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The Quest for the Most Indispensable Podcasting Tool

You can produce a quality broadcast with the right equipment

Susanna Speier Staff Reporter
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4 min read
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Anyone can create a podcast, but the difference between a valuable news podcast, and one that is simply rehashing other sources, is talking to people first hand
- Viral: Coronavirus Senior Producer T. J. Raphae


Theoretically, anyone with a phone and WiFi access can produce, create, edit, upload, and promote a podcast. Thanks to the abundance and accessibility of tools and distribution channels, audio storytelling is flourishing.

So how are the cutting edge audio storytellers researching, organizing, recording, editing, distributing, and promoting their shows using podcasting apps? And, for that matter, are podcasting apps being used at all?

Sony & Three Uncanny Four’s Coronavirus Podcast

The Brooklyn, New York-based venture Three Uncanny Four was launched by renowned podcast producers Adam Davidson and Laura Mayer. The new joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment recently launched Viral: Coronavirus.

According to host and Senior Producer T.J. Raphael, they regularly drop current, compelling, and quality episodes by “constantly checking the latest news from the CDC, WHO, John Hopkins and other reliable sources as we move into production. We are interviewing experts in the field who can give us the latest,” Raphael says.

In fact, VIRAL, a podcast covering the coronavirus pandemic, also meets the challenge of staying “on top of the changing news landscape while ensuring the medical and health care policy information being reported is accurate” with ProTools. “Whether we interview someone in our studio, via the phone or Skype, we assemble our sessions in ProTools every time.”

Advice for a Podcaster Who Has an Idea & a Yeti Mic

“Hit the phones!” Raphael says when asked to advise someone with resources as basic as a yeti mic and a smartphone should do. “Anyone can create a podcast, but the difference between a valuable news podcast and one that is simply rehashing other sources is talking to people first hand.”

With that being said, there are firms out there who can do the leg work for you as far as operating podcasts for their clients.

“For early podcast planning, stickies, sharpies, and my giant whiteboard are go-to essentials,” says Podcast Allies co-founder Lindsey O'Connor, “My business partner in Podcast Allies, Elaine Appleton Grant, and I also collaborate and manage podcasts for our clients from planning to launch and promotion with project management software, and a variety of online file-sharing tools, like Dropbox for sharing audio files and Google Docs for collaborative scripts.”

If You Have Some Money, Here are Good Things to Spend it On

When you start getting very serious about producing a quality podcast, it’s much more than just talking into a microphone and going. If you want to make an investment into doing podcasts, be it large or small, you will need to go shopping for some quality equipment.

“For an individual starting a podcast on a budget, there are so many places to spend money, but one category that's an important place to invest in is a good quality microphone,” O’Connor says. “There are some decent USB mics that plug directly into your computer but we recommend using XLR mics (quality, versatility down the road). We plug that into an interface that connects your mic to your computer (like a Scarlett Focusrite) and record directly into a digital workstation, or into a digital recorder.

“The latter is my preference, and I use a Marantz 661 (easy to use, large buttons, can use it blindfolded practically) and the MixPre3 which is my new favorite. It's incredibly quiet (used by many folks in the film industry) and records pristine audio. Very high quality and worth the money if you can afford it. Use a pop filter too.”

Storytelling from the Ivory Tower

For Dr Sam Illingworth, Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, he has opportunities combining scientific research (he used to study greenhouse gases in the Arctic) with storytelling through poetry that translates to the perfect podcast ingredients.

Illingworth explains that his “research interests include studying why some famous scientists wrote poetry, and investigating the public perception of what scientists actually do” combined with teaching “undergraduates and postgraduates how to effectively engage with a variety of audiences” creates the perfect landscape from this.

Illingworth’s podcast, The Poetry of Science, is created with podbeancom, oceanaudio, and Audacity, a laptop software. He says his “most indispensable tool is definitely my Samsung meteor mic. Really helps with sounds quality,” and he uses three apps because “each one does what I need exactly and there is not a single app that can yet do all three as well.”

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The Quest for the Most Indispensable Podcasting Tool

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