How do I podcast?

My new podcast logo, based on an oil pastel on paper work by Margarita Georgiadis.

After spending my sabbatical on reading and thinking about my research philosophy and trying to find a unifying principle for my work, I arrived at 'the concept of le flâneur politique becomes my "vehicle for the examination of the conditions of modernity"' (Walter Benjamin). In effect, I could be in the world but not of it. 

I didn't want to be a political scientist of the left or the right - these concepts are rigid and they are not reflected in the variety of arrangements that would otherwise be possible. I wrote about this recently

So once I had settled on the concept of one who wanders through the arcades of life to observe and understand, it enabled me to find connections in my research, teaching, and reading interests. I like the idea of the old, like federation houses and open fireplaces, but I also like blogging and radio and podcasts. 

"Le flâneur politique" gave me a kind of "steampunk" freedom to mix and match the past and the future and "straddle" the best of both worlds.

I've been blogging regularly for ten years this year. I have also presented a radio program on community radio for about the same length of time, although since I moved out to Gunning I haven't done a show. I have promised to provide a pre-recorded show but to date it hasn't happened. But that may change soon.

I decided to start a podcast show. I didn't know where to start but I liked the idea of Stitcher, which I have been using for a while as I commute to Canberra. Podcasts have opened up a whole new world to me and the commute is an exciting part of my day. It is certainly never dull.

I thought, too, that if I could get the podcast setup right, I could also record my radio show and then get back into it regularly. I started with the microphone for my digital camera. It is a Rode Stereo VideoMic. Not ideal for podcasts, but good quality recording for now.

Microphone solved. Next was the recording software. I tried a bunch of different apps on my Alienware 15 R3. It really is the best thing ever. In the end, I settled back with Audacity with the LAME MP3 converter. I'd used it a while back when making video lectures but it has been a while.

Then I went looking for some music. The Free Music Archive (FMA) provides music licenced through Creative Commons. My blog is CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 AU so this worked well. FMA has a good range of music and I will use it as my "go to" site for now.

But I also found an interesting sound effects site, AR Sound Effects, which is licenced using Creative Commons, but with a CC BY licence which can be used for anything as long as you attribute the work to the creator.

This site is really cool. It took me a while to work out how to convert YouTube videos to mp3 files, but the aptly-named YouTube mp3 did the job no problems. 

Next was to work out something to say and to test it all. I made a couple of false starts, but there was some media training happening nearby so I reflected on that and began recording. The first thing I noticed was that I had to get the Audacity setup right. I needed to hear what I was saying and hear the music and sound effects at the same time.

And here was the first big problem that I can only solve with a new microphone. Latency. When you listen to the playback through Audacity, there is a lag between you speaking and you hearing what you are saying, I had some marching feet sound effects and I was trying to speak to the beat. But it came so slow through the microphone that I started slowing down my voice and the recording sounded terrible. 

I solved it by listening to the sound effect through my headphones and speaking without hearing my voice. I felt like I was Geoffrey Rush's patient on The King's Speech, except I wasn't the king, I was just some charity case:

This is the problem with digital recording. Given all our technological advances of late it seems rather lame that we don't have a digital solution to a problem that going analogue would solve!

So I will look to microphones. I probably need two to do interviews, so a I will have to investigate whether a USB podcast microphone will work, or whether I need a mixer (which is what other podcasters do). 

The Rode Podcaster is an Australian-made podcast mic. It has a headphone jack in the actual microphone, so you can hear yourself speak without the latency. But I am not sure whether this will allow me to hear the sound effects or music at the same time. The next problem is whether I can use two of these at once in different USB slots.

If I go to the mixer, then the Rode Procaster might be the go. I will need to take some advice but I suspect this will be the best setup for interviews.

Once I had the raw product, it took a little while to play around with it in Audacity. Listening to the completed product often is required - my first few attempts left wild gaps in the middle of nowhere and my intended puns with the sound effects were completely lost because my timing was all over the shop. It would seem that "time spent in [editing] is seldom wasted".

First, I had to find a way to create the RSS feed for my blog. I played around with Feedburner (I had used this years before). No problems, all set up. But no.

I went to setup on Stitcher, thinking I could add my RSS feed and off I would go. But you need to register as a partner. You can't use the same email address as the one you used to become a listener. So off I went back to my ISP's site to add a new email address. 

Second, I had to enter the RSS feed into the application for a station. This failed. So off I went to the W3C Feed Validator. Validation successful! But there was no podcast anywhere. I needed to have this uploaded somewhere first.

Lifewire had the solution. This made sense of some parts of Blogger I had never used before. The article covers everything you need. Except how to host your podcast to somewhere.

So off I go to Soundcloud. So much easier than Stitcher. Soundcloud allows you to set up with Creative Commons, and in Settings>Content I found the program's RSS feed. So back to W3C Feed Validator and bam! no problems, so over to Stitcher and bam! no problems. The Soundcloud info is brought into Stitcher, so if you don't like the profile picture or info in Stitcher, you have to change it in Soundcloud

And from there it was time to add the logo (with the appropriate permission!) and there it is. I have added the Soundcloud player to Blogger. It was pretty straight-forward once I solved the initial dramas.

But that is how it all panned out. Below is my first Stitcher podcast, and I hope very soon to have some interviews appearing on Stitcher and Soundcloud, and later iTunes. Hopefully this will be of some use to others.