In terms of science communication, podcasts are a fairly popular medium nowadays. In my opinion, they’re probably the most convenient medium for your audience to engage with. If you think about it, most people already have smartphones with one-touch access to a whole host of podcasting outlets that are already free for them to access to begin with. Also, everyone always brings their smartphone with them wherever they go. This means that your podcast is not only available for free to your audience, but it’s also accessible to them wherever and whenever they’d like to listen to your content! An added bonus of podcasts is that your audience does not need to be fully ‘tuned in’ while consuming it. Videos, for example, likely have visual content that tends to go along with the audio. This means your audience needs to watch and listen to get the most out of your content. However, with podcasts, audience members can passively do other things – like do chores around the house – while listening to what you have to say!
All-in-all, podcasting sounds like a great idea, right? But what if you’re not a techy person and you have no idea where to start? Don’t fret. Podcasts are actually super easy to get up and running! While there are lots and lots of factors that you can consider when starting up a podcast, such as which microphone you should purchase (if at all) or which podcast outlet you should upload your content to, I’m not going to dive into that rabbit hole here. In this post I’ll run through a beginner’s version of how to get started.
First, assuming you already have your content all planned out, you have to record yourself speaking about your content. The easiest way to do this is to use the recorder app that (usually) comes standard on your smartphone or to use the microphone built into your computer, but I’d advise staying away from these. The audio quality isn’t great, and you obviously want to make your content enjoyable for your audience. So, if you’re invested in this, I recommend purchasing a microphone that you plug into your computer via USB. You can find some relatively cheap microphone options on Amazon. Just find one that fits your budget and has promising reviews. Even if its super cheap, it’s still probably better than using your phone or built-in computer microphone.
In addition to a microphone, you’re going to need recording software. Some microphones may come with a download link to one of their options, but a great (and free) option that’s been around for a long time is Audacity. Just download and install, and when you have your microphone plugged in, hit record. It’s that easy! When you’re done, stop the recording and save the generated mp3 file to a location on your computer. The same applies even when you have an in-person guest on your podcast. However, if you’re connected to your guest(s) through Zoom (or Skype, etc.), you will need to set Audacity to record your computer audio. This way, not only will Audacity capture your voice, but also the voice of your guest(s) through Zoom!
An optional next step is to edit your podcast. Here, you can add your own pre-recorded intro or you can cut some material if the recording ended up being a bit longer than you wanted. I won’t cover editing here, but if you choose to do this for your podcast, there are lots of free materials online to show you how to do this in Audacity.
Okay, at this stage, whether you edited your podcast or recorded everything in one go, you now have your first podcast episode ready to go. So, what do you do next? You need a podcast outlet! There are lots of choices. Options such as SoundCloud and PodBean are popular, but they cost money. Whereas other options, such as Apple Podcasts, are popular and free, but getting your podcast on there can be somewhat cumbersome if you’re not too familiar with what you’re doing. An easy-to-use alternative that I highly recommend – which is actually used as #CrimComm’s outlet for the ‘I Hate Podcasts’ podcast – is Anchor. This is because Anchor is not only free and very easy to use, but it also automatically distributes your podcast to multiple leading outlets with one mouse click. Shortly afterwards you’ll find your podcast available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, and Spotify!
There you have it! Your podcast is now live. And if you want to check out how it’s doing, you can login to your Anchor account and see all of the stats from across all eight outlets on one page – super handy!
University of Western Ontario