Podcasting 103: Creating Audio Files Takes Audacity

This is part of the Podcasting curriculum at Social Media University, Global.

Instead of significant text, I’m doing a show and tell using Slideshare.net. I like how Slideshare let me synchonize slides with an mp3 file.

You can download Audacity here, and this is where you can get the LAME encoder that enables you to export Audacity files as mp3 files.

Homework Assignments:

  1. Download Audacity and the LAME encoder.
  2. Create an audio file using Audacity, in which you talk about your favorite Web site, blog or social networking site.
  3. Edit the file by trimming the beginning and end and any mistakes you’d rather not have published to the world.
  4. Export the recording as an mp3, and save it for future use in the SMUG student podcast.

Chancellor Conversations

That’s the name of the new podcast I’m creating as part of developing the podcasting curriculum for Social Media University, Global (SMUG).

Here’s the first episode. Which makes it web audio, not really a podcast yet. A podcast is a series of audio or video files to which you can subscribe. Within a couple of days this will be a full-fledged podcast, but for now, give this episode a listen. It’s a starting point…like the chubby guy in the “before and after” diet photos. Hopefully you’ll hear improvement that’s as dramatic as what you see here:

As we work through the podcasting curriculum, you’ll see that I use Audacity, iTunes and WordPress.com for recording, tagging and hosting podcasts. These are by no means the only ways to get these jobs done, but I’m using them to show SMUG students at least one free or ridiculously inexpensive method, and so that we have a common frame of reference.

Once our students know there’s one free and easy way to podcast, they can experiment with alternatives and perhaps upgrade some elements of the basic SMUG podcast plan to improve their presentation or delivery.

I would welcome any other suggestions for hardware or software products or hosting services that might be alternatives to the ones I’m using. If you have microphone recommendations, for example, those would be helpful. Please offer your suggestions in the comments. And maybe after we’re done working through the podcasting curriculum together, we can develop a set of options with three or four tiers of recommendations at varying price levels.

So please share your reactions and suggestions for improvement in the comments on these podcasting posts.

Podcasting 102: Becoming a Podcaster

podcast podcasting podcaster

Once you’ve gotten some familiarity with podcasting as a consumer (see Social Media 106/Podcasting 101: Introduction to Podcasting), you may want to explore producing a podcast of your own.

The great news is that for a couple hundred dollars you can get equipment and hosting services that will enable you to produce and distribute a high-quality podcast for your business or academic, non-profit or not-for-profit organization. You can do something that will reflect well on your organization and that will enable you to communicate with and engage your key stakeholders, employees, customers or prospects.

The even better news is that through Social Media University, Global you can get experience as a podcaster in a safe environment and learn how to do it without putting your organization’s reputation at risk. You can see just how easy it is to produce a podcast, so that you will know the steps involved. Then you can go back to your work colleagues and supervisors and/or your IT department and be well-armed for the discussion when they tell you it would be too technically difficult or expensive to produce a podcast.

I’m not going to cover the strategic considerations behind podcasting yet; I will get into those in the 300-level courses. For now let’s just say that you have an audience to reach or a public to engage, and you want to know:

  1. What steps are required to produce and distribute a podcast?
  2. Is it realistic for me or for my organization to have a podcast?

The answer to question #2 is definitely yes, and I will prove it to you by answering question #1 with the rest of the 100-level courses in the Podcasting curriculum.

The best news of all is that, in keeping with SMUG’s tuition-free policies, your cost for production and worldwide distribution of your podcast will be exactly:


That’s right. Assuming you have access to a computer (and the fact that you’re reading this suggests you probably have that part covered), as a SMUG student you will create a podcast for literally zero dollars. Not “three easy payments of $19.95.” Not “nothing down and no interest for 90 days.” Nothing. Ever.

And you’ll have a built-in focus group. Your fellow SMUG students will be able to subscribe to your podcast and comment on it, offering suggestions for improvement. And you can do likewise for theirs.

I’m going to use this course as an excuse to start my SMUG podcast, too. I’ll experiment with some different methods, and let you know how they work. You’ll be able to hear the results of each production choice. And as I create the distribution system for my podcast, as a SMUG student you’ll be able to add your podcast as a channel for free. I’ll walk you through step-by-step how I did it, and then you can take what you’ve learned back to your business or organization and maybe spend a little more for a dressed-up version.

Get ready for a hands-on learning adventure in podcasting!

If you haven’t enrolled in SMUG yet, you can do that here.

Photo credit: Frank Gruber

Social Media 106: Introduction to Podcasting

This post is part of the Core Curriculum for the Social Media University, Global Bachelor of Science degree in social media, otherwise known as the SMUG BS degree.

You’ve probably heard of podcasting, but maybe you don’t know why it’s important or what you can do with it.

From a consumer perspective, podcasts are great because they’re like TiVo for audio (and now video.) They let you set your computer to automatically receive the next installment in an audio or video series, to use when it fits your schedule.

Podcasting has the potential to make “appointment” listening a thing of the past. And if you’re reading this on your own computer, you can subscribe to podcasts.

You have several options for so-called “podcatchers” (including RSS readers like Newsgator, NetNewswire and Google Reader), and there also are numerous directories where you can go to find listings of podcasts. If you’re not one of the 100 million or so people who have an iPod, you might want to try one of those alernate podcatchers.

I say alternate because iTunes is a great all-in-one podcast directory and podcatcher, and if you have an iPod you should use it. Even if you don’t have an iPod, you can still download iTunes and use it to listen to podcasts on your computer instead of using a dedicated mp3 player.

So, feel free to try another podcatcher if you’d like; this site has a whole list of them, and you can use it to compare features. But otherwise, to keep it simple, use iTunes.

Podcasting offers great benefits for consumers, and it can be quite useful for producers of content, too. The best part is it enables you to reach people who are interested in what you have to say. You don’t have to limit yourself to a 15-second sound bite that can get in a news story. You don’t have to follow a 30-second or even 60-second format of radio ads that you have to buy.

Your content can be as long as is interesting to the people you want to engage. Longer may be even better than shorter, because you’re aiming to reach a niche. And what’s even better is you can produce and distribute a podcast for nothing. $0.00. Zip.

The next courses in the Podcasting curriculum will get into the mechanics of producing and distributing your own podcast. For now, though, your homework assignments are on the consumer side.


  1. Download and install a podcatcher, either iTunes or one of the alternatives.
  2. If you’re interested in a podcast that is about social media, technology and related topics you read about here, For Immediate Release is a good one. You can get it in iTunes here. Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the FIR hosts, also have written a book on the topic, called How to do Everything with Podcasting.
  3. List some of your favorite podcasts in the comments below.

Mayo Clinic Podcasts Featured on Ragan.com

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to discuss our Mayo Clinic podcasts with Michael Sebastian from Ragan Communications for a newsletter article. My friend Chris Martin just passed along the article, which was posted on Ragan.com today. I think Michael does a nice job of summarizing our podcasting history and some of the current activity. Most importantly, I think he quite accurately reflects what we discussed in the interview; that’s a real treat. Check out the story.

If you’re interested in a bit more of what Mayo Clinic has been doing in social media, check out our Facebook fan page and the blog (and podcast) we’ve established for the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. My colleagues at MayoClinic.com also have some blogs and podcasts they’ve been producing, too, and we’ve got some more good things in the works.

I’m blessed to work for an organization that not only makes traditional media relations a priority, but also is enabling and encouraging us to engage in social media. I think a big part of the reason for this support is our leaders’ healthy appreciation of the role word-of-mouth from satisfied patients has played in Mayo Clinic achieving the reputation it has.

The on-line social networks like Facebook are just newer and more powerful versions of the water cooler or the backyard fence, where people talk about what’s going on in their lives and what’s important to them.

Their health care experiences are among those meaningful topics.

It’s an exciting time to be working in news media and social media, and particularly where they intersect. I’m looking forward to the next few days here at Health Journalism 2008, and particularly to the session on “Multimedia tools for telling stories,” which will include Scott Hensley from the Wall Street Journal‘s Health Blog. He’s right at the intersection of mainstream and social media, and it will be interesting to hear his perspective.