It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell explains how to edit and mix down multiple audio tracks to create a finished podcast using the free open-source Audacity program.
I’ve been thinking a lot about podcasting lately.
Here’s the slideshow presentation I’m giving Friday, Oct. 20, at the Journalism Interactive conference hosted by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrell College of Journalism.
Starting Saturday, Nov. 4, I’ll be teaching my first class as an adjunct professor at American University.
I’ll be teaching the COMM-620 Seminar on Audio Storytelling class for the Fall 2017 semester. It’s a six-week Master’s course — eight Saturdays, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Pretty intense, but I’m up for the challenge.
Thanks to Margot Susca, the program head, I got the opportunity to create the syllabus [COMM-620-2-syllabus-Final01] for the podcasting class, a first for American University’s School of Communications.
I’m sure I’ll have lots to add to this and I’ll update the experiences here as they come.
Wish me luck!
If you spend any time reviewing the listings on Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes) or GooglePlay, you’ll quickly discover there are a lot of podcasts out there — thousands of them, in fact — covering a vast variety of subjects. Want to delve into the seamy side of political corruption within an American city? Check out an episode of Gimlet Media’s Crimetown. How about the fundamentals of pig farming? There’s a podcast about it called Swinecast with more than 900 episodes. If there’s a subject out there, there’s probably a podcast about it.
Podcast listenership continues to climb. Edison Research revealed in The Podcast Consumer 2017 report that monthly podcast listenership grew from 21% to 24% over the last year. That growth has been consistent since Edison began tracking podcast listening in 2008. With the growth in listenership and awareness of podcasts, there is increased demand for new and interesting audio content.
Digital technology has made it easy for the average person or business to produce their own podcast. But most people have zero understanding of what skills it takes to produce good audio content. Turn Up the Volume — A Down and Dirty Guide to Podcasting is aimed at the fledgling podcaster, the person who has a passion for a subject and wants to share it with an audience.
Each chapter introduces a new topic the beginning podcaster needs to address as he works toward the successful launch of his first episode. Topics include identifying the audience; what equipment is needed to set up a studio; how to record, edit and post an episode online; and how to sustain and grow a podcast.
In writing Turn Up the Volume, Author Michael O’Connell shares not only his own expertise of producing a podcast, but the experiences and advice of more than 60 successful podcasters. They provide insight and offer tips on the planning and production processes for launching a podcast.
As a textbook, Turn Up the Volume offers a step-by-step progression through the planning and production of a podcast. The book includes a history of podcasting, an overview of the industry and resources for educators and students, including exercises, a vocabulary list, bibliography, useful links and technology recommendations. In addition, Turn Up the Volume looks at the challenges a new podcaster will face in creating engaging content and growing an audience. It explores the business aspects of starting a podcast, including legal considerations, marketing options and various monetization strategies.
In total, Turn Up the Volume is not just a how-to book, it’s an examination of the philosophy behind podcasting, from the germ of an idea to long-term sustainment. O’Connell presents the material in a straightforward manner with real-life examples from his own podcasting experience as well as that of the industry experts the interviews.
Michael O’Connell has been writing, editing and producing new stories for print and the online environment for more than 35 years. Currently, he’s the senior digital editor at Federal News Radio in Washington, D.C.
For the last five years, he’s been one of the producers and is the host of the It’s All Journalism podcast, which is available for download every Thursday on Apple Podcasts and on the PodcastOne network.
He speaks regularly at journalism conferences about podcasting, and, in June 2017, Routledge Taylor and Francis will release his new textbook, Turn Up the Volume — A Down and Dirty Guide to Podcasting.
This fall O’Connell will put his research to practical use when he teaches a podcasting class in the weekend M.A. program in Journalism and Digital Storytelling at American University.
Email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org
The introduction provides an overview of the current state of podcasting and includes a brief history of the medium. Podcasting can trace its roots back to 1999, when a group of developers at Netscape fleshed out the Real Simple Syndication (RSS) technology. This allowed users to subscribe to an information feed on a website. Whenever the RSS feed was updated, users would receive the update automatically without having to visit the website. Although this technology was originally text-based, developers Dave Winer and Adam Curry improved on it in 2000 to include audio files. Three years later, Winer updated the technology again for journalist Christopher Lydon, so that listeners could automatically receive Lydon’s audioblog, Radio Open Source, the first true podcast. This overview will include a timeline of key events in podcasting from these early beginnings to today.
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At some point during the research stage of Turn Up the Volume, I began creating a list of best practices for podcasters, sort of a “10 Commandments” all podcasters should follow if they wanted to succeed. Each new tenet was based on themes that had emerged from my conversations with the 60 or so podcasters I interviewed for the book.
As I began jotting down ideas, I quickly shot through the first “10 Commandments” and began adding more and more. Eventually, the list grew to over 30. I went back over it and winnowed it down to these 21, combining concepts that seemed to be related.Continue Reading …
The following resource list can be used to supplement the materials in Turn Up the Volume, providing useful reading material and podcasts that can be added to the curriculum.
“Edison Research Hacks the Commuter Code: AM/FM listeners switch 22 times per commute,” Edison Research, (2016, April 7).
“EoFire’s Income Reports,” EoFire (Entrepreneur On Fire) podcast’s monthly income reports.
“How to Measure Podcast Downloads” by George Weiner, Whole Whale.
“The Podcast Consumer 2017,” Edison Research, (2017, April 18).
Instructions: Pick a podcast episode with multiple elements, such as music, interviews, news clips and natural sound. As you’re listening to the episode, pay attention to the timecode and make notes of when each segment begins. After you’ve listened to the entire episode, go back over your timeline and flesh out your notes, describing what happened in each segment. Be sure to include as many details as you can.Continue Reading …
The more episodes a podcaster produces, the better his approach to audio production will become. In fact, many things may change over the lifetime of a podcast, including its structure or focus.
Instructions: Choose a podcast to listen to, preferably one that’s been around for a while, with at least 50 or even 100 episodes. Using the same procedure as Exercise 1, listen to two episodes of the same podcast, one early episode and one more recent. Write down the timecode and make notes about each segment. After you’ve listened to each episode, go back over your timeline and flesh out your notes, describing what happened in each segment. Be sure to include as many details as you can.Continue Reading …
Podcasts are an audio medium, so a produced piece needs to fill in all the details that our other senses would normally pick up on. How do you tell someone that it’s night or day? Or if you’re inside or outside? Maybe you’re telling a story about a sea captain on boat. Does the narrator just say, “Captain Davy Jones walked a across the deck of his tugboat?” Is that the best, most interesting way to relay that information? Probably not.
Audio may at first seem to be a limited storytelling medium, but it’s actually superior in many ways because of its limitations. All you need to do is engage the audience with your words, your voice and the sounds you use to illustrate your story. Those are all things you can control.Continue Reading …
Occasionally, a producer will have to edit a piece of audio they didn’t record and make it work as a standalone podcast. This means cleaning up the audio to improve the sound quality, identifying the strongest elements and weaving them together to tell a cohesive narrative. They may also have to record wraparound narration and insert other audio elements, such as natural sound and music.
Instructions: In November 2016, I interviewed Meredith Somers, a reporter for Federal News Radio. The interview was edited and posted as an episode of the It’s All Journalism podcast.Continue Reading …