I published my first podcast, called PodLeaders back in around 2006 and ran it for two years. I have set up and published a several more podcasts since then, including my most recent one, the Digital Supply Chain podcast which I set up in June of last year.
The recent Coronavirus pandemic has brought a halt to my travels and this allowed me to focus more on the podcast, and in doing so I learned a LOT about how to improve the quality of your podcast. The improvement in quality has coincided with a big upswing in listenership, which is nice. Some of this increase may be to do with the uptick in quality, but it is also likely to be that the content is more topical (several Coronavirus impact on supply chain podcasts), and because the frequency of publication has gone up.
So here is my new and (vastly) improved podcast process, in case it helps anyone else with their podcast (or podcast aspirations!).
Step 1 in my podcast is to schedule the guest interview. This is quite straightforward if the guest is an SAP colleague as I can see their availability on their calendars, and vice versa, but for folks outside the organisation this can be a lot of back and forward, so I set up a Calendly account. Calendly allows people to see and book the available slots on my calendar, and so saves a lot of the to’ing and fro’ing that is otherwise required to find a mutually agreeable time.
Step 2. Once the recording time is confirmed (or sometimes a prep call, followed by the recording), I set up the call on the podcast recording platform Squadcast. Squadcast, like Zencastr records in lossless WAV format for better quality audio, but unlike Zencastr, Squadcast uploads the recorded file live to the cloud for safe storage, as the podcast is happening, and it also has a video interface, so you can see the person you are talking to. I can’t stress enough how much better this makes conversation flow. The video is not recorded (and guests have an option not to turn on their cameras, if they’re not comfortable, or they’re still in their pyjamas!). Squadcast do say they will add an option to record video later this year, so if this is something you need, they will be adding it.
Once the interview has concluded, I download the WAV files from Squadcast, and I run them quickly through the Noise Reduction and Normalisation sound effects in Audacity (an open source audio editing program). The Noise Reduction in Audacity is particularly easy to use, and can quickly get rid of any annoying static, or hissing sounds that may have been picked up.
Having exported the cleaned-up files from Audacity, I drop them into Hindenburg Journalist Pro – this is an application which is specifically created for the editing of podcasts. This is the only software I’m aware of which is specifically created for podcast production. Journalist Pro’s user interface does take a little getting used to, but they have great video tutorials online to help get you up-to-speed quickly, and they have a 30 Day free trial, so you can try before you buy. The auto-levelling, the voice profiles, the granular volume controls, are some some of the many reasons this program is a podcaster’s best friend. For reference, before Journalist Pro, I used to use GarageBand, and that is not bad, but because it is a program designed for music editing, there were quirks and work-arounds you had to do all the time when working on podcasts. On the other hand, GarageBand if free if you own a Mac, so that’s something to take into consideration too.
Once the podcast production is completed in Journalist Pro, you can export it directly to your podcast host site. In my case, my podcast host is called Buzzsprout. I have used other podcast hosting sites like Libsyn, and Podbean, but to my mind Buzzsprout is the best of them. And I say this not specifically for any technical reasons, but rather because they go out of their way to make the podcast publication process painless. Not just do they have a nice simple interface for podcast publication, but they also have a great Youtube channel with loads of fantastic tips and tricks to help you set up, or improve your podcast, a cool podcast of their own (duh!), and a useful newsletter. It was via their newsletter that I learned of Journalist Pro, for example. However, when I’ve finished with the production in Journalist Pro, I don’t publish the audio directly to Buzzsprout, instead I export it as a WAV file to my computer.
I export the WAV file to my disk because I want to improve it a little more. So now, I upload the file to Auphonic. Auphonic is a magic site which just improves your files audio. From the screenshot above you can see the before waveform at the bottom, and the after waveform at the top – the audio levels have been levelled! Not just that, the audio post Auphonic just sounds better. Now it is ready to be published!
So, I upload the file to Buzzsprout, and also most times to Trint as well. What is Trint? Trint is a site that does transcription of audio files using AI. This means you get the transcription back in minutes, rather than the days it can take when you are relying on humans to do the transcription. Trint also has a free trial, so if you’re interested in trying it out, you have nothing to lose – really, it is not one of those free trials where they take your credit card details and make it hard for you to back out. As transcription goes, the output is quite good. It is not perfect, obviously and will need some work to clean it up, but it is fast, and it has an excellent interface for that inevitable clean-up. Then, I post the transcriptions here on this blog, along with the Buzzsprout player so anyone who is interested can listen to the podcast, and read along the text as well, see here for an example.
Ok, that’s it. Those are my seven steps to better podcasts. For now. I’m always learning, so I may do a follow-up as I learn more. If there is anything I missed, some further improvements you think I could make, or some questions you have, do please feel free to hit me up in the comments, or drop me an email.
The main reason I use it is to simply populate the posts with a Flash player for any podcasts which I post so people can listen to them onscreen.
However, since upgrading PodLeaders to WordPress to 2.5 the plugin has stopped working 🙁 It simply displays a blank where the Flash player should be.
I tried switching to the Default WordPress theme to see if the problem was theme related but it appears not to be as the problem also happened in that theme.
I downloaded another plugin, called Podcasting which is supposed to work with WordPress 2.5 but that didn’t seem to work either.
Does anyone have any idea where the problem might lie and what I’ll need to do to fix it?
UPDATE: Problem solved. Pete reminded me in the comments of this post to check my folder structure for the Audio Player plugin and sure enough when updating from 1.2.2 to 1.2.3 I had inadvertently uploaded the plugin folder instead of simply the contents of the plugin folder! Fixed now and working once more. Thanks Pete.
Endgadget are reporting that Microsoft has announced Windows Mobile Edition 6 – Microsoft’s operating system for mobile phones.
According to the article, the major new features of WME6 are
HTML support in email
Windows Live for Windows Mobile
File transfer capability in Windows Live Messenger
New versions of mobile Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with rich editing
Remote wipe capability for stolen and lost devices
Call history in contact cards
Tight Vista integration
“Calendar ribbon” for more easily viewing schedule by day or week
New versions of .NET Compact Framework and SQL Server built-in
Some nice features in there alright but how about support for RSS? It would be great to be able to have an RSS reader built-in to the phone. This would make it trivial allow people to subscribe to podcasts, for example from their phones and do away with the need to be carrying a phone and an iPod.
Advertising any product to me is becoming more and more difficult. It is not just me, there is a growing number of people who are discovering ways to skip ads almost completely in their daily lives.
In my own case, I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought a newspaper but it would be years ago. I prefer to get all my news online.
I use the Firefox plugin Adblock to ensure I don’t see most ads online (see below)
This is the ENN site viewed without the Adblock plugin
This is the same ENN site viewed using the Adblock plugin
I used to listen to quite a bit of radio when I was on the road. Now however, I fill my iPod with podcasts before setting off on any journey and listen to those instead. This means that I am listening to content of my selection, relevant to my work, and I am not at the whim of whatever presenter happens to be on the radio.
I watch a decreasing amount of television. The TV I do watch tends to be DVDs or movie channels with no ads. I’d potentially watch a little more TV if I had Sky+ (similar to Tivo) but it is waaaaaaay too expensive.
And yes, before anyone says it, I do see the irony of posting this on a site who’s hosting is being paid for by Google ads!
So if you were an advertiser, trying to get your brand/message through to me (and people like me), how would you go about it?
Audacity is an open source, cross-platform sound editing application. It is the sound editor I use for producing the PodLeaders and it@cork podcasts.
The process I use for producing the podcasts was:
Record the interview using Skype and Wiretap Pro (with Wiretap Pro set to save as mp3)
Import the mp3 file to Audacity and edit
Export as mp3 and publish
After a recent conversation with Doug Kaye, I decided to try his Levelator application to get the levels on the recordings the same. This meant I had to change Wiretap Pro to output to aiff ( a lossless format) instead of mp3.
I did this and recorded a number of interviews successfully, saving the interviews as aiff. However, yesterday, when I went to edit the first of those interviews, I was disappointed that the Levelator couldn’t work with the files (gave an error and stopped trying to level them).
However, I was horrified when I tried importing the files into Audacity only to find that the imported files had massive echo problems, echo problems (!). No matter what I tried I couldn’t get rid of the echo and it made the audio useless.
Finally, I hit on a solution:
Import the aiff files into iTunes
Export from iTunes as mp3
Import the mp3 file into Audacity – no echo (phew!)
I should have hit on this solution sooner but it had been a long day!
Microsoft is to launch the Zune on November 14th according to its PR site.
This date is just in time for the American holiday of Thanksgiving. What is not clear from the site is if this is an American launch date of a global launch date.
I wrote, in not too glowing terms previously about the Zune. One criticism I missed at that time is that if someone shares one of my podcasts over wifi on the Zune, the Zune adds on its own DRM to my podcast, in direct contravention to my podcast’s Creative Commons Licence causing the podcast to self-destruct in three days or after three plays.
Can someone in Microsoft explain the legality of that to me please? ‘Cos to me, that’s just plain illegal.
Apologies if you were trying to access this site or its podcasts at around 1am GMT this morning – the site was briefly offline. The site was offline because I exceeded my hosting bandwidth allowance – due to the unprecedented success of my podcasts!
A victim of my own success!
Fortunately the nocturnal FrankP rang me to alert me (knowing that I was probably asleep but also knowing that I would be prefer to be woken to get this sorted asap) and even more fortunately, I have the mobile number of the MD of my hosting co. I rang him and he said he’d get it sorted – that’s good service, thanks Michele.