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Podcast Basics

This is a brief tutorial on creating an intro to a podcast using Audacity.

Podcast Basics Part 1: Gathering Audio

In this example, I will need to gather multiple audio tracks:

  1. Recordings for an interview, including the interviewer and interviewee.
  2. Music to start off the podcast.
  3. Ambient audio to create a soundscape.

A. Using Zoom for Interviews

For the interview, the two people involved are in different parts of the state. We are meeting via Zoom. We were hoping to be able to record the Zoom session so that we can simply export the Zoom recording and convert it to an audio file that can be imported into Audacity. However, the interviewee has an unreliable internet connection and their audio was a bit glitchy when we met last week to test our audio.

To fix this issue, we are both going to have our discussion on Zoom and will record it just in case it turns out better than last week. But we are also going to record ourselves independently using our phones. This will give us two separate audio files that we will merge in Audacity during editing.

Syncing the Speaking Parts

The two files were much better quality than the Zoom recording, so we will need to figure out how to sync them up. Since we both hit the record buttons on our phones at slightly different times, we will sync the two tracks using a simple and time-tested technique: a clap. Before starting our interview, we both clapped at the same time into our phones (if the Zoom connection is good enough, one person can clap and the other needs to make sure the clap is picked up by their phone's mic).

During editing, we will be able to line up the two tracks using this clap. The details are covered later in this tutorial.

B. Finding Music

There are many options for finding music for my project. Openly licensed music is one of the easiest ways and in this example, I am going to use Free Music Archive (found on the Podcasting Open Content page). Free Music Archive (FMA) has a few ways to help search for music but this is a time-consuming part of the process. The only way to find out if a track is right for your project is to listen to each track that looks promising. If you find an artist or genre you like, you can search for more tracks by that artist or genre. For projects like this, using the 'Instrumental' genre may be helpful for finding music that won't distract listeners from your speaking parts.

C. Finding Other Sounds

Lastly, I will be using SoundBible (found on the Open Content page) to find some ambient sounds to help create a soundscape. In the intro, I mention that I was on a hike in the woods, so I want a clip that will help people visualize this. I can search by keyword in SoundBible and if I type in 'hiking sounds' I will see a list of a few good options.

Open Licensing Reminder

With these openly licensed audio files, I will need to be sure that I can use them for my project. If you haven't already, you can learn more about open license permissions. The licenses for the two clips that I downloaded are:

  • Hiking A Trail, by aldo -- Public Domain, which means that no one owns copyright for this clip and I can do whatever I want with it and don't have to give any attribution to the creator (but that's always a nice thing to do and some assignments may require it).
  • Pinky, by Blue Dot Sessions -- CC BY-NC, which means that I can do anything with the clip as long as I give attribution to the creator and don't make any money off my project.
Creative Commons CC BY license logos: two circles, one with CC inside and the other with a person icon.
This guide is licensed under a CC BY license.
All content by Tim Miller unless otherwise noted.