Playing with Podcasts

taking the tradition on logo

When I first starting thinking about venturing into the world of podcasts, I assumed that I would get a decent phone, load an app onto it and record on that. How wrong I was!

I knew I needed some decent training.  Although I used to work for Radio Shropshire and have some experience in interviewing, I learned on reel to reel and edited with razor blades…over time I upgraded to minidisc, but that was as far as I got. I didn’t have the first idea of how or where to put up a podcast once it was put together.  I was pointed in the direction of Hannah Hethmon, author of ‘Your museum needs a podcast’ – a very helpful, step-by-step podcast manual – even if you have nothing to do with a museum.

Your museum needs a podcast

We set a date and Hannah sent me a kit list:

-Zoom H4n Pro Handy Recorder

-MOVO HM-M2 mic or RODE Reporter (RODE is nicer but more expensive)

-ATR2100 microphone from Audio Technica (this one is for recording scripts)

-A windscreen (foam topper) and pop filter for the ATR2100, also a small desktop stand for this

-XLR male to female cable (to connect the mic and recorder)

podcasting kit

So much for ‘I’ll just do it on my phone’!  If that list looks completely impenetrable to you – don’t worry, I was in the same boat.  I took big leaps in understanding simply searching for the equipment and reading what it was.  Of course, having that lack of understanding made it rather terrifying to order while desperately hoping I was ordering the right thing!

I packed up all the gear and headed off to London. I love going to London.  First, the rare treat of three undisturbed hours on the train – in this case equipped with a nifty little machine and a pair of earphones to transfer cassette tapes to usb.  Then staying with Moni Sheehan and Ivor Davies, (a brilliant duo who perform Bulgarian epics – to drink lots of tea and happily swap and discuss British and Bulgarian stories.  Fortunately we’re all a bit older now, so we did actually stick to tea rather than anything else and managed to stop talking early enough for a decent night’s sleep! They’re also perfectly situated for a morning walk over to Cecil Sharpe House.

Cecil Sharpe House is the home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, a heart and hub for folk arts in England.  They celebrate all kinds folk tradition and have been strong supporters of storytelling.  When I needed a venue for podcast training in London, they were my first port of call.

We were welcomed in and given a dance room, light and airy and a beautiful place to work.  We were right next to the café and our main initial problem was that the chef was baking biscuits and the smell was rather distracting!  However, it soon became apparent that we had a more pressing problem.  Although there was wifi, it was painfully slow.  As a result, we both drank far more coffee than intended as we investigated various cafes in Camden Town aiming for enough wifi to download various apps; upload material and clean it up.  As a country girl I tend to assume that all of London will have much faster wifi than a rural town in Shropshire, but apparently not!

I’d hoped that we would be able to do a little mini podcast and put it out during the day – doing is the best way of learning for me. Sadly the wifi issue put paid to that. However, even with the wifi delays, we covered a huge amount of ground – and it’s given me plenty of food for thought. There were so many things it hadn’t occurred to me to consider.  The first was running stories and transcripts through an online transcription service (temi) to be able to easily find the piece of audio wanted.  Another was running the audio through an online clean up service (Auphonic) to increase the sound quality and reduce the disparity between old and new recordings and different recording locations.  Best of all was being introduced to Hindenberg.  Audacity has been the go-to editing suite for years and I’ve never liked it – aimed as it is at editing music rather than speech.  Hindenberg is designed much more for the spoken voice and is a dream after wrestling with Audacity!  I need lots of practise and it will take a while to learn, but already it feels far more instinctive and user friendly.

Screenshot of Hindenberg

The part of podcasting I felt least confident about and really didn’t know how to approach was where to put a podcast once it was done.  Hannah held my hand and tried to bring it down to my level and between us (ok I said appreciative things and filled in the boxes while she opened up all the sites) we have set up an account on Libsyn.  You should be able to find my podcasts by searching for ‘Taking the Tradition On’ on any podcast platform, or here:

So, I’m now all set up to put together my first podcast.  I have big plans for what I want to do with podcasting, but it’s going to be just a small taster to start with – the one I had hoped to put together on the day with Hannah.  Time to put the headphones on, take out the pops from the too loud letter ‘p’s and the phone conversation from the middle of Duncan’s story!

… and now at last my first podcast is up!

With a bit of luck and a tail wind these links should take you there: