Since I was just a boy, I’ve always been fascinated by radio broadcasting. I used to record fake radio shows with my cassette recorder where I’d pretend to be a reporter for a local news station, interviewing my action figures about wrestling matches or their thoughts on “international news” (which, to me, was Lex Luger suplexing Yokozuna). Fast forward a couple of months (kidding… it’s been years!) and my pretending has been taken giant leaps forward!
What is podcasting and why should I do it?
Podcasting (also known as Webcasting) is a show produced for the purpose of spreading information about any given topic, brand, or product. You may like birds and decide to produce “The Ornithology Podcast”. Maybe you sell Draft Beer Equipment and decide to host a show about kegerator kits and how to make a kegerator? Whatever it is you produce, I highly recommend you choose a topic around something you actually enjoy. It makes for better content as well as an easier time to keep up with producing episodes (if it’s a topic you’re not interested in, it will probably be a short lived podcast!).
Where to start?
Obviously, you’ll want to come up with the basics for your show: show name, show content, show format (1 host or multiple hosts? live broadcast or taped show? etc). Once you have that figured out (which I would love to work with you on developing a focused podcast), you’re then ready to start looking at equipment.
I get asked a lot about how people can get into podcasting without breaking the bank. Below are some equipment recommendations for when you’re starting your own podcast, and I’d love your feedback to make this resource page as best as possible!
Having a mixer is great because it allows you to bring in multiple sources that you’d like to include in the podcast without having to add them in post production. For example – a co-host’s microphone, a MP3 player with music, a line from your computer for Skype, etc. Mixer‘s can be very expensive for better quality and more bells & whistles, but you’re just trying to get in to podcasting so let’s not get ahead of ourselves! The board you see to your left, the Behringer Xenyx 802, is the first board I owned and used until I absolutely HAD to upgrade to a board with more inputs. I love this board and I can personally guarantee that this board will work perfect for the beginning podcaster (unless of course you need more inputs, then I recommend my current board – Behringer XENYX X1204USB)!
While this piece of equipment isn’t an absolute requirement to have to record your podcast, I highly recommend having it from day 1. I’ve always used the Tascam DR-05 and have loved it. I use a very affordable cable to go out from the board and in to the “input” on the Tascam DR-05, record it on a microSD card, and then pop it in my computer afterwards for any post editing (if needed!). Another huge perk to having an external recorder (like the Tascam) is that it makes my podcast footprint that much smaller as opposed to if I were setting up a laptop from my mixer to record the show. Having this portable recorder, I’ve also found that there is less chance for error (for me, at least!) and issues when I simply plug from the board into the recorder vs. when I used to plug in from my mixer straight into a computer. If you’re really sticking to a budget, don’t worry about getting this piece of equipment because my next recommendation will have you covered either way!
External Sound Card
OK — maybe you don’t want to drop the cash on an external recorder. I understand. The truth is, you probably at least already own a computer of some sort – whether it be a laptop or desktop, right? You can still capture your audio effectively without an external recorder by purchasing an external sound card for your computer. The pros of using an external sound card is how easy it is to set up. You’ll simply plug it in to a free USB port, your computer will recognize the device and allow you to configure it so you can start receiving the signal from your board straight to your computer. HEADS UP: You’ll need to have some kind of software installed and running to capture the audio and record it (I recommend Audacity and it’s FREE!)
While this wasn’t the first mic I owned, I wish it was! The mic you see above is the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB/XLR Microphone and it is wonderful. Like it’s title says, this mic can be plugged directly into your mixer via XLR cable OR it can be plugged directly into your computer via USB. This is great for those of you that would like the flexibility to be able to use one microphone between your mixer & your computer (SIDE NOTE- You can make your dollar stretch even further, if you’re on a very strict budget, by purchasing this microphone without a mixer, external recorder, or even having to buy an external sound card BECAUSE it will plug directly into your computer via USB!). The best part is the price – around $60! If you continue to podcast for a while, you’ll more than likely upgrade your mic at some point. With the ATR2100, you’ll be able to have a great microphone now and as a secondary mic for when/if you upgrade.
Wearing headphones while you podcast is important because it allows you to monitor the complete mix from your board. You will want to be able to manipulate channel volumes on the fly and, in my opinion, you’ll need better headphones than just the ones that came with your smartphone. The Behringer HPX2000 are great because they are over the ear, can headphones and are very affordable! If you think you’ll ever have another host or guest on your show, consider picking up this affordable splitter too.
While 6 XLR cables might seem like overkill to you, this is such a great deal that I couldn’t not recommend it. I’ve been loving my GLS Audio cables for a couple of reasons: 1) They are super affordable ($49 for the 6 pack) & 2) They are clean! What I mean by clean is that I’ve had no noise issues when using these cables (like hissing or humming from bad/cheap cables) and I highly recommend them!
If you are about to begin podcasting or have already begun, please tweet me your podcast title or URL because I’d love to check it out! If you ever need any help in setting up your podcast, podcast cover art, or developing an optimized website specifically for your podcast, I would be happy to be considered by you for hire!