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Tech Tip: The Basic Ingredients for Your Podcast Recipe

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TECH TIP

Making your own audio show can be fun and relatively inexpensive, but you should have a plan and get the right gear before you hit the Record button.

Mac and iOS users can record podcasts and other projects with Apple’s free GarageBand program, which includes a useful help system for the novice audio engineer.CreditThe New York Times
J. D. Biersdorfer
  • Aug. 3, 2018

Q. I want to make podcasts. How do I do it?

A. Producing your own podcast can be a fairly inexpensive process, once you get set up with the necessary recording equipment and distribution method. The basic steps are: Record the show, edit the show, and post the show online. The first thing you should do, however, is come up with a plan for what you want your podcast to cover, how often you plan to release new episodes and how you want to record it.

Podcasts are recorded in many ways. They can be made up of one person talking with a microphone plugged into a laptop or mobile device, or be a more professional radio-style session with several people sitting around a table with individual microphones plugged into a sound-mixing board connected to a computer. If you plan to talk with people remotely as part of your show, services like Skype or ZenCastr can record the conversations.

Good microphones make a huge difference in making a listenable podcast, so plan on getting an external model instead of using a smartphone headset or speaking into the computer’s built-in microphone. If you plan to record directly to your computer or a digital recorder, you can find good USB microphones for less than $150 online. Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The New York Times, recommends the $130 Blue Yeti USB microphone as a multipurpose model for podcasting, voice-overs and other audio projects.

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The free Audacity program can record and mix audio on Windows, Mac and Linux systems.CreditThe New York Times

If you are just starting out and want to make sure you’re comfortable with doing a regular podcast, recording it to your computer and editing the files with free software is one way to minimize costs. Free audio-editing software like Audacity for Windows, Mac and Linux (recommended by Wirecutter), or Apple’s free GarageBand software, can record your podcast — and then be used to trim out bits you don’t need. You can also add a theme song, sound effects and interstitial music. If you want technical support or more extensive features, check out the many commercial audio-recording programs.

Apple also makes a version of GarageBand for its iOS devices that can record audio, and there are several other podcast-capable mobile apps you can use if you want to record on a phone or a tablet. AudioBoom and Spreaker are two such apps for both Android and iOS, and the services have several subscription plans for hosting and distributing podcasts as well. External microphones to record on portable devices are also available.

Using such a podcast service can simplify things, but you can also tag your edited episode file (typically in the MP3 format) yourself and upload it to a podcast network or distributor so listeners can find and subscribe to your show. Creating artwork, a logo and a website for your podcast can make it look more professional, too.

Hosting services like PodBean can guide you through the steps to distribution. Apple Podcasts, Google and Stitcher are among the sites that have instructions for podcasters.

The Podcast Host site has its own guide with useful advice on how to start a podcast that offers a detailed overview of the process.


Personal Tech invites questions about computer-based technology to techtip@nytimes.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.

J.D. Biersdorfer has been answering technology questions — in print, on the web, in audio and in video — since 1998. She also writes the Sunday Book Review’s “Applied Reading” column on ebooks and literary apps, among other things. @jdbiersdorfer

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