How to record a podcast

 26 June 2017

Radio presenter and producer Keith Law explains how to record a podcast. He also explains what a typical working day for him looks like and offers tips for getting into radio.

How did you get into radio?

"The way I got involved in radio is purely by accident. So I was in bands for years, stayed in England doing that for about three or four years and then came back to Ireland.

"Afterwards I ended up playing on TV chat shows and then after that I ended up doing some really strange jobs, like hidden camera stuff and pranking people on the streets.

"A bit like candid camera, it was a thing called Just for Laughs and after that I went to work behind the camera as a researcher and then eventually I sent a tape in as a voiceover man.

"I wanted to do some voiceover work in a media station, sent it into them and they said did you produce that? Because if you did, we do need a producer.

"That was 10 years ago and I now write ads as well as voice them and produce them."

What do radio presenters/producers do?

"A typical day for me starts quite early. So I do my breakfast show on Downtown Country (tune in) and then from 9am – 5pm I write adverts and my day is just a mixture of that and drinking tea.

Always make sure that it’s aimed at an actual audience who cares about what they’re going to listen to

"When I arrived in this industry about 10 years ago, I was expecting to be working with lots of tape. 

"It was the first time I had ever worked with digital recording and it couldn’t have been easier.

"Sound is something we see nowadays and we can chop bits out and stuff. Whereas it didn’t used to be like that, you had to listen to it and have a very good ear.

"Not so sure you need as good an ear nowadays to be able to do what most of us do in radio because it is so easy to do and that’s all thanks to the technology."

Top tip for getting experience in radio

"If you want to come along to a radio station and see what it’s like for yourself, number one you have to find a radio station near you and be really, really nice.

"Write them a really nice email!"

How to make a podcast

"Well today I’m going to show you how to make a podcast.

"Now what is a podcast? The name podcast comes from back in the day when there were just ipods and you could download audio broadcasts onto them and listen to shows.

"But soon people realised you could make your own and this is what it is all about today."

1) Check equipment

"Basically all you need is an app that will record audio.

"Now make sure that before you start, whatever you’re going to record your podcast on will play back at a decent sort of quality.

"Because you might have the best idea for a podcast and think this is great, I want to share it with the world, but if they can’t hear it or it sounds muffled, who’s going to listen to that for more than 5 seconds?

"Make sure it does sound clear."

2) Think about timing

"Now how long is your podcast going to be?

"Well if it’s going to be a podcast about boiling an egg, it takes 3 minutes to boil an egg but how long does it take to describe how long it takes to boil an egg?

"I reckon I could tell you that in about a minute, minute and a half and then I’d say see you next week.

"That could be a little short podcast but if I wanted to talk to you about the Russian revolution and everything that affected it, I’m sure that would take me a good hour long to explain that.

"And that’s the kind of thing you need to think about when you’re doing a podcast."

3) Get a script

"Now don’t think that it’s just you sitting at home with a microphone and that’s it, you’re now talking to the world.

"You can involve your friends and sit around the kitchen table and have your own sort of chat show if you wanted.

"It could be you saying I’m an autograph hunter and today I’m looking for Drake’s autograph, I’m going to try and get it.

"Follow me on my podcast and then stop recording and go and find Drake.

"Maybe ring up his manager and record that phone call, if you get permission.

"All this requires a bit of planning and most importantly a script because if you don’t have a script before you go anywhere near a microphone, you don’t have anything.

"You must know what you’re going to do and how it’s going to end. Always make sure that it’s aimed at an actual audience who cares about what they’re going to listen to."

4) Recording the podcast

"Okay so we’re going to try and record a podcast and for the purposes of this, it’s going to be Keithy’s weekly nursery rhyme podcast; every week features a fantastic nursery rhyme.

"This week’s episode will be Mary had a little lamb. First thing we’re going to do is start recording.

"This is the record button, the big red one and it looks like it is recording as it’s picking up level.

“Hello and welcome to Keithy’s weekly nursery rhyme podcast, today: Mary had a little lamb, its fleece as white as snow and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.  Thanks for listening, see you next week.”

"Stop the record and there is our piece of audio. Now it’s not finished obviously, even though you thought it was brilliant, it needs to be edited."

5) Editing the podcast

"I’m going to play it back and we don’t need to hear me talking about the whole thing recording at the beginning so I’m just going to move the line to where I want it to actually start from and get rid of the rubbish I don’t need.

"You tap on the scissors, and then select the bin and it’ll ask you if you want to remove.

"I’m pretty sure I do so I’ll select that and then we can listen to it from the start where it goes straight into the show.

"And that is called editing; it’s manipulating what you’ve recorded.

If you don’t have a script before you go anywhere near a microphone, you don’t have anything.

"I was just removing a little bit I didn’t need, it was edited out, but I can of course take this well-known rhyme and cut it into different bits and rearrange the lines in the wrong order.

"I’ll stop there, cut it there and take the first line. So now it’s all been spliced up and divided.

"The lines going across the screen show you where I have made the cuts using the scissors but if I go back to this screen, I should be able to move them around. And now when we play it:

“The lamb was sure to go. (That’s not the first line) And everywhere that Mary went, today Mary had a little lamb, it’s fleece as white as snow.”

"I think you can tell, it’s all been jumbled up and that’s very simply how you can edit things.

"What use is editing? Editing is absolutely brilliant as whenever you make a mistake, you can just edit it out."

6) Adding music to the podcast

"My podcast is just all speech but if you want to add music, it’s very simple.

"All you have to do is hit the music button and that will open up either the music library that is on the iPad (or whatever device you are using) or other apps is another choice it will give you.

"It might be something off Soundcloud but just make sure that whatever music you’re going to put on it, you have permission to use it beforehand."

7) Exporting the podcast

"Now when you’re done with your podcast and you want to share it to the potential audiences out there, you need to share it and how we do it is by pressing the share button.

"And this particular one gives me the option of sharing the file to Soundcloud.

"That’s just one example of a site that will host your podcast but there are many others out there if you want to look around and shop around.

"I’ve rabbited on enough; it’s up to you guys to go and try it yourself.

"Have a go at podcasting, see how you get on and who knows, maybe I could be listening to you in the future."

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