Topic: Podcasting

Podcasting was declared in the year 2005 by the editors of the New Oxford American Dictionary. Its definition of the term was: "a digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player" Considered a technological breakthrough that can be used from all MP3 players, its name (Podcasting) has caused some controversy for implyiing the need of an iPod to listen to Podcasts.

Description: Podcasting is the posting of electronic media both video and audio on a network for the purpose of distribution. It is a mechanism in which multimedia computer files are transfered from client to server. Podcasting pulls down XLM files containing the internet addresses of the media files. This file storing system supports almost all kinds of files, files can contain video, images, audio, PDF, etc. Podcasting is a extremely powerful tool because it is so flexible and portable. A pod cast can be viewed or listened to on a computer from the internet or on a personal media device, which are becoming enormously widespread. Whether it is an iPod or an MP3 player, more and more people are making these devices part of their lives.

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Podcasting was created for by those who wanted to distribute their own radio shows, but it quickly became useful in a variety of fields. Pod casting is becoming the new way to distribute media fast, quick, cheap, and efficient. It is used in schools to distribute lessons, by police deparments to distribute public safety messages, museums use them to distribute audio tours, etc. The term "Pod casting" derived from the iPod by Apple. Pod casting is used by radio show host like Howard Stern to deliverer his controversial show. It is used by news media outlets to get people their news. It is used by teachers to deliver lectures to students that missed class. It is being used by companies to deliver information to their employees, because it is a lot cheaper to take the message to the employee than bring the employee to the message. It is used by President Bush to get his newest thoughts about current events out. And many more uses.

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What can podcasts contain and discuss?
Very much like blogs, podcasts tend to have niche audiences, with material specifically aimed at a target audience. And there are podcasts on just about any topic, from technology, to business, to politics, to fashion, to entertainment, and even very obscure and specific topics like, say, hairdressing, and your extensive Teletubby doll collection.
Podcasts can consist of short, ten-minute commentaries, but can also span to hour-long round-table discussions. Podcasters are not limited by airtime constraints, like in broadcast media; but one should be mindful of the boredom thresholds of listeners!

How are podcasts created?
Podcasting essentially consists of four steps:
  1. Content preparation
  2. Recording and post-processing
  3. Publication (and syndication)
  4. Marketing

How are podcasts delivered to the intended audience?
Podcasts may be listened to on a computer or on a portable media device (not necessarily an iPod). Some listeners prefer to download podcasts as individual audio files over a web browser or sometimes even peer-to-peer file transfer software. Some would search submissions and entries in podcast directories, and download files individually.Others would play audio directly on a web browser as an embedded, streaming media. However, the standard way of receiving podcasts is by subscribing using a pod-catcher or a podcast-client like iTunes or iPodder. Subscription may be through podcast directories or by manually entering a podcast’s RSS feed URL onto the client.

What do I need to create a basic podcast?
Let’s start out with a simple setup—we begin with the most essential parts of podcast creation, as these would still be very much the same steps to take when you graduate into more technically-sophisticated setups.

Hardware requirements
    • Computer – laptop or desktop running on a fairly recent processor (i.e. Pentium IV, Pentium M, or latter Celerons), and with a sound card
    • Microphone – either analog or USB (but USB mics may be problematic with some setups
    • Speaker or Ear/headphones

Software requirements. The following should be installed on your system:
    • The base operating system – may be Windows, Linux or Macintosh, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume Windows XP
    • For recording and mixing – Audacity
    • For encoding – LAME MP3 Encoder
    • Web browser – any modern web browser, such as Mozilla Firefox 1.xx or Internet Explorer 6.xx, will do
    • A podcatcher or podcast client – iTunes or iPodder (now called Juice)

Other things you’ll need
    • Music tracks (if so desired) – podcast-safe music can be downloaded from and other similar sites.
    • A web host, or a blog, or an account with a blogging provider
    • An account with FeedBurner (to help standardize your RSS feed) - optional
    • An account with any of the following (or any other) services that can host media, particularly audiofiles: Gcast, Odeo, OurMedia

Creating your simple podcast, step-by-step

Part 1: Preparing the content
Create a script. Unless you’re an experienced talk show host, then you’d need a script or at least an outline to guide your show. Otherwise, you’d have ten minutes of umms, ahhs, and errs which will surely annoy your audience. Some prefer podcasts that are spontaneous, while others prefer clear-cut 'casts with a definite message. But I think it's best if you have at least an outline or a summary of the flow of what you would be discussing.

Here’s a rule of thumb you can follow in creating a ten-minute podcast:
  • 10 seconds: Intro music or audio
  • 20 seconds: Introduce the podcast. State the title, your name(s), and the purpose of the podcast. Also state the URL where your podcast and the show notes can be found. Introduce your guests, if any.
  • 10 seconds: If you have any sponsors, mention them now!
  • 20 seconds: Provide a brief outline of your show, if you have a script; if not, state here what you plan to talk about.
  • 9 minutes: The main body or discussion
  • 20 seconds: Wrap up the discussion, outlining your main points. If you have guests, take this time to thank and acknowledge them.
  • 10 seconds: If you have sponsors you’d like to mention again, now’s the time!
  • 20 seconds: Introduce the podcast once more. State the title, your name, and the URL of the podcast and show notes.
  • 10 seconds: outro music.
  • Optional: 3 to 5 minutes: Podcast-safe song or piece from an independent band or artist at the end of your show.
These are just suggested guidelines. You are free to do variations, as necessary. For instance, some podcasters place ads right before the intro music.

Part 2: Recording and post-processing
Record the audio. This is the most fun part of podcasting. Now you can fulfill your dreams of becoming like your radio idol Howard Stern, ranting and raving about anything under the sun! Here’s what to do:
  • Open your preferred audio recording software, in our case, Audacity.
  • Check if your microphone works, and if the recording level is acceptable. Press the round, red record button and speak a few test lines into the mic. Then end the recording and then play back your test message. If you don’t hear what you just recorded, then adjust the mic and volume controls accordingly. If the recording level is acceptable, then create a new, clean recording by pressing File-New. You may now start recording your programme.
  • If you press the stop button and then record again, this will record the new audio on a new audio track (use the pause button instead, if you simply want to pause for a while).
  • Make sure you save the Audacity project after recording.
Alternative means of recording include importing an existing voice recording (say, from a portable media player with recording features, or from CD), and recording a VoIP conversation/interview (i.e. roundtable discussions).

Edit the audio recording. Once you’ve recorded the audio, you may want to take out a few blank spaces (i.e. silent pauses) or unwanted portions, or bleep out inappropriate words. You may also want to vary the audio levels on some portions of the recording, or remove noise. You can use Audacity to:
  • Delete any portion of the recordings.
  • Bleep out portions.
  • Change and vary the amplitude of the recording or any other track.
  • Change the positioning of each track with the time shifting tool.
  • Insert or move around portions of tracks by using copy/cut-and-paste.
  • Merge your voice recording into only one track, for easier editing later on.

You can now mix the audio recording with the other tracks. Once the voice track has been cleaned and merged into only one track, it is now time to mix other audio and music tracks.
  • You can import MP3 music into Audacity. You can then select and copy a few seconds, for instance, of the music intro, into the beginning portion of the recording. You can adjust the position of the voice recording using the time shifting tool.
  • Try to use podcast-safe music as much as possible. We wouldn’t want the RIAA running after us for copyright infringement, would we?

Save the podcast. Once you’ve deleted the unnecessary tracks, save the audacity project (with the music and voice tracks separate). Then export the file into MP3 format with the “export as MP3” function. You are asked to type in the ID tags (title, artist, genre, etc.) for the MP3 file. This will be used by MP3 media players to identify the media while playing.

Part 3: Publication
Upload the media. Once the file export is through, you may wish to listen to the finished product first. If you are satisfied, then it is time to upload.
  • You may upload the MP3 onto a podcast-hosting service such as Gcast, or Ourmedia. These have various features like automatic-XML/RSS generation and playing through an embedded player.
  • You can also upload onto your own host (or a free host) and then link the media to your blog or website. We shall then use FeedBurner to convert our blog RSS or Atom feed into a podcast-compatible format.

Prepare your podcast’s RSS feed. RSS is probably 50% of what makes up your podcast, because this is the technology that lets people pull the content from your server automatically as soon as you have uploaded a new episode.
  • You can hand-code your RSS feed, but this can be difficult and not recommended. Besides, blogging software and podcast hosting services usually already generate their own RSS feeds.
  • If you use a podcast hosting service, do retrieve the automatically-generated URL of the podcast RSS.
  • If you have uploaded your MP3 file onto your own paid or free host, you may use FeedBurner to automatically convert your blog’s feed into podcast-friendly format. Just make sure you use the

Podcasting Streams Into Video
With the introduction of the IPod Video, podcasting is no longer limited to audio streams. Those lucky enough to own a IPod Video can now recieve video podcasts from those participating. Tv Tonic is a simple program that allows a user to register for video podcasts using RSS feeds. Trully designed for Windows XP Media Center, these video podcasts can be streamed to XBOX 360's and TV's using the latest wirless technologies.


Web Resources:
Yahoo! has a great list of podcast directories
The last step would probably be to start anew! Once you’ve published one episode of your podcast, it’s time to sit back awhile for a well-deserved rest, and to think up topics to discuss on your next episode.

A digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player
iPod- brand of MP3 player manufactured by Apple that plays a variety of file formats
MP3 Player-general term used to describe any device that is capable of storing and playing MP3 files