Thursday, March 20, 2008

Making Podcasts: Getting the word out

The is the outline for one of my presentations at last weekend's Brigham Young University Computerized Genealogy Conference. The Deseret News chose to report about the conference using this class as an example:

Deseret Morning News Genealogy venturing into podcast territory "Podcast is another means of getting the word out on genealogy subjects without the expense..."

  1. Record your podcast’s “talking/interview” content.
  2. Add “bumper music” at beginning and end – custom, 15 seconds or voiceovers.
  3. Use additional “bumper music” to segway between recorded segments.
  4. Mix it down to .mp3 format.
  5. Publish podcast where people can find it on the web.

Typically podcasts are made in homes or small businesses, to save the cost of a recording studio. So unless you have access to tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, consider this stripped-down approach.

  • (optional) A microphone attached to your computer’s sound card if you are doing “in person interviews. Usually not powerful enough to record a telephone call.
  • Headset (with USB connection to your computer) Don’t skimp here – this is how your voice will sound to the world, so make it good. I have a Logitec, and the reason I bought this one is that I inadvertently cut the cord on my old Logitec headset.
  • USB portable digital recorder. You’ll be happy with the sound quality of those offered by Sony or Olympus in the $100-200 range. Also, the cheaper recorders tend to cut off the recording after about 15 minutes even if there is plenty of space on the unit’s drive. Because it is USB, it is easy to transfer recorded interviews to your computer.
  • Wired or wireless 6.0 digital telephone WITH speakerphone option to record telephone interviews.
  • Don’t use the tape recorder hookup for your phone from radio shack. Your side of the conversation will be too loud compared to your caller’s voice.
  • Yes, you CAN record Skype calls, but the quality is very poor and the software to do it acts squirrely.


  • Audacity (I started with this.) It is free, open source audio recording & editing software for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.)
  • Mixcraft (This is what I use now, because it produces clearer podcasts, and allows multiple overlapping tracks with differing aspects of volume, fading, etc.) “Mixcraft™ is an affordable multi-track audio and MIDI recording studio that enables you to compose original music, record your band, create a podcast, or remix a song. Use it as a multi-track recorder or as a music loop remix program.” Download the free trial.
  • Audacity Audio Converter Pro (sometimes files come to you in different formats, and you need a converter.) “… will convert MP3, WAV, WMA, CDA & OGG files with just a right click!”

Following my signature is a stratchy version of a Mixcraft screen shot showing the first 21 minutes of a recent podcast before it was crunched into .mp3 format and published on the web. Each segment can be rearranged by dragging and dropping it to a different place on the time line.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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