**Sign up for Heather McCormack’s three-part Podcasting Class here**
If you’re reading this, it’s not too late.
Podcasting is a burgeoning field churning out great new content all the time. So much so that sometimes it might seem slightly intimidating. Like it’s already a place for professionals—audio journalists, interview hosts, comedians on the verge of nervous breakdown—but it’s important to remember that THAT’S NOT TRUE! Anyone can make a podcast, and that anyone can be you too.
Take me for example. A year ago, I was serving seitan sandwiches at a vegan diner in Chicago. This week I released the fourth and final episode of a podcast miniseries on transness and gender nonconformity. See that? It’s a link. That’s right, this podcast even has its own website! That I made! For free!
So I’ve put together this brief beginner’s guide to making a podcast of your very own. Read on, and you’ll already be well on your way to making your podcasting dreams come true!
Step 1: Pick a topic. What’s something that you’re interested in and want to know more about? What’s something you know a lot about and want to share your viewpoints on? Do you want to talk to people or not? Are you funny by yourself? Are you funny with other people? Don’t worry. You do have ideas. The trick here is just to get started. In my case, I was interested in a news event (the MA repeal referendum on discrimination protections for T/GNC people accessing public accommodations), and I wanted to know more.
Step 2: Pick a format. Do you want to host by yourself or with others? Will the podcast be a rant, report, interview, chat, play, or some combination? Play to your strengths and make it easy on yourself. What are you equipped to do right now? I recommend thinking about this before you start production, so you know what kind of guests you might want and how to set up your studio, etc. I skipped this step while making my podcast and deeply regretted it, but I still arrived at a product that I’m proud of! Making your first pod is a learning process, so try not to get discouraged when things don’t go as planned. There is always a workaround.
Step 3: Get going! Once you have a sense of what you want to cover and how you want to cover it, you’re ready to start recording. The Somerville Media Center has a fully equipped podcast studio for you to start bringing guests in as soon as you want. (It even comes with an instruction manual, in case you get stuck on the set up.) Email Heather (email@example.com) to book a session. I used the studio in my own podcast to record track (i.e. voice over narration); however because my podcast was a journalistic effort, I also used a range of different technologies to capture audio, including Tape-A-Call (a cheap but not free iPhone application for recording phone calls), Zoom and Tascam recorders for collecting interviews in the field (although a handheld mic plugged into your smartphone would work just as well), and my Voice Memo app for capturing “nat sounds” (e.g. a door shutting or the sound of an alarm). Make sure you save everything as you go, and it does not hurt to have a file system.
Step 4: Edit, edit, edit. Shorter is better. For those of you doing conversation or interview style podcasts, this will be super quick! Just pop your files in Adobe Audition (available on all SMC computers), and start cutting. For everyone else, I recommend writing a script, so you know where to plug in quotes and what you’re going to say in the in between. Again, save early and often.
Step 5: Record an intro and pick some theme music. For a 25 minute podcast, Heather recommends making a 2-3 minute intro where you say the name of your pod, the name(s) of your host(s), what the pod is about, and maybe foregrounding some of what the listeners will hear in the episode at hand. Be conversational. Podcasts are as much about the storytellers as the story, so feel free to make jokes and be yourself. How would you deliver these words to a friend? (P.S. podcasts are subject to copyright laws, so make sure you’re using royalty-free music for any themes or transitions.)