo­ple.

Blue also of­fers a mi­cro­phone and soft­ware pack­age. The Blue Snow­ball Stu­dio ($137, Ama­zon) in­cludes the Blue Snow­ball mi­cro­phone and the Snow­ball Stu­dio app. Snow­ball Stu­dio helps you set up your pod­cast to in­clude mu­sic and mul­ti­ple tracks – for when you’ve booked a few guests – and in­cludes a fea­ture to help make your voice sound as smooth as the host of jazz ra­dio show.

Au­dac­ity, a free app for Win­dows and Mac OS lap­tops, is one of sev­eral soft­ware op­tions for record­ing and edit­ing your pod­cast. The soft­ware is easy to use – and it also has a great on­line com­mu­nity to help you with any ques­tions you might have. Au­dac­ity is avail­able as a free down­load from www.au­dac­i­tyteam.org.

Ap­ple’s pre-in­stalled Garage Band ap­pli­ca­tion makes it easy for Mac OS lap­top users to be­gin record­ing and edit­ing pod­casts. And be­ing an Ap­ple-cre­ated app, you can count on an abun­dance of on­line re­sources to help you.

Adobe Au­di­tion is a pro­fes­sion­al­level au­dio record­ing and edit­ing soft­ware pack­age; per­haps more than what’s needed for a ba­sic pod­cast. For me, Garage Band is a bet­ter choice. Adobe Au­di­tion is avail­able ei­ther in­di­vid­u­ally (US$20.99 per month) or as part of Adobe Cloud ($52.99 per month).

You can also use your iPhone or iPad to record your pod­cast. The Blue Mikey Dig­i­tal mi­cro­phone ($124, Ama­zon.ca) or the Røde iXY-L ($259, AVShop.ca, Ama­zon. ca) are por­ta­ble mi­cro­phones that con­nect to your par­tic­u­lar de­vice via the built-in Light­ning con­nec­tor on the bot­tom of the phone. The Blue Mikey Dig­i­tal works with a va­ri­ety of apps on your iPhone or iPad, such as Ap­ple’s Garage Band app, Spire Recorder or any other au­dio cap­ture app. The Røde iXY-L works with those apps too – and even in­cludes its own app, Røde Rec (avail­able on the Ap­ple App Store).

Get­ting the word out

So you have pro­duced your first pod­cast – now what? The next step is to get your pod­cast on the ma­jor plat­forms, such as Ap­ple iTunes, Google Play and Spo­tify. There are two steps to get­ting your pod­cast out for peo­ple to dis­cover. First, you need to choose a host for your pod­cast episodes. There are a num­ber of op­tions, in­clud­ing Lib­syn (lib­syn.com, $5 US per month), and my go-to choice, Sound­Cloud (sound­cloud.com, $7.50 per month). These ser­vices, and oth­ers such as Pod­bean and Buz­zsprout, are where you up­load your fin­ished pod­cast episodes.

Af­ter your pod­cast is hosted, the next step is to cre­ate ac­counts on the big three plat­forms. The steps to cre­at­ing your ac­counts will vary from plat­form to plat­form but the last step is the sim­plest part of all. Your host­ing provider will give you an RSS link, which is an In­ter­net stan­dard link that you just need to copy and paste into each of the plat­forms dur­ing your ac­count setup. Once you’ve done that, any new episode you up­load to your host­ing provider will au­to­mat­i­cally be pub­lished. There are no costs with dis­tribut­ing your pod­cast on Ap­ple iTunes, Google Play or Spo­tify. To learn more, visit their sites – Ap­ple iTunes (pod­castscon­nect.ap­ple.com), Google Play (play.google. com/mu­sic/pod­casts/pub­lish) and Spo­tify (pod­cast­ers.spo­tify.com).

Now, if all of this sounds com­plex, don’t panic. There are two sim­ple-to-use op­tions if you’re look­ing for some­thing quick and easy.

First, An­chor is a ser­vice that lets you record and dis­trib­ute your pod­cast right from its web­site or iOS or An­droid ap­pli­ca­tion. Both the site and app in­clude edit­ing tools to help you cre­ate a great pod­cast. An­chor will also push your episode to Ap­ple iTunes, Google Play and Spo­tify. An­chor acts as the host for your pod­cast episodes and also man­ages the dis­tri­bu­tion for you. Even bet­ter, An­chor is a free ser­vice (an­chor.fm).

An­other op­tion is Toronto-based Dia­log. Dia­log is a twist on the tra­di­tional pod­cast. I used Dia­log for pod­casts for a work pro­ject this year and it’s the clos­est thing to liv­ing out my AM ra­dio dreams that I have ever used. With Dia­log, any­one can broad­cast con­tent and con­ver­sa­tions live in real-time, al­low­ing hosts to bring call­ers on the line to en­gage in the dis­cus­sion. Sign­ing up for Dia­log is free at get­di­a­log.am.

If you’re look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion for your pod­cast, check out these lo­cally pro­duced ex­am­ples. In the sum­mer, two lo­cal mid­town­ers pro­duce “The Devil’s Cut” pod­cast, which is fo­cused on mu­sic. And Jen­nifer Tribe from Water­loo-based Au­vik Net­works pro­duces the Frankly MSP pod­cast, which is used to con­nect with Au­vik’s cus­tomers (and fu­ture cus­tomers) around the globe. Both pod­casts can be found on iTunes.

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