Here's a handy how-to guide to producing your first podcast. No matter how geographically distant your grandkids may be, this easy-to-use technology allows you to read your favorite storybooks to them and record music or tales from your own childhood for them — all with a few clicks of the mouse.
1. Computer. Any computer with a soundcard and microphone input will work for making podcasts. (Speakers are a plus, but headphones can be used, as well.)
2. Microphone. The high-end Behringer C-1 Studio Microphone ($44.95), will improve recording quality, but the Logitec Labtec Verse 524 Desktop Microphone ($7.99) will work perfectly for the budding podcaster. Go to Radioshack.com.
3. Software. To make podcasts, use Windows Media Player or Audacity, an easy-to-use, open-source software available for both Macs and PCs.
Podbean.com : A free, user-friendly Web hosting service for podcasts.
Helloworld.com : A fee-based monthly one-stop shop for podcasts.
Produce Your First Podcast:
1. Many programs exist to create podcasts, such as Windows Sound Recorder or RecordPad, but Audacity is easy to use and makes top-notch recordings. After installing the software, open up Audacity and let’s get started.
2. Make sure the microphone is connected to the computer and you’re in a quiet place. Press the software’s red "Record" button and begin speaking into the microphone. First, we’ll test the recording levels and quality. After a few seconds of talking, hit "Stop" and then "Play". If it sounds good, discard the recording and create a new file. Hit the "Record" button again and it’s time to start your show. At any time while recording, press "Pause" to take a break.
3. When the recording is complete and you’re satisfied with the quality, it’s time to save the file. In the File menu, click “Export as MP3” and save the file to the desktop, or your preferred destination.
4. If you plan on burning your podcast onto a CD, the easiest file format is a WAV. Save your podcast to the desktop.
Publish Your First Podcast:
1. Countless Web sites offer podcast hosting, but many are fee-based. PodBean.com offers a straightforward site with a simple, Web-based utility to send podcasts to their sites. Bonus: It’s free.
2. The first step is to create an account on the site.
3. After the account has been verified and you’ve logged in, you’ll arrive at the Dashboard page. Click on “Publish a new post.”
4. Click the “Add your audio/video” button, and then “Upload new files.”
5. Click the “Upload” button. In the new screen that appears, click “Browse.”
6. Find the podcast MP3 you recorded earlier on your computer and click “Open.” Click “Upload” and your file will be sent to PodBean.com.
7. Click on “Publish” again and fill in the “Title” and “Post” fields – you can use these to describe your podcast’s subject.
8. Scroll farther down the page to where you clicked earlier to upload your podcast. Click “Add audio/video,” then “Select from account.” Your podcast file should be listed. Select it, then click “Publish.”
9. Your podcast is now posted. To view your newly minted recording (and send it to your family) click “Share” from your podcast homepage or copy the URL location into an e-mail.
HelloWorld offers an alternative for creating a podcast. The basic plan starts at $9.99 a month. The site records and publishes podcasts through its Web-based interface (no software or upload required) and users also receive a MySpace-like homepage where you can make online friends. It’s worth exploring if time factors into your decision. One drawback to HelloWorld: Your podcast appears exclusively on its Web site and is not easily burned onto a CD.
A sampling of podcasts to explore:
· iTunes podcast directory
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.