I started podcasting as an independent study this semester. If you're wondering if that means I got three 400-level college credits and an A for being a shithead...yes.
I was drawn to podcasting for my independent study for a few reasons, the main one being that we don’t have much of anything in the way of audio production at this place. I’ve always been a fan of talk radio, and making the transition from that to internet radio and podcasts was easy for me since the lack of FCC involvement led to more mature (or immature) discussions.
When I decided to create a podcast, I knew that I would be starting from scratch with really no clue how to go about making it happen. The first thing I did was recruit my buddy Jon to be the co-host. I can talk for an hour straight, but I wanted the podcast to have a more conversational tone. I know that one angry white male behind a microphone can work, but I’d rather have to share all future profits with a co-host than be lumped in with Limbaugh, Beck, or O’Reilly.
I got Jon to do it because we can go back and forth about anything. He’s also interested in being a sportscaster. Since Jon isn’t getting a grade for the class, he doesn’t care about things like ‘being on time’, ‘promoting the show’, or ‘being on time‘. P.S. Jon is a shitass.
Celebrities are always naming their shows after themselves. Ellen Degeneres has had multiple television shows with her name in the title. I wanted to do that, but “Dave and Jon Show” was way too lackluster. I felt the Dave Show feat. Jon had just the right amount of cleverness needed for a college podcast. Jon acts like it’s my show that he is a guest on even though I’ve reiterated to him multiple times (even on-air) that this is a 50-50 show, and will continue to be now that the semester is over.
We talked about doing the podcast from the editing lab because of the availability and proximity of the equipment we might need. We ultimately decided against it, as the lab tends to fill up at inopportune times(our school has brand new scoreboards but one Mac), and I wanted us to be able to record in privacy.
Choosing my apartment as our ‘station’ I looked around the internet to see what I was going to need. Different web searches and sites led me to Audacity, a completely free software used for recording and editing audio. Another student let us borrow his microphone every week (it’s a Yeti, about $100 on Amazon [without accessories]), and we found out that we could use licensed music in the show since it was college credit-related and the school’s music license needed to be used for something other than downtime at sporting events. The microphone we use plugs directly into any USB port, making it easy for us to do a show anywhere we can find a desktop or laptop computer.
Now that we were able to produce a show, I had to find somewhere to host it. I started out using Blip.tv but their site is not meant for mp3s. I would have to create a picture (in the rotating show-title-plus-cute-animal motif) and then add the podcast audio to it. After about a month of dealing with Blip I was sick of it. I moved the show over to Youtube (continuing the same upload style, one picture looping while the audio played) for those who wanted to listen on their computers or mobile devices.
For a while I was uploading the mp3 file to Mediafire so that it could be downloaded and stored on an iPod or other listening device. I stopped doing this once I moved the show to Youtube, as it was the Blip.tv player problems that created the need for downloadable content in the first place. Right now our only snag with Youtube is having to constantly fight with them over the 30-40 second snippets of licensed music we use at the beginning and end of every show. Usually a video will get flagged and I’ll open an appeal and let them know the situation of the music license and the situation will be resolved the same day. Episode 12, however, was blocked in Germany because of a music licensing issue. I decided I’d rather be able to tell people that the show was banned in Germany than open an appeal.
Over the course of the week Jon and I will brainstorm anything we might want to talk about. Then on Thursdays, usually around 4:30 but never on time, we’ll record. Shows last between 45 minutes and an hour. Once the show is recorded and Jon leaves I will do the following:
*Create a new picture to loop behind the week’s episode.
*Export the episode to my desktop
*Combine the audio and picture in Windows Movie Maker and save the media file.
*Upload the whole thing to Youtube, adding a description, music credits, show topics, and assorted “tags” to hopefully create some traffic.
*Promote the show on Facebook and Twitter.
As you can see the self-teaching, zero-budget method can be successful. Well, it can be done. I guess it just depends on how you measure success. We were able to create 13 episodes this semester, about ten or eleven hours of original content. We didn’t make any money (we didn’t allow ads on our episodes because of the music) but we do have proof that we created something.
When I went back to check out Kevin Smith’s Smodcast after losing track of it for a couple of years, I saw that he has expanded from one podcast to an entire network of shows. He now has over twenty shows hosted by himself and friends on one website. That’s something I would like to do. Now that we can fumble our way around talking for an hour, we are looking to do more shows next semester. Two we have in mind are the Jon Show feat. Dave, which we’ve dubbed ‘the all sports broadcast podcast’, and Mystery Mic, which will be more of a ‘secret show’ with a rotating third person(who does not reveal their identity). I’m even open to hosting and producing shows for other people.
I created a fan page for the show on Facebook. We use the page to release and promote new episodes and get feedback from our fans. A couple of times per week I will make posts from the page so that the show stays in people’s peripheral internet vision. As of this writing we have 72 followers and are still banned in Germany.