Thing 19: Podcasts

Welcome to our final Digital Open Badge for Rudaí 23 entitled 'Engaged Professional'.
Congratulations on getting this far, or welcome if you are just dipping into the course at this point. The Engaged Professional badge consists of four modules: Thing 19: Podcasts, Thing 20; Advocacy and Engagement, Thing 21: Professional Groups, and Thing 22: Reflective Practice.

We are thrilled to see so many of you applying for your Open Badges. For those of you that haven't applied yet, you can find links to apply for the first three badges on the home-page of our blog.

If you are having any difficulties with the course please feel free to contact us. If you have just registered with the course a moderator will be in touch with you either by email or by commenting on your blog. Please remember to allow comments on your blog posts so that we can engage with you throughout the course.

Podcasts, what’s it all about ?

Unless you live a particularly tech free existence you’ve probably noticed that podcasts are pretty hot right now. The podcast is undoubtedly the breakout star on the broadcasting scene in the last ten years. Edison research figures last year indicated that 42 million Americans listened to a podcast weekly.

The term podcasting first popped up in a Guardian article back in 2004, in the early days of the ipod when what were then known as audio blogs were beginning to move onto iTunes. With the crime investigation podcast ‘serial’, released in late 2014, podcasting went mainstream and the range of extent of podcast offerings has been building since.

For every listener their podcast

So, what’s the appeal? Well they’re a great portable, on demand media product.  On a run, on route to work, on a flight, while cleaning the house …you can listen wherever and whenever suits you.

Politics, crime, comedy, history, film, badly written erotica (I’m talking about you ‘My Dad wrote a porno’) for all appetites and interests, there is a podcast. Even librarians have gotten in on the act.

The podcast also represents the shift from media consumption to production which has taken place over the last decade. The barriers for entry to podcast production are relatively low and it is effectively open to anyone with basic audio recording equipment.

Getting started - Listening to and subscribing to Podcasts 

If you are completely new to the concept of podcasts, lets start slow. You’ll probably want to ease in by listening and subscribing to a few podcasts. 
You can listen direct from the podcasts hosting site, or most podcasts have a website with embedded audio for each episode. Listening on the move is the real appeal of podcasts though so you’ll want to get listening and subscribing through a podcast app.

IPhone Podcast / Apple Podcasts App   

If you have an iPhone the podcast app allows you to browse, listen and subscribe to podcasts. For IOS 8 and above this app is pre-installed.
To get started just open the podcast app.
Figure 1 This way to podcast addiction

You can either browse the featured podcast suggestions, use the search function to look up a specific podcast or browse on a topic. To subscribe to a podcast so that new episodes will automatically show up in your feed navigate to the podcasts home page and select ‘subscribe’.



You can rate and write short reviews for your favourite podcasts in the app by going to the podcast details (you will need to search for it again (even if you are subscribed) and then select reviews.


Android Podcast Apps  

If you are an android user you can install a podcast listening and subscription app in Google play. There are numerous android podcast apps (Pocket cast, Podcast addict, Soundcloud app). One of the most popular is the Stitcher app.
To browse and subscribe to podcasts on Stitcher use the search function. You can also browse the lists of podcasts by subject.   


To subscribe to a podcast in stitcher, go to the podcasts home page and tap on the plus icon in the top right corner to subscribe to the podcast.
Now, get stuck in and lose yourself in podcast land.

Get your podcast on 

So, you want to get your voice out there in the podcast universe? Read on. First things first, what are you going to do a podcast about? That one is up to you, but take heart from just how many fantastic podcasts there are that follow a very simple premise (check out ‘We hate movies’ for one hilarious example).

Recording equipment 

If you are just doing a one off recording you can get by using a voice recorder app but for longer recordings or where a higher audio quality is needed you will need to invest in some equipment. If you are planning on producing a podcast series you should invest in some equipment. The good news about recording equipment is that you don’t have to spend an enormous amount to get started. The first thing on the podcasters shopping list is a USB microphone. While a high end microphone can be expensive, there are really good cheap options on the market. Some good cheap options are; the Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Mic or the Blue Snowball ICE Mic, both are light and portable and can be picked up under €50. There are lots of accessories you can add to your recording set up if you really get serious. For beginners, once you have a microphone you are comfortable with the two basic accessories worth including are a mic stand (if your microphone doesn’t already have one) and a pop filter (to smooth out any pops or crackles on voice recordings).   

Figure 2 Microphone with pop filter (source: pixabay)

Recording on location 

Just a little side note on recording equipment for anyone who really gets the podcasting bug. If you want to be a bit more mobile with your recording there are some really good portable recorders designed with podcasting in mind. Again, while a high end portable digital recorder can set you back a bit there are some really good models on the market for around the €100 mark. The Tascam or the Zoom H4n are both good affordable recorders. A good portable recorder will allow you to record anywhere, will feature omnidirectional microphones and generally come with enough storage space for several hours of recording so you can take your show on the road.   

Figure 3 Take your podcasting on tour with a portable digital recorder


Recording in Audacity 

Wherever or whatever you record on you will need audio recording and editing software. There are numerous free or cheap offerings out there but Audacity really is the daddy of them all. Audacity is available as a free download for Windows, Linux and Mac and is the podcasters number one piece of kit.
It is a really versatile audio editing software, it has lots of functions to maximize your audio editing so if you are inspired to venture further into audio editing its worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with all Audacity’s features.
Here we get a bit technical, but stick with me and you’ll soon be editing your first podcast.

Figure 4 Audacity - a podcasters best friend 

If you have your USB microphone and audacity installed, you can go ahead and record your audio directly into audacity on a laptop or desktop.

To start recording click on the Audacity Icon to open the programme. 
Plug in your microphone and it should register in the ‘recording device’ options on audacity (make sure it is switched on or audacity may not recognise it).

In the recording channels menu you can choose whether you want to record in mono (1 channel) or in stereo (2 channels). When recording through a microphone you should record in mono.

To start recording click on the red ‘Record’ button at the top of your Audacity dashboard and start talking.

You will see the sound waves registering in blue, try to keep the volume input even, avoid spikes or drops in the input. Do a sound level test recording to check input levels before starting.

Figure 5 A good sound input level should be neither too low or too high 

You can increase or decrease your input volume by dragging the ‘Input Level’ slider to the right or left until you get the volume level you want.

When you are done recording click the square stop button. You can then listen back to your recording by clicking play.

If you are happy with your recording go to file and ‘Save Project’ or ‘Save Project As’ and name your file and save it in .wav format. You can record numerous audio tracks then edit them together using Audacity’s editing features. 

Editing in audacity  

Depending on how many tracks you have to put together, the editing process can be the hardest part of podcast production. Audacity allows you to edit together multiple audio and music tracks to create a single podcast episode file.

The process will depend on how many files you have and how much adjustment, filtering and addition you want but these are the basic steps in editing together a complete podcast production using Audacity.

Open sound files to edit by selecting ‘File’ and ‘open’ on the menu bar and selecting the desired sound file to open.

Once the .wav file is opened it should look like this:

If you have multiple audio tracks import them all in and drop them into the appropriate places on the timeline. Do this by selecting ‘Import’ and ‘Audio’ on the menu bar.
From there select the audio file(s) you want imported. (For this example: “Generic Podcast Intro.wav”). New files will appear as new tracks below the previous track.

Drag the new audio file into the desired place using the “Time Shift Tool”.

After dragging your files into the desired position, it should look something like this:

Repeat this process until all of the sound clips you are editing together are imported in their own separate tracks and aligned to not play simultaneously or at least so one track is not overwhelming the other.

When all your tracks are imported in and time-shifted into the appropriate position you want on the timeline, your Audacity project will look something like this:

Check through the different cuts leading into different tracks. If the sound levels are as you want them, go to ‘File’ and ‘Save Project’ or ‘Save Project As’ and name your project.
Then go to ‘File’ and select ‘Export Audio’. This will allow you to convert your Audacity project into a .wav file for the finished product.  You will be asked first to name your .wav file then you will be brought to the ‘Edit Metadata’ option where you can name and provide details for your .wav sound file.

Figure 6  Mm lovely metadata ....librarians should be good at this bit 

You should then convert your edited .wav file to an .mp3 file to make your podcast filer smaller and more accessible. This can be done in a number of ways, either through installed programmes (like the LAME MP3 encoder which can be installed on Audacity). If you don’t use an encoder like LAME you can use an audio conversion websites like 

Podcast Hosting    

Once you have a finished and edited episode you are ready to release your podcast to the world. You need to decide on a hosting platform. There are a couple of key players on this front. Libsyn is one of the oldest of the podcast hosting platforms.  It requires a subscription even for basic hosting account, with prices ranging from $5 to $75 monthly depending on how much storage space is required.


SoundCloud is a better option for the beginner as a very basic free account allows for up to three hours of content to be hosted. Subscription options for additional hosting time and advanced features have two tiers. SoundCloud Pro comes in two tiers: SoundCloud Pro and SoundCloud Pro Unlimited. The Soundcloud Pro account costs $7 per month and comes with six hours of content. Pro Unlimited costs $15 per month and it provides unlimited content hosting. There is an option to try either of these subscription options for 30 days free (just make sure you cancel the subscription in time).     

Once you have decided which option to go for and set up a profile it’s uploading time. Soundcloud has a very simple upload function.

Go to upload and then select the file you want to add.

Figure 7 Uploading to SoundCloud is very straightforward

Add titles, tags, an image and descriptive detail to your track. In the permissions tab you can set restrictions like enabling or restricting downloads and adding the track to your RSS feed.

Loading to a podcast subscription service 

A final step if you get up and running with a podcast would be to add your podcast feed to iTunes / Apple podcasts and/or stitcher so listeners can subscribe and be notified of new episodes. You will need to set up accounts for both to be able to submit a podcast. For both iTunes and stitcher the podcast feed needs to be verified before it will appear for subscription so it is worth waiting until you have a few episodes before submitting.

Your Thing 19 assignment 

As participants are coming from a range of skills levels, including some who haven’t listened to podcasts before there are two options on the task.

Option 1 – Listen to, subscribe, rate and review a podcast of your choice. This includes subscribing to the podcast through a podcast app (apple or android) rating and reviewing the podcast via the app and then writing a short review of the experience and the podcast on your Rudai23 blog.

Option 2 – Produce a short podcast and load it to a hosting site (Libsyn or Soundcloud). Create a podcast recording (additional music and intro tracks are optional) edit it and load it to your chosen hosting site. 

Something to get you started – Our Favourite podcast picks  

Just a small helping of some podcasts you should check out

Librarian / Library related Podcasts   

  • Librarians Aloud (because I’m not going to get you all this way and not plug my podcast!) or subscribe on iTunes  
  • Circulating Ideas – Steve Thomas talks to library and info pros about their work and passions 
  • Metric/LibUX Podcast -  Michael Schofield and Amanda L. Goodman talk design, user experience and libraries 
  • Find more on Librarian podcasts list on LisWiki   


  • Stuff you missed in History class – Digestible little history bites 
  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – Got a long haul flight coming up, download one of these bad boys …Epic and sprawling   
  • Irish History Podcast – If you prefer some history closer to home 

Film / Film History 

  • The Empire Podcast – The weekly podcast companion to Empire film magazine, featuring interviews, reviews and great spoiler specials   
  • You must remember this - Stories of the secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood. Impressively researched tales of old Hollywood including special series’   
  • The secret history of Hollywood – More audiobook than podcast, each lengthy episode (they can run up to four hours long) is beautifully crafted and researched in stunning detail. 
  • Hollywood Crime Scene – This is a blend of Hollywood history, crime and comedy as the hosts Desi Jedeikin and Rachel Fisher play so well off each other while telling tales of crime and scandal  
  • We Hate Movies – some movies are so bad they are good, and a podcast reviewing terrible movies is as hilarious as it sounds   

Interview Podcasts 

  • WTF with Marc Maron – One of the longest running interview podcasts, in-depth guest interviews and rambling insight from Maron 
  • Longform – A journalism interview podcast. In-depth interviews with journalists and writers 
  • Distraction Pieces with Scroobius Pip – Not just your run of the mill interviews and occasional special episodes focusing on issues like mental health       

Science & Technology 

  • The Infinite Monkey Cage – Dr Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince take on the big questions of the universe with guest panels including academics, researchers and comedians  
  • Stuff to Blow Your Mind – A great podcast to get you interested in all things scientific  
  • The Life Scientific – Prof Jim Al-Khalili talks to scientists and examines new scientific developments 
  • Skeptics’ Guide to The Universe – Hosted by neuroscientist Dr Steven Novella and his brothers the skeptics guide busts pseudoscience 
  • Wired Podcast – Short updates on what’s happening in the world of software development, tech and gadgets   


  • Adam Buxton Podcast – Interviews, jingles and nostalgia for anyone who still remembers The Adam & Joe show  
  • The Guilty Feminist – Live interview, comedy and general smashing of the patriarchy – go girls! 
  • Last Podcast on the left – Talk about serial killers, cults and gruesome crimes might not sound like fun but somehow these guys make it hilarious (not for the faint hearted)     

Interesting stuff 

  • S-town Podcast – From the production team behind Serial this podcast is pure Southern gothic, heart-breaking and addictive      
  • RadioLab -  A mix of stories, science and technology 
  • Fauxthentic History – Fictional history like Star Wars battles and Lord of the Rings lore told like real history – nerd heaven!     

Thing 19 was written by Laura Rooney Ferris and Michael Ferris

Laura Rooney Ferris currently works for the Health Service Executive’s National Health Library and Knowledge Service as Systems Librarian based in Dr Steevens Library, Dublin. She took up this position in September 2017. Her previous experience includes working in special and academic libraries, management and strategic development of a specialist library and information services, research support and web development. She is a committee member of the Academic and Special Libraries Section of the LAI and serves as their Communications Officer. Professional interests include: integration of new media and emerging technologies in library and information service provision, Social Media marketing, Open Research models. She is the producer and presenter of the 'Librarians Aloud' podcast @LauraRooneyF 

Michael Ferris is a library assistant at the Bar Council of Ireland law libraries. He has worked in the law library for over ten years working in member services, digitisation and web support. He recently completed the Information & Library Studies qualification through the University of Aberystwyth distance programme. Michael is also a musician and has performed and contributed to recordings in the US and Ireland. He is the editor and theme music creator of the ‘Librarians Aloud’ podcast. @FerrisMick1701 


Hammersley, B (2004) Audible revolution. The Guardian February 12 2004 [online] Available at 

Edision Research (2017) The podcast consumer [online] available at

Salmon, G. & Edirisingha, P. (2008) Podcasting For Learning In Universities. New York : Open University Press


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