Audio Podcasting 101 (Part 1)

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November 9, 2010

A while back I began an interview-style youth ministry podcast called 10-Minute Training.  Now that I have published about a dozen, I feel ready to share the process here.  Keep in mind that there are many ways to do this.  Mine is focused on making the least amount of work for me without giving up the ability to edit the podcast afterwards.

I am sure I don’t need to give you ideas on using a podcst in your ministry, but just in case, here are a couple:

  1. Daily/weekly devotion or thought for students
  2. Daily/weekly Bible memory verse
  3. Rebroadcast of your message
  4. Youth volunteer training/tip
  5. Parent update

This will be a series of posts.  Part one will focus on describing the gear and basic schedule, part two will look at the setup and actual recording, and part three the publishing.

The Schedule

I don’t have the kind of time every other week to devote to recording, editing, and publishing the podcast.  So in order to limit the weekly work, I schedule a couple of half days of recording every six months.  I schedule the interviewees a couple of weeks before the recording date and get a basic outline of their training piece via email.  Usually, I am able to get about 30 minutes of content in each one-hour session which is three podcasts.  By doing it this way I cut the weekly work down to about 10-30 minutes depending on how much editing is required.  If you end up doing it this way, I will give some tips for things you can do while recording that will make the editing easier months down the road.

The Gear

I say work with what you’ve got.  If you are starting, you may not need to buy anything, but I found a couple of purchases that streamline the process for me and bring the quality up a bit as well.

  1. Shure X2u ($99 on Amazon) – I reviewed this in an earlier post.  This alows me to take any mic I have and turn it into a USB mic that can be recorded in my audio recording program.  Though your built-in mic will work, this will make you sound professional without spending a fortune.
  2. Skype (Free) – This is what I use to get the audio from the interviewees.  I also pay for a Skypein number so that people who do not have Skype can use a regular phone to call me on Skype. The cost for that is about $18 a quarter.
  3. Garage Band (Free with Mac) – I have access to high-end audio software like sountrack Pro, but have found that this is simple and quick to record and edit something as simple as a two person interview.  It also has built in EQ and Compressors for podcasting that makes the mic and Skype audio sound a lot better.  If you are on the Windows side of things, Audacity is a great free option.
  4. Wiretap Anywhere ($129) – This is a bit of a splurge, but worth it if you can swing it.  Wiretap anywhere will take audio from any program or hardware device on your computer and convert it into a virtual sound card that allows you to record those pieces of audio on separate tracks.  I tried several methods to get this working when I was researching and found this to be WAY above everything else in reliability and usability.  This gets it all into Garage band live eliminating any later steps/synchronization.
  5. Squarespace ($10+ per month) – This is a content management system/hosting solution that I use for our youth site.  It makes publishing the podcast content and feed as simple as posting to your blog.  Pricey if you are only using it for your podcast, but worth it if you are shopping around for web hosting/authoring.
  6. Macbook ($999+)  Even the most basic macbook will do the job.  I will hold back my fanboyness here, but I think that for most youth ministers the ease, quality, and price of  creative tools (most need no more than those included with every mac) along with stability makes it a no-brainer.

My advice with this sort of gear is to go as cheap as possible at the beginning.  If the podcast does well, you can always add sound quality later.  As far as I am concerned, the audio quality cannot make up for poor content, but great content can go a long way towards overcoming less-than-professional audio quality.


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