Can ANYONE podcast?

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2 June, 2011 by ehauke

One of the central issues that has come out of my recent talk on podcasting at the Science Communication Conference is the idea that ANYONE can podcast. Some people (especially established broadcasters and podcasters) are horrified by this assertion. Some people in the audience seemed perplexed by the idea that they could podcast. But some people were thrilled by the notion that they could become podcasters. Tomorrow. The next day. At any time.

So let’s figure this out logically. Is there any reason you can’t become a podcaster?

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a file that is available on the internet that:

  • can be streamed on your computer or downloaded to your computer or mobile device
  • once published online is available for repeated downloads/listens
  • contains speech and/or music
  • is audio and/or video
  • is part of a series of related episodes (usually related by subject, but may be related by presenter or format instead)

A podcast may be:

  • published via an automatic feed that tells you when a new episode is available
  • published on a private website that notifies you by email when a new episode is available
  • published via iTunes, which will automatically download new episodes as soon as they are available
  • published anywhere on the web

How do you make a podcast?

The main aspect of podcast production is the actual recording. If you can record your podcast without making any mistakes, you won’t even need to edit it! These are some of the different ways that you could record a podcast:

  • using the built-in microphone on your computer or laptop
  • using a USB microphone
  • using a digital audio recorder
  • using a cassette recorder

What should a podcast be about?

Your podcast can be about anything you choose.

It could be about a particular topic – science, art, music, sport or anything else that takes you fancy.

It could be fact-based – where you find out about something that interests you and then tell that to your listeners. It could be interview-based, where you record interviews with interesting people. Or it could be opinion-based. You could just let rip with your opinions on any topic.

Putting it all together

So let’s consider the simplest scenario. You could record your opinions about your favourite topic using a free audio recording website such as Audioboo or Soundcloud. You could send people links that would allow them to download or listen to your audio file. You could let them know about new episodes by emailing them. Anything tricky in there? Anything you’re not sure about?

Of course, you can make something highly sophisticated and complex, with a bespoke website and automatic feed. That’s completely up to you. But even if you have limited technical know-how, no recording experience and no specific expertise, you could make a podcast.

So should you? Do you want to? Martin Austwick has written a great post about this very subject that can be read here:

I have to say that I agree with everything he says. If you want to have a go, don’t be afraid, just go for it! The only thing you have to lose if it all goes wrong is a bit of time. But if you enjoy being creative, getting a new project together and seeing the fruits of your labour online, then have a go. The internet won’t pass judgement on your efforts. If you get it right, people will listen. If you get it wrong, people won’t even know about it. Unless you tell them, of course.

So technically the only barriers to success are the ability to record yourself and your internet connection. Psychologically the only barrier to success is worrying about whether anyone wants to hear what you have to say. And there really is only one way to find out about that – exercise your voice and give people a listen!

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