Audio Production Rooms | Podcasting Guide
What is Academic Podcasting?
Podcasting emerged in 2004 as a method of delivering audio content in episodes through RSS feeds to computers or portable devices. While some consider it a new medium, others consider it a practice (Bottomley, 2015). Podcast shows develop their own consistent format and branding, much like a radio show. Podcast episodes are available for streaming or download from a variety of online platforms and the format can vary widely, from talk show style interviews to audio documentaries.
Academic podcasting is a way to communicate scholarly research to a broader audience. Listen to this podcast produced by H-Net, Exploring Academic Podcasting, to get an introduction to the relationship between podcasting and scholarship. Evaluating the academic rigour of podcasting is an ongoing process. Wilfred Laurier Press developed a scholarly open peer review for podcasting. Review their peer review questions to get a sense of how to evaluate the academic rigour of your podcast.
There are three stages to consider when creating your podcast.
Pre-production: This stage involves preparing and planning for everything you'll need before you start recording:
Content: Take some time about what kind of content you want in your podcast and how you wish to present it. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What is the length of your podcast and how many topics will you talk about? A shorter length will be easier to achieve.
- How many hosts and interviewees will you have? Make sure you have enough space, time and equipment for all speakers.
- Who is your audience? Keep in mind the level of jargon and technical terminology you are using if your podcast is for the general public.
- Do you need any field recordings or live recordings? Consider any additional sounds you’ll need. For example, street noise.
- Will it be scripted? If you are going for an informal discussion or roundtable format, a list of topics or questions may be all you need. Here is an example of a script for radio from NPR.
- How many episodes do you plan to produce? Create a realistic goal.
Technology: Becoming familiar and comfortable with technology will be key to your success. Take out the equipment in advance to become familiar.
- Knowing basic audio concepts will help you get the best possible sound. Consult this guide.
- Familiarize yourself with the Audio Room technology, recorders and microphones you’ll be using at the Library. Consult this guide for portable recording options.
- Contact Audiovisual Media Support for a consultation if you aren't sure where to start.
- Lynda.com offers a variety of training videos (available through a Calgary Public Library membership).
Research: Getting ahead on your research is important to ask the most informed questions possible.
- Background research and literature reviews.
- Music, archival or secondary audio sources. Use this guide to find resources.
- Research permissions to use secondary audio sources. Give credit when necessary.
- Create an outline for your project based on your research.
Production: Here are a few tips to help the production stage, or recording, run smoothly:
- Have your scripts or outlines ready, as well as water.
- Test levels and microphone placement before you record. The meter should hover at around -12 to -6 decibels on your recorder or device when you speak normally.
- Use headphones to monitor what you are recording while you test out the sound. Wear them while recording to catch anything that might be picked up during your recording - i.e. perhaps you start to hear a vacuum cleaner down the hall.
- Check battery life and SD card space if applicable.
- Record in WAV file format, 44.1 kHz and 24 bit (16 bit if you want smaller files).
- Double check that you are actually recording before you start speaking! The time should be ticking upwards.
- Write down notes during production about what went well, what moments should be included in the edit, and any points that came up during an interview that require further research.
- Avoid ums, ahs and likes when you are speaking as much as possible.
- Rephrase questions or restart answers if you need to.
Post-Production: During this stage, you'll pull together everything you've recorded into a final audio file. Visit this guide to Post-Production for a detailed outline of the process.
In general, when it comes to audio post-production, you may have these steps to complete:
- Cleaning up of noises, coughs, or unwanted dialog.
- Removing hums or background noise.
- Adding music or other secondary sources.
- Mixing your tracks. This process includes making sure the volume levels for all tracks are even and your exported track has an appropriate volume.
- Exporting your final mix as an mp3 file with the highest quality possible. An mp3 file takes up less space and is more easily shared.
If you are aiming to have your podcast heard by a public audience, distribution is an important consideration. Many podcast platforms require an RSS Feed for your podcast. An RSS Feed will allow updates to your podcast to be read and distributed by other websites. You'll need your own website or blog where the podcast episodes are published, or publish on a podcast host, to create an RSS Feed.
Remember to check the Terms and Conditions for podcast hosting. Some may require paid plans for certain features.
RSS Generators for websites:
Podcasting hosting (RSS will be generated for you):
- LibSyn (paid)
Popular podcast distributors (Requires an RSS):
Don't forget the artwork to go with your podcast! It's required by podcast distributors.
Citing Your Sources
Show notes are a good place to put any academic sources you have used to create your podcast. You should be verbally introducing any references to studies, books or other works by author, year and title. Your listener can find more detailed information on these sources in a reference list in your show notes.
What are show notes?
Text that is included in your episode when it is published on your website or host. Advanced users who publish their episodes on their website or blog can make sure it is included in their RSS feed using these instructions from Pod News. If you are using a podcasting host, include the notes in the track description. Here are the instructions for SoundCloud.
If you are doing a podcast for an assignment, be sure to follow the guidelines and referencing style set by your instructor. Whatever your reason for podcasting, including detailed information and sources in your show notes increases its scholarly value.
You can also include host bios and credits for any audio or music you have used.
Here are few examples of podcasts with references included in their show notes:
External Tutorials, Resources and Guides
Music and Technology: Recording Techniques and Audio Production (MIT)
Lynda Courses (Sign in with a Calgary Public Library account)
Podcasting in the classroom
Producing Professional Podcasts (Editing with Adobe Audition)
Microphone Techniques: Essentials
Recording your voice
General Podcasting and Oral History Guides
The Basics by Transom
Podcasting 101 from PRX and the Google Podcasts creator program
This American Life Radio Guide
Podcasting 101 by Ashley Maynor
Radio Diaries Handbook
Historical Voices Audio Technology Guide for Researchers
Oral History Resources
Free Media Library - PennState Guide on Free Media Sources and Copyright
Creative Commons Podcasting Legal Guide
Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada
Bottomley, A. (2015). Podcasting: A Decade in the Life of a “New” Audio Medium: Introduction. Journal of Radio & Audio Media: Golden Years of Audio, 22(2), 164–169. https://doi.org/10.1080/19376529.2015.1082880