What is a podcast?
Podcast is a amalgamation of the words iPod and broadcast.
A podcast is an audio file made available through the internet for download to a computer
or portable media player. It is usually part of series of episodes which are are uploaded
on a regular basis. The subscribers of the series then receive new episodes automatically.
Creating a Podcast
What type of broadcast is it going to be?
A typical podcast is between 10 - 50 minutes long so planning is essential.
What kind of programme do you wish to have? Where is it going to be based? If
you are planning an outside broadcast then you'll need different equipment such as
special microphones. Is it going to be an interview?
What to talk about?
You must be comfortable about your chosen subject. It should be something that you feel passionate about, something that you feel other people need to or would like to know about. It should also be something you can talk about without lots of pauses or "amm" "umms" or "you knows" thrown in.
On average people speak roughly at 100 - 160 words per minute which comes to about 15 pages of writing if your are planning a 30 minute broadcast. If you are speaking about a complex or unfamiliar subject then the words per minute could be reduced. This may take some practice.
It is advisable to have at least four episodes made before publishing your first podcast. This gives you some breathing space for preparing the next installment. It also gives your audience and you time to get to know each other, they can decide whether they want to listen to you anymore and you will not delay them by having late postings. You may also be getting feedback at this stage.
Don't have anything to talk about? Interview someone who does. Record a literary event in your library ( with the speaker's permission of course).
Here is an example of an Oral History Series of podcasts produced by Wexford County Council, Ireland.
What Equipment/Software to use?
Most mobile devices come with a sound recording facility and an inbuilt microphone which will provide a reasonably good sound recording. You can easily record some audio and upload your recording to a host or to your Google Drive folder or your computer using a mobile phone.
If you're planning to record an event, a live interview for example with lot's of background noise, it might be better to invest in a good microphone and a digital audio recorder. This will store your recordings on a memory card. You can then upload the recordings to your desktop pc just like you would do with digital photographs.
If you think your recording doesn't need any editing then you can skip this step.
Hosting Your PodcastNow that you've created a recording the next step is to make it available for people to listen to. There are a number of options for hosting your podcasts but for today we are going to look at Soundcloud.
SoundCloud is described as a 'social sound platform' and is basically the same as Youtube but for audio files. With a SoundCloud account you can follow millions of people, musicians, radio channels and podcasts on a vast range of topics. You can also create your own SoundCloud channel and upload your podcasts recordings for people to listen to.
The following image shows the very straightforward steps to signing into SoundCloud and uploading an MP3 file.
I uploaded a file from my desktop computer. Soundcloud is also available as an app for mobile devices and it's very straightforward to upload audio to it from your phone. You can sign up to SoundCloud for free here.
Sharing Your PodcastThe next step is to share your recording and let people know it's there. There are a few ways that you can share your podcast, either via your social networks like Twitter or Facebook, in an email, or as an embedded link in your blog post.
The following image shows the steps for sharing your podcast and embedding your podcast into a blog post.
And here is the embedded recording that we uploaded - don't judge us! We were a bit stuck for material the day we wrote this blog post.
Listening to Podcasts
If you feel that creating podcasts is not something that is relevant to your job right now then we can recommend a few worthy podcasts to listen to instead.
You can easily listen to podcasts on a mobile device through iTunes or android apps such as Stitcher or on a desktop PC using headphones.
Here are some worthy library Podcasts to listen to:
Circulating Ideas - Created by Steve Thomas. This podcast is unique in that it is created for Library Professionals and is an excellent CPD learning resource. Steve interviews noteworthy librarians about the work that they do and is excellent at discovering and highlighting new and innovative library projects. He and his team also visit library conferences to interview delegates about projects they are presenting and also to get feedback from them about what they are getting from that particular conference. If you do one thing this week listen to this podcast.
Longform Podcasts - a weekly podcast interview with a non-fiction writer or editor.
Serial - A 12 part thriller based on true events which was one of the most listened to podcasts in 2014.
Your tasks for this week are:
Try creating a recording and uploading it to your SoundCloud account. Then embed it into your blog post.
Listen to one of the podcasts mentioned in this article
Write a blog post about your thoughts on podcasts. Are they relevant or used in your Library? Could you use podcasts as an educational tool? Can you recommend any good podcasts to listen to?
Hosting your podcasts directly from your blog can be tricky but it is possible. Here is a detailed step by step article from Brian Grey on how to host your podcasts through a Blogger blog. It might seem daunting at first but if you follow the steps carefully it is possible.
If you have a self-hosted Wordpress site (the one that costs money) then you can install a plugin to host your podcast.
The advantage to doing this is that you can submit your podcasts to iTunes via an RSS feed thus reaching a wider audience.