Podcast Academy Notes – part 1

It’s been a few weeks since the Podcast Academy at Boston University, enough time to settle in to the day-to-day again and take a look back at the impressions the event made. In one word? It was fantastic.

And two days of about 15 different presentations and panels means lots of impressions. No parallel sessions means we didn’t have to miss out on any of the instructors, a nice touch: simple and sympa. What follows is not a résumé of all the talks, but rather a mixed bag of highlights and interesting points that, for me anyway, seem well worth holding on to.

Links to all the podcasts and presentations are available on BU’s Podcast Academy pages.

Dan Bricklin started out the fun with a personal account of how he got into podcasting. He made an important point about the one of the differences between radio and podcasting: the conversational and personal tone of podcasting. When you listen to a podcast, it’s like you’re sitting in the room with the people talking. It’s a more personal connection than you might feel with the professional “radio guy” voices you hear on the radio.

Throughout the 2 days there was lots of conversation about equipment, and therefore, the role that sound quality plays. Dan may have started using an mp3 player with built-in mic to record his first podcasts, but has come to understand the impact that better quality makes – for your listeners. Better sound quality simply means that your listeners have an easier time listening to you, so it’s really like a gift you give to your audience.

Doug Kaye‘s talk included his prediction for the future of podcasting. He thinks that mobile devices will become more and more important. That is, instead of having to use your computer to get podcasts onto your mp3 player, you’ll be able to directly download podcasts to your organizer or phone or whatever your current mobile device is. Now that would be convenient (maybe even a reason to actually own one ;)). Some interesting sort-of stats: about half the people who listen to IT Conversations are subscribed to the podcasts (the other half download or listen right at their computers).

Doug suggests an optimal encoding recipe to get best coverage for your recordings: 64 kbps, 44 KHz, stereo, and properly filled-out ID3 tags. It’s also important to offer some text that anyone can link to when you publish your podcasts, in a blog, for example – remember the half that doesn’t subscribe via a podcatcher?

Paul Figgiani, sound engineer for IT Conversations, went over a bunch of hard and software possibilities. One piece of software he recommended for those that don’t have a big hardware budget: izotope ozone mimics the hardware processing chain.

That’s just a few of the instructors, more notes to come…

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