4 October 2012

Podcasting was first conceived way back in the dying months of the year 2000. Many people were involved but the man most widely credited for the artform is former MTV presenter Adam Curry, earning himself the nickname the Podfather.

The concept is simple. Audio files (usually mp3s) are delivered to subscribers via an RSS feed, a bit like an audio blog. Listeners then enjoy the shows on their laptops, mp3 players, phones and other devices at their own leisure. When a new show comes out it's automatically downloaded and ready to go. Internet speeds were not impressive back in the early 2000's and mp3 players hadn't yet taken off. So it wasn't until around 2004 that podcasting really began to take hold with the public.

Since then there's been no looking back. It's become an everyday part of mainstream media. Almost every TV show, radio station and newspaper publishes podcasts to complement their traditional offerings today. Podcasts have also been used to market and complement popular video games such as Burnout Paradise, updating players on the latest news from the game developers. There are now many professional podcasters who've built small media empires on the back of laptops, microphones and a bit of elbow grease. A notable example in the technology news field is Leo Laporte's TWIT (This Week In Tech) network. Laporte is a TV and radio presenter with a taste for technology. Starting out with one podcast he has built a network with dozens of shows, millions of listeners and a healthy turnover in the millions of dollars. Revenue comes from a combination of sponsors, advertising and listener donations.

In the film world director Kevin Smith has been podcasting since 2007 and has also built up his own SModcast network. He now tours the world performing live in front of large crowds in sold out theatres and has even announced he will quit filmmaking after his next feature to pursue podcasting full time.

It may have taken 10 years to really hit the mainstream but podcasts are now just as legitimate a form of media as any the old guard, radio, television or print.

Recording and publishing a podcast can be done by anyone, without a large budget or expensive eqipment and that's the beauty of it. That's not to say everyone can do it well. Like most things, it takes time and effort to master but really is a lot of fun to do. I began podcasting in mid-2007 with some friends and since then I've been fortunate to find success through shows like Linux Outlaws, Rathole Radio and also FLOSS Weekly, which is actually on the TWIT Network.

This October, I'll be running a course at FACT aimed at sharing the skills I've picked up over the years. On the course you'll learn important tips and techniques such as:

●    What microphones and audio equipment to use depending on your needs.
●    How to record the cleanest audio possible in interviews and other situations.
●    Interview techniques and things to bear in mind when dealing with guests.
●    How to edit your audio into a professional and polished sounding show.
●    Encoding and tagging the files for best results on iTunes and other platforms.
●    Publishing your show, managing RSS feeds, using Content Delivery Networks and even building a website or finding a good one off the shelf instead if needed.

If you've always wanted to have your own radio show but didn't know where to start this could be the thing for you. Whether you're looking to promote your business, become a broadcast journalist or just have some fun talking with friends, podcasting is the way forward.

Dan will lead the one-day Professional Podcasting and New Media course at FACT on Tuesday 16 October. Book your place here!