How to make a podcast

We’ve recently been running a series of day-long courses on podcasting, with the Open City Docs team.

Microphone and audio editing software in background
Join us for a day-long podcasting course

We’ve recently been running a series of day-long courses on podcasting, with the Open City Docs team.

These are introductions for lovers of audio, storytelling and the human voice, whose enthusiasm may not yet match their knowledge of this popular and flexible medium.

One of the key messages of the course is that podcasting is simple and open to everyone. Unlike the intrusive – and expensive – equipment needed for making film and video, we believe you can start to make your own podcasts on a budget of little over £200, so long as you have enthusiasm, a little bit of working knowledge, and access to a laptop.

The other thing you need, of course, is a love of audio, and a great idea for the story you want to tell. Part of the workshop is about immersing yourself in audio – or dare I say it, radio. In this screen-obsessed world we live in, we were delighted at how happy delegates were to just shut their eyes and listen.

So, just how do you make a podcast?

We can sum it up very simply. You need:

  • An idea
  • An audience
  • Sound recording equipment (we recommend the Zoom H4N)
  • A laptop
  • Free, downloadable editing software such as Audacity

Podcast ideas are often very simple

We love Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase, a flight attendant who tells gossipy, funny tales of what really goes on behind the scenes on long-haul flights. Then there are the brilliantly produced real-life stories from the makers of This American Life; or The Hackney Podcast, poetic local soundscapes which we guess have more than a touch of BBC Radio 4 production values about them.

Building an audience is another matter, but once you’ve found your niche there are a wealth of podcasting sites to help you on your way. Having a social media presence to spread the word is also a must.

As for the technical nitty gritty: sign up to a day-long workshop to set you on your way, but if you practice it shouldn’t take long for you to build up your confidence and skills. And then, it’s all about a touch of magic: that interview which takes an unusual turn, leading to a depth you hadn’t anticipated; that sparkling story; that unexpected, comical moment which will have listeners laughing for days.

We can’t bottle the magic, but we can say getting started is easy. Podcasting is a creative, intimate and growing medium. What’s holding you back?