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Podcasting on the Move

Author: Myles Wakeham

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The one key to a successful podcast is regularity of episodes. The general rule of thumb should be one new episode released each week. But with this ongoing responsibility, how can you - the passionate and serious Podcast Host, keep up with this burden?

Well the secret is really simple. Make the process of creating your podcasts something that you can easily do on your terms. Its one thing to have a room full of recording goodies, great microphones, headphones, all the right software, etc. But if you spend 50+ hours a week outside of home, when you eventually get home from work, you are probably too exhausted to record a decent show. And if you have family as well, its all the more difficult to meet the needs of your adoring fans.

How about using some of your lunch hour at work to record the show in your car? Or maybe while you are waiting for your daughter to finish ballet practice, or your son to finish his soccer practice. The key is to look at how your time is used and find ways to record the show in there.

One thing I found that was incredibly helpful is to use portable handheld MP3 devices for recording. I started this whole adventure when someone told me that I could hack my old 3rd generation iPod to run Linux on it, and record with it through a small microphone. Well off I went to buy any form of microphone attachment I could find for it, and installed all the software only to find that the quality of the recordings I was able to make were sub-standard. I needed something that could produce a good quality 44.1khz sample rate recording and had the storage capacity to handle it.

I ended up purchasing an Edirol R-09 unit. This is sold through Roland (http://www.rolandus.com) and although its not the cheapest unit on the block, it does an awesome job of 'in field' recording. This unit comfortably fits in your hand, and runs off AA batteries. Now it does have a habit of burning through the batteries so using rechargeable batteries is a good way to keep what is left of your bank balance intact after you throw down the $400 or so to buy the unit. But the recording quality is incredible. It has dual microphones on the top that really do a terrific job of recording high quality audio. It has an excellent and easy to read display and stores its content onto regular SDRAM (which is super cheap to get these days). One 512mb SDRAM stick will comfortably store hours of high quality audio.
Edirol R9

To get the audio from the unit to your computer, you simply plug in the standard USB cable into the unit. My computer immediately recognized the unit as 'external storage' and I simply dragged over the MP3 files that it automatically created for me. There are options to store the audio as WAV files (uncompressed) to get the maximum audio fidelity, but since I was going to conver the audio into MP3 anyway, I didn't see much of a difference in taking the MP3 compressed audio and inserting it into the overall Podcast show.

Now the one thing to keep in mind here is that a portable recording device such as the Edirol is really only good to capture source content. There isn't any editing facilities provided so you still need some digital audio editing program like Audacity or some other (I use Logic Audio from Apple on a Mac, but that's a pretty expensive piece of kit for the average Podcaster). Audacity is free, open source software and will do the trick.

By inserting the audio that you record in the field into your overall show, its quick and easy to produce a complete podcast. By taking advantage of the time that you have in lunch hours and recording all or part of the show in the car, or some other convenient place doing a weekly podcast shouldn't be a chore.

And the other advantage is that portability allows you to go to events, interview people, etc. in THEIR environment rather than yours. So if you have that opportunity to go somewhere and record an interview in the field, you will have the advantage of being able to bring back a high quality audio recording with you, and then simply insert it into your show before you produce the final MP3 file of your podcast.

There is definitely a difference in a field recording vs. sitting in a studio or office and recording your show. You have to be very disciplined to take it easy and try and maintain a level of calmness and professionalism in the recording even though the temptation is to be as free form as you can since you are free to roam. But with practice, you will find that the field recordings can be incredibly entertaining for the audience. A sense of 'humanity' really does come through which allows the listener to 'connect' with the host a bit better than in the clinical enviornment of a studio. I noticed this while following a real estate podcast that was done a few years ago. The host would routinely walk around and record his thoughts much in the format of an audio blog. It was not only really interesting, but you really connected with him as a person - warts and all.

So give it a try. Portable recording is not only a way to help maintain your release schedules but its also a great way to get others involved and show a bit more of your human side in your show.

Happy Podcasting!

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