Podcasts are a big thing right now. They are perfect for commutes, washing dishes, long walks on the beach, whatever. Podcasts are a huge part of my day now. Serial (season 1 at least) changed the podcasting landscape and now they are everywhere. There are so many great choices, maybe too many, are we in a podcast bubble? Who cares. I get as many podcasts as I want, all for free.
On a recent episode of Question of the Day (a podcast of course) the hosts were discussing the future of podcasting. One of the co-hosts, James Altucher, posited that “it is worthwhile to do a podcast or to do an oral history...and the equipment is there.” He goes on to talk about how he records podcasts on his iPhone just for fun and uploads them “wherever.” This topic reemerged in a later episode on how to be an interesting person. The key, they agreed, was to ask interesting questions. Well I have an iPhone and I want to be an interesting person. So i looked into what it takes to make a podcast and what I found was alarming. It is so simple. Contributing to the podcast glut I made a podcast and in an effort to make more interesting people I wrote this guide.
First a disclaimer: this method actually does cost money. You need to have a cell phone and a computer, but since this is 2016 those hopefully are not insurmountable obstacles. I will be using my iPhone as an example but the process should be generalizable to Android phones etc.
First you need to record the audio for your podcast. iPhones come pre-programmed with a voice memo app. Boom. Recording software. You’re basically halfway there. So find someone you want to interview or just write up a script and record it right there on your phone. Next you need to transfer your voice memos to your computer which can be done through iTunes or sent from the app.
If you recorded it perfectly the first time and don’t want to add music or effects you can skip this paragraph. For most of you though you will want to filter out some of the noise or splice together various snippets of audio. Audacity is a free, open-source audio editing program that does all of those things. Mac folks could also use GarageBand. Unlike some open-source software (*cough* Gephi *cough*) Audacity is very stable and user-friendly. You may need to download some plugins to import/export certain file extensions, but the program will forward you to the appropriate websites. Audacity has a great tutorial on mixing narration with background music so start there. If you want to try other effects their help wiki is...uh...helpful. I used the noise reduction and compressor effects first to level everything out and then the envelope tool to alter narration and music volume levels. Obviously you should listen to your podcast all the way through before exporting. I chopped out extraneous “uhs” and “ums” as well as any loud breaths. Be careful though because editing out too much can make the interview sound unnatural.
After you export your file as an MP3 you need to get it from your computer to the World Wide Web. iTunes does not host the podcast, but rather provides a distribution platform for audio files hosted elsewhere. Audacity has some recommendations for where and how to upload your file on their podcasting tutorial, but I chose a different route and used SoundCloud. You can also choose to host your file for free on Google Drive or WordPress. Soundcloud’s useful creator guide walks through how to use their service and how to get your podcast to iTunes. (NB Make sure the profile picture on your SoundCloud account/podcast files is at least 1400x1400 or iTunes will reject your podcast.) Once your podcast is uploaded to SoundCloud, go to the content tab on the settings page and copy the link for your RSS feed.
The last step is submitting your podcast to iTunes, the preeminent podcast repository. iTunes has a great walkthrough regarding the process. You basically just click “Submit a Podcast” from the podcast page of the iTunes store in iTunes, login with your Apple ID, and paste the link to your RSS feed from SoundCloud. Click “Verify” and your podcast is submitted. It may take up to 1 or 2 days for your podcast to appear on the store.
Once your podcast is up, you and your friends can download it to your phones, subscribe, anything that you can do with a “real” podcast, because your podcast IS a real podcast. How easy was that? I made my first episode in a day and people were downloading it within 24 hours. For my first podcast I chose to interview my dad about his life and cut the interview into four different “episodes.” I am still not sure if he counts as an interesting person, but it was fun for both of us and I got to practice asking questions. Maybe the best way to become an interesting person is just to tell others that you have a podcast.
You can find the podcast I made, “Papa Cam”, here or search for it in the iTunes store.