Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Starting a podcast

Sure, it's easy to rate other peoples' podcasts, but how hard is it to start one? Short answer: very hard. I had no idea how much mental energy this would take up. It sounds so effortless when you listen to a podcast. Steve Eley, StarshipSofa, Dunesteef, PodCastle, they all make it look elegant.

First I had to figure out how to record. I already had a microphone so I figured it would be easy. No. My microphone is for musicians and sounds very faint when used through the computer. Turns out you need a pre-amp. Those run anywhere from $100 into the thousands. Before I bought a pre-amp I tried all manner of jury-rigged setups. I tried to record through my camcorder. Sometimes that worked great. Other times I got nothing. Finally I bought the ArtTube preamp from my local music store. It worked great for two days and then started popping and cracking (the sound, not the mic). I brought it back, to the chagrin of the store owner and decided finally to by the BlueYeti usb mic online. Finally, that works well.

The Blue Yeti works so well it picks up the incessant buzzing of my MacBook fans. I have to put the MacBook behind my desk, where I can't control the recording without hurting my back.

That was all the recording stuff. The website has been harder. I learned a little code back in the day, but that baby html is all but useless to me now. I bought a domain and hosting from IPage and have already been on the phone with them three times. To their credit, they are polite and solve the problem each time, but sheesh. Now I have to design the site, knowing nothing.

Now I need stories. Did I even mention what the podcast is about? It's called Tales of Old, a weekly audio magazine for historical fiction and alternate history. People can submit stories to submit@talesofold.org. I am going to pay 1.5 cents/word. I hope it doesn't break me (actually I hope it does, that means I'm getting some stories).

Lastly I need narration. I'm going to try it by myself at first, but I'll definitely be happy to have some outside talent, but of course I can't afford to pay anyone. I know that for some people the steps I outlined above would be easy. I look forward to hearing your podcasts!

Friday, April 8, 2011

DrabbleCast goes 200

The DrabbleCast with Norm Sherman just put out its 200th show. He started the show with a clip from DrabbleCast episode number 1, where Norm is not yet his cocky loveable self, and his first story was one he wrote. That was a great touch.

The 200th show is Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question," and instead of just reading it, Norm has collected a host of voices from other podcasts: the Dunesteef, EscapePod, and others, even Steve Eley who started EscapePod. Ususally I'm not a fan of multiple voices in audio fiction. It's distracting somehow. Maybe because you still have all the "she said, angrily" and "intoned Paul" stuff between the voices that draws your attention to the fact that this is a written story, not a play. Even with those defects, this story is worth listening to. It's a classic and it's just cool to hear all the voices you know from other podcasts in one piece. Typical Norm Sherman, there is also a soundtrack, which can also be hit or miss, but which comes out pretty well here.

Congratulations Norm! You are doing a great thing.