Podcast 101 After 600 Episodes
Once or twice a week, I get an e-mail or tweet or LinkedIn InMail about podcasting from people curious about how to do it. Often, there are misnomers added to the message about podcasting, from value to listenership, as well as what equipment to use.
I believe in a “pay-it-forward” model with podcasting or information in general. None of the 600+ people who have done the podcast to this point have been paid to do so. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it, as well as meeting many who have become friends for life. Now, I know more about them as they do me, and I’ve really felt a sports business community gel through the podcasting medium.
Some history and stuff
Prior to my current setup, I had a giant setup, including a large soundboard hooked into an iPad, with several dozen wires. The Arizona Coyotes sales team in Ep. 69 were one of the last to deal with this giant setup. It was a lot of wires, etc. This is a setup that I do not recommend if you want to be mobile, as it takes a ton of time and effort and looks amateurish. I have always been very eager to chat with people as well. And I’m willing to put in the time to schedule, as well as make the effort to podcasting. Spring Training 2013, I ended up with 6 podcast recordings per day, for 5 days, going throughout the entire state of Arizona. I also drove the state of Florida and did 10 podcast episodes at various teams in 2 days. If you love it, you do it. And it’s just fun to meet people in your industry, which is why I’ve kept going this long.
Equipment for actual recording devices when doing in-person interviews
Zoom H4N – click here
This is the trusty little device that I’ve had since April 2013. It records on an SD card, and essentially holds about 9 hours worth of wav files, and you can get it on battery power for a ton of interviews before it is done. There are two XLR cable inputs for mics.
Zoom H6N – click here
This is the upgraded version of the zoom. It has 4 XLR inputs, but up to 2 more with an added module, and has the ability to really be versatile. It also does track separation automatically, which can be a plus or minus depending on what you use it for, and each track has the ability to be increased/decreased in volume without a loss of the overall audio content.
Mogami Gold XLR Cables – click here
Yes, the XLR cables matter. The worst, cheapest type end up dying halfway through an interview. The Mogami Gold Cables have served me very well. I bought those in 2013 and haven’t looked back. Every cheap XLR cable has broken, or lost its “voice” only recognizable right when you are about to record. While the Mogami are about $15-$20 higher in price than other cables, they are worth it.
Shure SM58 Microphones – click here
This is the best quality voice out of your microphone possible. Yes, it matters. Yes, it is $15-$20 more than the other cheap microphones in the bargin bin, but it is worth it. Your voice, especially when podcasting, matters. I also get microphone wind covers for the heads, because it avoids subjects from popping their “p’s” while being interviewed.
Equipment/Software for actual recording of phone interviews
Skype – $13.99 a/month – click here
I do the Unlimited World plan, so I can call International phone numbers as well as standard skype calls.
Skype Call Recorder – $30 app – click here
It can save both skype video and audio calls, and has a lot of features. You want this and it works, and Ecamm updates their product continuously.
Neewer Microphone Arm – $30.99 – click here
Make it like a real radio studio, easy to move.
audio-technica AT2020 Side Address Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone – $99 – click here
This is if you want the best sound possible. If you want to sound as if you are in an actual studio, not somewhere down the street doing a call with a little whine in the background. A condenser microphone will pick up a lot of stuff, that’s why you have to be in a quiet space in order to use it.
Studio Mic Wind Screen Pop Filter – $8 – Click here
It keeps you from popping your p’s. Trust me, you need this, even if you don’t think that you do, you will pop your p’s when you interview or talk to someone.
I utilize an old iMac (2011) for my skype calls.
Levelator – free – click here
Levels out your audio.
Audacity – free – click here
Allows you to edit, and compile your audio correctly.
Google Drive – $10 per month/1 TB – click here
Storing audio files.
Libsyn – $40 per month – 1.5 GB of space per month – Click here
Libsyn is simply the best podcast solution out there. Hands down. I’ve tried the others. Most of them are either not equipped, nor do they have the capabilities with Libsyn, which can post to Soundcloud, iTunes, iHeartRadio and everything else. And it works perfectly by automatically posting to social media channels. If you don’t use Libsyn and you try to podcast, then god help you, because you’ll have trouble along the way. A lot of podcast “solutions” will throttle your traffic and content. Meaning if you have a lot of visitors, they will start to make it harder to play your content until you upgrade. Libsyn doesn’t do that. And it rarely goes down at all. iTunes also has several dimension updates for artwork, and Libsyn always alerts me if I need to change anything. Ask for Rob or Elise.
Fiverr – $5 – click here
Find an announcer voice, pay them. You want to have different sounds which are not copyrighted, as well as an announcer so you have a secondary voice on your podcast. It is important.
Amadeus Pro – $60 – click here
I do a full compile of every wav file into this program, then get the levels right, then export as the file for broadcast.
Note: If you do video, use Final Cut Pro so you can merge 2-3 cameras automatically with the audio, then just straight edit.
When editing, compiling
Save everything as a WAV file to begin with. When you draw out a Skype call recorder file, it will be a MOV, and you will have to draw it out to an AIFF, then call it up in Audacity. Do your editing there, then save it as a WAV. This prevents you from having any loss in the sound or “artifacts.” That’s tech geek lingo for hearing weird sounds mixed in with your clean audio. Take the files, along with the preset announcer and music files, and create your podcast in Amadeus. When you are finished, then turn into mp3, upload into Libsyn, and launch at the right time.
So, let’s address the nonsense that people tell you about podcasting
There are too many podcasts out there. It is saturated.
Nope. There are only 250,000 podcasts. There are 1 billion books, movies, etc. podcasting has a long way to go. Only 18-20% of the U.S. has listened to a podcast. Trust me, we have not hit critical mass yet.
Yeah, but is there money in it?
Just have fun, and communicate. If you do something for money, you never receive any of it. If you do it for fun, you tend to enjoy yourself and are surprised by the outcome.
But aren’t there already so many of (subject) podcasts out there?
This is the “so many pieces of the pie” theory. Completely wrong. There is only one version of you. By this definition, we’d be done with bad action or boxing movies by Sylvester Stallone. But we keep getting more of them. And competing versions.
But I want to wait until mine is the absolute quality.
Okay, so you won’t be making a podcast ever. Because even at Ep. 601, I’m still learning things. You never get better by standing still.
But Mine Won’t Be As Great As This Other Person’s Podcast!
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Mark Twain
So, here is what I know about podcasting
A) Don’t get upset when others try to podcast if you are already podcasting: I encourage them. If they start now, they are 600 episodes behind me, so I at least have some time to adapt and it pushes me to be better. Plus, it’s damn fun to have more people in it with me. However, they might also bring in an audience to me that’s never heard of my content, but reacts to theirs and is limited by selection.
B) Understanding The Stacking Principle: Record 10 episodes, then release one at a time. Don’t release them when you get them. Because if you record 10, then release one, and replace it, you always have fresh content. People will ask you “how do you do it?” not realizing that you simply are working smarter, not harder. This principle applies to podcasts, blogs, etc.
C) Be highly encouraging of others: Podcasting opens up many doors, and there is no reason to believe that you and they cannot share space. I’ve never been upset about setting others in the space because I value it. Plus, it gets me a little competitive. Sean Callanan got Mark Cuban on his podcast, which doesn’t anger me, it impresses upon me to amp up my bookings, and to be happy for him. When you diminish others, you diminish yourself.
D) If you keep waiting, you will be farther behind, so don’t compare mine to yours: Just do your thing. However if you wait another year, I have will have 757 episodes in the archive. If you wait another three years, I will have 1,069 episodes. Just keep moving forward, and try to do your thing. Because when I have 1 million episodes, if you start on your first, it will still be episode 1. So, if you truly want to do it, just do it, and stop worrying about what other people are doing or how many episodes they’ve got.
E) Don’t look at your damn stats: Ever. If you have 10 people listening, that is 10 people who care. If you have 100 people who listen, that’s great. But none of those things should be diminished, simply because you don’t have 75,000-100,000 people listening. I never really look at my stats for the first year or so. I got amazed and tweeted out the “popularity” of a couple of recent podcasts, mainly because I was told that iTunes had some new reviews for me. I’m flattered, but I avoid looking at stats unless I have to. I would much rather have 20 passionate people listening to me, rather than 200 dispassionate people clicking on my podcast and abandoning it.
F) You never know who is listening, why, or where: You can get a good indication when they tweet you back, but I’ve always been flattered by the response.
G) Podcasting Builds Your Personal Brand: When I started out in 2012, I was told by a colleague that I would be blackballed from the sports business industry because “people don’t do that kind of thing.” A year and a half later, that person was asking about how to get into podcasting and wanted to be on mine. On the Tao of Sports, I’ve build a personal brand. Without it, I doubt that I would be in the position that I am in. Simply because it keeps me present with people, continually. And if blackballing is actual thing, there are plenty of people who still keep getting jobs in the sports industry who have done way shadier stuff than I have. And they still keep getting jobs. I mean, seriously…
Note In General: In 2014, at NACDA, several of my colleagues were sitting around the pool area after sessions. One of them brought up my podcast. And everyone started mentioning what episode they were on. Then, they realized that I had asked and gotten almost all of them on the podcast at least once (sometimes twice). If you are going to do a show, then book the most reliable people who care more about you than doing the podcast. Because at the beginning stages, those are the folks who will deliver for you.
Cranky Old Man Note To Millennials: For some reason, you let older people or your fellow generation “rattle” you into believing various things that are not true. Such as everything has already been done, its too late to try, or my favorite, if I don’t have a success right off of the bat, it didn’t work. Don’t worry about it, just produce good content and go. Stop being concerned that everybody doesn’t automatically know about it. Unless you are planning on spending $50 million on advertising, then be concerned, because that’s a chunk of coin and you should get a return on your investment. NPR promoted the hell out of the podcast “Serial” before it was released – that’s why it got 7 million downloads in its first week. Be happy with getting 20 people who like what you are doing. You won’t have that platform. But neither did I. But I kept producing, kept chugging away, and continue to. Because its fun. And you should be doing it for the right reasons. And there are always many more podcasts to go.