Podcasting and Coffee

Originally published at: https://robwatsonmedia.net/podcasting-and-coffee/

I always enjoy recording a podcast, especially when we meet in a coffee shop. Yesterday, I met with Reece and Emma, who are behind the Great Central Gazette crowdfunder, to record an episode for the Decentered Media podcast. They are working hard to establish an independent news service for Leicester. It was great to be able to sit with them and chat about what they are trying to achieve, and what they think is needed in developing trusted and independent news here in Leicester.

We met at Leicester Coffee House, so the conversation was permeated with the sounds of customers coming and going and with coffee being made. I think I’ve learnt how to set the recording levels and place the microphone in just the right place to minimise, but not eliminate, the background sounds. Each contributor speaks differently, so it does vary. I never like adding a lot of compression to the recording, as it has to go on to be broadcast, which adds more compression as well.

It’s nice to do podcasts in person, and to not be looking at a screen. Most of my podcasts that I’ve done in the last couple of months have taken place face-to-face, and I’ve been doing less via Zoom or Cleanfeed. There is always going to be a role for bringing people together for a conversation online, and I’m glad to see that some people have invested in microphones and headphones. Unfortunately, many people are still talking at their screens, which lessens the quality. Have a listen to the Rest is Politics podcast to hear what can be achieved online using microphones and headphones via a laptop.

I’ve said this many times, but at the end of a podcast recording session, I always ask if everyone who took part feels better. And generally, they do. There’s something about having an intense conversation, especially using headphones, that makes the conversation much more detailed and meaningful. I think it’s because we don’t have to project, but the voices in the conversation come to us, and we don’t have to lean-in to listen, and can focus more on what is being discussed.

When I got home, I copied the data files across to my PC and edited them. I don’t like to cut into the discussion, we record that as if it is live. I do adjust some of the levels, and apply ‘ducking’, which is when you take the levels down for everyone else but the person who is speaking. I hope it sounds naturalistic, and moderately well-balanced.

Once I’ve added a top and tail ident, I save the file as an MP3, and then post it to my website. I host my own sites, and use a WordPress plug-in, PowerPress, to link the media file and post to iTunes and Google Podcasts, with the episode listed in their directories. I made an error with the episode number, and had to correct it, which means the initial link I shared won’t work. Hopefully, it’s working now, and I’ll reshare it via social media over the next couple of days.

I think this approach shows that we don’t have to worry about studios and expensive equipment to record a podcast or radio programme. The most important thing is having a venue where people feel comfortable and can engage in the conversation. Everything else follows.