How We Do the Podcast

I’ve had a few questions about how we do the show.  Now, there are many ways to do a podcast.  This is how we do it.  If you want to start your own podcast maybe you can take a few tips from here.

Some General Tips Before You Begin

The Internet, particularly iTunes, is swamped with dead podcasts.  These are shows that were started by eager folks who either lost interest or figured it was too much work to keep up.  Before you start a podcast, make sure it’s something you can keep up on a regular basis over a period of time.  It hurts other active podcasts to have so much dead weight out there.

Prepping the Show

Well, of course we set up a web site with a host that gives us some generous bandwidth at a decent price.  Right now, we’re using Web Hosting Buzz.  There are many more out there, some of which actually specialize in podcast hosting.

For the website, we use WordPress and have the PodPress plugin.  There have been some compatibility issues lately with PodPress and the latest versions of WordPress.  It’s such a great plugin that it’s worth it to go on the PodPress forums and find a workaround to get it to work.  It includes some great statistics, which (as of this writing) Google Stats and most stats products don’t measure.

You may be tempted to advertise your show and get it registered on iTunes, Blubrry, Podtrac and the big services, but wait until you either have some pilots or real episodes in the can before you publicize.  It makes things easier.

The content of our show depends on topics currently being discussed in Korea, so we collect news stories and blog links that we find on the web using deli.cio.us.  Before each show, we export the deli.cio.us bookmarks and put them in some type of order in Microsoft Word for our show notes, which everyone receives.

Recording the Show

The original Seoul Survivors podcast was recorded on a laptop with basic computer microphones in coffeeshops.  You can go as simple as that.

For the SeoulPodcast, we connect through Skype.  I pull everyone into a chat room (Chats–>Start Group Chat).  If possible, we ask that panelists use headsets and not speakers.  I personally use a USB headset, and it works great.  Yet sometimes we don’t have a choice, and we try to just keep the speakers down during the show.  And even sometimes the connection doesn’t work right, and we call the panelist on the phone through Skype, which works just fine.  Just make sure you have enough cash in the account to cover the call for the length of the show.

I experimented with a couple of recording software products.  Hot Recorder sort of worked, but they had zero–ZERO–tech support.  In fact, I had bought a license in the past and couldn’t find it, so I tried to retrieve it.  After a month of getting no response from the folks at Hot Recorder, I ended up buying the product again.

Then I found Pamela, which records Skype calls and is more feature rich.  Sometimes it’s a bit unstable, and you have to watch it from time to time to make sure it’s still recording.  It’ll beep if it shuts off for any reason, but sometimes the beep is covered up when the conversation is lively.  In the past couple of months, we haven’t had any problem with it.

Editing

I use Adobe Soundbooth to set up and edit the recorded call from Pamela and to record and engineer the extra vocals.  Before I start editing, I clean up any extra noise and pass it through the following filters:

  • Loudness: Everything the Same Level
  • Mastering: FM Radio Prep – Aggressive
  • Fix: Remove Hiss

When everything is recorded and edited, I put it together in Adobe Audition, making sure to clearly annotate each track, with the main content in Track 1, intros and theme music in Track 2, and incidental music in Track 4 (reduced to -25 in volume).

When exporting the final show into MP3 format, it is important to export it at the lowest bitrate you can tolerate and not lose audio quality.  I set the SeoulPodcast to 64 Kbps.  The Sample Rate should be at 22050 Hz.  For some reason, that setting works best with the PodPress player.

To make the file look better in an MP3 player, right click on the finished file and edit the Audio Shell Information.  Add a picture, too, if you want.

Upload the file to your server.  Write a post on your blog, using the PodPress settings at the bottom to link to your file on the server.

Publicizing

I’m still working on this department.  The biggest thing to do, once you have a few episodes or pilots in the can, is to submit it to iTunes.  There is a “Submit Podcast” button in the iTunes player.  Also register your podcast with the following directories:

  • Blubrry
  • Podtrac
  • Podcast Pickle
  • Odeo
  • PodcastReady
  • Podcast Alley
  • Digital Podcast
  • PodcastDirectory.com

There are many ways to publicize, but it’s best to build an audience slowly as you work out the kinks.  We’re still doing that ourselves.