My favorite audio program of all time now is now being distributed via podcast. If you want to know how to do radio-style audio right, head over to This American Life and start listening! Better yet, click here to add the show to your iTunes library, or here for the XML feed.

 

Podcasting takes time and planning. Very few people can just turn on the recorder and get exactly what they want in one take. If you’re doing interviews or have a second host, the likelihood of a simple process gets even slimmer — you can’t control both sides of a conversation.

Well, you can’t completely control both sides of a conversation, but a well-planned interview with a structure that is worked out ahead of time can go a long way. And of course, there’s the post-production editing, giving you the ultimate say in how the conversation unfolds.

I’ll expand on these two ideas in the future, but the message here is that a good podcast takes time. The preparation, recording, and editing of a 10-minutes interview for Boston Behind the Scenes or the Current Science & Technology Podcast takes me between two and four hours — and that’s just for an interview show. If you want to produce a highly-edited podcast in the style of NPR’s This American Life, you’re looking at more like 75-150 hours of work for one ten-minute piece!

Of course, those numbers are for once you get good at it…

 

So, you want to start a podcast from scratch? It’s a lot easier and cheaper than you’d expect.

At it’s most basic, a podcast requires a computer, a microphone, and a place to host the files. You can do that (and do it well, with good sound and using good software with support) with the following:

An Apple Mac mini with keyboard, mouse, and monitor for $797.
– This comes with GarageBand, iMovie, and plenty of other stuff you might want to use for your podcast.

A Blue Snowball USB Microphone for $160.
– Get the one that includes a stand and cable for a high-quality studio condenser mic that’s ready to use right away.
– You’ll also want a pop filter.

A year of hosting at Libsyn.com ($5/month) for $60.
– This gives you a blog, rss feed, and unlimited bandwidth — in case you get popular.

WANT TO RECORD IN THE FIELD?

You can get an iRiver iFP-790 for as little as $25 on eBay. Pair that with a Giant Squid Audio Lab Mini Gold-Plated Omni Mic ($15) and a set of RadioShack Tie-clip Microphone Windscreens ($3 for four — Item #33-4006), and you’re set for recording on-the-go.

That’s it. A whole home studio/mobile podcasting setup — including the computer — for about $1,000. You may already have an adequate computer, and could drop the price to about $275! If you want to have two hosts, buy another snowball and use them together (easy on the Mac, may be possible a PC — depending upon your software).

Of course, even the best equipment in the world won’t help if you don’t have a compelling show, but the skills needed for that come with practice, so get out there and start podcasting!

 
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© 2010 Adam Weiss: Podcast Consultant