Tag Archives: podcast

How to Start a Podcast

Hey 3.5 readers.  Alas, my podcasting career was short lived, but I was so surprised that I was able to figure out how to get a podcast recorded and posted, that I’ll share the info with you:

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#1 – What Is Your Podcast About?

That’s really up to you, but I’ve listened to good podcasts and lousy ones.  The good ones have a theme, a point, a structure.  If it’s just you and your musings, make it clear that’s what the listener will get.  If it’s about your love of ancient paintings of toucan beaks, be clear about that too.

You may not have professional experience, but you’ve listened to enough radio to wing it.  My biggest pet peeve is podcasts where there are multiple hosts and they giggle and laugh and tell inside jokes and then someone says something like, “Should we tell the audience what that means?” and the response is “No, tee hee hee.  Well, sorry, but eff you dummies.  You came to entertain me, so either do it or shut off the recorder and have your own private conversation.  Don’t make your audience feel like an unwanted third wheel.

I keep wondering if I was too hard on myself.  My voice sucks, there’s no way around it.  I sort of hope that with more practice I could at least work on diction, pronunciation, pacing, timing, getting rid of stuttering, stammering, lost train of thought and so on.

So practice does make perfect but at the same time, don’t be too hard on yourself.  While the little errors should be removed from your book, I just don’t think it is possible for even the most professional talker to get through a broadcast without an “Uhh” or an “umm.”  It’s when they come every five seconds then it becomes a problem.

#2 – Get a Mic

I’m no expert here, but I know at least enough to tell you that the mic built into your laptop will not do.  You’ll need an actual mic to connect to your computer.  What’s the best one?  You’ll have to search around for that information.  Best for me was what I was able to afford and until you’re raking in the big bucks, you might want to stick with that too.  Don’t shell out your life savings on a fancy microphone, record one podcast, decide it sucks and you’re done.  That will just lead to embarrassment in a few decades when you tell your grandkids the story of that dusty old microphone in the corner with cobwebs all over it.

#3 – Train on the Software

I used Garageband for Mac, though I hear Audacity is preferred for PC.  My advice will be geared toward Garageband as I never used Audacity.

I am a complete novice, but here are some things I was able to pick up that got me from, “I could never do this” to “this is hypothetically possible.

  • “When I click record the recording picks up me hitting buttons on my computer and breathing.”

Yup.  You’re not an idiot.  That happens.  Just keep talking.  Record what you want to say.  Your recording will look like a big long running graph of your voice.  Find the parts where you hit buttons, breathed too hard, burped, farted or whatever.  I’m not sure what the marker that you move around the screen is called so I’ll just call it, “the marker.”  Put the marker between what you want to keep and what you want to delete.  Press Command + T at the same time and voila!  Snippy snippy!  Just like taking a pair of scissors to a piece of tape.  (That’s how people edited sound back in the day, millennials.)

  • “How do I string sounds together?”

You should have a cool intro, maybe some music, some kind of lead in, maybe a prerecorded interview or some soundbites you want to play.  You’ll have to study it more than I am able to explain here, but the short version is Garageband allows you to load up all your sounds, then drag and drop them next to where you want them to be in your recording.

  • “How do I fade out music?”

Yes, you’ll want awesome music but you don’t want it to end abruptly and then start speaking.  But you don’t want it blaring over your voice either.  You want it to build up and then start going down so the listener’s ears transition from the song to the words coming out of your cake hole.  I hate to be lazy, but I’m lazy.  I’ll confirm it is possible and it is just a matter of bringing up a line that goes over the voice of your music, plotting out points where you want the music to decline, then recording your voice and dragging underneath where the music fades out.

I don’t know how Howard Stern does it when he’s talking live.  I assume Fred has a fader button.

#4 – YouTube Videos

I literally obtained my limited podcasting knowledge by watching YouTube videos.  There’s a YouTube video about how to do almost anything.  I was utterly confounded by Garageband until I found a good video that told me how to use it.

#5 – How Do I Get My Fabulous Podcast Onto iTunes?

Ah, iTunes.  It’s the place to be for podcasts.  But you can’t just start there.  Steve Jobs didn’t get super rich by offering free hosting space, you know.

You need another site to host your podcast and generate an RSS feed for you.  You might be able to do it on your own website, but don’t look to me to tell you how, for my name is not Bookshelf Q. Einstein.

Soundcloud and Podbean will both allow you a small amount of free space where you can upload your podcast file.  However, if you decide that you’re going to be a regular podcaster, you’ll need to dole out some cash to get more hosting space.  Your choice of site.  I went with Soundcloud because it looks hipper to me.

There may be completely free sites but I’m not smart enough to know about them.

Once you’ve got a site to host your podcast, you can log on to iTunes podcast connect and link up your RSS feed.  iTunes will review your podcast and assuming they don’t have any problems with it, it will appear in iTunes podcasts once they approve it.  I don’t know how long it will take them to approve.  I don’t work for Apple, so stop bugging me, nerd.

#6 – Is There Anything I Should Be Worried About?

Lots, probably.  Just off the top of my head, don’t hijack copyrighted material.  You might like a popular song, but you can’t just lift it and make it your intro, for example.  Just as there are stock photo sites for blogs, there are stock sounds/songs sites for podcasts.  Also, you might think you’re a nobody and no one’s listening but even so, nobodies can be sued for slander and defamation, so mind your p’s and q’s, buster.

Conclusions

Done well, it can probably be a great marketing tool and if you get enough subscribers, you might be able to sell some advertising in order to fund your nerdy empire.  My fear is that it isn’t something you roll out of bed being able to do and even if you master the tech, you, sigh, still have to be someone that people want to listen to and provide a show that people will want to listen to.

Thus, for me, the fear is I don’t want to do it until I’m able to provide something that doesn’t make me sound like a dope.  I’ve listened to podcasts that sound like they came from people who half-assed it and I was left with the impression that they are dopes.  Remember, people are less likely to buy your book, read your blog, partake of your content if you come across as a dope, so if you’re going to do it, do it well.

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I’m going to hold off on the podcast for now.

Hey 3.5 readers.

Did you ever have a really tough decision?

I was proud that I figured out how to get a podcast down from idea to upload.  It seemed daunting but the information about how to do it all is out there.

Then after sleeping on it, I realized that I really hate my voice.  And though there are plenty of people with weird voices who manage to get by in broadcasting, I lack that polish.  At any rate, I didn’t want to be out there on a podcast sounding like a stammering mess.

It’s tough do to a solo act broadcast.  Even the great Howard Stern has people in the studio he can talk to, the lovely Robin Quivers for example.  Who would want to listen to Howard all by himself?

I enjoyed making (or commissioning) the funny Fiverr soundbites.  Do listen to the guy doing the movie trailer voice talking about me, or the guy doing the Morgan Freeman impression talking about me.

Perhaps I need to practice.  Maybe I need to rethink the format.  I’m not entirely sure how my BQB schtick will play on radio.  I have been toying with the idea that since it is just me, that maybe I’ll do a podcast where I just read stories from the public domain, like Dracula, Frankenstein and Shakespeare or something…interspersed with funny clips.

The funny clips are expensive, so I couldn’t make one with new clips every week…maybe every couple months at best.

So I’m torn between whether I suck or maybe I’m too hard on myself.  I listen to the podcast and I think I suck then I listen again and say hmm, it’s not terrible and you are kind of poking fun of yourself and self-deprecation has always been your bag on the blog…

I dunno.  If you listened to it tell me your honest opinion, even if it sucked.  I think for now I’ll put it on hold and concentrate on my writing.  Perhaps after I’ve put a few bucks out and seen some success at writing I’ll feel comfortable putting myself out there.

It does suck though.  I like to think of myself as an awesome person but then I hear what my voice sounds like and suddenly I realize why a lot of people don’t agree with my self-assessment.  If only people would see us how we see ourselves.

 

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BQB’s Serial Club – Serial Season 2, Episode 1 – DUSTWUN

Hello 3.5 readers.

Have you ever listened to the podcast, “Serial?”  In the first season, the hose, Sarah Koenig, presented the case of Adnan Syed and illustrated that how it is possible for all the evidence to be laid out in a case and for people to still be unsure of whether or not a defendant is innocent or guilty.

Koenig has a knack for storytelling style journalism and keeps things lively and moving.

Produced by the creators of This American Life, Serial is back for a second season.  This time the individual under scrutiny is Sgt. Bo Bergdahl.

You might remember he was a major news story last year.  In 2009, he walked away from his post in Afghanistan and six soldiers died while looking for him.

Last year, he was returned to the US after a prisoner swap with the Taliban that led to four major terrorists in captivity going free.

This is a tough one.  My blog is not political…at all.  But I do enjoy good story telling and Sarah Koenig is a master at it.  She definitely knows how to end every episode on a cliffhanger that keeps her audience coming back for more.

So here’s what I propose. If you’re listening to Serial, stop by here once a week and let’s chat about the latest episode, hash out the info and the evidence and try to figure out what’s going on.

Not gonna lie – I might pull the plug on this.  My hope is you all won’t get too political.  Were the wars in the Middle East right or wrong?  I hate this politician or I like that politician or whatever…not really up for debate here.

The crux of this season seems to be around Bergdahl telling his story and admittedly, as of the end of the first episode, it sounds pretty lame.

Briefly summarized – he claims he ran away because he had to create a “DUSTWUN” or a missing soldier situation in which the top brass pays attention.  He claims he had to do this because his unit was poorly managed and hoped this would get him an audience with someone with a high rank that could do something about his complaints about his unit.

I have to admit, that sounds like a pretty fishy story. “I was 23 and I was scared and so I made a dumb mistake and ran away.  I’m very sorry for the six people who died looking for me.”

To me, that would be more sympathetic than, “I was afraid my poorly managed unit was going to lead to people getting killed….so I ran away….um, and got six people killed.”

Anyway, let’s be civil (NOT POLITICAL) and look at it from an academic approach.  If you listened to this first episode, do you believe Bergdahl or do you think he’s full of a smelly substance?

I’ll say up front I believe he’s in the latter column.  My fear is that this guy is basically trying to save himself by impugning the character of a unit that tried to save him when he went AWOL (six of whom died in the process.)

And I get it.  I’ve never served in the military. Who am I to criticize anyone? But, like I said, I’d be sympathetic to “I was young and scared and made a mistake” but hearing him talk as though he is “Jason Bourne” strains credibility.

Cliffhanger for next week – um, it sounds like Sarah is going to call the Taliban on the phone to interview them.  Who knew they were even listed in the phonebook?

Check out Serial Podcast for more.

NOTE: To reiterate, please refrain from the nastiness of politics.  I’m not looking for comments to the effect of “I HATE REPUBLICANS!” or “I HATE DEMOCRATS!” and so on.

The podcast is interesting to me because, as she did in the first season with Syed, Sarah presents two sides of a case and leaves it up to the listener to make his/her own conclusions.

So in other words, we’re not talking about the politics of war – instead, we’re presented with a case.  A soldier walked away from his unit, got 6 people killed during a search for him, his release led to four dangerous people being freed.

Is Bergdahl guilty?  Yes or no and what about the evidence/interviews presented in the podcast make you think that way?

 

 

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How Self Publishing Gave Me the Motivation to Write Again

Hey 3.5 Readers,1371251154-2

Bookshelf Q. Battler here.

Many years ago, when I was a young BQB, I gave up on writing.  Sometimes I wish I hadn’t.  Other times I understand why I had to.  My position on the subject changes with whatever mood you happen to find me in.

I quit because the motivation factor just wasn’t there.  To develop a quality piece of writing takes so much time, energy and effort and the payout?  Well, let’s just say the likelihood of winning that coveted traditional publishing contract deal seemed akin to my chances of winning the lottery.

So I pursued an average life instead and in many respects, I can’t complain.  However, the rise of the self-publishing industry has really provided me with the motivation I need to pick up my pencil again.

Today’s technology has given rise to an emerging self-publishing industry.  From the comfort of their own homes, people are putting out books that rival what major publishing houses are putting out.  If you’re willing to put the work in, you can build a platform, develop an audience, seek out the assistance of editors and artists, and get your work into the hands of readers.

That just wasn’t an option ten years ago.  I wish it had been.  Those were the days when little was impossible for a plucky young BQB as long as he had a can of Red Bull.

Three guys who are kicking ass and taking names in the self-publishing game?  Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, and David Wright aka Johnny, Sean and Dave of “The Self Publishing Podcast” – check it out at selfpublishingpodcast.com (they’re available on iTunes).

I’ve learned so much from their book “Write.  Publish. Repeat” and from listening to their show.

The upside of self-publishing?  You’re in control.  Your success does not hinge on being one of the beautiful people who can charm an agent or a publisher into swinging open the gate to the Castle of Success for you.

The downside? Same as the upside.  You’re in control.  You need to figure out how to hire an editor, how to hire a cover artist, how to build a platform, how to promote yourself and more.  Johnny, Sean, and Dave put that info out there in a fun (and often hilarious) format.

To spend all my free time writing a novel when the only chance of its publication rests on me being the needle in a haystack picked up by an agent?  It just seemed like a waste.

But now that technology has put our writing  careers in our own hands?  Sign me up.

At this early stage, I have no idea if I’ll ever make it, but the self publishing industry has at the very least resurrected my dream, one I gladly work on whenever I get a rare free moment these days.

Bravo on your third anniversary of podcasting, Johnny Sean and Dave.  They did a special primetime show this evening and it was a blast to watch them work their magic live.

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